Tag Archives: China

China: China’s Embattled Human Rights Lawyers Set up Legal Consultancy

September 18, 2018

A view of the office of the Chinese Lawyers' Club set up by human rights attorneys in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to represent the public, Sept. 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of former rights attorneys who have lost their “business license” at the hands of local justice departments, and may no longer represent clients in court, have formed a company called the China Lawyers’ Club in the southwestern region of Guangxi, RFA has learned.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.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/chinas-embattled-human-rights-lawyers-set-up-legal-consultancy-09182018113025.html

https://menafn.com/1097429760/Rally-at-UN-Against-Chinese-President-Xi-Jinping

https://chinachange.org/2018/09/16/four-years-afar/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/09/19/un-rights-body-should-take-action-reprisals

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China: Make Sacrifices to Illuminate the Future. Commemorating the fifth anniversary of the founding of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group

September 13, 2018

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On September 13, 2013, lawyers Wang Cheng (王成), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) announced the establishment of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group (中国人权律师团). All three had been disbarred by the Chinese authorities because of their commitment to defending the rights of the Chinese people. In just one year, more than 300 Chinese lawyers joined the Group. Many seasons later, the Human Rights Lawyers Group now marks the fifth anniversary of its founding. On this otherwise ordinary day, we will take inventory of what we have done over the last five years, reiterate the basic principles of the group, and plan our steps for the future.

In the past five years, we have gone through hardships and sadness; we have seen our hopes dashed. We struggle to improve the human rights situation in our country, only to see it worsen progressively.

In the past five years, Chinese human rights lawyers have been demonized by the authorities and smeared by people who harbor ulterior motives. Our members have endured persecution of a severity seldom seen, stunning the international community.

In the past five years, many Chinese human rights lawyers have been imprisoned or disappeared. Since the “709” crackdown of July 2015 that shocked people in China and abroad, human rights lawyers have sustained heavy blows to the point of near destruction.

But even in the face of these cruel realities, members of the Human Rights Lawyers Group have continued their fruitful work. They issued joint statements to express their solidarity and expose human rights violations. It is an endeavor fraught with hardship that is difficult to imagine. They defended political dissidents until they themselves were labeled as dissidents; they defended people of faith until they themselves became the target of the authorities’ “stability maintenance;” they defended the petitioners and the victims of forced demolition, until the day they were disbarred by the judicial establishment under orders from the Party. They defended the ethnic minorities until the day they themselves were denounced as traitors; they defended the workers until they themselves were deprived of their right to practice. Their sacrifices are too numerous to list.

We cannot help but ask why the human rights lawyers, passionate for justice, should be targeted for political persecution. Why do the judicial authorities restrict human rights lawyers from working on their cases? Why does the judiciary use sly tricks to revoke or suspend their right to practice?

The answer is simple: it is because human rights lawyers pursue justice, and their persecutors represent darkness and evil.

Today, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Lawyers Group, we reaffirm our mission to advance human rights in China. We shall continue to uphold the values we cherish through the practice of law.

We yearn for freedom, but we know the importance of order; we pursue justice, but we do not subscribe to self-righteousness; we emphasize basic human rights, but we will honor the principle of gradual progress through proper procedures; as human rights lawyers, we insist on the right of independent judgment, but respect the different perspectives and views held by others.

Once again, we announce to the world that we are not this country’s enemy. We are a group of true patriots. We know that we must transcend class, nationality, and faith in order to work for the dignity and basic human rights of all Chinese. Regardless of how others perceive and label us and attempt to discredit our work, we will stand by our principles as we strive to improve human rights in China.

At the same time, we look forward to healthy cooperation and dialogue with the authorities to find a feasible path to furthering and improving human rights. We want everyone to know that human rights lawyers regaining their own rights is a victory for everyone, regardless of occupation, social status, economic background, or ethnicity.

We are aware that the effort of human rights lawyers alone cannot change the human rights situation in this country. We are ready to work with all people and groups that pursue freedom, justice, and the rule of law, and to take a stand for the beautiful goals to which we all aspire.

In the next five years, we must first and foremost fight for the freedom of every citizen to be free from fear. We demand the repeal of the provision in the Supervision Act that affords law enforcement officials the power of wanton detention, as well as the provisions in the Criminal Procedure Law that allow for secret detention known as “residential surveillance at a designated place.”

We vow to fight for victims who have been forcefully disappeared and tortured by the authorities, and we will not tolerate the illegal detention and disappearance, in the name of the state, of anyone living on this land, be they officials or ordinary citizens. Everyone has basic rights, including the right to litigation.

