Outspoken Lawyer Who Commented on Olympics Released from Abduction

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Outspoken Lawyer Who Commented on Olympics Released from Abduction

China must hold accountable police who terrorize and intimidate rights defenders.

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, March 11, 2008)- Teng Biao (滕彪), Beijing-based human rights lawyer kidnapped on March 6, was released 41 hours later on March 8. Teng’s kidnappers seized Teng near his home, forced him into an unlicensed car, hooded his head, and drove him to an unknown location about 40 minutes away where he was interrogated, verbally abused and repeatedly threatened. The kidnappers identified themselves as police from the National Security Unit of Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB). The police produced no legal warrant at any point during the abduction.

“I am barred from disclosing any details of the threats or the interrogation. I was allowed food and sleep. I want to thank all my friends and supporters for taking immediate action on my behalf,” said Teng.

His kidnappers allowed him to send a heavily-edited text message by mobile phone to his home after Teng had insisted that he would otherwise refuse to talk.

Teng is the second prominent human rights lawyer kidnapped by the National Security Unit in Beijing in the last 6 months. Li Heping (李和平), another Beijing-based human rights lawyer, was also allegedly kidnapped by the National Security Unit on September 29, 2007. Li was severely beaten and then dumped in the woods outside Beijing.

The two incidents bear unmistakable resemblance: Both took place after repeated “talks” by police failed to intimidate the lawyers into submission; the kidnappers drove unlicensed black cars; the victims were hooded and driven to an undisclosed location for interrogation. National Security Unit police are known to drive unlicensed black cars and to intimidate political activists.

The police have never acknowledged responsibility for Li’s kidnapping and assault. The kidnappers were never held accountable for their illegal actions. After his release, Li continued to be harassed and followed round the clock by Beijing police. The day after Teng was kidnapped, on March 7, a police car rear-ended Li’s car in an act of alleged intimidation.

Police had warned these and other human rights lawyers not to get involved in defending Hu Jia (胡佳), a human rights defender detained since late December 2007 for his human rights activities, which included publishing an open letter with Teng entitled, “the Real China before the Olympics.” It demands human rights improvements prior to the Olympics.

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CHRD is deeply concerned that the National Security Unit police are using terror tactics to intimidate and punish human rights defenders for speaking up about human rights in connection to the Olympics. The government has in effect made expression of views about the Olympics a political crime. People who link human rights and the Olympics are silenced by law enforcement officers using various illegal means, as illustrated by Teng’s and Li’s cases.

CHRD calls on the Chinese government to promptly investigate the abduction and forced disappearance of Teng between March 6 and 8 and the abduction and assault of Li on September 29. Officials suspected of ordering or carrying out these operations must be held criminally accountable according to Chinese law and the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

World leaders who are planning to go to Beijing and stand side-by-side with Chinese leaders at the Olympics opening ceremony in August may not wish to be complicit in China’s systematic violations of human rights and increasingly harsh repression of human rights activists. To avoid complicity, these leaders must break their silence and publicly voice their concerns.

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