Skip to content Skip to navigation

Chinese Government Must Listen to Voices of the People

October 9, 2007

On October 8, 2007, a group of lawyers, intellectuals, rights defense activists, and others released an open letter to the State Council, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of State Security, protesting the violent attack on and abduction of Beijing lawyer Li Heping.

The letter urges the government to investigate and resolve the case quickly to ensure a safe environment for Li Heping and the 120,000 other lawyers in China to practice law. The signatories demand a prohibition on illegal kidnappings, illegal detentions, and violent assaults on lawyers, scholars, journalists, and other rights defenders.

Despite ongoing intimidation and rights abuses, these activists will not be silenced. HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to investigate this attack and take immediate action to stop this kind of officially-sanctioned thug violence.
— Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC

HRIC urges Chinese authorities to respond to this call from concerned members of the Chinese legal profession and civil society. “Despite ongoing intimidation and rights abuses, these activists will not be silenced,” says HRIC Executive Director Sharon Hom. “HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to investigate this attack and take immediate action to stop this kind of officially-sanctioned thug violence.” As requested, HRIC is making an English translation available to the international community.

For more information on Li’s case, see:
“Rule of Law Threatened by Extra-Legal Attacks Against Lawyer,” October 1, 2007,

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,

An Open Letter to the State Council, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of State Security about the Abduction of Lawyer Li Heping

To the State Council, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of State Security:

We are professional lawyers and individuals concerned with the rule of law in China. As intellectuals and rights defense activists, we were shocked to learn of the following:

On September 29, 2007, at 5:30 in the afternoon, lawyer Li Heping of the Beijing Global Law Firm was abducted by a group of unidentified individuals in the office parking lot as he left work. Li was hooded, thrown into an unmarked car, and taken to a basement outside Beijing. He was slapped, kicked, and beaten on the head with water bottles by more than 10 people. His attackers also used electric rods to beat Li for four or five hours continuously. This inhumane treatment left Li rolling on the floor in serious pain and agony. In the early morning of September 30, at around 1:00 a.m., the assailants hooded Li again and drove away in two unmarked vehicles. They dumped Li in the woods outside the city. When Li returned home to check on his personal belongings, he found that the assailants had taken appeal documents on the case of his client, Cao Dong, his mobile phone SIM card, computer hard disk, law license, business card holder, and notebook. His laptop was completely reformatted, and execution files for booting the computer were also deleted.

We also understand that lawyer Li has been under constant surveillance, harassed, and threatened by the Domestic Security Protection Section of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau and the Beijing Municipal Bureau of State Security. There were even officials from those organs trailing Li at the scene of his abduction.

We believe, based on the characteristics of the crime committed against Li, that it is obvious that the assailants were not common hired thugs. The reasons are (1) they kidnapped Li while he was being watched by Domestic Security Protection Section officers and drove away in two cars with no registration plates on Beijing streets; (2) they claimed that Li was allegedly involved in a certain unspecified case, hit him with batons, and did not bother to hide their identity as they warned Li “to get out of Beijing” outright; and (3) they did not take Li's money but took or destroyed all relevant belongings and documents used in his legal practice. Rather, these individuals are backed by a politically powerful group. Therefore, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of State Security have the responsibility and obligation to fully investigate and account for this criminal offense.

According to the Constitution and other laws, the procuratorate has a duty to investigate and prosecute any state organs and their personnel that have violated the civil and political rights of the citizens. Therefore, we urge the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to adopt and investigate this case. Lawyer Li Heping has a Master of Laws degree from Renmin University. He is a highly professional, talented, and famous lawyer with international influence, and he rationally advocates the rule of law. He is a low-key and moderate individual, and does not do things for the purpose of gaining publicity. Over the years, with courage and firm conviction, he has undertaken numerous rights defense cases to safeguard the rights of disadvantaged groups, for which he has won wide respect and praise. It is incredible that such a lawyer could be kidnapped in broad daylight in the national capital, on the eve of National Day and the upcoming 17th National Congress of the Communist Party, and interrogated by more than 10 people in a private torture chamber, where he was beaten, stripped naked, tortured with high voltage electric rods, and left rolling on the floor as his assailants laughed cruelly. This treatment aimed to humiliate Li Heping, but this was not his shame alone. This is the collective shame of the Olympic host city; this is the shame of the “harmonious society” that we have committed to build; and this is the shame of our Party and government.

If the personal safety of lawyers cannot not be guaranteed by the State, then how can the people have any confidence in the rule of law by the State? How can the people believe in the Party and the government’s solemn commitment to the rule of law?

Since 2005, there have been numerous incidents in our country where lawyers, journalists, scholars, and deputies to the National People's Congress, as well as rights defense activists, have suffered at the hand of state-sanctioned violence. Incidents that have aroused widespread attention from the international community include:

  • The Taishi Village incident where Professor Ai Xiaoming, the two lawyers Tang Jingling and Guo Yan, and the deputy to the National People's Congress Lu Banglie were assaulted;
  • The case of Chen Guangcheng where the three lawyers Li Jinsong, Li Fangping, and Teng Biao were beaten;
  • The case of Wang Bo in Shijiazhuang, where lawyer Teng Biao was beaten; and
  • The cases of Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng and Guangdong lawyer Yang Maodong (also known as Guo Feixiong), who have been abducted and assaulted several times.

Some state agencies and their staff have completely disregarded the principle of the rule of law and blatantly use illegal, coercive measures to target the rights defense movement. This has led to outcries from the international community, shocked that our country, which has sworn to build a “harmonious society,” has deteriorated to rule by the criminal underworld!

