First Photo Of Imprisoned Pastor Wang Yi Surfaces
감옥에 갇힌 왕 이 목사의 첫 번째 사진
Pastor Wang Yi of Sichuan Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” last year. At an unspecified time earlier this year, authorities allowed Pastor Wang’s family to visit him. Then on Wednesday March 25 a photo from an unspecified source showing Pastor Wang in prison circulated online for the first time.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, the photo, whose authenticity has been privately confirmed by the ministry, shows Pastor Wang looking much thinner than before his imprisonment but looking sharp mentally. According to Foley, the ministry has learned that state security officers still closely monitor Pastor Wang’s wife, Jiang Rong, as well as Pastor Wang’s parents.
“Pastor Wang looks emaciated, wearing a maroon long sleeve shirt and a yellow vest and handcuffed,” says representative Foley. “This is the first photo of Pastor Wang that has surfaced since he was arrested at the end of 2018.” Pastor Wang is the senior pastor of Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church. He took the lead of drafting “the China Declaration”, a statement ultimately signed by 439 Chinese pastors indicating why they were unable to follow new religious restrictions instituted in February 2018.
Representative Foley says that a congregation member from Early Rain Covenant Church who insists on remaining anonymous received the photo. “According to the person who passed the photo along, the purpose is to let people who care for him know his current situation,” says Representative Foley. Originally congregants of the church wanted to share the photo within the church, but it ended up being posted online.” Representative Foley says that the congregation also learned that Pastor Wang was due to be transferred from the Chengdu Municipal Detention Center to prison in late January, but his relocation continues to be postponed because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
On December 9, 2018, Chengdu state security officers shut down Early Rain Covenant Church, detaining Pastor Wang and other church leaders. In the ensuing investigation, approximately 100 members of the church were summoned, and some were criminally detained. On December 30, 2019, Pastor Wang was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment and deprived for three years of political rights by the Chengdu court on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business operations”. The next day, Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church made a declaration that Pastor Wang was innocent and that the authorities’ verdict was unjust persecution against house churches in mainland China.
The first photo of imprisoned Pastor Wang Yi shows an emaciated but committed man.
Pastor Wang, who is 46 years old, graduated from Sichuan University Law School. In 2004 he was selected as one of “the most impactful public intellectuals” by Southern People Weekly Magazine in China. In 2005 he converted to Christianity. Then he and his wife Jiang Rong began hosting a Christian fellowship.
“Authorities imposed many restrictions on him over the years, warning him to dismiss the house church or join his church to the three-self church multiple times, but it was rejected by the church,”
says Representative Foley.