U.S. Must Voice Concerns over China’s Assault on Human Rights Lawyers During the Upcoming Legal Experts Dialogue with ChinaComments Off on U.S. Must Voice Concerns over China’s Assault on Human Rights Lawyers During the Upcoming Legal Experts Dialogue with China
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, June 7, 2011) On June 8-9, officials and legal experts from the United States and China will meet in Washington, D.C. for the U.S.-China Legal Experts Dialogue (LED). The U.S. Department of State publicly announced the dates of the LED only yesterday in a terse media note, which stated vaguely that the experts will address “the benefits and practical implementation of the rule of law,” but contained no information about the specific topics to be discussed. CHRD urges U.S. officials to voice serious concerns about the Chinese government’s suppression of China’s human rights lawyers, who are most certainly not enjoying the “benefits” of the rule of law.
“The disappearance, torture, and silencing of many of China’s human rights lawyers –clearly a primary target of the current Jasmine crackdown – has discredited the Chinese government’s claim to rule the country according to law,” said Renee Xia, International Director of CHRD. “A ‘legal’ dialogue with the Chinese government that does not include, at a minimum, a discussion of the government’s assault on lawyers who are seeking to promote the rule of law and access to justice would make a mockery of the Legal Experts Dialogue.”
CHRD urges U.S. officials to raise the individual cases of human rights lawyers and legal advocates who have been detained or subjected to enforced disappearance during the past several months in connection with the Jasmine crackdown. The Chinese government has detained or disappeared at least 14 human rights lawyers and legal advocates since the first anonymous online call for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China appeared in mid-February. As of this writing, at least four of them– Ni Yulan (倪玉兰), Liu Shihui (刘士辉), Tang Jingling (唐荆陵), and Li Shuangde (李双德) – remain in state custody. U.S. officials should also raise the ongoing cases of the disappearance of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), the unlawful home confinement of legal advocate Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) and his family, as well as the ongoing police surveillance and “soft detention” of legal scholar Fan Yafeng (范亚峰), and demand the release of all rights lawyers and legal advocates who have been disappeared, detained, or otherwise subjected to unlawful deprivation of their personal liberty.
The human rights lawyers who were forcibly disappeared over the past three months and have since been released, have, for the most part, remained silent. Two notable exceptions are Beijing-based human rights lawyer Jin Guanghong (金光鸿), and Shanghai lawyer Li Tiantian (李天天). In Li’s blog post about her disappearance –told in the form of an allegory — she suggests that she, as well as others, had been warned not to reveal anything about their treatment.
There have been unattributed reports that government officials or their agents have inflicted torture and mistreatment upon human rights lawyers during the current crackdown. The abuse has included:
- use of electric batons on genitals,
- sleep and food deprivation,
- repeated and lengthy interrogations (on occasion for up to 20 hours at a time),
- forcible injections and ingestion of unknown substances,
- forced stress positions (such as sitting motionless on small stools for many hours at a time), and
- threats to their families.
Some individuals have also been coerced to sign statements in which they admitted “wrongdoing” and made various promises, such as to cease their activism.
CHRD is concerned about the physical and mental health of the human rights lawyers and legal advocates who have endured, or continue to endure, enforced disappearance, detention, unlawful home confinement, and/or police surveillance.
LIST OF INDIVIDUAL CASES TO RAISE AT THE DIALOGUE
A. Rights lawyers and legal advocates currently held by government
authorities in connection with the Jasmine crackdown:
1. Liu Shihui (刘士辉), a Guangzhou-based human rights lawyer and activist in his 40s, formerly with the Guangdong Jingguo Law Firm, has been missing since February 20. Before he disappeared, Liu was brutally beaten by a group of unidentified individuals while waiting at a bus stop to attend the February 20 “Jasmine Revolution” protests in Guangzhou. In September 2009, the Guangzhou Justice Bureau suspended Liu’s lawyer’s license for six months as punishment for his activism.
2. Ni Yulan (倪玉兰), female, 51, a Beijing-based housing rights activist and lawyer, was taken into custody on April 7 and formally arrested on May 17 for “creating a disturbance.” She is currently being held at the Xicheng Detention Center in Beijing’s Haidian District. Ni’s husband, Dong Jiqin (董继勤), was seized at the same time, and CHRD recently learned that he has also been formally arrested for “creating a disturbance.” This is the third time Ni has been criminally detained by the Beijing police; earlier detentions and convictions resulted in the loss of the use of her legs (from torture) and the permanent revocation of her lawyer’s license (with her first criminal conviction for “obstructing an officer” in 2002). Ni’s lawyer, Cheng Hai, and her daughter are concerned that the detention center is not providing adequate medical care for Ni, who suffers from various health problems, including breathing and digestive difficulties, as well as heart problems – conditions either caused or exacerbated by the mistreatment she has suffered at the hands of Chinese officials.
3. Tang Jingling (唐荆陵), 39, a Guangzhou-based human rights lawyer, formerly with the Guangzhou Huazhijie Law Firm, was taken away by police on February 22. A week later, the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau unlawfully placed Tang under residential surveillance (jianshi juzhu) for “inciting subversion of state power.” The residential surveillance notice sent to Tang’s family stated that he was being held at the Dashi Training Center, but his family has not been able to contact or locate him. According to Article 57 of China’s Criminal Procedural Law, a suspect held under residential surveillance may only be held in a location other than his home if he has no fixed domicile. Tang, however, has a fixed residence in Guangzhou.
