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Mass Crackdown on Chinese Lawyers and Defenders

Last updated: June 10, 2016

2016

Aug 8

According to Hong Kong Alliance, a Hong Kong-based NGO, the wives of Wang Quanzhang, Xie Yanyi, and Li Heping went to the No. 2 branch of the Tianjin Municipal People's Procuratorate to seek updates on their husbands’ cases. They were told  that Wang and Xie’s cases have been received by the Procuratorate (for indictment), and Li’s case has been sent back to the Public Security Bureau for further investigation. The women were insulted by a Procuratorate official during their visit. Source.

The United States, European Union, and a group of NGOs issue statements on the convictions of Zhai Yanmin, Hu Shigen, Zhou Shifang, and Gou Hongguo on subversion charges, calling on the Chinese government to drop all charges against the four. Source

Aug 11

According to Hong Kong Alliance, a Hong Kong-based NGO, the wives of Wang Quanzhang, Xie Yanyi, and Li Heping went to the No. 2 branch of the Tianjin Municipal People's Procuratorate to seek updates on their husbands’ cases. They were told  that Wang and Xie’s cases have been received by the Procuratorate (for indictment), and Li’s case has been sent back to the Public Security Bureau for further investigation. The women were insulted by a Procuratorate official during their visit. Source.

The United States, European Union, and a group of NGOs issue statements on the convictions of Zhai Yanmin, Hu Shigen, Zhou Shifang, and Gou Hongguo on subversion charges, calling on the Chinese government to drop all charges against the four. Source

Aug 12

16 family members of Xie Yang issue a joint statement about the reported torture he suffered at Changsha No. 2 Detention Center: in August 2015, Xie was beaten so badly that he was sent to 163 Hospital for an emergency rescue; in July 2016, he was also badly beaten—by death row inmates whom the authorities had moved into his cell. The family urges investigation into those responsible for the abuse and to “safeguard the reputation of China as a great country subject to the rule of law.”  Source: CH, EN (translation by China Change.)

Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋), wife of Xie Yang, issues a statement regarding her husband’s reported torture in detention, and says that Xie had told his lawyers: he would not admit guilt because he never committed the offenses charged, and he would definitely not dismiss his lawyer. Source: CH, EN (translation by China Change.)

Aug 13

Li Wenzu, wife of Wang Quanzhang, says in a written statement that when Wang’s lawyer, Yu Wensheng (余文生), went to the No. 2 branch of the Tianjin Municipal People's Procuratorate on August 9, he was told that Wang Quanzhang does not want a lawyer and has given up his right to a defense. Li believes the statement was coerced. 

Li also says that the authorities’ harassment of her family has intensified: Domestic Security officers attempt to prevent her from going out, even to register her child at a daycare center earlier in the day—and follow her everywhere. Source.

Aug 16

According to CHRLCG, Wang Fang will be tried on the charge of picking quarrels and provoking trouble on August 18, 9:00am at Wuchang District Court in Wuhan City. Some reports say that Yin Xu’an will also be tried on the same charge at the same time. Source.

Li Wenzu, wife of Wang Quanzhang—who has been experiencing intensified harassment by the authorities in recent days—was briefly detained at Xinyuanli Police Station in Beijing, and later released. Source.

Aug 19

Wang Qiaoling, wife of detained lawyer Li Heping, tells Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (民生观察工作室) that just one day after the family moved into a new residence, her landlord requests to break the lease. She also says that she was forced out of her former residence by her former landlord who had been pressured by the authorities to end her lease. Source.

Aug 21

RFA reports that the Tianjin Municipal Nankai District court accepted a complaint filed by Wang Qiaoling, wife of detained lawyer Li Heping, requesting the court to invalidate the state’s appointment of two lawyers to represent Li. Source.

See full chronology starting from June 2015 >

Courageous Voices

Throughout the mass crackdown of lawyers and defenders, Chinese authorities have abused legal process and viciously attacked individuals and professional organizations. Yet, courageous individuals are still speaking out and countering the onslaught of official propaganda. (All text translated by Human Rights in China.)  

HRIC Statement

HRIC Urges Independent Observers at Upcoming Trials of Lawyers and Activists in China

August 5, 2016

This week, Chinese authorities put on trial and convicted one rights lawyer and three activists on charges of “subversion of state power”: Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民), a law firm employee; Hu Shigen (胡石根), a democracy and religious freedom activist; Zhou Shifeng (周世鋒), a lawyer and law firm director; and Gou Hongguo (勾洪国), a rights activist. According to available official trial transcripts and media reports, all four defendants admitted guilt, expressed remorse, and accepted their trial verdicts. In addition, on August 1, Chinese authorities released a video of Wang Yu (王宇), another lawyer charged with “subversion” but recently released on bail, in which she referred to her former colleague Zhou Shifeng as not being a “qualified” lawyer,” and expressed remorse about her own “inappropriate” remarks and speaking with foreign media.

These five individuals are among the more than 300 lawyers and activists targeted in a nationwide crackdown that began in July 2015. To date, 18 others remain in police custody and have been formally arrested, five of whom are also facing “subversion” charges.

What do these events mean for Chinese civil society? How should the international community respond?

The targeting of those who are at the forefront of defending fundamental rights and promoting the growth of civil society underscores the true aim of the Communist Party of China’s policy of “ruling the country by law”—to maintain the supremacy of the CPC. Instead of safeguarding the people's rights, the current regime uses the legal system as a political instrument to undermine the very forces needed to sustain a rule of law: an independent judiciary, an independent bar, and a robust civil society. See more

Responses
Domestic Actions
UN & Governments

United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “UN Human Rights Chief deeply concerned by China clampdown on lawyers and activists,” February 16, 2016

Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Recent human rights developments in China,” July 17, 2015.

Government of Canada, “Canada Gravely Concerned by Detention and Disappearance of Lawyers and Activists in China,” July 16, 2015

United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “'Lawyers need to be protected not harassed’ – UN experts urge China to halt detentions,” July 16, 2015

European Union External Action, “Statement by the Spokesperson on recent developments in the human rights situation in China,” July 15, 2015

Congressional-Executive Commission on China “'Increasingly Bold Disregard for Basic Human Rights,” July 14, 2015.

Federal Foreign Office of Germany, “Human Rights Commissioner Strässer condemns the arrest of scores of lawyers in China,” July 14, 2015.

U.S. Department of State, “U.S. Condemns Detention of Human Rights Defenders in China,” July 12, 2015.

 
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One Year On: International Community Urges China to Uphold Rule of Law

See more: Crackdown on Chinese Lawyers

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HRIC

Relevant Legal Resources:
  • UN Committee Against Torture, “List of issues in relation to the fifth periodic report of China,” 2015: EN
  • UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):  EN, CH
  • Draft Criminal Law Amendment (9) (2015): CH, EN
  • Criminal Procedure Law: CH

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