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China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group Statement on the 6th Anniversary of “709 Crackdown” (9 July 2021)

9 July 2021

 

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group would like to take the opportunity on this day to commemorate the 6th Anniversary of the “709 Crackdown” – a large-scale suppression of human rights lawyers and activists in China starting from 9 July 2015 in which over 300 lawyers had been affected.

 

The “709 Crackdown” commenced when Lawyer Wang Yu was forcibly taken away in the early hours of 9 July 2015. In the next few months and years, hundreds of lawyers and activists were summoned, intimidated, detained, arrested and imprisoned. Some of them were even placed in residential surveillance at designated location (RSDL) – a form of prolonged incommunicado detention which human rights experts in the United Nations categorized as amounting to torture per se. In fact, nearly all human rights lawyers and activists who had been placed in RSDL expressed being tortured or forcibly made to confess.

 

As per our statistics, over 300 were affected in the “709 Crackdown”, and over 35 human rights lawyers had their legal practice licenses revoked or suspended after the “709 Crackdown”. Furthermore, at least 26 human rights lawyers or legal activists were detained and/or imprisoned, of which over 8 of them are still remaining in custody.

 

The “709 Crackdown” marks an abhorrence for human rights development in China. Human rights lawyers and activists risked their lives to work for ordinary or vulnerable people whose rights were unduly affected, but they were treated severely harsh during the mass suppression. We would like to adopt what was said by Chang Weiping, a currently detained human rights lawyer who still remains incommunicado, that “what human rights lawyers do is advancing the society’s development. They do not ask for reward, yet they shall not be treated like this”.

 

Human rights lawyers are crucial to the society. They work to ensure that people, especially minorities and the vulnerable, can have their rights safeguarded and respected. At the 6th Anniversary of the “709 Crackdown”, we express our remembrance to human rights lawyers who have been affected during the suppression. We ask for the immediate release of those who are still detained, and we sincerely hope that authorities should strive to provide human rights lawyers a safe working environment in the years to come.

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