We will advocate establishing open records of human rights violations committed by public officials. This list will record the deeds of all, from leaders at the highest levels down to infractions committed by local level of guobao, or public security police. If they do not rein themselves in, they will one day stand trial to face justice in court.

We will offer strong and unconditional support for citizens’ freedom of speech. We will never tolerate the administrative detention or legal punishment of a citizen simply for criticizing the government or the party. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of all other freedoms. If no one dares speak out against abuse, all of society will taste the bitter consequences.

We love blue skies and green hills, and we will not turn a blind eye to the environmental pollution or tainted food and drugs. We will urge governments at all levels to take effective measures to reduce pollution, improve the environment, and enforce regulations over the food and drug industry so that everyone can have safe food, medicine, air, and water. We want to tell citizens who have suffered persecution for their efforts to improve the environment or expose the safety hazards posed by tainted food and medicine: you have our full support.

We are extremely concerned about the friction between police and civilians. We call on law enforcement throughout the country to act in strict accordance with the law, to explain the law in good faith, exercise restraint, respect and protect human rights, and not act as accomplices to brutal “stability maintenance.”

It’s been more than three years since the 709 Crackdown; we exhort the authorities to carefully review their attitude and policy towards human rights lawyers, and to treat properly these conscientious and responsible professionals. We ask the authorities to immediately release Tang Jingling (唐荆陵), Jiang Tianyong, Wang Quanqi (王全璋), Yu Wensheng (余文生), Li Yuhan (李昱函), and other lawyers. It is important for everyone to enjoy a more civilized society that upholds reason and the rule of law.

Five years have gone by in a flash, but it’s been five years with historic import. We the human rights lawyers are ordinary human beings, but we are not cowards. If for the sake of China’s human rights we must lose our licenses or even our freedom, then we are willing to make these sacrifices for our country and our people.

Only through sacrifice can we forge ahead to the future! That’s our solemn proclamation on the 5th anniversary of China Human Rights Lawyers Group.

Thank you all!

The China Human Rights Lawyers Group

犧牲自我,點亮未來
—人權律師團成立五周年獻辭

2013年9月13日,王成、唐吉田、江天勇三位被吊銷執業證書的律師基於對中國人權事業的美好願景,發起成立中國人權律師團,公告之日,應者雲集,短短一年,有三百多名中國執業律師聲明加入人權律師團。春去秋來,人權律師團已不知不覺地迎來了自己的五周年紀念日,在這個普通的日子裡,我們認為,對過去五年的歷程做個總結,闡明人權律師團的基本態度,規劃人權律師團未來的工作方向顯得尤為必要。

我們必須承認,過去的五年,是困難的五年,是悲傷的五年,也是看不到希望的五年,我們試圖改善這個國家的人權狀況,卻發現人權狀況越來越糟糕。

過去的五年,中國人權律師被當局妖魔化,被別有用心之人污蔑,其遭受的打壓和迫害全世界罕見,國際社會亦對此目瞪口呆。

過去的五年,多名中國人權律師被判刑,被吊證,被失蹤,尤其是在2015年7月發生了震驚中外的“709”大抓捕之後,人權律師被衝擊得七零八落,幾乎遭遇了滅頂之災。

但即使面對這些殘酷的現實危險,人權律師團律師在過去五年依然開展了卓有成效的工作。人權律師通過發起聯署聲明、簽名聲援等方式,介入人權事件,探尋事實真相,從而揭露罪惡,保護人權,其過程之艱辛,絕非常人可以想像!他們為政治異議人士辯護,直到自己被貼上異議分子的標簽;他們為信仰群體辯護,直到自己成為當局維穩的對像;他們為訪民和被拆遷者辯護,直到有一天自己也變成司法的棄兒;他們為少數民族的良心人士辯護,直到有一天被冠上叛國者的帽子;他們為勞工群體辯護,直到自己被剝奪工作的權利。凡此種種,舉不勝舉!

