April 28, 2017
Human rights lawyers taken as part of the ‘709 crackdown’ in China were denied full justice yet again this week. From ISHR’s perspective, these actions cross another red line. Calls from the United Nations for the lawyers’ unconditional release are missing, just when they should be amplifying the demands of defenders on the ground.
Chinese human rights lawyers Li Heping and Xie Yang were arrested in a nationwide crackdown on rights lawyers and activists in July 2015, known as the ‘709 crackdown’. The Chinese government has escalated attacks on human rights defenders and lawyers and continues to ignore calls from the international community to release its grip on civil society.
Li Heping: sentenced in secret
The trial of Li Heping was conducted in secret on Tuesday, 25 April. Because the case involved ‘state secrets’, he was not allowed a lawyer of his choosing, and indeed had not met with his family since his detention began. Li was sentenced to three years in prison with a four-year suspension with deprivation of political rights; according to official announcements, he pleaded guilty and stated that he would not appeal the decision. The court ruling alleged that Li had used foreign media to smear State organs; had accepted foreign funds; and had intentionally ‘provoked dissatisfaction in society’.
Says Sarah M Brooks, Asia programme manager for ISHR, ‘This sham trial is not a joke, but it clearly shows the government does not take seriously its obligations. The UN’s top experts on torture called for an end to the crackdown and the misuse of state secret provisions. The Chinese government’s actions have been exactly the opposite’.