Pastor John Cao – a U.S. permanent resident – continues to languish in a Chinese prison, unfairly serving a 7-year sentence for his faith. The longer he’s there, the more he is suffering. Pastor Cao’s family needs him home.
This situation is utterly heartbreaking. Pastor Cao was simply living out his faith, working in China and Burma (Myanmar) by helping the poor and sharing the love of Christ. Now he is imprisoned simply for living out his Christian faith.
Last week we were at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva delivering a crucial oral intervention on behalf of Pastor Cao, urging global intervention for his release:
Text of the oral statement delivered during the general debate:
On 5 March 2017, Pastor Cao was targeted and detained by police when entering China, where he is a citizen and holds a valid passport. He was taken to the Menglian Detention Center and held for over two years. After his arrest, China has continued to not only violate and ignore Pastor Cao’s rights, but its own laws. As we have previously pointed out to this Council in great detail, the court in this case acted in violation of many PRC Criminal Procedural Laws, resulting in an unjust conviction and appeal process; all while denying Pastor Cao visitation with his family, proper medical attention, and nutrition.
The most recent denial of Pastor Cao’s rights occurred on 25 July 2019, when in an unprecedented move, the court simply made a public announcement of its decision to uphold the trial court’s decision without holding an appeal hearing, as required by law. In addition to the public announcement being heavily guarded by police officers, which is highly unusual, the U.S. consulate officers’ repeated requests to attend the public announcement were denied.
Now that his unjust sentence has been illegally upheld, Pastor Cao has been transferred from the Menglian Detention Center to Kunming prison, where he will undergo a 2-3 month “orientation” period. If at the end of that period Pastor Cao is finally allowed visitors, it will be the first time in over 2.5 years that his wife and children will be allowed to see him.
This Council should respectfully and firmly remind China of its continuing obligations as a Charter member of the U.N., to ensure its citizens have the rights to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to receive equal treatment under the law.
Pastor Cao should be released and returned to the United States to be reunited with his wife and sons.