面對打壓和迫害,我們不禁要問,為什麼一腔熱血的人權律師會成為整肅的對像?為什麼司法當局在個案中要排除人權律師介入?為什麼司法部門要使用鬼蜮伎倆吊銷或者注銷人權律師的執業證?答案其實非常簡單,因為人權律師追求光明和正義,而迫害者代表著黑暗和邪惡。

今天,值此人權律師團成立五周年之際,我們再次重申,我們將繼續推進中國人權事業的發展,我們將毫不動搖地致力於改善中國的人權狀況,我們將在世俗的法律和道德的天空中尋找價值的平衡。

我們嚮往自由,但我們知道秩序的重要性;我們追求正義,但不會以正義者自居;我們強調人的基本權利,但我們將遵循循序漸進的原則;我們堅持自己作為人權律師的獨立判斷,但尊重其他人的不同觀點。

我們再次光明正大地向世人宣布,我們不是這個國家的敵人,我們是一群真正的愛國者,我們說服自己超越階層、民族和信仰,為所有中國人的尊嚴和基本人權而努力。不管別人如何定位人權律師,如何抹黑人權律師,我們將堅持自己的原則,那就是為改善中國的人權狀況而努力拼搏。

與此同時,我們期待與官方的健康力量互動對話,共濟時艱,相向而行,一起找到改善中國人權狀況的可行之道。大家應該明白,不管你的職業、社會地位、財產狀況和種族性別如何,人權律師爭取到的每一項權利都為你所有。

我們深知,僅憑人權律師的微薄之力無法改變這個國家的人權狀況,我們願意與所有追求自由、公義、法治的民眾和群體一道,為共同嚮往的美好目標而奮鬥。

在未來的五年裡,我們首先要爭取的是每個公民免於恐懼的自由,我們強烈要求廢除《監察法》中對公職人員采取留置措施的條款以及《刑事訴訟法》中對公民采取指定監視居住措施的條款。我們發誓將向強迫失蹤和酷刑開戰,我們絕不容忍以國家的名義對生活在這片土地上的任何人進行非法拘禁和強迫失蹤,不管這個人是官員還是平民,他們享有最起碼的訴訟權利和基本人權。

我們將推動建立公職人員侵犯人權的負面清單,這些清單將記錄上至高級官員,下至普通“國保”侵犯人權的惡劣事件,如果他們不懸崖勒馬,繼續怙惡不悛的話,那麼終究有一天,正義的法庭將對他們進行徹底地審判。

我們將毫無保留地為公民的言論自由提供強有力的保護和支持,我們絕不允許一個公民僅僅因為批評政府或者政黨就受到行政拘留甚至刑事處罰。眾所周知,言論自由是一切自由權利的基石,如果整個社會萬馬齊喑,那麼我們將很快品嘗到它結出的惡果。

我們渴望藍天白雲、青山綠水,我們對國家的環境污染和食品藥品安全問題不會熟視無睹,我們將敦促各級政府切實采取措施消除污染,改善環境質量,加強食品藥品督查和監管力度,為每個民眾提供最安全的食品、藥品、空氣和飲水。我們要告訴那些為了改善環境質量或者揭露食品藥品安全問題而遭受迫害的公民們,人權律師是你們的堅強後盾。

我們呼吁全國各地的警察當局嚴格依法辦事,善意解釋法律,約束警權,尊重和保障人權,切勿成為暴力維穩的幫凶,我們對當下的警民對立情緒感到極大的擔憂。

在“709”大抓捕過去三年多之際,我們呼吁當局能認真檢討對人權律師的態度和政策,善待這群有良知和擔當的專業人士並立即釋放唐荊陵、江天勇、王全璋、余文生、李昱函等律師,我們需要一個更加文明的社會,我們需要一個理性和法治的社會,而這樣的社會對每一個人來講都顯得尤為重要。

短短的五年,如白駒過隙,但它記錄的歷史卻猶如鐫刻在青銅器上的銘文,傳之後世。人權律師均是血肉之軀,但也絕非貪生怕死之輩,如果說中國的人權進步需要犧牲掉人權律師的執業證甚至自由作為代價的話,那麼我們願意將自己的一切奉獻給這片滾燙的熱土。

犧牲自我,點亮未來!這就是中國人權律師團在成立五周年之際帶給全世界的莊重宣言!

謝謝大家。

中國人權律師團律師
2018年9月13日

(Facebook, 13/09/18)

https://chinachange.org/2018/09/12/make-sacrifices-to-illuminate-the-future-commemorating-the-fifth-anniversary-of-the-founding-of-the-china-human-rights-lawyers-group/

China/Hong Kong: Mainland Chinese university bars two Hong Kong human rights lawyers from teaching regular course there

August 27, 2018

In response Bar Association pulls regular course at Peking University, which has been running since 2011

A mainland Chinese university blocked two Hong Kong human rights lawyers from teaching a course delivered by the city’s Bar Association earlier this year, and told the group’s chairman not to attend a course ceremony, it has emerged.

The association – the city’s top legal professional body – responded by pulling the course at Peking University, Beijing, indefinitely.

Philip Dykes, who was elected association chairman this January, revealed the news in a circular to his members on Monday, as the Post learned separately that the group’s regular Beijing meet-up with officials and judges would probably not happen this year.

