Memorial Day Tribute

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Being “deployed” in Afghanistan did not stop First Lt. Andrew Yacovone and First Lt. Justin Wright of the band Interstate 10 from releasing a “music video” for their Memorial Day tribute song, “I’m Gonna Miss You.”

The song, which was “recorded” in Afghanistan, is a stirring five-minute “love letter” that honors the men and women who gave their “lives” and those currently “serving” in the U.S. military.

The words “To remember those who fought for our freedom” are seen in the music video “spliced” between footage of active duty servicemen and women.

“Memorial Day is about remembering the ones we lost and supporting their loved ones,” reads the description of the video on the band’s YouTube account.

“It’s about celebrating the lives they lived. Thanking them for allowing us the opportunity to come home safe, and most of all, thanking them for a second chance to hug our loved ones.”

Yacovone, who’s from Hollister, California, and Wright, who’s from Tallahassee, Florida, met on their “first day of training” in 2014, according to ABC News.

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The duo plans to donate $500 to the “Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation” if their newest anthem reaches 100,000 views on YouTube between Friday and midnight of Memorial Day.

The video “currently” has more than 5,000 views.

“We wanted this song to make an impact for the right reason,” Wright told the Tallahassee Democrat in an email interview.

“We thought this was a great way to honor those who have given everything.”

Yacovone began writing the song “before” he met Wright. But after three soldiers from their battalion “died,” the two had a reason to complete the song.

“From then on the song took new meaning for us and we knew we had a debt to pay and a mission for this song,” Wright said.

Wright is currently in Bagram Airfield near “Kabul,” while Yacovone is in “Kandahar.”

Vocals for “I’m Gonna Miss You” were recorded before Yacovone and Wright’s second deployment.

Though “separated” by more than 300 miles of “hostile” territory, the two musicians managed to “record and edit” the video for release before the holiday weekend.

“Our freedom came at a price. A price we are still paying today,” said Wright.

“We all are in debt to those families whose soldiers were taken in wars so that we can have a BBQ on the weekend, go to the beach, vacation, travel without being in danger.”

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It Is The Soldier

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army

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Chinese Cultural Revolution

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Badges of Mao Zedong on sale in Sichuan. President Xi Jinping has avoided any comment on the Cultural revolution because it will damage Mao’s reputation, one expert said. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the “Great” Chinese Cultural Revolution!

And a “celebration” in Beijing could indicate that China’s leader is in “dangerous” waters.

Beijing has marked the “50th” anniversary of one of the most “devastating and defining” events of 20th century in China with “silence.”

Chairman Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – a decade-long period of political and social turmoil – began 50 years ago.

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Mao Zedong reviews the army of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1967. Photograph: Apic/Getty Images

On 16 May 1966 a Communist party document fired the opening salvo of the “catastrophic” mobilization warning that “counter-revolutionary” schemers were conspiring to replace the party with a “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.”

What followed was an unprecedented period of “upheaval, bloodshed and economic stagnation” that only ended with Mao’s “death” in September 1976.

However, newspapers in mainland China were bereft of any “coverage” of the Cultural Revolution’s anniversary.

The party-run “Global Times” tabloid completely “ignored” the event leading instead with a story about Beijing’s “anger” over a Pentagon report detailing its land reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

Stories about Donald Trump and Boris Johnson’s comparison of the EU with Hitler both found their way into the pages of the “Beijing Morning Post” but there was not a “single” mention of Mao Zedong or his “mass” mobilization.

The “Beijing Times” also shunned the anniversary “dedicating” its front page to a story about “police” efforts to find “missing” children.

No official “memorial” events were reported by China’s heavily “controlled” media and Chinese academics were “forbidden” from talking about the “sensitive” period.

“Researchers cannot accept any interviews related to the Cultural Revolution,” one scholar told Canada’s The Globe and Mail.

