03/24/2016, 09.17
CHINA

Zhang Kai, lawyer who defends China’s crosses from demolition, is released

After appearing on television to "confess his crimes" and spending six months under "house arrest", the lawyer was released. Together with activists for civil liberties, he defended the Christian churches against Zhejiang province authorities.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Zhang Kai, the lawyer who fought against the forced demolition of Chinese crosses has been released. The news was reported by national media, supporters and friends. According to some sources he was released from jail yesterday: he spent six months in "a supervised residence" and had no contact with relatives or lawyers. This type of detention is reserved to human rights activists and religious leaders.

He was shown on state television at the end of February where he was seen to confess and admit "disturbing social order", "endangering state security" and behaving in an unprofessional manner. Such TV appearances, which recall the people's courts of the Maoist era, are becoming more frequent: independent publishers, activists for freedom of speech and lawyers are paraded before the cameras and in return they get a reduced sentence.

Zhang, who has represented Christian churches who are fighting against the campaign of the Communist Party to take down their crosses, was seized by security officials in August 2015. The lawyer disappeared from the city of Wenzhou, nicknamed "the Jerusalem China" for its large Christian population.

He has organized a legal team of over 30 people to deal with religious cases in the province of Zhejiang. The law is 37 years old and was a lawyer of the Beijing law firm Xinqiao. At the height of the Zhejiang demolition campaign, Zhang was the most active and the most involved of all the lawyers for human rights in China.

Starting in August 2014 representing the pastor of the Salvation church in Wenzhou, the Reverend Huang Yizi, he began to live in Wenzhou and became a consultant in many cases related to the demolition of crosses.

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