March 11, 2016
(The defense attorney for jailed rights lawyer Li Heping discovered he was relieved of duty when he visited his client in detention, Feb. 18, 2016.)
The relatives and defense lawyers of 19 human rights lawyers currently facing subversion charges have written to China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), calling for an independent inquiry into breaches of legal process in the handling of their cases.
“The relevant authorities have brought charges such as ‘incitement to subvert state power’ against them in situations where there has been no breach of the law,” the letter, signed by more than 140 lawyers and relatives, said.
“They have prevented them from seeing lawyers and not allowed them to communicate with lawyers or family members,” it said.
“For this reason, we call on the NPC to set up an independent inquiry into the July 9 crackdown, and take immediate measures to correct these injustices and to prevent the trampling of the constitution and [Chinese] law,” it said.
At least 317 lawyers, law firm staff, human right activists and family members have been detained, questioned, summoned or forbidden to leave the country since police began a nationwide operation targeting the legal profession on the night of July 9, 2015, according to figures compiled by a Hong Kong-based rights group.