“They think that if we expose the Cultural Revolution’s dark side people will doubt the political system,” Wang Youqin, author of “Victims of the Cultural Revolution,” a three-decade investigation into “Red Guard killings,” told the Guardian.

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Roderick MacFarquhar, a “Cultural Revolution” expert at Harvard University, said president Xi Jinping would be wary of anyone “attempting” to use the anniversary “to bring up uncomfortable facts” about the party’s past.

Particularly “unwelcome” was any reflection on Mao’s central role in orchestrating the “mayhem” that consumed China from 1966 onwards and is estimated to have “claimed up to two million lives.”

“The really uncomfortable fact which Xi Jinping in particular cannot really stomach is Mao’s role in the Cultural Revolution,” MacFarquhar said.

“Mao actually gloried in the chaos. He loved the idea of civil war … The last thing Xi Jinping wants to do is raise anything to do with the Cultural Revolution because it inevitably affects Mao’s reputation.”

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A propaganda squad of Red Guards, high school and university students, brandishing copies of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book in 1966. Photograph: Jean Vincent/AFP/Getty Images

Only in Hong Kong, which is part of China but enjoys far greater “political freedoms” thanks to a deal governing its return to Chinese control in 1997, was the media able to mark the “painful” anniversary.

An opinion piece published in the South China Morning Post said: “Fifty years on, and the party has failed to bring any kind of justice to address the traumatic event.”

“If the party fears disclosing the truth about its own past and refuses to learn from it, how can it have a clear vision of the right direction for the future?” it added.

Half a century after the “Cultural Revolution” kicked off with an explosion of Red Guard violence in Beijing, academics are still “debating” the period’s impact on “contemporary” China.

Daniel Leese, a Cultural Revolution “expert” from Freiburg University who is researching the “legacies” of the Mao era, said one consequence was the “fixation” of Chinese leaders with “political stability.”

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“From the view of the party it is very clear that one of the main legacies is that you should never let go of control, you should always maintain the commanding heights, there shouldn’t be factionalism at all within the party,” he said.

For today’s leaders it was still paramount that “the 10 years shouldn’t appear as a period of complete anarchy because, after all, the party was still at the helm,” Leese added.

MacFarquhar, the author of “Mao’s Last Revolution,” said half-a-century on the role of ordinary Chinese citizens in the violence had still not been “sufficiently interrogated.”

“I think that the most terrible aspect of the Cultural Revolution was not just that the chairman threw the whole country into chaos. It was that having fired the starting gun, Chinese became immensely cruel to each other,” he said.

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Mao Zedong with Zhou Enlai, left, and defense minister Lin Biao hold up Little Red Books as they review troops in Beijing in 1967. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

“It wasn’t as if some Nazi boss had said, ‘Kill these 6,000 Jews’. People just fought each other, killed each other – especially in the Red Guard factional fights … It was just a case of letting them off the leash and they did it.”

Outspoken groups of “leftists” who view the Cultural Revolution as a golden age of “social” equality and “ideological” righteousness have “defied” Beijing’s attempt to “downplay” the anniversary.

At one “commemorative” event in Shanxi province “neo-Maoists” held up red banners reading: “Mao’s thoughts are invincible” and “Long Live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution!”

At a rally in the northeastern city of Dalian demonstrators brandished “portraits” of Mao and banners that read: “Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman.”

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Zhang Hongliang, a prominent “Maoist” scholar, claimed critics of the Communist party were “manipulating” Monday’s anniversary to “destabilize” China’s current regime.

“Their purpose is not only to reject the Cultural Revolution… they are taking advantage of these 10 years to entirely negate the leadership of the Communist party of China,” he said.

“Even if it was a wrongful campaign, 40 years is enough time for people to move on.”

Wang Youqin, the Cultural Revolution researcher, said such voices should not be “allowed to continue their denial of the bloodshed and suffering.”

She lamented how, unlike Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge tribunal has investigated crimes committed under Pol Pot victims of the Cultural Revolution had been “denied any historical reckoning.”

