Free Zhang Kai - a Christian human rights lawyer imprisoned in China
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Zhang Kai is a lawyer.
More specifically, Zhang Kai is a Chinese Christian human rights lawyer.
Zhang Kai is in prison.
When authorities in the neighbouring Fujian and Zhejiang provinces of China adopted a policy of systematically destroying church crosses (so far it is estimated that more than 1,800 have been pulled down), Zhang Kai quickly put together a legal team. This team challenged the demolition of the crosses and the subsequent arrests of church leaders and members that were carried out in order to try and quell opposition to the demolitions.
As a result, Zhang Kai was apprehended by the authorities on August 25, 2015, just before he was due to meet David Saperstein, US Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom. Zhang Kai is now one of hundreds of human rights lawyers currently imprisoned in China.
After being held for six months at a secret location in one of China’s so-called ‘black jails’ - unregistered detention centres, Zhang Kai was criminally detained on February 26, 2016. News of Zhang Kai's detention came a day after a Zhejiang television station aired a "confession" that many believe Zhang Kai was coerced into giving.
Other human rights lawyers who have been interrogated in black jails have later said they were tortured while in custody. The authorities take legal precedent for the "secret detentions" from Article 73 of the criminal procedure code, which authorises so-called "residence surveillance". The conditions of this include being denied access to lawyers or family members.
All Zhang Kai has done is help churches legally to mount challenges to the tearing down of their crosses by the authorities in these two provinces.
Jailing Christian human rights lawyers in this way does not help to portray China in a positive light to the rest of the world.
Bob Fu, President of China Aid, an international human rights organisation committed to promoting religious freedom and rule of law in China, says ‘The enforced disappearance of renowned religious freedom defence lawyer Zhang Kai and his arbitrary detention in jail for six months is absolutely outrageous. He did nothing but legally defend [against] hundreds of churches’ crosses from being demolished’.
We urge you to join us in calling on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to immediately release Zhang Kai.
To President Xi Jinping, People's Republic of China.
We wish to express our deep concern at the arrest and detention of human rights lawyer Zhang Kai.
We respectfully call upon the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the unconditional release with immediate effect of Zhang Kai, along with hundreds more detained simply for their defence of human rights and freedom of religion or belief.
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