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11 Jul 2016

Mimi Lau, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

12 months after crackdown, Chinese rights lawyers call for release of detained colleagues

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…Rights lawyers on the Chinese mainland vowed to remain united amid what they say is an escalating threat to their safety as they marked the first anniversary of a sweeping crackdown that targeted hundreds in their profession…The far-reaching and intense crackdown had been highly organised, said a joint statement titled “Anniversary of a shattered legal dream” and released by China Human Rights Lawyers Group…

Critics say the sweeping crackdown was aimed at silencing advocates and activists and stifling the burgeoning rights defence movement since 2013.They say it shows the authorities’ fear of the fast-growing civil society and their wariness of the crucial role played by an expanding community of rights lawyers in the grass-roots “rights defence” movement.

As of early this month, 24 had been formally charged, including for subversion of state power, inciting subversion and provoking social disturbance. Another 17, including legal assistant Zhao Wei, had been released on bail and 264 others freed after being harassed and temporarily detented, according to the group…The cost of defending human rights ... will be much higher from now on...

Part of the following timelines

China: More than 300 rights lawyers detained in nationwide crackdown, including lawyers who handled cases on corporate abuses; at least 6 face formal charges

China: A year after 709 crackdown, nearly two dozen human rights lawyers & activists still under detention