HomeNewsJehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to prison in China’s Xinjiang

Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to prison in China’s Xinjiang

A People’s Court in China’s Xinjiang region has sentenced 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses to years in prison on the charge of being part of a banned organization.

Members of the Christian denomination were accused of “organizing and using a ‘xie jiao’ organization to undermine law enforcement.” 

“Xie jiao” is the term used to designate a religious movement that is banned in China. The use of “xie jiao” is punishable under Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code.

This is the first known time that the code has been used against Jehovah’s Witnesses, reported online magazine Bitter Winter.

The 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested by the police in 2018 for “evangelism” and were held in the Korla Detention House in Xinjiang.  

The group China Aid reported that the accused were sentence on June 23 for using an “evil religious organization” to incite the obstruction of law enforcement. Prison sentences range from two years and six months to six years and six months in plus monetary fines.

The indictment went on to claim that the defendants violated religious management regulations by establishing a congregation in Korla, Xinjiang, and converting 63 people.

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They were also accused of “spreading superstition and heresy” and preventing people from joining Communist Party organizations.

The rights protection network Weiquanwang reported that most of the 18 members have been subjected to physical punishment and mistreatment during detention.

The report said authorities used “conjoined” and “hug handcuffs” with an attached five-kilogram block on the detainees.

The group said detainee Jiang Xijun tried to kill himself by knocking his head against a wall but failed.

Defense lawyers have appealed to the People’s Procuratorate of Korla City against the use of “conjoined handcuffs” and “hug handcuffs” on the prisoners.

In a letter, the lawyers said detainees were handcuffed for 24 hours even when going to the toilet, eating, washing, and brushing.

“Those who are handcuffed can only walk with their waists bent, and sometimes they have to crawl on all fours like a dog,” read the lawyers’ letter.

The lawyers also claimed that the Christians were forced to sing revolutionary songs inside the detention facility.

“Singing red songs has nothing to do with love for the country. So far, there is no authoritative definition of the love for the country,” the letter read.

The communist authorities have been holding over a million people, mostly Uyghurs, in internment camps in the Xinjiang region since 2017.

Media reports have revealed the practice of forced labor, surveillance, and stringent restrictions on the practice of religious and cultural practices on the mostly Muslim population in the region.

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