4. Li Shuangde (李双德), 46, a legal advocate and activist who runs a legal aid center in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, was criminally detained on March 24 on suspicion of “credit card fraud.” Formally arrested on the same charge on April 2, Li was tried on June 1. Following a 20-minute trial, Li was convicted and sentenced to four months in jail and fined 20,000 RMB. Prior to Li’s trial, which was hastily postponed and rescheduled at the last minute, officials pressured Li’s family into dismissing his lawyer from the case and replacing him with a “government approved” lawyer.
B. Rights lawyers and legal advocates who had been detained or subjected to enforced disappearance in connection with the Jasmine crackdown but have since been released and remain under unlawful police surveillance or “soft detention”:
5. Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), 40, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer, formerly with the Beijing Globe Law Firm, was disappeared between February 19 and April 19. On the afternoon of February 19, Jiang was seized from his brother’s home and driven away by men identified by his family as Beijing policemen. Police returned that evening, searched his home, and confiscated Jiang’s computer. Jiang’s license to practice law was cancelled in 2009 as punishment for his activism.
6. Jin Guanghong (金光鸿), 47, a Beijing-based lawyer with the Beijing Jingfa Law Firm, disappeared on April 8 or 9 and returned home on April 19. Jin is one of the few of those disappeared during the current crackdown to publicly acknowledge being tortured. He is unable to clearly recall the details of what happened to him. CHRD learned that Jin was held first in a detention center and then moved to a psychiatric hospital. While in the psychiatric hospital he was beaten by unidentified individuals, tied to a bed, given injections of unknown substances and forced to ingest unidentified medicine.
7. Li Fangping (李方平), 36, a human rights lawyer with the Beijing Ruifeng Law Firm, was kidnapped by unidentified individuals outside the office of the health rights non-governmental organization Yirenping around 5 pm on April 29. He was released on May 4.
8. Li Tiantian (李天天), female, 45, a human rights lawyer with the Shanghai Peixin Kenuo Law Firm, was disappeared between February 19 and May 24. Police who took her away also searched her home, confiscating two computers. Li was held in a windowless room for the duration of the time she was disappeared, except for the seven or so times she was taken to a police station to be interrogated. Police interrogated Li about her reposting of messages related to the “Jasmine Revolution,” among other topics. When Li said she had a right to hire a lawyer, the police told her that “the law is not a shield.” Police also threatened that if she failed to cooperate they would beat her with police batons and lock her up in an “iron cage.”
9. Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), 46, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer with the Beijing Qijian Law Firm, went missing between April 14 and 19. Liu, a friend of Ai Weiwei’s, had indicated his willingness to defend Ai before he disappeared. After Liu reappeared, he told The Guardian that he did not want to give any details about what had happened to him during his disappearance.
10. Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵), 37, a human rights lawyer with the Beijing Kuntai Law Firm, went missing on the morning of May 4. He reappeared on May 6. On May 19, he was forced to leave Beijing for his hometown in Hubei province. Li has represented human rights activists, victims of religious persecution and discrimination, and the former NGO Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng) in its dealings with tax officials in 2009. Li also serves as a legal advisor to the health rights NGO Aizhixing.
11. Liu Zhengqing (刘正清), in his 40s, a Guangzhou-based human rights lawyer with the Guangdong Fulin Guotai Law Firm, went missing on March 25. During his disappearance, Liu’s home was raided three times and police took away computers, printers, and other personal belongings. He reappeared on April 29. He has represented Falun Gong practitioners and human rights activists. He is now released on bail awaiting trial on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.”
12. Tang Jitian (唐吉田), 42, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer, formerly with the Beijing Anhui Law Firm before his license to practice law was revoked in 2010, was seized on the evening of February 16 after attending a lunch meeting with a dozen activists to discuss how they might provide assistance to human rights defender Chen Guangcheng and his family. After Tang was held incommunicado for three weeks, he was sent back to his hometown in Jilin Province. Tang is under “soft detention” and is in very poor health. Authorities have warned him and his family not to speak out and to have no contact with the outside world.
13. Teng Biao (滕彪), 37, a legal scholar at Beijing’s Chinese University of Politics and Law and a human rights lawyer, disappeared for 70 days between February 19 and April 29. Teng Biao’s wife, who confirmed his return, said she could not comment on his health or any other details of his disappearance. Beijing police reportedly searched Teng’s home the day after he disappeared, confiscating two computers, a printer, articles, books, DVDs and photos of Chen Guangcheng. Teng’s license to practice law was cancelled in 2008 as punishment for his activism.
14. Xu Zhiyong (许 志永), 38, a Beijing-based professor, legal advocate, and director of the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng), which was forced to shut down in 2009, disappeared for one day around May 7 and again on May 20. He has been under police surveillance or “soft detention” since mid-February.
Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 240 374 8937, email@example.com
Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 1660, firstname.lastname@example.org
For related information, please see:
CHRD, “Individuals Affected by the Crackdown Following Call for ‘Jasmine Revolution,’” updated May 30, 2011, https://www.nchrd.org/2011/04/15/jasmine_crackdown/.
CHRD, “Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China 2010,” March 3, 2011, https://www.nchrd.org/2011/03/02/annual-report-on-the-situation-of-human-rights-defenders-in-china-2010/.
CHRD, “Hearing on Revocation of Lawyers’ Licenses Ends without Decision, Lawyers Condemn Baseless Punishment,” April 22, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/2010/04/22/hearing-on-revocation-of-lawyers-licenses-ends-without-decision-lawyers-condemn-baseless-punishment/.
CHRD, “Report on Several Issues Raised by the Chinese Government’s Response to the UN Committee Against Torture’s Recommendations for Follow-Up in 2009,” August 5, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/2010/08/05/chrd-cat-report-on-followup/.