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Henan Court Revokes the Re-education Through Labor Decision - First Time a Chinese House Church Christian Has Won Such a Lawsuit

Contact: Bob Fu, China Aid Association, 267-205-5210, info@ChinaAid.org, www.ChinaAid.org, www.monitorChina.org

MIDLAND, Texas, Sept. 25 /Christian Newswire/ -- CAA learned August 20, 2006; the People's Court of Hualong District, Pu Yang City, Henan Province revoked the Re-education through Labor Decision of House Church Christian Li Huimin who was arrested March 13, 2006.

Plaintiff, Li Huimin, charged with holding an illegal gathering, and sentenced to re-education through labor had his conviction revoked. This is the first time a Christian in China has won such a lawsuit. 

March 13, 2006, Li Huimin, along with a group of Christians held an Easter worship service, a traditional Christian observance at the home of Ma Weqing, a 71-year-old Christian in Wen County, Henan Province. Most of those attending were local Christians. Some came from adjacent counties, like Lihuimin, to worship with their relatives. At the close of the gathering, the service was raided by the local police. Many Christians were arrested, including Li Huimin.

Li Huimin is in charge of a house church in Nanle County, Puyang City. He was taken first to the Wen County Public Security Bureau, where they attempted to coerce him into admitting he is a cult member. Li Huimin refused and was cruelly beaten. Two days later, Li Huimin was escorted to Nanle County, Puyang City.

He was detained there for another 38 days and then sent to the re-education through labor camp April 26, 2006, and charged with holding an illegal gathering.  May 16, 2006, Li Huimin applied to Puyang People's Government for an Administrative Review. The government dismissed the appeal and upheld the re-education through labor decision. So Li Huimin filed a lawsuit with the People's Court of Hualong District through a lawyer.

August 20, 2006, Hualong District People's Court reached a verdict in the first trial. Though the Easter celebration was still considered illegal, Li Huimin's Re-education through Labor Decision was revoked because of the inappropriate citation of the legal articles. (See details in the attachment 2) Though this is the first example in China of a Christian winning such a lawsuit,  said Pastor Bob Fu, President of CAA, it is still too early to believe it is a sign that the Chinese government is changing its policy on religious freedom, because the proper Christian gathering in this case is still considered illegal.  Attachment 2 Main Points of the First Trial Verdict the following facts were made clear during the trial:

The defendant, the Puyang Municipal Re-education through Labor Committee's written decision of Re-education through Labor (PU Lao Zi (2006) No. 31) issued April 12, 2006, concluded that on March 13, 2006, Li Huimin, accompanied by 4 other Christians went to Wen County to attend an illegal gathering held in Ma Weqing's house, and was arrested by the Wen County Public Security Bureau. March 15, 2006 he was escorted to the Nanle County Public Security Bureau and placed in custody. 

According to the State Council's decision on the issue of re-education through labor, article 1 of the State Council's Notification of the two measures: forced labor and administrative detention for investigation into re-education through labor,  and article 10, section 2, item 13  in  the Interim Measure of Re-education through Labor, the Puyang Municipal Re-education through Labor Committee issued the written Re-education through Labor Decision of Li Huimin ( PU Lao Zi (2006) No. 31) for 1 year, April 12, 2006. 

Plaintiff Li Huimin refused to comply with the judgment, and applied for an administrative review to the Puyang government. The Puyang Government dismissed the appeal and upheld the original judgment.
 
The court concluded that the two parties have no controversy over Li Huimin's participation in the gathering. The controversy focuses on whether the gathering is illegal. According to the Religious Freedom Situation in China published by the State Council News office (the administrative & legal protection and supervision), the conventional  prayer meeting held at a Christian's home is not required to register if  the attendants are mainly friends and relatives.

The fact that the plaintiff is not a relative of Ma Wenqing from Wen County, along with the large scale gathering shown by evidence provided by the defendant, proved the appropriation of the defendant's conclusion that the gathering is illegal. So the court does not support the argument of the plaintiff that the gathering is legal.

But the legal article the defendant cited to make the decision of Li Huimin's Re-education through Labor (Pu Lao Zi (2006) No. 31) section 3, article 10 in the Interim Measure of Re-education through Labor, dealing with acts of hooliganism, prostitution, larceny, fraud, refusal to change evil ways despite repeated exhortation, but not serious enough for criminal sanctions.

The court believes that this citation of the law is inappropriate, so the decision is to be cancelled.

So according to item 2, section 2, article 54 of The Administrative Procedural Law, the court revokes the Re-education through Labor Decision of Pu Lao Zi (2006) No.031.

The case expenses are to be paid by the defendant.

If the verdict is not accepted, an appeal may be lodged with the court within 15 days of receiving this verdict notification.

Chief Judge:   Jiang Xuemei
Judge:  Guo Yongjie, Wu Xichun
August 20, 2006
Secretary: Lu Yaping
The People's Court of Longhua District, Puyang City

Issued by China Aid Association, Inc. on September 25, 2006