CHINA: Pastor Gong beaten up in prison

News has emerged that the arrested leader of the South China Church, Gong Shengliang has been beaten up in Hong Shan prison, Wuhan, Hubei Province. The right side of Gong’s face is still swollen. According to his sister, Gong could not move his mouth for three days, and he suffered some hearing loss in his right ear.

On 18th April, Pastor Gong’s eldest sister, Gong Shuqin, and his younger sister, Gong Shuzhen, went to Hong Shan prison to visit him and found that the right side of Gong’s face was swollen. Gong told them that on 21 March, a prisoner named Lei, who was assigned by the prison officer to watch Gong day and night and report to the officer, had beaten him without cause. This beating caused Gong’s facial swelling and pain for three days.

Gong seriously suffered both physically and spiritually. The prisoner who beat Gong did not receive any punishment. On the contrary, he was praised by the prison officer, while Gong was punished by subtracting 2 merit points he had gained last year.

When Gong appealed to the prison leader and asked to have the prisoner who had beaten him transferred to another group, the prison leader refused and only had the prisoner apologize to “settle” the matter.

The request of Gong’s eldest sister, Gong Shuqin, to have a “family dinner” with Gong, was refused by the prison authority and she was given only ten minutes to speak with him. The Christian books they sent to Gong were also forbidden, which actually deprived Gong of his right of freedom of faith in prison.

Gong’s family has not heard from him for more than a year because the letters were all withheld by the prison. The warden even threatened to deny the visit by Gong Shuqin, “You are only a younger sister of the prisoner, we have the right to reject your request of visit”

In June 2003, Gong experienced similar suffering in Jingzhou Prison, where he was once beaten unconscious and bloody, he was nearly deafened in his left ear, and lay there half-dead with no medical care. After heavy protest by the international community, he was transferred to the current prison.

Pastor Gong was arrested 5 years ago by Chinese security police. He was originally sentenced to death for ‚Äúusing a cult to undermine the enforcement of the law” and “complicity in rape‚Äù but after international protests, this was reduced to life imprisonment. (China Aid Association)