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ICC NOTE: Pastor Yan Xiaojie was released February 2nd after serving five months in criminal detention for “gathering a mob to disturb social order.” His crime at the time was forwarding text messages to members with prayer requests over a Chinese messaging application. It is a praise to hear of pastor Xiaojie’s release, but it reminds us of those who are left behind to rot in Chinese detention centers and black jails. While the numbers are nationwide, in Zhejiang province alone there are eight currently being held for similar charges or merely being affiliated with someone in the church. 

2/24/2016 Zhejiang, China (China Aid) – On Feb. 2, authorities released a Zhejiang pastor who opposed cross demolitions after he served five months in criminal detention. Additionally, Wenzhou officials threatened to demolish another church’s cross.

Public security bureau officials originally apprehended PastorYan Xiaojie on Aug. 26, 2015 after he forwarded text messages containing prayer requests over the Chinese messaging application WeChat. Originally given an eight-day administrative detention, he was placed under criminal detention on Sept. 3, 2015, under suspicion of “gathering a mob to disturb social order.”

Following Yan’s release, there are eight Christians currently detained in Zhejiang, listed in order of detention date below:

1. Gu “Joseph” Yuese, pastor of Chongyi Church. Criminally detained since Jan. 29 and arrested on Feb. 6.
2. Li Guanzhong, elder of Puyang Christian Church. Criminally detained since Jan. 29.
3. Zhang Shuzhen, wife of Li Guanzhong. Criminally detained since Jan. 29.
4. Zhang Chongzhu, pastor of Pyongyang TSPM Christian Church. Detained in black jail since Sept. 8, 2015.
5. Zhang Kai, human rights lawyer. Detained in black jail since Aug. 25, 2015.
6. Bao Guohua, senior pastor of Jinhua Christian Church. Detained since July 26, 2015.
7. Xing Wenxiang, wife of Bao Guohua. Detained since July 26, 2015.
8. Bao Chenxing, church deacon and son of Bao Guohua. Detained since July 26, 2015.

Additionally, Haicheng Christian Gathering in Wenzhou received a demolition notice for their cross on Feb. 2. The church’s electricity and water have also been cut off.

China Aid reports on human rights abuses, including the detention of dissidents who speak against the government, in an effort to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China.