Court document: Two years in prison for a prayer group

The following are excerpts from a Xinjiang court document posted online in which an appeal by the defendant is rejected, preserved here. The defendant had been sentenced to two years in prison for hosting a WeChat group for prayers. This was before the initiation of the present crackdown campaign in early 2017; it's likely his sentence would have been harsher had it been given a year later. It should also be noted that he is Hui, not Uyghur. This document is a glimpse into the specific reasoning and methods of the judicial system as it is deployed against Muslims in Xinjiang.

一审法院查明 原判认定,2016年6月左右,被告人黄世科建立名为”穆斯林礼拜”的微信群,通过语音在该微信群中教他人做礼拜,该微信群有一百多人。2016年8月,黄世科在名为”梁堡道堂文化学习”的微信群中讲解《古兰经》里有关古尔邦节宰牲的目的的内容,该微信群里有一百多人。

Findings of the first court The original judgment found that around June 2016, the defendant Huang Shike created a WeChat group called "Muslim Prayer", wherein he taught others in the groups how to pray via audio messages. There were more than 100 people in the WeChat group. In August 2016, Huang Shike gave a sermonn on animal sacrifice during Eid al-Adha in the Quran to a WeChat group called named "Liangbao Daotang Studies". There were more than 100 people in the group.

原判认定上述事实依据的主要证据有:被告人黄世科的供述;证人黄某的证言;电子证物勘验报告等。根据上述事实和证据,原判以被告人黄世科犯聚众扰乱社会秩序罪,判处有期徒刑二年。

The main evidence considered by the original judgment to determine the above-mentioned facts are: the statement of the defendant Huang Shike; the testimony of the witness Huang [his daughter]; and the electronic evidence inspection report. Based on these facts and evidence, the defendant Huang Shike was originally sentenced to two years in prison for the crime of assembling a crowd to disrupt social order.

二审请求情况 宣判后,黄世科上诉称,其不知道自己的行为是违法行为,自己只是在微信群中讲经、教经, 其行为没有实际危害国家和社会,请求二审法院公正判决。

Circumstances of second trial petition Following the verdict, Huang Shike appealed, saying that he was unaware his actions were illegal, that he was only lecturing [or preaching] and teaching [the Quran] in the WeChat groups, and that his actions did not actually harm the country or society. He asked for a fair decision from a second trial.

本院认为 本院认为,上诉人(原审被告人)黄世科明知微信群里人数众多;微信群并非宗教活动场所, 在非宗教活动场所不能从事宗教活动,却私建微信群,进行讲经、教经等非法宗教活动,扰乱了正常的宗教活动管理秩序,违反了我国有关宗教事务管理的法律法规的规定,且其行为情节严重,社会危害性大,构成非法利用信息网络罪。原判认定其犯罪的事实清楚,证据确实、充分,但适用法律不当,定罪不准,应予纠正。

The view of this court In the opinion of the court, appellant Huang Shike (the original defendant) was fully aware of the large number of people in the WeChat group; WeChat is not a religious site, and one cannot conduct religious activity at non-religious sites, yet [he] established a WeChat group, gave sermons and taught the Quran and other illegal religious activities, disturbing normal order of religious activity management, violating China's laws and regulations related to management of religious affairs. The circumstances of his actions were grave, the social harm was great, and they represent a crime of illegal use of an information network. The facts of original judgment recognizing his crime are clear, the evidence is reliable and sufficient, however, the application of the law was improper and the conviction was not accurate and should be corrected.

The court goes on to explain the crime was not disturbing social order, but rather, illegal use of information networks. The two-year prison sentence was not changed.