April 4, 2017
The relatives of China’s detained human rights lawyers have written to U.S. President Donald Trump calling on him to raise Beijing’s human rights record during his forthcoming summit with President Xi Jinping in Florida on Thursday.
“We now know that they have been tortured, and we worry about whether they will live or die,” the relatives said of their loved ones. “We want to know how they are looking, and why they haven’t been allowed to meet with a lawyer for a year and eight months now.”
“We have never given up trying to find out the whereabouts of our loved ones, nor trying to help them,” the letter, addressed to President Trump at the White House, said.
“We have been detained several times … and beaten up by police because of our activities,” it said. “We have sent hundreds of letters and paid hundreds of visits, but it has all been to no avail.”
“We are writing to you, Mr. President, … because we know that under the present reality, there is no hope of a fair trial.”
Sixteen out of more than 300 human rights lawyers, activists, and law firm employees detained since July 2015 are still facing trial, while two have already been handed harsh sentences.
Request for demands
Jin Bianling, the U.S.-based wife of detained rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, said she had penned the letter, dated March 31, on behalf of all of the relatives of lawyers detained across China in a nationwide police operation since July 2015.
“This week, Trump will meet with Xi Jinping, so we are hoping that Trump can make some demands on China, such as releasing all of the innocent rights lawyers and other citizens detained in the July 2015 crackdown,” she said.