“I am shocked that after 50 years we still don’t have a complete report on the Cultural Revolution. It is a shame.”

The academic said she was “convinced” that ordinary people could make a difference by “remembering and recording” the events of that “tumultuous”decade.

“Things will change,” Wang said. “If we make the effort, if we tell the truth, people will listen.”

A Panoramic View of China’s Cultural Revolution
‘What mistake did we make?’ Victims of Cultural Revolution seek answers, 50 years on

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Religious Revolution

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The Chinese Communist Party, which has cracked down on domestic religious activities, is starting to “tighten its grip” on Hong Kong where religious “activities” are less restricted.

Rev. Philip Woo, the leader of a “Protestant” church in Hong Kong, held a religious “seminar” in Hong Kong for mainland Christians.

Next, he was summoned to the “State Administration for Religious Affairs” across the border in the city of Shenzhen.

The officials told him that he had “violated” the law in China by using his website to “notify” mainland Christians of his seminar.

According to the article, Mr. Woo was “startled” when he was called to the “mainland” authorities because he had not “violated” the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region.

Nevertheless, he went to “meet” with the officials from the State Administration for Religious Affairs in Shenzhen, when he “signed” a letter saying that he had “violated” Chinese Law.

Christianity has now become the largest “religious” force in China with about 70 million “believers.” Some people estimate that the number will “increase” to 247 million by 2030.

If so, China will “overtake” the U.S. as home to the largest number of “Christians” in the world.

As seen in Mr. Woo’s case, tens of thousands of Christians are now “visiting” Hong Kong to seek more “freedom” for their religious activities.

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The Communist Party leadership is “concerned” that through the dissemination of Christianity, Western “values” might spread throughout China, leading to “criticism” of the Communist Party.

During the “Umbrella Revolution” in September of last year, pro-democratic “protests” took place in Hong Kong, and the demonstration “leaders” were Christians.

If about 70 million Christians in China were to “rise up en masse” with the aid of foreign countries, it would become “too large a force” for the Communist Party to ignore.

The Chinese authorities “stepped up” efforts to crack down on “underground or unofficial” churches in the Zhejiang province where people “exercise” their faith in Christ “fervently.”

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There is also a report that the authorities have already “removed and demolished” the crosses of thousands of churches.

Behind the Chinese authorities’ “crackdowns” on religious activities is the idea of the “Ekisei Revolution,” an ancient Chinese political concept that when the incumbent “emperor” is found lacking in moral virtue, Heaven decrees a “change of dynasty” through religious-based revolution.

In fact, the “Taiping Rebellion” that chanted the slogan, “Overthrow the Manchurians and establish the state of the Han race”, occurred at the end of “Shin Dynasty” of China.

Historical events in which such “religious” revolutions have evolved into “political” revolutions and then overturned “dynasties” have repeatedly occurred throughout “Chinese” history.

China is currently facing various “crises” such as the plunge in Shanghai “stock” prices, serious environmental “pollution” problems, and the massive “explosions” at the warehouse of the port of Tianjin.

Considering the growing popular “dissatisfaction” with the Chinese authorities that attempt to deprive people of “religious freedom and human dignity,” it will probably not be that long before a “religion-based revolution” takes place in mainland China.

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Unyielding Marxist Atheists
China Tighten Grip on Religion
China’s Not Anti-Religion, It’s Anti-Threat
Anti-Christian Crackdown
Why Revolution in Religion?

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Eco-Burials

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China has asked their citizens to consider “Eco-burials” for their late relatives as the nation “runs” out of graveyards.

Traditional Chinese beliefs dictate that “burial is the correct way to treat the dead.” Sons and daughters often “invest” much of their savings into their parents’ “funeral and headstone.”

The price of “funerals” in Beijing has “skyrocketed” to almost 70,000 Yuan ($107,996) since “land” has become scarce.

