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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Author: Gerry Shih, Washington Post
…The Chinese government launched its largest-ever crackdown against human rights lawyers and activists on July 9, 2015, seizing and questioning hundreds of people nationwide in a campaign that sent a chill through the country’s legal system. Nearly two dozen of them remain in detention and face charges, including inciting subversion of state power — charges condemned by international rights groups and Western governments.
Twelve months later, the unprecedented sweep also has exacted a toll on the detainees’ families, who speak of financial ruin, homelessness, and physical abuse at the hands of police. Children have been denied schooling or placed under surveillance…
The families’ stories, detailed in interviews with several of the detainees’ wives, paint a pattern of how China’s government — no stranger to political oppression — has refined its playbook for dealing with dissidents over the past decade while maintaining the veneer that it is abiding by the rule of law.
“Prosecution by media, forced confessions, roping in an entire family and punishing them — it’s a modern, mass-media era take on the Cultural Revolution,” said Jiang Tianyong, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer…
Author: China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
The 709 incident…refers to the incident on 9 July 2015 in which hundreds of rights-defence lawyers, legal assistants, law firm personnel, rights-defence activists and relatives of lawyers and activists were detained by public security authorities and subjected to arrest, summons, interrogation, exit restrictions, forced disappearance or short-term restriction of personal freedom. As of 31 May 2016, the number of affected persons had reached 319 and extended to 25 provinces in China.
The 709 Incident can be roughly divided in eight parts as follows…Rights-defence activists Wu Gan and Zhai Yanmin detained, and official media defame lawyer Wang Yu…Surprise investigation of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm and other rights-defence lawyers…Government media extensively report on the 709 Incident…Integrated interrogations throughout China, hundreds of rights-defence lawyers and citizens summonsed…Tianjin PSB forced to admit that it is the authority in charge of 709 cases, and that relevant persons have been subject to residential surveillance (secret detention) in designated locations for six months…Strict control over family members, other lawyers and vocal supporters…A majority arrested and a minority released…Investigation and detention period extended, and meeting rights repeatedly denied…
Author: China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
Author: Permanent Mission of China to UN Office in Geneva
"Press Statement by the Spokesperson of the Permanent Mission of China on the press release by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on China", 16 Feb 2016
…[T]he Permanent Mission of China made the following clarifications, stressing that all those cases raised involve illegal and criminal activities, and has nothing to do with restrictions of the rights and freedoms. The Chinese Mission expresses strong dissatisfaction and disagreement with the High Commissioner's misleading remarks.
According to the spokesperson, on cases involving Wang Yu and a number of so called "lawyers", early in July 2015, China's Ministry of Public Security cracked down on a major criminal gang for seriously disturbing social order. It used the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm as a platform, plotted and organized dozens of incidents involving breaking into public security, procuratorial and judicial organs as well as courts, gathering crowds and making disturbances in public venues, which severely disrupted the normal social order and judicial process. They incited netizens to make phone call harassment to government officials, insult, slander, threaten and intimidate judges and police on duty. They were also involved in serious economic crimes including misappropriating company assets, tax evasion and fraud. It should be pointed out that lawyers are the safeguards of the law, but not the amulets of law-breakers. The above-mentioned criminal facts are clear with conclusive evidence.
Regarding the cases on the so-called "labour activists" in Guangdong Province, the individuals have used overseas funds to intervene in domestic labor disputes and gravely disturbed public order. Some are also accused of fraud, adultery and embezzlement…
Author: UN News Centre
"China’s clampdown on lawyers and activists draws concern of UN human rights chief", 16 Feb 2016
The top United Nations human rights official announced today he has sought clarifications from the Chinese authorities about the recent arrests of lawyers, and intimidation of Government critics and workers of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), describing these incidents as “a very worrying pattern” that has serious implications for the activities of civil society there.
“Civil society actors, from lawyers and journalists to NGO workers, have the right to carry out their work, and it is the States’ duty to support and protect them,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
He raised such cases with Chinese officials in Geneva, and acknowledged their efforts to clarify the matters at issue. However, their responses indicate that the authorities “too often reflexively confuse the legitimate role of lawyers and activists with threats to public order and security,” he said.
Police have detained about 250 human rights lawyers, legal assistants, and activists across the country since a nationwide crackdown began last July, although many were subsequently released. Last month, 15 additional human rights lawyers were formally arrested, 10 of them for the crime of ‘subversion of State power,’ which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Among those facing that particular charge are leading human rights lawyers Li Heping and Wang Yu…
扎伊德在声明中表示，自从去年7月开始全国镇压行动以来，警方已拘留了250名人权律师、法律 助理和人权活动人士，尽管许多人后来得到释放。上个月，15名人权律师被正式逮捕，有10人的罪名是“颠覆国家政权”，这一罪名的处罚是15年至终身监 禁。面临“颠覆国家政权”罪名指控的著名人权律师当中有李和平和王宇。