The Straits Times
Published on Dec 23, 2012

Family asks China to free stroke-hit jailed pastor Gong Shengliang


BEIJING (AP) - Charismatic preacher Gong Shengliang led a popular Christian group that spiralled into violence under persecution by Chinese authorities and the temptations of power. Now, Mr Gong has suffered an apparent stroke in prison, and his family members are calling for his release.

In an emotional open letter that calls for prayers, Mr Gong's family members said prison authorities rebuffed a request that he be given medical parole.

Mr Gong had to be helped by two people to walk to a seat in the prison visiting room in the central city of Wuhan, and "his face was flushed. He drooled and couldn't talk and move his left side", said the letter dated Dec 11, the day after the visit.

"I asked him if his spirits were good. He could only say, 'Good, good'," his sister Gong Shuzhen said last week in Beijing, where she, the 60-year-old pastor's two adult daughters and two other followers had come to petition the Supreme Court and national legislature.