CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 19 August 2017

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Disgraced legal hero released

HONG KONG (UCAN): A Christian lawyer, Zhang Kai, who used the legal system to resist the ongoing campaign to remove crosses from public sight in Zhejiang, China, was released, just one month after he appeared on television to apologise for endangering state security, disturbing social order and receiving funding from foreign organisations.

Zhang had been detained since August last year, but on March 24 he posted on his Weibo account on March 24, “I have returned safely to my home in Inner Mongolia.”

He thanked his friends, as well as the police in Wenzhou, the central point of the anti-cross campaign, for taking care of him.

Zhang’s mother also confirmed the news and gave thanks for the strength he had shown during his more than 200 days’ detention.

Bob Fu, the president of the Washington-based China Aid Society, called Zhang’s release “a true victory as a result of coordinated international pressure from the United States of America and the European Union, as well as other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.”

China Aid had launched a campaign to free Zhang early in March.

Fu was one of the two people named in Zhang’s confession. However, the American pastor praised him as being “a bold human rights defender of the rule of law and religious freedom.”

Both Fu and Mervyn Thomas, the chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, cautioned that the conditions of Zhang’s release are currently unknown. Thomas also expressed concern that several of Zhang’s fellow lawyers, as well as a number of pastors, still remain in detention.

“We urge the Chinese government to protect the rights and safety of those who defend freedom of religion of belief and other human rights in China,” Thomas said in a statement.

Despite the jubilation at Zhang’s release, the campaign to remove crosses from Church buildings in Zhejiang remains an ongoing crusade.

 

Since January, more than 50 crosses have been brought down in the province which is home to an estimated two million Protestants and 200,000 Catholics.

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