CRD Condemns Violent Attack on Lawyers for Chen Guangcheng

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Immediate release

CRD, December 27, 2006

CRD Condemns Violent Attack on Lawyers

Representing China’s Blind Prisoner of Conscience

Apparently as part of the persistent efforts by local authorities at intimidation and retaliation against independent lawyers, unidentified hit-men violently attacked lawyers for Chen Guangcheng, the blind prisoner of conscience, who is serving a 4-year and 3-month sentence in China’s northeastern province Shandong. The attack took place on the highway in Linyi, Shandong, in the early morning, around 4:30am, on December 27, 2006. CRD condemns the persistent intimidation and harassment, including the repeated use of violence, against lawyers representing Chen Guangcheng and lawyers in other cases involving human rights violation or mass class-action lawsuits elsewhere in China. CRD demands the Chinese authorities to investigate this morning’s vicious attack. The Chinese government has international human rights obligations to protect defense lawyers carrying out their work in defending the rights of defendants without interference and without fear for their personal safety and freedom.

According to information CRD obtained, Chen Guangcheng’s lawyers, Li Fangping and Li Jinsong, who were traveling in a bus with two other lawyers, Huang Kaiguo and Cheng Hai, who represent the villager Chen Guang-he, a detained witness in the Chen Guangcheng case, were attacked by unidentified men who pulled the bus over. Lawyer Li Fangping was hit in the head by metal sticks, with blood gushing all over his face. Lawyer Li Jinsong has swollen bruises on his left eye and left arm. Li Fangping has received emergency care. Initial diagnosis shows that he suffers from a 3cm-long wound on his head, but x-ray does not show any fracture on the skull.

The lawyers believe that the attack was organized and coordinated by local authorities in an effort to intimidate them and retaliate against them for suing the Linyi police bureau for illegal handling the Chen Guangcheng case.

Circumstances raise strong suspicion that local authorities had arranged the lawyers’ trip. One judge handling Chen Guangcheng’s appeal had telephoned the lawyers to “convey” the “request by Chen Guangcheng to meet the lawyers” at the Yinan county detention center.” The lawyers decided immediately to go and told the judge their travel schedule. They left Beijing around 7:30pm on the 26th and they were riding in an overnight bus from Beijing to Linyi on the highway when they were assaulted.

After the lawyers boarded the bus, a woman in bus-security guard’s uniform received them and arranged for Li Jinsong and Li Fangping to sit in seats next to the front door, and next to her own seat. Around 4am on the 27th, when the bus entered Linyi, the woman guard woke up Li Jingsong. Soon, two cars without license plats stopped the bus, pulled it over. 8 men stepped out of the cars. They demanded the driver to open the door and threatened to break the windows. When they came on the bus, the woman guard immediately pointed Li Jinsong accusing him for “sexual harassment.” The men dragged Li Jinsong off the bus and hit him violently with metal sticks. Li Fangping went off the bus trying to stop the attack and the men attacked him as well. After about 5 minutes’ beating, the hit-men and the woman drove away. The lawyers called the police, who never showed up. The bus driver, when asked, said he did not know the woman, who had borrowed the bus-security uniform from the driver to “keep warm.”

The lawyers have decided not to proceed to Yinan without police escort. Mr. Chen has dictated his appeal paper on December 1 after the local court reached the same verdict at a re-trial ordered by the appeal court. Li Jinsong handed in the appeal paper to the appeal court, the Linyi Municipal Court, on December 8. He also visited Mr. Chen at the Yinan detention center that day. On December 6, the lawyers filed administrative lawsuits and civil lawsuits against the Linyi Municipal Public Security Bureau including its chief Liu Jie and other government bodies. The lawsuits papers were also submitted to the Linyi court on December 8. The lawsuits against local authorities may be the direct motive behind today’s attack. It is unclear whether Chen Guangcheng had actually requested the meeting with his lawyers.

For more information, see

CRD case file: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1361

CRD “Legal Aid” work on this case: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=2233

and recent CRD statement on the unfair re-trial of Chen Guangcheng: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=2830

This statement has been copied to:

Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Human Rights Defenders

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson – 52, rue des Pâquis, CH-1201 Geneva,
Switzerland

Michael Matthiessen

High Representative for Human Rights
Council of the European Union

General Secretariat

Rue de la Loi, 175

B-1048 Brusself, Belgium

Zhang Fusen
Minister of Justice
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Chaoyang-qu
Beijing-shi 100020
P.R.China.

Procurator General Jia Chunwang
Supreme People’s Procuratorate
Beiheyan Street 147
100726 Beijing
P.R.China

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