Submission to UN on Li Fangping – May 2, 2011

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Update on Human Rights Lawyer Li Fangping Abducted in Beijing, Whereabouts Unknown

 

Around 5 pm local time on April 29, Beijing-based human rights lawyer Li Fangping (李方平) was kidnapped by unidentified men, whom family, colleagues and supporters strongly believe were plainclothes policemen, outside the offices of the health rights NGO Beijing Yirenping Center, of which he is a legal advisor. Li was able to speak briefly with his wife, telling her, “I may be gone for a period of time… can’t talk more.” Further efforts to contact him have been unsuccessful, and his whereabouts are unknown.

 

Though there is no solid evidence to prove that Chinese police carried out the abduction, observers and analysts have little doubt that state security police are responsible for the act.

 

Recent abduction and disappearances of other human rights lawyers and activists have sometimes been carried out by plainclothes police.  Several recently re-surfaced activists and lawyers, who had disappeared for more than two months, were released or sent home by state security police, and they have identified state police as responsible for their incarceration and interrogation.   Chinese authorities have admitted that some of those who had been abducted or disappeared were controlled by the police or had been released by the police.  Chinese state security police have been well-documented for acting in this fashion in recent years – to use un-uniformed policemen to abduct activists or lawyers in the streets without producing ID or arrest warrants.

 

Since Li Fangping’s abduction around 5:30pm on Friday, April 29, Li’s family and colleagues have filed for his “missing” with a local police station in Beijing:  Yangfangdian Police Station in Haidian Disstrict  海淀区羊坊店派出所. Almost 80 hours have passed, Li Fangping’s whereabouts remain unknown at this time.

The news of Li Fangping’s abduction comes on the heels of reports that prominent human rights lawyer Teng Biao (滕 彪) was released earlier that afternoon after 70 days of enforced disappearance . Teng Biao’s wife, who confirmed his return, said she could not comment on his health or any other details of his disappearance. While the timing of Teng’s release initially seemed to signal a positive response by the Chinese government to this week’s U.S.-China human rights dialogue, the disappearance of Li shortly thereafter quickly dampened any hope that pressure on human rights activists in China might be easing. These actions raise renewed questions about the limits of international pressure on the Chinese government, as well as the effectiveness of human rights dialogues.

 

“In recent months, and especially during this crackdown, we have seen that torture to enforce silence is becoming a frighteningly common experience for those disappeared or detained,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director. “The Chinese authorities, in the meantime, are resorting to an old trick, the revolving-door approach—one in, one out—to create the impression that things are improving.”
From information gathered by CHRD, the details of which we are not in a position to disclose due to fear of retaliation against the families of those involved, many of the individuals recently released from enforced disappearances and detention have undergone torture or cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment.  They have been warned not to divulge any information regarding this abuse.
CHRD demands the immediate release of Li Fangping and all other individuals currently subjected to enforced disappearance. The Chinese government must take steps to hold those individuals responsible for disappearing and torturing Chinese citizens accountable before the law.
CHRD urges the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances—which  earlier this month expressed “serious concern” about the wave of enforced disappearances in China—to take urgent action on Li Fangping’s case, and to again convey its concern to the Chinese government about this escalating problem.

Background

Li Fangping, born on November 21, 1974, is a prominent Beijing-based human rights lawyer who in recent years has represented a number of high-profile victims of political and religious persecution, including, among others, Chen Guangcheng, Yang Chunlin (杨春林), Hu Jia (胡佳), and Zhao Lianhai (赵连海). He has faced frequent harassment from officials, and, on December 27, 2006, was severely beaten and suffered head injuries after he and another lawyer were assaulted en route to visit Chen Guangcheng in a Shandong Prison.

For more information:

“Chinese Police Must End Enforced Disappearances of Human Rights Activists,” February 18, 2011, http://chrdnet.org/2011/02/18/chinesepolicemustendenforceddisappearancesofhumanrightsactivists/

Please see our website for a list of individuals detained or disappeared during the current crackdown, updated April 29: http://chrdnet.org/2011/04/15/jasmine_crackdown/

UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances: “China: UN expert body concerned about recent wave of enforced disappearances,” April 8, 2011, http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10928&LangID=E

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