ICC Note: China has released human rights attorney Zheng Kai who had served seven months in a secret jail for defending churches. Kai represented churches in the city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province where authorities continue to take down crosses. Human rights observers are considering Kai’s release a victory, however countless pastors and human rights lawyers remain in jail in China facing persecution and injustice.
By Duncan Hewitt
3/24/16 Zhejiang, China (IB Times) – China has released a Christian lawyer who defended churches against a government crackdown, after a seven-month detention that attracted international condemnation and led to calls for his release from the U.S. government. But activists said that despite Zhang Kai’s release, which comes ahead of a planned meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, China was continuing with a crackdown on civil society, with lawyers among its main targets.
Zhang, 36, posted a message on Chinese social media late Wednesday saying he had “safely arrived” at his family’s home in Inner Mongolia. He was detained last August, shortly before he was due to meet David Saperstein, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, who was on a fact-finding mission to China. Zhang had been prominent in defending churches in the southeastern city of Wenzhou, which were targeted by a local government campaign to demolish large crosses and other buildings the authorities said were illegal structures.