(London—March 10, 2016) The United Kingdom’s Parliament received a series of questions regarding religious freedom abuse in China’s coastal Zhejiang province on March 2.
Lord David Alton of Liverpool, a member of the House of Lords and a friend to China Aid, voiced his concern about criminally detained human rights lawyer Zhang Kai and 12 detained Christian leaders when he filed two questions to Parliament, which can be read below.
The answer to the first of Alton’s questions, addressed by Joyce Anelay, Baroness Anelay of St. John’s, can also be read below.
China Aid will update this story with the response to Alton’s second question when it becomes available.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the televised public confession of Kai Zhang prior to formal arrest, indictment or trial; what assessment they have made of what legal assistance he is receiving and what contact he has been permitted to have with his family; what contact the UK authorities have had with him; and what representations they have made to the government of China on his behalf. (HL6642)
Tabled on: 02 March 2016
Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Answered on: 09 March 2016
We remain concerned that a number of Chinese lawyers and human rights defenders, such as Zhang Kai, have been arrested, detained, or have simply disappeared since last July. We have raised the cases regularly with the Chinese authorities. In January, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), raised our concerns directly with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing. We supported a public statement by the Delegation of the EU in Beijing on 29 January, expressing concerns about the human rights situation in China, which included the detention of lawyers.
We urge the Chinese authorities to release the detained lawyers, including Zhang Kai, and ensure all detainees have access to legal counsel of their choice.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made on behalf of the 12 Christian leaders tried in Zhejiang Province of China in February and what assessment they have made of (1) the impact of that trial and the sentences handed down on the right to freedom of religion or belief in China, and (2) how those events have been received in China.
We pay close attention to the human rights situation in China and regularly raise our concerns about freedom of religion and the restrictions placed on Christianity. We make representations on specific cases during the annual UK-China Human Rights Dialogue. The next Dialogue is scheduled for April 2016. We also raise our public concerns about freedom of religion and belief in China in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy.
Regarding the recent trial of Christian leaders in Zhejiang, we remain concerned about the application of due legal process and transparency of justice in China. We are particularly concerned that people seeking to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression or belief are being prevented from doing so. We urge China to protect civil and political rights in line with its constitution and international human rights commitments.