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

[For further information, please refer to: Mass Crackdown on Chinese Lawyers, Defenders and International Reactions: A Brief Chronology, Human Rights in China]

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9 July 2017

China: Two years after "709 crackdown" on rights lawyers, many are still in jail, detained or under strict surveillance

Author: Nectar Gan, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

"In 2015, China crushed rights lawyers but activists are still organizing", 9 Jul 2017

…July 9, 2015 marked the start of a national roundup – later to become known as the“709 crackdown” – of about 300 rights lawyers, legal assistants and activists from across China. Most were interrogated and released, but about 40 were taken into custody.

…Two years on, the majority of the cases have been closed. Two people remain in prison – rights lawyer Zhou Shifeng is serving seven years and activist Hu Shigen seven-and-a-half years for subverting state power – while others were given suspended sentences. Three more lawyers – Wang Quanzhang, Jiang Tianyong and Wu Gan – and possibly others are in custody after being formally arrested, but not sentenced, while about a dozen, including Wang Yu, have been released on bail though remain under strict surveillance…

Several others who were detained during the crackdown have told friends and family how they were tortured while in custody. Some said they were beaten, shackled and given electric shocks, while others said they were deprived of sleep, forced to take medication, and held in painful stress positions…

The 709 crackdown came as Beijing was pushing for legal reforms to improve its “rule of law”…Critics, however, have said that the government’s treatment of the rights lawyers shows the country is heading in the opposite direction. “Jailing the very people who fight for the rule of law undermines progress towards the stable society the Communist Party claims to want,” said Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch….

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Author: ALAN WONG,纽约时报


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Author: ALAN WONG,紐約時報

…聲名顯赫的…人權律師[李和平]被判顛覆政權罪,獲刑三年,緩期執行。 …李和平自2015年以來一直被監禁。 …天津…[某]法院發聲明稱,李和平獲得四年緩刑。 …人權組織表示,這…意味著李和平將被釋放,但判決實際上令他在未來幾年無法從事律師行業工作。在被監禁期間,當局曾騷擾他的家人,阻止他的妻子王峭嶺為他找代理律師…[有]研究員…表示,因為存在重新被監禁的威脅,李和平和他的家人還將繼續忍受不確定性。 “他和家人實際上要再當四年的囚犯…”李和平代理過中國一些最知名的異見者和人權活動人士,[同時也為強制拆遷和強制徵收受害者辯護,其最知名的委託人之一是盲人維權人士陳光誠]。他…在一場壓制異見者的大規模行動中被…拘捕。這場行動的打擊目標包括250多名律師、律師助理和活動人士…法院表示,李和平“攻擊”政府,和“具有顛覆國家政權思想的”宗教活動人士和律師“勾結”,危害國家安全和社會穩定。 …該法院…稱,因涉及國家秘密,這次審判不進行公開審理。 …李和平表示自己不會上訴...

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27 April 2017

China: Human Rights Lawyer Li Heping gets suspended prison sentence after being convicted of subversion charges

Author: ALAN WONG, New York Times

…One of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers [Li Heping] was given a suspended three-year prison sentence…after being convicted of subversion charges. Li…has been in detention since 2015, received a four-year reprieve, a court in Tianjin said... The sentence means Mr. Li will be released, but it effectively prevents him from practicing law in the near future, rights groups said. During Mr. Li’s detention, the authorities harassed his family and prevented his wife, Wang Qiaoling, from seeking legal representation… [A] researcher…said the threat of a return to detention meant that Mr. Li and his family would continue to endure uncertainty. “He and his family are effectively prisoners for the next four years...”

Mr. Li has represented some of China’s best-known dissidents and rights activists… [He also represented cases concerning forced eviction and land acquisition. One of Mr. Li’s high-profile clients was the blind legal advocate Chen Guangcheng]… He was detained in 2015…during an expansive crackdown on dissent that targeted more than 250 lawyers, legal assistants and activists...

The…court…said Mr. Li had endangered national security and social stability by “attacking” the government and had “colluded” with religious activists and lawyers with “subversive ideologies.” The trial was held behind closed doors because it involved state secrets, …Mr. Li…would not appeal...

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24 April 2017

China: Human rights lawyer Xie Yang to face trial, possibly on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”

Author: AFP

"China rights lawyer Xie Yang denied own defence for trial", 22 Apr 2017

…Chinese lawyer Xie Yang will not be allowed to pick his defence at his upcoming trial, his former attorney said, in a move rights groups called a breach of international standards. Xie, who has worked on numerous cases considered politically sensitive by the ruling Communist party including defending [victim’s of land disputes], has been detained since July 2015. He has claimed police have used “sleep deprivation, long interrogations, beatings, death threats, humiliations” on him while in custody, and the EU has voiced concern over his case.

