September 18, 2018
Five years after police launched a nationwide crackdown raided law firms and detained hundreds of lawyers and activists, China’s embattled human rights lawyers are increasingly left without any way of practicing law.
A group of former rights attorneys who have lost their “business license” at the hands of local justice departments, and may no longer represent clients in court, have formed a company called the China Lawyers’ Club in the southwestern region of Guangxi, RFA has learned.
Based in the regional capital Nanning, the club seeks to find employment and income for dozens of experienced litigators who no longer have an income in the wake of the crackdown.
“The judicial environment in China is in a terrible state right now, and lawyers are facing a lot of chaos and hard times,” one of the club’s founders, Tan Yongpei, told RFA. “Through this club, we are able to carry on … surviving, and help even more people.”
The club is a legal services company, and signs lawyers in a manner similar to the way sports teams sign big stars, he said.
We have it a lot easier than a lot of lawyers, because we don’t have any organization in charge of us, and we have fairly large resources to draw upon, both in the media and online, as well as the nationwide recognition and support of the legal profession,” Tan said.
Founder member and Guangdong-based lawyer Sui Muqing, who lost his license in January after he ignored official warnings not to take on politically sensitive cases, said lawyers don’t need a business license to advise on complaints cases.