Today, 22 January, marks the start of the Chinese New Year and the start of the Spring Festival. Hopefully, the start of the Year of the Rabbit will bring a better tide for China’s human rights lawyers compared to the ongoing repression on lawyers in the previous years. However, the outlook is grim. Although the Rabbit is a symbol of – amongst others – peace in Chinese culture, it does not seem that Chinese human rights lawyers will be provided such peace in the upcoming year.
The repression on lawyers in China has intensified over the last 10 years, with many lawyers being arrested or disbarred. Over the last year, the Chinese government has further curtailed the freedoms available to residents of Hong Kong, which is also affecting Hong Kong based human rights lawyers. The situation of lawyers both in China and Hong Kong remains of concern, especially after granting a third 5 year-term to Xi Jinping.
Over the last year, Lawyers for Lawyers has expressed concerns about these developments through several joint oral statements on China during the 49th, 50th, and 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. We have discussed the enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of lawyers and defenders in China; the systematic pattern of arbitrary detention of lawyers China; and the widespread pattern of enforced disappearances including of lawyers and human rights defenders in China.
Lawyers for lawyers has also expressed concerns on the harassment of human rights lawyers defending protestors of the zero-covid policy.