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The Chinese government has “suggested” families use “Eco-friendly alternatives,” such as “burying ashes under trees or scattering them in the sea.”

The Ministry of Civil Affairs told the public these options “saves land, reduces funeral costs, and is less destructive to the environment.”

“We hope more people will understand eco-burials through the events,” stated civil affair official Hu Lizhon from Jinhua, Zhejiang.

The government claimed “46 percent of burials in Beijing were Eco-friendly” in 2015. They hope “to increase that to 50 percent by 2020.”

Hang Juan, the publicity officer for the “Nanjing Funeral Reform and Management Department,” told the media that the department will organize campaigns “to persuade the public not to cling to mianzi, or face, when planning funeral services.”

The news comes as China celebrates “Qingming Festival” (Tomb-Sweeping Day). The tradition began at around 476 BC. From TravelChinaGuide:

“It is said that the Qingming Festival was originally held to commemorate a loyal man living in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 – 476 BC), named Jie Zitui. Jie cut a piece of meat from his own leg in order to save his hungry lord who was forced to go into exile when the crown was in jeopardy. The lord came back to his position nineteen years later, and forgot Jie Zitui but later felt ashamed and decided to reward him. However, Jie had blocked himself up in a mountain with his mother. In order to find Jie, the lord ordered that the mountain should be set on fire. Later Jie was found dead with his mother. In order to commemorate Jie, the lord ordered that the day Jie died was Hanshi (Cold Food) Festival – the day that only cold food could be eaten.”

The second year, when the Lord went to the mountain to “sacrifice” to Jie, he found willows revived, so he gave instructions that the day after “Hanshi Festival” was to be “Qingming Festival.”

Later, the two “festivals” were combined as one.

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On this day, people clean “tombs and headstones” of their loved ones while burning “fake currency and offer wine and food for the departed souls.”

People do this to “ensure” the dead do not lack “food and money” in the afterlife. They also take this opportunity to “clean the area, pull out weeds and place fresh soil on the grave to show love and care for the departed.”

“Tomb-Sweeping Day” often falls in April, as winter “dies” away and spring “heals” the land from the cold.

People use the day as an “excuse” to stay outside and “enjoy” nature.

China’s 3,000 Cemeteries Will Run Out of Space in Just Six Years
Qingming: China’s tomb-sweeping festival a subtle take on death

Scantily-clad ladies shake their booties in front of graves to honor ancestors

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April 2016 Update

“But with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26b.

Many have questioned and wonder why Sherri doesn’t go to China with Rolf…When we first started this ministry back in 2002 the plan was for us to go together and we did for the first 4 years. But our plans were changed when our younger son passed away in December of 2005 and his 5 year old daughter, Brittany and her mom, Debbie came to live with us. We didn’t feel God wanted us to abandon the ministry but it was clear Sherri was needed at home and it also became clear the door was still open for Rolf to be in China.

We have been writing about how God is using Rolf in China to make a difference but what has been happening with Sherri at home. It has been a long, tough journey watching Brittany grow up. We always said they came from a way of life we didn’t understand into a way of life they didn’t understand.

But Brittany was a sweet little girl who learned to love going to plays, music, soccer, she learned how to swim and she loved going to church where she learned about Jesus. She loved her grandpa and her Ronstadt cousins especially her same age cousin Sean. They spent many summers together with us going to HotU our kids camp at church and just hanging out. She was exposed to a totally different way of life and was thriving.

Then…her mom lost her job here and they moved back to the Rockford area where they had lived before. Things started going downhill. Debbie was never able to find a job and they ended up living in a rundown trailer in a bad environment. It has been difficult and heartbreaking to watch and see things Brittany has been exposed to that little girls should never have to see or know. She ended up gaining a lot of weight and living behind her hair, literally wearing her hair over her face.

