Jun 30, 2011

East Turkestan: Chinese Crackdown Extends to Human Rights Lawyers.

Chinese government’s extraordinary measures taken to silence human rights lawyers may negatively impact upon minority representation. 

Below is an article published by Monsters and Critics:

Beijing - China is silencing human rights lawyers through an 'uncompromising series of measures,' including illegal detentions, harassment, intimidation and sometimes torture, London-based Amnesty International said Thursday.

'Human rights lawyers are subject to escalating silencing tactics, from suspension or revoking of licences to harassment, enforced disappearance or even torture,' said Catherine Baber, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific deputy director.

The escalation of a two-year crackdown on lawyers followed calls in February for peaceful protests against the ruling Communist Party, Amnesty said in a report.

It said Chinese authorities particularly targeted lawyers involved in issues such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and land rights.

'The Chinese state is attempting to wield and manipulate the law to crush those it perceives as a threat,' Baber said.

'Human rights lawyers are being targeted as they try to use the law to protect citizens against the excesses of the state,' she said.

The report listed several prominent lawyers who remain missing or under detention, including Gao Zhisheng, who has apparently been held in extrajudicial detention since he disappeared in February 2009.

Gao briefly reappeared in Beijing in April 2010, meeting several friends and at least one foreign journalist in an apparently police-managed event.

In an account released in January by his wife from exile in the United States, Gao said he was 'tortured to near-death' during an earlier period of illegal detention and house arrest from 2005 to 2008.

Amnesty also highlighted the case of former lawyer Ni Yulan, 49, who lost her licence because she was twice convicted of 'obstructing public business,' charges that she denied but was not allowed to defend herself against.

Ni was released from a two-year prison sentence in April 2010, but she and her husband, Dong Jiqin, were arrested again on April 7 and charged with 'creating a disturbance.'

Ni was left disabled after torture during her earlier detentions and she now uses a wheelchair.

Another lawyer, Liu Shihui, was 'brutally beaten by a group of unidentified individuals' while he was on his way to attend an anti-government protest in the southern city of Guangzhou on February 20, Amnesty said.

Liu was detained on February 25 and 'subjected to enforced disappearance' before he was sent to his hometown on June 12 and held under house arrest, the group said.

The government also put pressure on lawyers handling sensitive cases by refusing to renew their annual licences or threatening to do so, Amnesty said.

Because of the intimidation, only a few hundred of China's 204,000 registered lawyers represent sensitive clients such as members of the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong or protesters from China's Tibetan and Uighur minorities, it said.