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China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group Condemns the Recent Wave of Persecution against Human Rights Lawyers in China

After Guangdong lawyer Wang Quanping was criminally detained for “disturbing public order” in April, six more human rights lawyers were also put under criminal detention in May 2014, with charges of “picking fights and troubles”, “disturbing public order” and “illegal acquisition of citizens’ personal information”. CHRLCG strongly condemns Chinese authorities’ continuous persecution of human rights lawyers and demands immediate withdrawal of charges and release of the lawyers under arrest.

On May 6, 2014, Beijing lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was charged with “picking fights and troubles” and detained by Beijing police three days after his attendance of the “Beijing Seminar on June 4th Memorial”. Lawyer Pu was the defense lawyer of Ren Jianyu and Tang Hui while both of them were in the re-education through labor camp.

On May 13, 2014, Guangzhou disbarred lawyer Liu Shihui was requested to “get out of Shanghai” by the local police, and then detained for “disturbing public order”. Lawyer Liu could not conduct normal legal practices as he had represented several sensitive cases, including Guo Feixiong’s illegal business case. He received great pressure from the Guangdong Judicial Department. Liu’s lawyer, Zhang Lei, stated after meeting with him that Liu’s health was in a very bad condition.

On May 14, 2014, Beijing lawyer Qu Zhenhong, niece and the defense lawyer of Pu Zhiqiang, was charged with “illegal acquisition of citizens’ personal information” and was detained by the Beijing Police after she had a meeting with Pu in the detention center and written an open letter with lawyer Zhang Sizhi demanding the Government to grant Pu bail.

On May 16, 2014, Guangdong disbarred lawyer Tang Jingling was arrested and detained by the Guangzhou police on the charge of “picking fights and troubles”. The police conducted a house search and took away two computers and three cell phones. Before his detention, lawyer Tang was summoned by the police several times and was asked not to take part in any June 4th memorial activities. His license was revoked for his participation in human rights cases.

On May 27, 2014, Henan lawyer Chang Boyang was summoned by the Henan police as he was accused of  “disturbing public order”. At the same time the police took away two computers and two cell phones from his house. In the morning of May 29, his wife was informed of his detention, but had not received a written notice. Chang’s lawyers were denied meeting with Chang three times. Before the detention, lawyer Chang was representing Shi Yu, a journalist who was charged with the same crime for his participation in the June 4 memorial activities held in Henan on 2 February 2014. Chang once founded a volunteer lawyers’ group to assist those children harmed by tainted baby formula, and handled multiple cases to defend the rights of disadvantaged groups such as migrant workers, AIDS patients, and minors. He also endorsed the letters initiated by ten lawyers, calling for reform of the re-education through labor system, the letters to the Ministry of Education calling for the elimination of residency restrictions for the college entrance exam, and the petitions to abolish the mandatory annual law firm audit and to increase court security and other public interest law proposals.

On May 28, 2014, Henan Lawyer Ji Laisong was detained for “disturbing public order”. Ji was once the attorney of two famous cases - Cui Yingjie’s killing of an urban management official and Peng Baoquan’s forced treatment in mental hospital. Also, he has participated in the 10-lawyer-suggestion letters calling for reform of the re-education through labor system and an open letter for amendment of the Detention Ordinance.

CHRLCG believes that the rights and interests of human rights lawyers have been seriously violated by the Chinese authorities. As citizens, they are entitled the freedom of speech and assembly, which are guaranteed by China’s constitution; as lawyers, they also enjoy the rights stipulated in the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law and the Lawyers Law in China, which provide that “[T]he personal rights of a lawyer in practicing law shall not be infringed upon (article 37)”, “[T]he legal practice of a lawyer shall be protected by law, and no organization or individual shall infringe upon the legal rights and interests of a lawyer (article 3)”, and “[W]hen a defense lawyer files a request for a meeting with a criminal suspect or defendant in custody on the basis of the lawyer's practicing license, a certificate issued by the law firm, and a power of attorney or an official legal aid document, a jail shall arrange a meeting in a timely manner, no later than 48 hours after the request is filed (article 37)”. The six lawyers were just exercising their legal rights, or performing their duties as an attorney to defend the rights of their clients. However, they faced flagrant obstruction from the local authorities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Henan – criminal prosecution, arbitrary restriction of freedom, violation of constitutional rights, and deprivation of right to meeting with their lawyers.

 

Therefore, CHRLCG requires:

1. All the concerned authorities must release the six human rights lawyers immediately and withdraw all the charges.

2. All the concerned authorities must ensure the detained lawyers’ rights stipulated in the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law, including but not limited to immediate and unfettered access to their lawyers, sufficient facilities to defense while in detention.

3. All Lawyers Associations must immediately take all of the necessary measures to protect the six lawyers as their members and provide them resources, including but not limited to legal assistance, press release, and inform other members of any progress.

4. All the concerned authorities must respect citizens’ freedom of speech and assembly, and lawyers’ right to practice according to Chinese Criminal Procedure Law and Lawyers Law.

Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group

June 5, 2014

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