BosNews reports that “China has unexpectedly released the deputy chairman of a major organization representing the country’s growing number of house churches, after he served six months of a two-year “re-education through labor” sentence, rights activists told BosNewsLife Tuesday January 24.
Pastor Shi Enhao of the Chinese House Church Alliance was freed Friday, January 20, explained advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which closely monitored the case.
The reason for his early release was not immediately known.
Pastor Shi Enhao was given the two-year sentence in July 2011 for “holding illegal meetings and organizing illegal venues for religious meetings” due to his role in the unofficial Chinese house church network.
Chinese Christians said he was “now safely at home” with his family. The “re-education through labor” system, through which Chinese citizens can be sentenced without a trial, was given by officials in China’s Jiangsu province, trial observers said.
HUNDRERDS OF CHURCHES
Pastor Shi, who oversees several hundred house churches with thousands of members, had previously disappeared on June 12 last year, last year before police reportedly confirmed his detention on nine days later.
CSW said early release is rare, except in cases of illness.
Pastor Shi is deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance, a large umbrella organization for house churches. Leaders of the group have faced “severe persecution” in the past, including arrest, imprisonment and harassment, CSW and Chinese Christians say.
Pastor Shi had reportedly been harassed for some time prior to his arrest.” Full story