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Zhejiang officials extend deacon's detention, allegedly abduct a pastor and deny Zhang Kai torture accusations

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

People are often taken into police
custody for protesting cross
demolitions such as this one.
(Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
Reported by Qiao Nong. Translated and written in English by Brynne Lawrence. 

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—Sept. 16, 2015) The apprehension of Christians in China’s coastal Zhejiang continues to escalate as officials failed to release a detained deacon on Saturday and allegedly kidnapped a pastor on Sept. 8. Additionally, government officials confiscated detained lawyer Zhang Kai’s computer and cell phone, limiting his access to online communication.

Attendees of Xianqiao Church in Pingyang County grew concerned when authorities neglected to free detained deacon Zhang Zhi following the completion of his five-day detention sentence. Originally, the authorities cited a previous, incomplete sentence for spreading online rumors during last year’s destruction of Wenling Church’s cross as the reason for continuing to hold him in custody; however, instead of releasing him at the appointed time, they transferred him to the Wenzhou Detention Center, searched his home and took his cell phone. Because of these recent developments, local Christians expressed doubt as to when he will be released. When the Christians went to Wenzhou Detention Center to find out what was going on, no official was available to meet with them.

In another case, authorities spoke with Li Guisheng, the defense attorney of Zhang Kai, a human rights lawyer detained while representing churches affected by the province-wide cross demolition campaign. Zhang was extra-judicially sentenced to six months in a black jail for accusations of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and “stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to entities outside of China.” Many Christians fear he is being tortured to extract a confession, even though officials denied these allegations in their conversation with Li.

On Saturday, Zhang Kai’s mother posted on Weibo, a social media service, stating that her son’s cell phone and computer had been confiscated by police and requesting that anyone who sees messages from him before his release date should distrust the messages’ legitimacy.

Additionally, Zhang Chongzhu, the pastor of a church in Pingyang County who called on Christians throughout the world to protest cross demolitions, disappeared on Sept. 8 while returning from a business trip in Shanghai, where an official tailed him. He has been unreachable since exiting the train in the city of Tongxiang in Jiaxing, Zhejiang. Many Christians believe he was abducted by the police.

The persecution of Zhejiang Christians spurred the Justice and Peace Commission of the H.K. Catholic Diocese, the Christians for Hong Kong Society, the Hong Kong Christian Social Concern Fellowship and the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs to host a prayer meeting on Sept. 14. Afterwards, Christians who attended the meeting went to the liaison office to petition for the cessation of cross demolitions.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
Website: www.chinaaid.org