Daily Archives: 21/01/2021

China: China’s Repression of Human Rights Lawyers Will Leave ‘No One Left Standing’

20/01/21

Lawyer Daniel Wong is escorted by police outside his office in Hong Kong

After months of petitioning, Xu Yan just saw her husband for the first time in three years. A prominent human rights lawyer in China, Yu Wensheng was seized by a dozen police officers, including a SWAT team, on a January morning three years ago, when he left his apartment in Beijing to walk his 13-year-old son to school. Yu, who was nominated for a prominent international human rights award this week, had represented some of the 300 lawyers and activists rounded up in a massive crackdown in China in 2015. Hours before his arrest, he had written an open letter calling for constitutional reform.

After two years in detention without access to his family or lawyers, Yu was sentenced to four years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power.” His wife was only informed of the verdict of the secret trial, which began in May 2019, in a phone call from the prosecutor’s office more than a year later. So when the authorities finally allowed her to visit last week, the news came as such a surprise, her mind went “completely blank,” as she wrote on Twitter.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, they spoke only through a video call. But to her shock, Yu, who showed up pale, bald and in shackles, was in poor health. He has trouble eating with four of his teeth missing, and he could no longer write, as his right arm constantly trembles from nerve damage. “I had no time to cry. The cruel experience in the past three years has taught me that crying is of no use,” she said in a long account of the visit posted on Twitter. Speaking quickly to make full use of the 25 minutes they had, she told him that the world is concerned about his fate and that foreign diplomats have pledged to help. During their brief conversation, she learned that Yu is only offered water for breakfast, and that the prison has no heating, although the temperature plunges below freezing in winter.

For the few Chinese human rights lawyers who are not behind bars today, life is still grim—a constant tussle with the authorities that comes with grave consequences. Last Wednesday, attorney Lu Siwei, who represented Yu, was dragged by force into a hearing in Chengdu, where his license was revoked for “making inappropriate remarks online.” His legal counsel, along with supporters and foreign consulate staffers, were all barred from observing the proceedings. Some were taken to police stations and held until the hearing was over.

Lu was hired by the family of Quinn Moon, one of the 12 Hong Kongers caught by the Chinese coast guard last year while trying to flee to Taiwan. But like other legal counsel, he was never able to meet his client, who was ultimately represented by a government-appointed lawyer instead. Ren Quanniu, another lawyer assisting one of those 12 detainees in Hong Kong, faces a similar trial to strip him of his license. Although the trial’s date has not been confirmed, the verdict has all but been decided already. “At this rate of crackdown, there will be no one left standing,” Ren told me in an interview.

But this close-knit circle of Chinese human rights lawyers isn’t only facing threats of disbarment and incarceration; Chinese authorities have also stepped up scrutiny of their daily activities, making simple things such as supporting each other during their trials impossible.

[…]

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/29366/amid-a-crackdown-on-human-rights-china-increasingly-targets-lawyers

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/parents-01192021165553.html

https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/martin-ennals-award-finalists-2021-shine-light-abuses-authoritarian-states

https://www.ncregister.com/blog/china-darkness-deepens

Belarus/France/USA: Freedom for human rights activists Leanid Sudalenka and Maryia Tarasenka!

20/01/21

Maryia Tarasenka and Leanid Sudalenka

On January 18, police detained Leanid Sudalenka, human rights activist and chairman of the Homieĺ branch of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”.

He is currently a suspect in a criminal case under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions which gravely breach public order) and has been remanded in a detention center.

On January 5, the civil and political community center “Palesskaya, 52”, where Viasna’s office is located, was raided by the police. The search lasted for over 9 hours. During the entire raid, Leanid Sudalenka was in the office. After the search, he was taken to the local department for organized crime, but later released. A search was also carried out in his house.

The same evening, Leanid Sudalenka’s assistant and Viasna’s volunteer Maryia Tarasenka was detained and placed in a detention center. Her house was also searched. Tarasenka’s status in the case and the charges she is facing are still unknown.

Leanid Sudalenka is a well-known human rights activist who has been defending human rights for 20 years, providing free legal assistance, including in preparing individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of Belarusian nationals whose rights were violated by the government. For his human rights work, he was awarded the prestigious prize of the French Republic “Freedom-Equality-Brotherhood” in 2018. In 2019, he became the winner of the National Human Rights Prize in the nomination “Human Rights Defender of the Year”.

The Belarusian authorities have regularly persecuted Leanid Sudalenka for his active human rights activities: they staged unsuccessful provocations to prosecute him, blacklisted him or border control and tried to discredit him through publications on government-controlled websites and in loyal media.

[…]

https://spring96.org/en/news/101429

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/belarus-arbitrary-detention-of-viasna-members-leanid-sudalenka-and

https://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/belarus/2021/01/d26285/

https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/belarus/news/article/belarus-arrest-of-leanid-sudalenka-18-jan-2021

https://spring96.org/en/news/101390

https://charter97.org/en/news/2021/1/20/408290/

https://budzma.by/news/zatrymany-leanid-sudalenka.html (BELARUSIAN)

https://novychas.by/hramadstva/leanid-sudalenka-zatrymany

https://nv.ua/ukr/world/countries/u-bilorusi-zatrimali-aktivista-sudalenka-novini-bilorusi-50136212.html (UKRAINIAN)

https://iost.nu/nyheter/belarus/leanid-sudalenko-gripen/ (NORWEGIAN)

The Philippines: As DOJ and Supreme Court meet to examine murders, a 56th lawyer is killed

20/01/21

Lawyer groups, gov't agencies discuss security amid murders in legal profession

Winston Intong of Malaybalay, Bukidnon is the 56th lawyer killed in Duterte’s 4-year presidency

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Supreme Court (SC) finally made commitments to examine the killings of lawyers in the country, but the developments can’t move fast enough as a 56th lawyer was killed a day after their meetings.

Winston Intong was gunned down near his house in Malaybalay, Bukidnon on January 14, a day after the DOJ and the SC held their meetings with stakeholders. Intong was reportedly on the administration’s drug list.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) hosted the stakeholder meeting on January 13, which the DOJ attended.

As a result, “the DOJ will come up with an inventory of cases under investigation by the NBI, under preliminary investigation by the prosecution service, and undergoing trial in court, for the purpose of monitoring their progress very closely,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters on Wednesday, January 20.

The SC held its own meeting with judges and clerks on January 13 over the same issue, according to Court Administrator Midas Marquez. 

“We are now drafting our report to be submitted to the Chief Justice who instructed us to meet with all stakeholders and find ways on how this can be addressed,” Marquez told reporters.

The SC held meetings with the IBP, other law groups, law enforcement and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) earlier in January.

IBP national president Domingo “Egon” Cayosa said the Supreme Court will also “require courts to inventory all pending lawyer-killing cases, ageing and status, reasons for delay, and expedite resolution.”

These meetings were prompted by mounting calls to take action on the alarming rise in lawyer killings, which have now reached 56. since President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath in June 2016.

Data from the DOJ show that 31 judges and prosecutors were killed in a span of 16 years from 1999, compared to the 21 judges and prosecutors killed in only 4 years of Duterte.

[…]

https://www.rappler.com/nation/doj-supreme-court-examine-lawyer-killings

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/772535/lawyer-groups-gov-t-agencies-discuss-security-amid-murders-in-legal-profession/story/