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China Religious Rights Lawyer Given 6 Months of Detention


FILE - Believers take part in a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin.

FILE - Believers take part in a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin.

Attorneys in China have confirmed that a prominent human rights lawyer has been put under six months of residential surveillance after being taken away by police from a Christian church in Wenzhou.

Colleagues of Zhang Kai told VOA Monday he has been confined on suspicion of "endangering state security “and “disturbing the public order," two charges that are routinely brought against dissidents in China.

Human rights activists have told VOA that after taking away Zhang Kai and two assistants, Wenzhou police also detained more than 10 Christians, including pastors. Some have since been released, but most are still in custody.

The fate of Zhang's assistants is not clear.

VOA called police in Wenzhou, but was unable to get a comment about the case.

Zhang was one of more than 100 human rights lawyers who were rounded up by Chinese authorities in July. His colleagues say he was later released after being warned not to hold any law lectures or represent any church cases.

He had been representing churches which have been battling official attempts to tear down crucifixes and houses of worship in Wenzhou. According to religious rights groups, about 1,500 crucifixes have been torn down in Zhejiang province, which includes Wenzhou. Several churches have been demolished.

Liu Xiaoyuan, another rights protection lawyer, told VOA that residential surveillance "are usually hotels, so the investigators can contact the parties directly. The party is left alone in the room, and the investigator keeps watch on him every day. This cause more psychological stress."

He added that authorities use the charge of "endangering state security“ to prevent the lawyers from meeting with their clients.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.

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