June 23, 2017
This year, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is partnering with the International Bar Association (IBA) to mark the annual “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture” on June 26. Through storytelling, social media campaigns, and a panel discussion, they hope to advance their “shared ambition for the absolute prohibition of torture.” This year and the year before, we have begun to learn, with horror, about the torture of Chinese human rights lawyers during the 709 Crackdown. Below is a letter from theChina Human Rights Lawyers Group addressed and delivered to OHCHR and IBA. — The Editors
To the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the International Bar Association:
In the early morning of July 9, 2015, Chinese police began a campaign of mass arrests, interrogations, and warnings against human rights lawyers and rights defenders. Dozens of rights lawyers and other activists were detained; hundreds of lawyers, scholars, and citizens were called in for “chats” and warnings by the police; dozens of lawyers and citizens were prevented from leaving the country.
Whether they were charged with the crime of “subversion of state power,” “inciting subversion of state power,” or the more pedestrian “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” all were subjected to the coercive criminal penal measure known as “residential surveillance at a designated place,” based on the claim that they were a threat to national security.
Residential surveillance at a designated place is a compulsory criminal procedure that was specified, codified, and integrated into China’s “Criminal Procedure Law,” modified in 2012 and implemented in 2013. In the implementation of this procedure, Chinese police have been abusing the relevant clauses, using it to put subjects under completely secret control, torturing them, and acting without accountability and restraint.
The torture that 709 lawyers have been subjected to during residential surveillance at a designated place has been made clear in the transcripts of interviews of lawyer Xie Yang provided by his defense counsel Chen Jiangang.