Human Rights in China (HRIC) condemns the violent attacks against Beijing-based rights defense lawyer, Li Heping, the weekend before National Day celebrations in China.
Li’s public statement describes his abduction, beating and torture with electric rods by a group of unidentified men on September 29. He was held in a basement outside Beijing until early September 30, when he was dumped in the woods outside the city. As he was beaten, Li was told to leave Beijing with his family or face the consequences. When he returned home, Li discovered that his license to practice law and other personal belongings were missing. His computer had also been completely erased.
“As the international community increases its scrutiny of China in the lead-up to the Olympics, it is appalling that this kind of attack on lawyers continue,” said HRIC Executive Director Sharon Hom. “These attacks raise serious concerns about the will and ability of the Chinese government to protect lawyers’ personal safety and right to practice law, which are essential elements of a system of rule of law.”
Lawyers in China face many challenges including procedural barriers, limited access to their clients, and increasingly physical attacks. Both international and domestic law prohibit torture and protect freedom of expression. HRIC urges the Chinese government to investigate Li Heping’s assault and prosecute the individuals responsible as part of its obligations under the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment; China will be reviewed by the UN Committee Against Torture in November 2008.
Li Heping has a Masters of Law from Renmin University of China Law School, and is now partner at a Beijing law firm. Li has been defense counsel for several human rights defenders and activists, including Yang Zili, environmental activist Tan Kai, house church leaders, Falun Gong practitioners, and victims of forced eviction. In 2005, Li also appealed to the Beijing Bureau of Judicial Affairs on behalf of imprisoned lawyer Gao Zhisheng.
For more information on attacks on lawyers in China, see HRIC Trends Bulletin, “Setback for the Rule of Law - Lawyers Under Attack in China,” February 2007, http://hrichina.org/public/contents/34781.
For information on the case of Guo Feixiong, another rights defense lawyer, see:
“Wife Appeals for Guo Feixiong’s Release,” September 14, 2007, http://hrichina.org/public/contents/44913.
“Guo Feixiong Appeals to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture,” June 5, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/40742.
Rights Defender Guo Feixiong’s Trial Date Set,” May 21, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/38474.
“Rights Defender Guo Feixiong Maintains Innocence, is Formally Indicted,” May 15, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/37607.
“Guo Feixiong Transferred Again Pending Trial,” April 2, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/35093.
“Guo Feixiong’s Case Delayed, Transferred,” January 22, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/32199.
“Guo Feixiong Tortured, Sister and Brother Harassed,” January 16, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/32161.