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【Forwarded】China Human Rights Lawyers Group Statement Regarding the Tenth Anniversary of the disbarment of human rights lawyers Liu Wei(刘巍) and Tang Jitian(唐吉田)

Following the end of the Cultural Revolution and the development of the Reform, the profession of lawyers in China was revived. This was supposed to be a right move in history, but the Chinese government seems to have turned this into a nightmare. In the past decade, the development of the lawyer profession has been reduced to a history of suppression on lawyers by the Chinese authorities. This is especially the case for human rights lawyers, who have been actively defending the integrity of law and the constitution, as well as human rights, freedom, democracy and the rule of law. However, this group of lawyers have been targeted by the authorities and subjected to persecution and framing. This sufficiently exposes the manoeuvre of the Chinese government falsely defending their version of the rule of law, but in reality exercising true dictatorship. At the same time, lawyer associations have become the forefront of the system to officially assist the authorities to suppress lawyers in their community.


Before 2010, Chinese human rights lawyers, including but not limited to Zhang Jiankang(张鉴康), Zheng Enchong(郑恩宠), Gao Zhisheng(高智晟), Tang Jingling(唐荆陵), Guo Guoting(郭国汀), Li Subin(李苏滨), Teng Biao(滕彪), Li Wusi(李午汜), have been subjected to various degrees of persecution by the authorities. They were either unemployed due to disbarment, or went into exile.  Chen Shuqing(陈树庆) and Li Dawei(李大伟) were barred from internship opportunity. Since the amendments made to the Lawyers’ Law in June 2008, Liu Wei and Tang Jitian’s licenses were revoked without any legal and factual basis in April 2010. This is a full exhibition of the hubris of the Chinese government, as well as their odiousness and lack of shame – which amounted to the start of the suppression of the human rights lawyers by the Chinese government in history.


The decade since 2010 marked a record high level of the government’s persecution against Chinese human rights lawyers, especially during the 709 Crackdown in 2015, followed by revocation and suspension of lawyers’ licenses, and forced closures of law firms as a continued form of repression on human rights lawyers. These ten years also marked the complete degradation of the rule of law in China.  Lawyers have either been wrongfully imprisoned, or had their licenses revoked or suspended, some were even illegally summoned or had to flee the country. The victims include: Li Heping(李和平), Zhou Shifeng(周世锋), Pu Zhiqiang(浦志强), Jiang Tianyong(江天勇), Wang Quanzhang(王全璋), Xie Yang(谢阳), Wang Yu(王宇), Bao Longjun(包龙军), Xie Yanyi(谢燕益), Yu Wensheng(余文生), Chen Wuquan(陈武权), Wang Quanping(王全平), Zhang Zhan(张展), Li Yuhan(李昱函), Chen Jiahong(陈家鸿), Wen Haibo(温海波), Qin Yongpei(覃永沛), Zhu Shengwu(祝圣武), Liu Zhengqing(刘正清), Sui Muqing(隋牧青), Wang Liqian(王理乾), Wang Longde(王龙德), Chen Keyun(陈科云), Wen Donghai(文东海), Li Jinxing(李金星), Tong Chaoping(童朝平), Liu Shihui(刘士辉), Song Meiying(宋美英), Zhu Ruling(朱汝玲), Ma Lianshun(马连顺), Liu Shuqing(刘书庆), Cheng Hai(程海), Yu Pinjian(玉品健), Zhang Xuezhong(张雪忠), Liu Xiaoyuan(刘晓原), Chen Jiangang(陈建刚), Wang Qingpeng(王清鹏), Chang Weiping(常玮平), Zhong Jinhua(钟锦化), Ren Zhao(任照), Huang Zhiqiang(黄志强), Lu Siwei(卢思位), Lu Tingge(卢廷阁), Wu Shaoping(吴绍平), and many more lawyers. 


Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜) and Xu Zhiyong(许志永) have also recently lost their freedom after being framed by the authorities. There have also been human rights lawyers who were officially warned and punished with license revocation without any reasonable explanation, not to mention that they and their families are often harassed in their daily lives and in their work. Such suppression has led to unemployment of a large number of human rights lawyers – a rare phenomenon on the global landscape, and an atrocious record in the global and Chinese legal history.


Chinese human rights lawyers, in the process of protecting their clients’ lawful rights, ensuring correct application of the law, and safeguarding social justice and equality, have to uphold the integrity of the constitution, the law, and rights. They have to pick out unrightful laws and those who endanger the rule of law like a woodpecker for the benefit of the country and its people. This group of lawyers, who have been striving for the rule of law and human rights in their country, have since been subjected to various degrees of unscrupulous suppression by the Chinese authorities. The long list of names is the evidence of the blood and tears behind the defence of human rights and the rule of law by these Chinese human rights lawyers. It also shows that Chinese society has again fallen into the swamp of power monopoly and authoritarianism, that human rights in China are again severely corroded, that freedom, democracy, justice and equality are again trampled upon in China. Where is the government trying to lead China? Does China still want to be a country which truly respects the rule of law? Does the Chinese society want to return to the dark era where power and authority reigns upon everything else? The Chinese people must deeply reflect upon this.


In the light of the situation, the China Human Rights Lawyers Group would like to issue the following statement on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the disbarment of Liu Wei and Tang Jitian:


  1. The Chinese government should follow the international covenants that she has signed, and incorporate the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers established by the United Nations to fulfil its responsibility of protecting lawyers’ rights in the country, as such they should guarantee that lawyers

    a. are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference

    b. shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

    c. are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad;

  2.  The Chinese government should solidly fulfil the obligation, in accordance to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, that “lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative authority.”
  3. The Chinese government should honour their promise to the international community, and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) through the National People’s Congress, fulfilling its national responsibility of guaranteeing human rights, and ensuring that the people has their right of defence.
  4. China needs to fulfil the human rights protections as stipulated in her constitution, and the rights and protection of lawyers in the Lawyers’ Law. China should abolish evil laws such as the Administrative Measures for Law Firms, and the Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers, and protect lawyers’ right to practice by cancelling the annual inspection. China must stop persecuting human rights lawyers, and release framed human rights lawyers and rights defenders who have been wrongfully imprisoned, allowing them to reclaim their right to practice and their personal freedom, unblocking the means of rescue for lawyers whose rights have been violated, not meddling with the law association elections, and finally establishing and realising governance by law as an essential national policy.
  5. The international community and experts from multiple professions are encouraged to pay more attention to and help Chinese human rights lawyers, so as to help develop genuine rule of law and human rights in China.


Facing our darkest era in the past ten years, the Chinese human rights lawyers have never given up on our pursuit and our passion for freedom, democracy and the constitution, and will not waver in our protection of human rights, as well as the dream of our country under the rule of law. We are still fighting for our beloved homeland, and continue to stand on the forefront of human rights and rule of law defence. We continue to shout and cry for fairness and justice in our society, and we shall not stop, as we continue to wield the sword of the rule of law to break through the dark clouds, so that the light of fairness, justice, freedom, democracy and the rule of law may shine on China. 



China Human Rights Lawyers Group

26 April 2020