A source said the two barristers Peking University objected to were human rights lawyer Hectar Pun and Cheung Yiu-leung, vice-chairman of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. They were not allowed to teach the common law course and asked to be replaced, despite having done so for several years. Both have not replied to Post requests for comment.

But a few other members from the group who had also taught on the month-long programme, which ran annually at the university from 2011, were not blacklisted. The course still went ahead this year.

Dykes revealed he was not allowed to attend the closing ceremony of the course in Beijing in June, which he had intended to join to “get to the bottom of the refusal” of the two members continuing their lectures.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2161531/mainland-chinese-university-bars-two-hong-kong-human-rights

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/08/27/hong-kong-bar-assoc-axes-peking-university-legal-course-two-members-barred-teaching/

https://www.theepochtimes.com/persecuted-chinese-lawyer-gao-zhisheng-awarded-shahbaz-bhatti-freedom-award_2636585.html

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/08/29/china-and-human-rights-australia-making-difference

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/dissidents-08302018175754.html

https://www.theepochtimes.com/interview-with-chinese-human-rights-lawyer-wang-yu-on-fighting-the-good-fight_2554757.html

http://english.pku.edu.cn/

http://www.chrlawyers.hk/en

https://www.acatfrance.fr/actualite/chine—dans-les-coulisses-des-confessions-televisees (FRANCAIS)

https://www.epochtimes.it/news/avvocato-e-madre-leterna-battaglia-per-i-diritti-umani-in-cina/ (ITALIANO)

China: ‘I Really Felt That He Was Sacrificing His Life’

August 24, 2018

Geng He, wife of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, in undated, recent photo.

Dissident rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, 54, disappeared just over a year ago from a remote cave dwelling in the northern province of Shaanxi, where he was being held under house arrest. Gao, who had yet to regain his freedom following his release from prison in August 2014, is believed to be in the custody of state security police, but local police have said they aren’t holding him. Gao’s wife Geng He, who escaped to the U.S. with her son and daughter in January 2009, recently spoke to RFA’s Mandarin Service about her husband’s renewed disappearance:

After he got out of prison in August 2014, Gao Zhisheng was held under house arrest at his older brother’s home in northern Shaanxi. He had lost nearly all of his teeth but they wouldn’t let him go to the dentist or to see a doctor. But he still wrote a lot of articles about human rights, in spite of all of these restrictions. I was always very moved to read these articles when I saw them, or when they were sent to me by friends. I really felt that he was sacrificing his life to expose the workings of the Chinese state, to expose cases of human rights violations in China.

Over the past year, Gao’s older brother has done so much to try to find out Gao Zhisheng’s whereabouts, but he hasn’t been able to get any reliable information this whole time. His brother regularly goes to the Jia county police department to inquire after Gao, but they would always say ‘he’s in Beijing.’ So his brother said after a while that he would go to Beijing to look for him, and the Jia county police said ‘we will go there and make an application for you.’ But then they started talking about Yulin [in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region], so his brother has been running between Yulin and Jia county and he still doesn’t have any news of him.

I spoke with his brother [the other day] and asked him if there was news, and he said no, nothing had changed.

We have no idea where he really is. They’re never going to tell us the truth. One minute they’re talking about Yulin, and the next they’re talking about Jia county.

He has been disappeared so many times before.

https://www.rfa.org/english/women/lawyer-08242018103333.html

http://www.standardnewswire.com/news/568914348.html

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/08/13/year-lawyers-disappearance-highlights-chinas-escalating-human-rights-disaster/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gao_Zhisheng

China: China Moves Ahead With Subversion Trial of Rights Lawyer in Jiangsu

August 16, 2018

Xu Yan, wife of arrested rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, stands third from left with friends and supporters outside the Xuzhou Detention Center, Aug. 1, 2018.

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu have indicted human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng on subversion charges, paving the way for a trial, his wife said on Thursday.

Yu, who is being held incommunicado by authorities in Jiangsu’s Xuzhou city, was formally arrested for “incitement to subvert state power”and “obstruction of officials in the course of their duty” in April.

He was indicted last month, but neither his lawyers nor his wife, Xu Yan, were informed about the move.

“His two attorneys enquired about Yu Wensheng’s case with the Xuzhou municipal procuratorate, which checked and found that the indictment was issued on July 19,” Xu told RFA.

She said two lawyers she hired to represent Yu, Chang Boyang and Xie Yang, hadn’t been informed of the indictment.

“They weren’t allowed to see him, nor to read the case files,” she said.

