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A prominent Chinese church leader has been arrested for the second time and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
ChristianToday.com reports that Hu Shigen, a leader of a large underground church in China, was previously arrested and imprisoned for 16 years after being accused of sharing information about the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Although Hu was released in 2008, he is again being accused by the Chinese government, this time for “damaging national security and harming social stability.”
The Chinese government continues to increase its crackdown on Christianity. Government authorities have demolished hundreds of churches and taken down their crosses. In addition, nearly 300 human rights lawyers and other critics of the Communist regime have been arrested.
Hu pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against him, but human rights advocates say that such confessions are usually coerced.
In speaking of human rights lawyer Wang Yu’s confession, Jerome Cohen, an expert on Chinese law at New York University, wrote, “To say that her statement was ‘probably’ the product of coercion is silly since she has been held in an immensely coercive environment for over a year.”
Hu’s case is similar.
“These ‘confessions’ are reminiscent of the ‘brainwashing’ era of the 1950s for which the new China became infamous,” Cohen continued.