Friday, July 26, 2019

Chinese Court Upholds Pastor John Cao’s Prison Sentence

Here's an update from International Christian Concern (ICC) regarding Pastor John Cao being held without normal due process by Chinese authorities, which I reported on earlier this month (see my article China Continues to Hold North Carolina Pastor John Cao).  For more details regarding Cao's mistreatment by the Chinese government, please see my earlier article. --Tim Gamble


Chinese Court Upholds Pastor John Cao’s Prison Sentence

Sentence Upheld After Repeated Delays on Appeal Hearing 

07/25/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 25, a court in China’s Yunnan province announced its decision to uphold Pastor John Cao’s seven-year prison sentence, despite his appeal. 

Pastor Cao filed an appeal for being wrongfully convicted for “organizing illegal border crossings” in 2018. However, the Chinese government has postponed his appeal hearing seven times. Many believe that he was unjustly targeted due to his Christian faith.

In photos shared by China Aid, the court can be seen heavily guarded by the police today. Only Cao’s 83-year-old mother and his sister, along with their lawyer, were allowed to hear the verdict.

The court’s latest verdict came after Pastor Cao’s lawyers received a notice on July 12, stating that Cao’s appeal would be handled via a “trial session on paper only,” instead of an actual hearing.

Pastor Cao dedicated himself to serving the impoverished people of Myanmar’s self-governed Wa State, providing much needed education and humanitarian aid to them before his 2017 arrest.

Father Francis Liu from Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness said on Twitter, “Although we have been praying for Pastor Cao, I also know that the CCP will not let him go, as was predetermined by their anti-Christ nature. It’s not possible for us to place our hope in CCP to uphold justice.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “The unjust trial and trumped up charges against Pastor John Cao once again demonstrate the disregard for rule of law and religious freedom in China. Beijing’s crackdown against Christianity should not be tolerated or ignored. The international community must continue speaking out for oppressed churches and Christians in order to stop their suffering.” 


Source: Press release from International Christian Concern dated July 25, 2019.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Syria: Christian Woman, Aged 60, Gang-Raped for Hours Then Stoned to Death by Muslim Militants

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christin human rights organization. Check out their website, https://www.persecution.org, for more news and information on Christian persecution and genocide around the world.   


Christian Woman Stoned to Death in Syria 

Autopsy Reveals Gang Rape Prior to Death, Islamic Terrorists Blamed

07/17/19 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 8, 2019, an Armenian Christian woman living in the Syrian Governorate of Idlib went missing. Suzan Der Kirkour was 6o years old and her body was found the next day just outside of her village, al-Yaqoubiyeh. An autopsy revealed that Suzan was tortured and repeatedly raped over an estimated period of nine hours. She was then stoned to death.

The incident was confirmed by SOS Chr├ętien’s d’Orient, which wrote in a statement that “cruel was her ordeal. The reality is just as much… (a) virgin at sixty, she died under the repeated assaults of the jihadists of al-Nusra.”

“The autopsy reveals that Suzan had been subjected to repeated rape since the afternoon of Monday (the 8th) until early Tuesday morning, only hours before her discovery. As a martyr, she is joined in heaven by thousands of Christian brothers, who died in the arena of barbarism,” continued the statement.

Suzan was a gardener and Arabic teacher. Although retired, she often volunteered at the Kneye Village Church where she helped youth achieve their baccalaureate. The church was concerned by Suzan’s absence, and it was parishioners who found Suzan’s body.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also verified the incident. “Her body was found with marks of torture on it. And according to forensic medicine, the woman had been tortured for about 9 hours before she was stoned to death by unidentified persons,” read the report.

It is widely reported among locals that Suzan’s attackers were members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, which maintains a strong presence in Idlib Governorate. Al-Yaqoubiyeh is a Christian village, but most of the women have left because of violent aggression from the terrorists. Some estimate that only 18 women, including Suzan, were living in the village.

The Syrian Civil War has raged for eight years, opening the door for Islamic extremism to take a strong foothold. Jabhat al-Nusra is the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda. They and many other terrorist groups are active in Idlib Governorate, which was supposed to provide a safe haven for internally displaced persons.

Instead, the governorate has become center stage for the Syrian conflict. Most Christians have fled the country, although they made up approximately 10% of the population prior to the war.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Suzan was a pillar in her community. Her untimely death and the manner of her murder is horrifying. It further deepens the shadow which has fallen upon any Christians who have remained in Syria throughout nearly a decade of violent conflict. Rule of law, justice, and accountability must be restored in Syria. Otherwise, we are witness to the slow, but fierce, extermination of Christianity from a country where it has existed for over 2,000 years.”
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Monday, July 15, 2019

China Continues to Hold North Carolina Pastor John Cao

By Tim Gamble
July 15, 2019

In March of 2017, Chinese authorities arrested Christian pastor and missionary John Cao, a permanent US resident living in North Carolina with his American wife, on charges of "illegal border crossings" between Myanmar and China. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in 2018 after a perfunctory court hearing, despite the fact that Cao had been routinely making the border crossings for three years with the full knowledge of the Chinese government. Since his conviction, Cao's legal appeals have been delayed seven times. In the most recent development, Chinese authorities are refusing to allow Cao to appear in person before the court, stating that any appeals would be "paper only." 

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reports that Cao's "health is deteriorating, and he’s lost over 50 pounds. He’s forced to share a cell with a dozen inmates and only 1 bed."

Observers believe that Cao's arrest, conviction, and denials of an an appeals process, are part of the ongoing crackdown on Christianity by the Chinese government. The crackdown consists of the harassment and shutting down of many Christian churches and schools, including the bulldozing of some church buildings, the removal of crosses from public display, the arrest on spurious charges of many Chinese pastors and other Christian leaders, among other measures.

John Cao converted to Christianity in his 20s, attended seminary in the US, married an American citizen, and settled in North Carolina as a legal permanent resident. He and his wife have two sons. He has been doing missionary work in Myanmar and China for decades, traveling between North Carolina and Asia. He founded sixteen schools for improvised children and set up various anti-poverty programs during that time.

China, which remains under strict communist control despite opening up to capitalism in recent decades,  has a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. The Communist Party in China, which is officially atheist, has approximately 70 million members. However, the strong growth of evangelical Christianity in China has resulted in slightly over 100 million Chinese Christians (approximately 75 million Evangelicals and 27 million Catholics. Also, the Chinese Orthodox Church, an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church, has about 15,000 members).

This situation of Christians outnumbering official Communist Party members is at least partially behind government crackdowns on Christianity over the last few years, as they seek to exercise control over Christianity in China. Communist governments, and all other collectivist regimes for that matter, demand that the citizen's top loyalty be to the State, not to God, the Church, or even the family. The State essentially sets itself up as God, and hates competition for that slot. 

The ACLJ, which is representing John Cao's family, has an online petition calling for John Cao's release.  

Sources:  1) Information provided by ChinaAid, 2) Information provided by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), 3) Information provided by Voice of the Martyrs.

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