Kunming, Yunnan — The lawyers of 40 falsely accused Christians swept up in a province-wide crackdown on a cult received notices announcing they are suspected of illegally defending their clients and that their qualifications will come under the review of the government in China’s southern Yunnan province.
Of the 200 people arrested across Yunnan for supposed involvement in the Three Grades of Servants, a religious organization termed a dangerous cult by the Chinese Communist Party, 40 still languish in China’s criminal prosecution process, all Christians. Just recently, local officials accused their lawyers of defending them illegally, even though 10 Christians in Chuxiong, Dali, and Xishuangbanna have yet to be tried and every Chinese person has the right to a lawyer. Additionally, 13 Christians tried in Lincang in late November have yet to hear their verdict.
One of the lawyers, Xiao Yunyang, said he and his colleagues intend to continue defending their clients and are formulating a contingency plan.
Lawyer Li Guisheng said Ju Dianying, Liang Qin, Hong Yan, Zi Huimei, Yang Shunxiang, and Zhang Shaocai’s case best represents the arrested. Authorities accused them of being cult leaders, gathering secretly in different regions of Yunnan, doing missionary work, recruiting new members, spreading apocalypse rumors, rebuilding Three Grades of Servant’s buildings, accommodating secret gatherings, and fostering new religious leaders. Nevertheless, all of the accused maintained that they only believed in Jesus, and Ju said she only had done good work according to Biblical principles and preached how humans can be saved, never harming anyone.
Other defendants, Liu Wei, Li Yunxiu, Hu Yuxin, Li Chunyu, Li Wanhong, Yao Jiaping, and Zhong Yonggui were charged with “utilizing evil religious organizations [the Three Grades of Servants] to undermine law enforcement” for doing missionary work in their area. Originally scheduled for Oct. 26, their court session has been postponed twice.
The crackdown began on Oct. 21, 2016, following the forming of a special investigative force on March 15 of that year.