China's campaign to remove "illegal structures" in the country had cost a woman her life as she tried to stop the demolition of a church. Less than two weeks later, the land in dispute where the incident happened was declared as her husband's and the church's.
According to international human rights organization China Aid, a village administrative committee along with the township government and the local ministry of land and resources ruled on April 25 that the land -- the site in Zhumadian, Henan province where Ding Cuimei died while the Betou Church was being demolished -- is owned by her husband Pastor Li Jiangong and the Church, and it can be used for religious purposes.
Jiangong and the group are appreciative of the ruling, although they are also hoping that the perpetrators would be made to pay for their crime.
"While we are glad to see that the local authorities acted swiftly and fairly under international pressure to resolve the church's right to their land, we are concerned that justice for the family of the martyr is still not done," said China Aid president Bob Fu.
Cuimei was buried alive in mid-April when she and her husband stood in the way of a bulldozing team, which, according to China Aid's earlier report, was dispatched by a government-backed company to destroy the church. The couple was reportedly pushed down a pit, which was then covered with dirt. Lo managed to dig himself out, but his wife suffocated and did not make it. Two of the demolition crew were detained although no information about the possible charges have been announced.
"Pastor Li's wife, Sister Ding Cuimei, was brutally killed on April 14," Fu said. "We appeal to the Chinese authorities to hold those criminal perpetrators accountable with a fair investigation and standard judicial process with full justice and unhindered legal representation by Beijing based human rights lawyer Li Dunyong."
The demolition of the church is part of the Communist Party's campaign to "beautify" China, under which thousands of crosses have been removed from structures and some churches have been destroyed.