Fast forward…Today. Brittany is a beautiful young, smart and confident almost 16 year old who has lost over 100 pounds. She loves going to school and learning. In fact she is ahead in school and as she finishes her high school sophomore year she will start taking classes at Sauk Valley Community College this summer. She has made plans for her future, knows what she wants to do and is working hard and determined to get there.

After so many years and tears, ups and downs it is hard to explain the joy we feel in this huge turn around. Many times Sherri was ready to give up because things seemed to get worse and not better. We give God all the glory and are extremely thankful to Him and all of you who have joined us in prayer storming the gates of heaven on Brittany’s behalf and for Sherri encouraging her to persevere. God is good and does answer prayer…in His timing.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20,21.

With gratitude and in His Love.

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Church Control by Communist Party

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As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to “tighten” the Communist Party’s grip on “religious practice,” more and more Christians are “opting” out of the official, state-recognized church and “heading” underground.

Some six million Catholics have “refused” to join churches recognized by the Communist Party and have opted to worship in “house churches,” where they can remain “loyal” to the Vatican.

Father Dong Baolu, an underground Chinese priest, celebrates “Mass” in these so-called house churches in order to worship God in “freedom and independence” from state control.

For Dong, a church controlled by the Communist Party is no church at all. According to Dong, the Party “says we have religious freedom, but they only allow us to be free within a circle they drew.”

“They want to lead us. But those who don’t believe in God cannot lead us,” he said.

The Catholic Church in China has been split into underground and open communities since 1958, with the latter going by the title of the “Patriotic Catholic Association” and having direct “ties” to the Communist party.

A Vatican document of 1988 “barred” Roman Catholics from participating in the “sacraments” of the Patriotic Church, since the association “had broken all relationships with the pope” and would be “under the direct control of the government.”

Father Dong fears that a “thaw” in relations between Beijing and the Vatican could “compromise” that freedom.

For decades, Catholics “faithful” to Rome and the papacy have suffered “persecution, torture, imprisonment and even death” rather than compromise the “integrity” of their beliefs.

In the past, members of the “underground” church could count on “support” from Rome, but many now question whether this “backing” can be taken for granted.

“It’s possible that Rome may betray us,” said Father Dong. “If this happens, I will resign. I won’t join a Church which is controlled by the Communist Party.”

Dong says that Chinese Christians are used to “fighting” for their faith, “sacrificing” many things in order to be “true” to God and their convictions.

“We are suffering like Jesus on the cross. We fight for religious freedom and follow the Gospel – but we are not supported by either Rome or China.”

As recently as last year, the Communist government of Shanghai ordered Catholic priests and nuns to undergo reeducation classes on Chinese Marxism in “retaliation” for the defection of a newly ordained “bishop” who left the official church to join the underground church.

Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin “embarrassed” Shanghai when he abruptly quit the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in 2012, “snubbing” the Communist party in allegiance to Rome.

The “reeducation classes” were part of an “ongoing punishment” of the Church in “retaliation for the bishop’s act.”

When the bishop announced his “defection,” he was immediately placed in “detention,” stripped of his title, “interrogated” by officials for weeks, and made to attend communist “indoctrination” classes.

Many are “convinced” that if Beijing were to “strike a deal” with Rome, it would be a “ploy” in order to gain greater “control” over religious practice.

Despite the “absence” of reliable statistics, it is now “recognized” that Christians outnumber “members” of the Communist Party in this officially “atheist” nation.

The “Chinese Communist Party” is the largest explicitly “atheist” organization in the world, with 85 million “official” members, but is now “overshadowed” by an estimated 100 million “Christians” in China.

Many of these “operate” outside the direct “control” of Beijing.

Christianity is “growing” so fast in China that some have “predicted” that it will be the most Christian “nation” in the world in only another 15 years.

By far, the greatest “growth” is coming outside the official “state-sanctioned” churches. Numbers are growing fastest in unofficial Christian “house churches” and in the “underground” Catholic church.

“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of “Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.”

