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4th Anniversary of the 709 Crackdown
This year marks the fourth year since the 709 Crackdown, during which Lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who has been secretly detained and tried, has been sentenced to four and a half years in jail this January. It was not until 28th June 2019 did his family manage to visit him for the first time with permission, his wife Li Wenzu has since expressed serious concern for his health and well-being as a result of ill-treatment; Lawyer Yu Wensheng, the defence lawyer of Wang Quanzhang, has been under arbitrary detention for more than 500 days, and is awaiting sentencing after being secretly tried on 9th May 2019; Lawyer Li Yuhan – the defence lawyer of Wang Yu – is currently still in custody awaiting trial, which has been delayed multiple times.
No less than 321 persons have fallen victim to the 709 Crackdown, some of which have been subjected to torture and suffer from deteriorating health in the process of being forced to confess to their “crimes”. Their families have been harassed, being evicted from their homes, surveilled and their children deprived of their right to education.
China human rights lawyers have experienced diverse forms of illegal suppression. Lawyer Tang Jingling – who has long supported pro-democracy movements – and Lawyer Jiang Tianyong – who has actively protected the rights of 709 lawyers’ families – have technically already finished their time in prison; however, they are still under the surveillance of public security agents 24 hours a day, being deprived of their right of autonomy in terms of healthcare and their mobility rights; Lawyer Wang Yu has been forcefully removed by police while on her way to attend an activity at the American Embassy in Beijing; Lawyer Gao Zhisheng has already been subjected to two years of enforced disappearance.
In the past four years, lawyers implicated by the 709 Crackdown have also faced administrative penalties as a form of suppression. Lawyers and law firms in China are subjected to annual “inspections”, and lawyers who have worked on politically sensitive cases tend to have their licenses revoked or suspended, victims include Lawyers Liu Zhengqing and Chenghai. Law firms which accepted to represent in such cases, such as Beijing’s Fengrui Law Firm, Wutian Law Firm, and Guangxi’s Baijuming Law Firm, had their licenses revoked and were forced to disband. From September 2017 to January 2019, more than 26 human rights lawyers and law firms have had their licenses revoked, invalidated or suspended due to them exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, of association, and of speech.
Evidently, despite the Crackdown having taken place four years ago, the Chinese government’s suppression against human rights lawyers has not stopped, but has instead evolved to another form.
Even in this darkest of times, we still manage to find hope – and human rights lawyers are the brave souls carrying the torches of light. In 2019, we also witness the third anniversary of the China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day. The courage and persistence of these lawyers who are facing challenges and suppressions imposed by the State in order to silence them are recognized and celebrated. The Chinese government may temporarily lock these brave lawyers behind bars, but their families and supporters keep the torch burning as they persist in their fight for justice. This year, the Hong Kong government disregarded China’s lack of rule of law, as it proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition law, which would allow any individual to be extradited from Hong Kong to Mainland China for trial, rendering anyone vulnerable to arbitrary detention, unfair trial and inhumane treatment. Hong Kong people have been firmly resisting the draconian Bill.
We strongly condemn the Chinese Government ’s relentless and ruthless suppression against people in pursuit of freedom of speech, justice and rule of law in the name of “ruling the country according to law.” We demand:
1.That human rights lawyers who are still incarcerated to be released immediately;
2. That genuine freedom be guaranteed for lawyers who have already completed their time in prison;
3. That decisions to revoke and invalidate lawyers’ licenses on the basis of state retaliation be withdrawn;
4. That all methods to intimidate and repress human rights lawyers be stopped, be it outright violence or discrete coercion;
5. That all forms of harassment and suppression against families of human rights lawyers be stopped.
【Lawyers Silent Standing Protest】
9th July 2019 marks the 4th anniversary of 709 Crackdown. We cordially invite you to join our action in solidarity with China human rights lawyers and protest against the Chinese government’s continued suppression. The details are as follows:
Date: 9 July 2019 (TUE)
Venue: Outside the Court of Final Appeal, near Statue Square
Dress code: Black
【講座 – 免於恐懼的自由: 從反送中看中國司法制度的缺失】
這次我們邀請了中國維權律師關注組的副主席 張耀良先生 以及法政匯思的 李安然先生 為大家講解《逃犯條例》修訂與中國司法制度問題的關連，以及中國維權運動、「709大抓捕」帶給我們的啟示。