Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- Pastor Gong Shengliang, imprisoned leader of the South China Church (SCC), an evangelical house-church with more than 50,000 members, is close to death due to a lack of medical care, according to his daughter.
The SCC was banned in 2001 after the government labeled it an "evil cult." During the government's crackdown, hundreds of church leaders were arrested, more than 500 church leaders had their homes and property seized, and thousands of SCC members were persecuted, fined, and beaten.
In 2001, Pastor Gong was sentenced to death in a secret trial for "using an evil cult to undermine the enforcement of the law," Due to international pressure he was not executed.
Pastor Gong was retried in October 2002. This time, the government charged him with rape, and tortured several SCC women prisoners until they 'confessed' that Pastor Gong raped them. Pastor Gong is now serving a life sentence under the multiple rape charges.
In his daughter's poignant le tter, she recounts his mistreatment at the hands of the government. "When he was arrested, he suffered many savage tortures. He was imprisoned in a very damp area for the first two years," which led to severe rheumatism and gastroenteritis.
Prison officials have not provided any medical care in the last 10 years, according to Pastor Gong's daughter.
More recently, he faces life-threatening medical conditions.