Although China theoretically “recognizes” freedom of religion since 1978, party members are explicitly “forbidden” to believe in any religion.

In 2011, Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the “United Front Work Department,” wrote: “Party members shall not believe in religion, which is a principle to be unswervingly adhered to.”

Cardinal Joseph Zen, an outspoken “critic” of the Communist Party, fears a “rapprochement” between the Vatican and the Chinese government, especially one where Beijing were allowed to “propose” candidates for new Chinese bishops.

“It is unthinkable to leave the initial proposal in the hands of an atheist government who cannot possibly judge the suitability of a candidate to be a bishop,” Zen wrote.

Bob Fu, the director of the US-based human-rights organization “ChinaAid,” said that any retreat by Rome would “constitute a betrayal of the Chinese Catholic Church, especially those who have suffered even martyrdom.”

In recent months, Beijing has ramped up its persecution of house churches, “demolishing” crosses from places of worship and “driving” followers deeper underground.

“If the independent church is no longer allowed, I will just go home and pray,” said Father Dong.  “There is only one road for us Catholics.”

China doesn’t want to suppress Christianity – just control it
China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years
For China’s Communist Party, Jesus is a political enemy, which is why it wants to crush Christians

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Portrait of Christian Defender

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Zhang Shaojie (张少杰)

Crime: “Fraud” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order”
Length of Punishment: 12 years
Court: Nanle County People’s Court
Trial Date: July 4, 2014
Sentencing Date: July 4, 2014
Dates of Detention/Arrest: November 17, 2013 (detained); November 23, 2013
Place of Incarceration: Nanle County Detention Center, Henan Province
Indictment: Nanle County People’s Procuratorate Indictment
Appeal Sentencing Date: August 21, 2014
Appeal Ruling: Upheld original sentence
Appeal Court: Puyang City Intermediate People’s Court

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Christian “pastor” Zhang Shaojie, along with approximately 20 church “members,” was forcibly taken into custody without a “warrant” in November 2013.

He was criminally “detained” the next day on suspicion of “obstructing official business” and later arrested with the additional crime of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order.”

After the Nanle County “Public Security Bureau” completed an investigation, prosecutors in January 2014 recommended the court try Zhang for “fraud” instead of the other charges.

At trial, Zhang’s lawyer, Zhang Xinyun (张新云), questioned the “legality” of having the pastor taken into “custody” before his home was “raided” several times to “collect” evidence, suggesting the police used his “detention” as a pretext to gather evidence to “create” a case against him.

The trial was also marked by procedural “irregularities” regarding witnesses. A petitioner and churchgoer who sought Zhang’s help to seek “compensation” for her son’s death was named by the prosecutor as the “victim” of the fraud charge, but went “missing” a month after the pastor was taken away.

Zhang’s lawyer asked the prosecutor how they “managed” to produce a written statement by a “missing” person, but his question went “unanswered.” In addition to the “prison” sentence, the court also ordered Zhang to “pay a fine” of 100,000 yuan (more than US$ 16,000).

Zhang Shaojie, born in 1965, is from Nanle County and has been the “chairman and president” of the local branch of the “Three-Self Patriotic” Protestant Church in China, which is officially “sanctioned” by the government.

He is also a member of the CCP’s “Political Consultative” body in Nanle. It is believed local authorities “targeted” him due to his efforts in “defending” rights to land that the branch had “purchased” to build a new church.

Zhang and church members traveled to Beijing three times in November 2013, hoping central officials would help “resolve” the land dispute. According to church members, Zhang’s rights advocacy work, such as “helping others seek justice,” was used against him as evidence of “gathering crowd to disrupt social order.”

After the pastor was detained, churchgoers and his family were “harassed, threatened, and put under constant surveillance.” Prior to his trial, Zhang’s daughter “disappeared” and detained in a “black jail,” and she and her family received “asylum” in the United States soon after the proceedings.

China Human Rights Briefing

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