Our country’s constitution already clearly stipulates protections for human rights and the rule of law, and the government is currently leading the whole country on a drive to build a harmonious atmosphere to welcome the Olympic Games. Journalists from all over the world have come, and international attention is focused on China. Even during this time, however, some state agencies are involved in an extensive network of absolute rule by secret agents whose activities are terrorizing our society. Why is this? What will all this bring to the country?

For the reputation of the country, and in order to erase this shameful incident, we request that the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and State Council attach the greatest importance to the kidnapping and assault of lawyer Li Heping, and instruct all relevant legal and political departments to solve the case within a reasonable period of time so as to provide a safe environment for Li Heping and the other 120,000 lawyers nationwide to practice their profession. At the same time, we oppose the criminalization of the state apparatus. Our most basic demand of the Party and the State is that all illegal kidnappings, illegal detentions, violent assaults on lawyers, scholars, journalists, and any rights defenders, are strictly prohibited.

Copy to:
Supreme People’s Court, Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China
Bureau of Letters and Calls of the China Communist Party
Contact Number: 86-13501091828, 86—15964249241


Li Jianqiang, Lawyer
Sun Quangchuan, Lawyer
Zhang Jiankang, Lawyer
Wang Jianbo, Lawyer
Long Yongsheng, Lawyer
Zhuang Daohe, Lawyer
Ai Xiaoming, Professor
Xie Xiaogang, Retired Professor
Su Yuanzhen, Retired Professor
Hu Jia, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Liu Di, Internet Essayist
Zhao Dagong, Writer
Dong Hai Yi Xiao, Writer
Li Yuanlong, Journalist
Liu Yiming, Internet Essayist

Albert Ho, Lawyer, Chairman of China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (Hong Kong)
Szeto Wah, Chairman of Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (Hong Kong)
Fung Oiling, Clerk (Hong Kong)
Patrick Poon, NGO Worker (Hong Kong)

Cheng Yi, Writer (USA)
Chen Kuide, Scholar (USA)
Xu Wenli, Professor (USA)

Tong Yi, Lawyer (USA)
Hu Ping, Scholar (USA)
巫一毛,作家 (美国)
Wu Yimao, Writer (USA)

Pan Qing, Director of Asia Pacific Human Rights Foundation (New Zealand)

Chen Weijian, Director of Asia Pacific Human Rights Foundation (New Zealand)

Chen Weiming, Director of Asia Pacific Human Rights Foundation (New Zealand)
Wang Ning, Director of Asia Pacific Human Rights Foundation (New Zealand)
Li Dong, Director of Asia Pacific Human Rights Foundation (New Zealand)
Da Er, Director of Asia Pacific Human Rights Foundation (New Zealand)
Cao Ha, Director of Asia Pacific Human Rights Foundation (New Zealand)
Qin Yue, Journalist (Canada)
Liu Jingsheng, Internet Essayist
Li Jianhong, Internet Essayist
Zeng Renquan, Writer
Wen Kejian, Internet Essayist
Qin Geng, Writer
Ye Du, Internet Editor
Chen Xi, Freelance Writer
李 伟,自由职业者
Li Wei, Freelance Writer
Zhu Zhengyuan, Freelancer
Liu Shurong, Freelancer
Zhang Mingzhen, Unemployed
Du Heping, Public Intellectual
Zhang Xinpei, Freelancer
Liao Shuangyuan, Freelancer
Du Daobin, Writer
Li Guohong, Freelancer
Wu Yuqin, Freelancer
Ren Weiren, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Li Renke, Freelancer
Shen Youlian, Retired Worker
Deng Yongliang, Unemployed
吴 郁、 单位职工
Wu Yu, Worker
Quan Linzhi, Retired Secondary School Teacher
Chen Defu, Freelancer
Zhang Chongfa, Freelancer
Ma Guirong, Freelancer
Deng Haoyang, Freelancer
曾 宁,自由撰稿人
Zang Ning, Freelancer
Wang Rongqing, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Wang Donghai, Internet Essayist
Wang Fuhua, Internet Essayist
Gao Haibin, Internet Essayist
Qiu Gengyao, Human Rights Activist
Fan Ziliang, Retired Worker
吴高兴 ,网络作家
Wu Gaoxing, Internet Essayist
Wan Zheng, Secondary School Teacher
Zou Wei, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Mao Qingxiang, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Wu Xiaoling, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Xu Quang, Internet Essayist
Xie Xiaoguang, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Lai Jinbiao, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Xie Jian, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Jiang Yanmin, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Liu Jincheng, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Chen Yingying, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Chen Longde, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Zan Aizong, Journalist
Hu Junxiong, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Wei Zhenglin, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Zhang Zhengzong, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Yang Jianming, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Xu Guoqing, Freelancer
Wang Debang, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
陈雷 ,建筑工程师
Chen Lei, Architect
Xu Jiangjiao, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
叶金娣 ,维权志愿者
Xie Jindi, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Xie Jine, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Zhu Yingdi, Worker
Zhao Li, Secondary School Teacher
Shen Lihu, Retired Worker
Chen Weixiang, Retired Worker
Zhang Yicai, Retired Worker
Yang Songnian, Retired Worker
Chen Renjian, Retired Worker
王柏松 ,退休工人
Wang Baisong, Retired Worker
Zhang Meijin, Retired Worker
Liu Miao, Writer
Li Yongqing, Retired Worker
Li Xianbiao, Retired Government Officer
王荣耀 ,商人
Wang Rongyao, Businessman
Ye Huo, Internet Activist
Huang Xiaomin, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Liu Feiyue, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Feng Yan, Voluntary Human Rights Activist
Niu Fenghe, Web Engineer
Tian Yongde
王莉英 ,退休工人
Wang Liying, Retired Worker

112 signatories as of October 9, 2007
List in progress