CHINA: Elder Zhang Chunlei suffering from liver cirrhosis

Zhang Chunlei and Yang AiqingOn 8 June Zhang Chunlei’s wife Yang Aiqing (pictured with her husband before his imprisonment) posted on WeChat that he has been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. She said that he had no previous record of liver-related illness.

Elder Zhang (60) leads the banned Ren’ai (Love) Reformed Church in Guiyang, Guizhou province, an unregistered house church that has suffered heavy persecution including repeated raids. He has been in detention since March 2021 and stood trial for “fraud and inciting subversion of state power” in November 2022, but the court’s verdict has never been made public.

Elder Zhang Chunlei was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in late 2023, when he was hospitalised for over a month due to cholecystitis (gall bladder inflammation), but his lawyer and family members were not informed of the diagnosis. He also has high blood pressure.

In May 2024 Elder Zhang’s lawyer visited him at the Guiyang City Detention Centre and reported that he appeared slightly thin, but the lawyer was still not aware that he had been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. As soon as he and the family found out, they informed the judge in the case about the situation and are awaiting a response, hoping for release on medical grounds.

China Aid reports that news continues to emerge of liver problems among prisoners of conscience in China who had no history of liver disease before their detention. After a few years in prison they have been diagnosed with severe diseases such as liver cancer and liver cirrhosis and it has been suggested that the cause may be a long-term diet of mouldy rice in prison.

Yang Aiqing says that her husband encourages Christians in Guiyang to rejoice and not to be ashamed of his imprisonment, as it is a great honour for a church elder to be imprisoned for the Lord. She asks for prayer for Elder Zhang’s health, that he might be released for medical treatment and that his case would not be further mishandled.

Read Zhang Chunlei’s Prisoner Profile.

(China Aid)

Photo: China Aid