A prominent human rights lawyer has been released by the Chinese government after he completed a four-year prison sentence.
The Christian Post reports that Xu Zhiyong was detained in 2013 and convicted of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.”
Xu had refused to defend himself at his trial, maintaining that the whole event had been rigged. Instead, he gave an impassioned speech:
"Freedom, justice, and love, these are our core values and what guides us in action," he said in the speech. "You may find my ideas too far-out, too unrealistic, but I believe in the power of faith, and in the power of the truth, compassion and beauty that exists in the depths of the human soul, just as I believe human civilization is advancing mightily like a tide."
Although Xu has been released, his supporters and other human rights activists fear that the Chinese government will continue to keep him under close surveillance.
"I hope he will be completely free," said Xu’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang.
China has been increasingly cracking down on Christianity. Bob Fu, the founder and president of China Aid, an organization that seeks to help persecuted Chinese Christians, stated that the government fears the growth of Christianity.
"[T]he top leadership is increasingly worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith and their public presence, and their social influence. It is a political fear for the Communist Party, as the number of Christians in the country far outnumber the members of the Party."
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: July 17, 2017