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10 Jan 2016

Tom Phillips, Guardian (UK)

Wife of Chinese human rights lawyer missing for six months tells of despair

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Six months after her husband was spirited into secret detention by security forces, the wife of one of China’s top civil rights lawyers has spoken of her grief and despair…Exactly six months on, up to 35 lawyers and activists, including Li [Heping], are still missing or in custody…

“There isn’t any information. We haven’t received any kind of notice or correspondence from the government,” complained Wang Qiaoling, Li’s 44-year-old wife…“So many lawyers have been taken away,” she said. “Conscientious people have been cracked down upon” …“What these lawyers did was help ordinary people address their grievances and escape false charges,” his wife said. “These days in China we always say that if an elderly person falls over nobody goes to help them. What these lawyers do is like trying to help the elderly but the government stops you from doing that. And what’s more, if you do try to help them, you will be beaten. If you try to help them, you will be arrested. It is totally unscrupulous.”

Li was known as one of China’s most courageous rights lawyers, defending a series of politically sensitive clients including environmentalists, dissidents and the blind activist Chen Guangcheng…But…July last year…he was seized at his family home in Beijing