Press Conference for the Pre-Session of United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review of China
(2018-10-03 – Hong Kong) The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG) cohosted a press conference with the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (Hong Kong Alliance) and Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) today, to announce a delegation to the pre-session of the 3rd cycle of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of China.
A joint submission was submitted earlier this year to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights by CHRLCG, Hong Kong Alliance, HKCTU, Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese and Labour Action China. The submission illustrated concerns about China’s restrictions on civil rights, including the government’s continuous suppression of labor’s freedom of association and circumscription of civil society organizations’ fundraising and exchange activities with overseas NGOs in the mainland by means of the Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Government Organizations Activities in China (Overseas NGO Law). Suggestions for amelioration were also raised in the joint submission, demanding the immediate release of labor rights activists and a halt to their persecution, the annulment of the Overseas NGO Law. With criticism on China’s curtailing of lawyers’ freedom of assembly, speech and expression with the use of Measures for the Administration of Law Firms and Measures on the Administration of Lawyers’ Practice, we call for the immediate repeal of these two measures.
Albert Ho Chun-yan, Chairperson of CHRLCG, pointed out that the Chinese regime’s unhampered persecution of lawyers over recent years is tantamount to declaring war on law, and the state’s claim of rule by law is but a façade. Means of suppression include prolonged pre-trial detention – lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been detained for over 1,100 days without any trial; restriction on the right to meet families and defence counsels through residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) –ever since lawyer Yu Wensheng was put under RSDL for 3 months and subsequent detention, he has not been allowed to meet his family or defense lawyer for more than 8 months; torture – lawyer Li Yuhan recalled that her inmates were instructed by the jail administrators to urinate on her food; unfair trial – lawyer Jiang Tianyong was represented by two state-appointed lawyers in court; enforced disappearance – after his release in 2014, lawyer Gao Zhisheng was held under house arrest and has been missing since August 2017; threatening lawyers’ right to practice and their livelihood with administrative punishment and annual inspection – a total of 17 human rights lawyers have had their licenses revoked or invalidated since 2017, with more than half of them involved in cases related to the 709 Crackdown. In view of such persecution, CHRLCG calls upon the Chinese government to release all detained and jailed rights lawyers and activists, and to stop revoking or invalidating lawyers’ practice licenses on grounds of their speech or representing in sensitive cases.
Albert Ho, also as the chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance, declared the organization’s demands that the Chinese government should (1) ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) promptly. Despite having signed the covenant in 1998, the Chinese government has been deferring its ratification and broken numerous pledges made to the international community; (2) release all detained dissidents immediately and stop persecuting human rights activists and organizations, such as Qin Yongmin, Liu Xianbin, Hu Shigen, Chen Xi, Huang Qi and other political prisoners under prolonged detention, as well as those imprisoned for commemorating the June 4th massacre and the Tiananmen Mothers; (3) vindicate the June 4th incident, ascertain the responsibility for the massacre and to do justice to the victims.
HKCTU representative Ming Lam raised concerns over the frequent crackdowns on labor organizations in Mainland China. In 2015, 25 labor activists in Guangdong were interrogated by police officers for assisting the organizing of labor movement. 7 of them were consequently put under criminal detention or sentenced. In addition, many worker leaders and students were arrested in the recent Jasic incident in Shenzhen. HKCTU hence urges the Chinese government to revise the Trade Union Law, to ensure that workers can lawfully exercise their freedom of association to form labor unions, to protect workers’ right to strike and collective bargaining, to repeal the Overseas NGO Law, and to release the arrested activists and labor organization members.