“The court has designated a defence lawyer,” Xie’s former lawyer Chen Jiangang told AFP. “Everything has been done according to the will of the judiciary — not the interests of Xie and his family,” Chen said. The trial — possibly on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” — will be held Tuesday at the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court in southern Hunan province, Chen added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has overseen a tightening of controls on civil society since assuming power in 2012, closing avenues for legal activism that had opened up in recent years…Xie was arrested during the so-called “709 crackdown” in the summer of 2015, which saw some 200 legal staff and activists detained…Chinese courts…found six of the group guilty of serious crimes including “subverting state power” and “endangering national security”…

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21 February 2017

China: Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders highlights arrests & other threats to human rights defenders in new report

Author: Chinese Human Rights Defenders

"CHRD Releases “They Target My Human Rights Work as a Crime”: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2016)", 16 Feb 2017

...Promoting and protecting human rights remained a high-risk activity in 2016, says CHRD in its annual report...on the situation of human rights defenders in China...The Chinese government intensified crackdowns on human rights defenders (HRDs) and criminalized rights activities as “political” threats to “national security.”...The Chinese government punished them with arbitrary detention, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, and torture. In addition, their families faced collective punishment. Police systematically deprived detained HRDs of due process rights, such as the right to a fair trial and access to independent legal counsel. Authorities also rolled out a series of draconian laws and regulations that give police even more power to criminalize human rights activities...

(b) Quelling Protests: From Brute Force to Communication Blockades... For many years, the number of protests in China — over pollution, labor disputes, land grabs, forced demolitions, and other issues — have been estimated to be in the tens of thousands...146 Authorities used force in response to demonstrations, beating and detaining participants...For instance, over one thousand police in Xi’an crushed a rally by residents opposing a proposed waste incinerator plant in October...

For China to live up to its public pledges to protect human rights and to uphold the Chinese Constitution, the...government must immediately stop criminalizing the activities of human rights defenders, including lawyers. Furthermore, CHRD calls on the government to..repeal draconian stipulations in national legislation that abridge the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association; and allow national and international NGOs to play a full and active role in promoting and protecting human rights in China.

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27 January 2017

China: EU statement on cases of possible mistreatment of human rights defenders

Author: European External Action Service (EEAS)

"We are aware of recent information regarding the serious mistreatment of detained human rights lawyers Li Heping, Wang Quangzhang and Xie Yang. If verified, this mistreatment would amount to torture. In its December 2015 review of China, the UN Committee Against Torture had expressed serious concern over reports about the practice of torture and ill-treatment in China's criminal justice system.The European Union expects that the competent authorities in China will investigate, without delay, the account of torture in the case of Xie Yang and the allegations of torture in the cases of Li Heping and Wang Quanzhang...The release of human rights lawyers Xie Yanyi and Li Chunfu is a positive step. We reiterate our call for the release of the lawyers and human rights defenders who remain in detention, including Jiang Tianyong."

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13 January 2017

Chinese lawyer held for more than 500 days in crackdown diagnosed with mental disorder following captivity

Author: Mimi Lau, South China Morning Post

[Li Chunfu, a] Beijing lawyer has been diagnosed with a mental disorder after he was held in detention for more than 500 days as part of a huge crackdown on civil rights activists in China. Li…had been held for suspected subversion after he was detained…and he returned home…after his release on bail… It is still not clear exactly what happened to Li…during his detention. …He was among about 300 lawyers and activists detained, arrested or questioned by the authorities in the massive crackdown against rights activists that began on July 9, 2015. [Li represented cases for HIV/AIDS patients, landless peasents and other vulnerable groups]

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8 August 2016

China rejects Western criticism of crackdown on rights defenders

Author: Reuters

China rebuked the United States on Saturday for criticising it over the convictions of rights activists, with a Tianjin court last week sentencing three rights advocates and a lawyer to up to 7 ½ years’ jail for subversion…The sentencing has been condemned by international rights groups as an effort to silence critics. On Thursday, a State Department spokesman said the United States was concerned about the convictions made on “apparently politically motivated charges”, and called for the release the lawyers and activists. The European Union also said the conviction of the activists runs contrary to China’s stated commitment to strengthening the rule of law.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the “US accusations are groundless” and urged Washington to “respect the facts”. “Chinese judicial authorities deal with related cases in accordance with law so that the legitimate rights and interests of defendants could be effectively protected,” Xinhua cited Hua as saying…

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4 August 2016

US criticises China's 'political' trials as fourth activist punished for subversion

Author: AFP

…Christian activist Gou Hongguo [who had protested against forced evictions]…was given three years in prison, suspended for three years, the official Xinhua news agency said…Gou’s trial was the fourth at the Tianjin court this week, and followed that of high-profile rights lawyer Zhou Shifeng

Campaign groups have condemned the trials, and US state department spokesman Mark Turner said the charges were “vague and apparently politically motivated”. “It’s troubling that Chinese authorities denied these defendants access to their chosen counsel and family members as well,” he said. “We urge China to release all the lawyers and activists who were detained on 9 July 2015, and remove restrictions on their freedom of movement and professional activities.”

Authorities insist the Tianjin trials are open, with the court stating that about 40 people including politicians, legal scholars, and “civilian representatives from all walks of life”, as well as mainland and foreign media outlets, were present at Gou’s proceedings.

But family members of those detained, particularly their wives, complain of being constantly surveilled and forcibly being kept away from the court or barred from seeking further information…


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