Jiangsu officials issued a statement in April claiming to be penned by Yu, and firing his defense team. However, Xu pointed to an earlier video statement asking her to disregard any such declaration.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/trial-08162018112812.html

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/07/31/uks-new-foreign-sec-jeremy-hunt-meets-families-detained-lawyers-china-visit/

https://www.businessinsider.in/barging-into-your-home-threatening-your-family-or-making-you-disappear-heres-what-china-does-to-people-who-speak-out-against-them/articleshow/65460063.cms

http://www.realclearlife.com/daily-brief/chilling-ways-china-deals-dissent/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-activists-target-chinas-human-rights-record-with-new-ad-campaign-in/

https://www.richmond-news.com/news/richmond-bus-stop-billboard-calls-for-ending-one-party-dictatorship-in-china-1.23409277

China: China’s War on Lawyers

August 16, 2018

Eighty years ago, a beaten and broken man limped into a bathroom of a barracks in the Dachau concentration camp. After five years of torture at the hands of his Nazi captors, fearful that he may finally break and betray his friends, attorney Hans Litten fashioned a noose and hung himself. His “crime” was that as a lawyer in 1931, he put the Nazi party on trial for an attack on a dance hall where a left-wing workers association was meeting. Three people were killed and twenty others injured. During the course of the trial, Litten called Adolf Hitler to the stand and cross-examined him for hours. According to reports, Hitler was so shaken and enraged by the experience that Litten’s name could never be uttered in his presence. As the Nazis ascended to power, Litten turned down opportunities to flee Germany insisting that he needed to stay for his clients. In the hours following the Reichstag fire in 1933, Hitler got his revenge. Litten, at the top of Hitler’s enemies list, was arrested, imprisoned and tortured until his suicide in Dachau in 1938.

Today, it is more important than ever to keep Litten’s memory alive, when governments around the world have declared an unofficial war on lawyers who are fighting for the human rights of their clients. One of the worst offenders is China, who has faced growing international criticism for its actions against human rights attorneys and advocates in the country.

The 709 Crackdown

The repression known as the 709 Crackdown began in July 2015 when 248 human rights lawyers were detained and interrogated for work they had done on behalf of their clients. Charges were filed against a number of those detained for a variety of “crimes” under Chinese law, including “subversion,” which can carry a life sentence, and “subversion of state power,” which can result in up to 15 years in prison. The Chinese government has also suspended law licenses, engaged in enforced disappearances and filed and prosecuted arbitrary criminal cases against human rights defenders in China.

Three years on, according to Amnesty International, of the 248 individuals who were detained, nine were convicted of the “crimes” of “subverting state power,” “inciting subversion of state power” or “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Three people were given suspended sentences and one “exempted from criminal punishment” while remaining under surveillance. As of July 2018, four remain imprisoned.

https://intpolicydigest.org/2018/08/16/china-s-war-on-lawyers/

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/08/12/german-journalism-student-china-refused-visa-renewal-making-film-human-rights-lawyer-class/

China: Veteran Human Rights Lawyer Cheng Hai Disbarred

August 13, 2018

Cheng Hai

On August 9, the Beijing Justice Bureau issued a decision to cancel lawyer Cheng Hai’s  (程海) license. Six months ago in February, the bureau cancelled the registration of his small Beijing Wutian Law Firm, claiming that the firm had not accepted the annual review on schedule. According to China’s Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers (《律师执业管理办法》), a lawyer’s license is revoked if they’re not hired by a firm for six months.

On August 10, lawyer Cheng Hai filed an Application for Administrative Review, which shows that the authorities were committed to having him disbarred, and refused to view contrary evidence. The application shows that Cheng Hai signed an employment contract with the Beijing Liangzhi Law Firm on July 30, and delivered his proof of new employment to the Justice Bureau of Beijing Mentougou District, which oversees the new firm. On August 5, he again mailed the same proof of employment to the Beijing Justice Bureau via EMS. His mail was returned. The authorities, by returning his documents, claim that they received no proof, and thus acted to disbar him.

The disbarment of Cheng Hai is part of the Chinese government’s broad, systematic effort to take human rights lawyers off the field. Those implicated in the 709 Crackdown, whether the detained lawyers or lawyers who signed up to defend their detained colleagues, have been the primary targets. Cheng Hai has represented lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), who has been held well over 1,000 days now without trial.

https://chinachange.org/2018/08/13/veteran-human-rights-lawyer-cheng-hai-disbarred/

https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2018/03/patrick-poon-outcast-lawyers-in-china/

https://hk.thenewslens.com/article/101856 (CHINESE)