China crackdown on lawyers expands

2011-06-30 13:00
Beijing - Chinese authorities are increasingly resorting to attacks and secret detentions in a crackdown on activist lawyers that has worsened this year amid government efforts to prevent the growth of an Arab-style protest movement, a rights group said on Thursday.

Amnesty International said the government also has suspended or revoked lawyers' licenses to stop them from taking sensitive cases, such as defending pro-democracy dissidents, members of banned religious movements or government critics.

"Intimidation, harassment, violence, arbitrary detention - were all increasingly used against lawyers and their families in 2010," the group said in a report released on Thursday detailing the crackdown over the past two years. "Such acts are carried out in more and more blatant ways, with officials abandoning even the pretence of obeying the law."

Ever-sensitive to any signs of dissent, China has kept a steady drumbeat of pressure on the small community of human rights lawyers who already face numerous difficulties working in China's tightly controlled legal system to press for civil liberties and combat abuse of power.

The pressure intensified in February as the government launched one of its broadest campaigns of repression in years. Dozens of activists, lawyers and bloggers have been questioned, detained or have simply disappeared in a bid to quash even the possibility of a pro-democracy movement forming along the lines of those sweeping the Arab world.

Among them are prominent rights lawyer Teng Biao, a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, who disappeared in mid-February and resurfaced more than two months later. Beijing attorney Jiang Tianyong, who worked on cases involving Aids activists and freedom of religion, also vanished for two months.

Missing for a year

Though none of the lawyers were previously media-shy, all have come back refusing to speak to journalists, suggesting possible intimidation by authorities.

Authorities also use administrative measures to pressure lawyers. Amnesty International estimates that 30-40 rights lawyers have lost their licenses either temporarily or permanently since 2008, the London-based group's Asia Pacific Deputy Director Catherine Baber said.

One of the most high-profile targets of the crackdown on rights lawyers over the past few years is Gao Zhisheng, a charismatic and pugnacious lawyer who represented religious dissenters and advocated constitutional reform.

Gao, who has been missing for more than a year, has drawn international attention for the unusual length of his disappearance and for his earlier reports of torture he said he endured in detention.

The Ministry of Public Security and Beijing's municipal public security bureau did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment on the report.

Read more on:    china  |  human rights

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy

Miley's new dog is too adorable.



13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher
The unusual pets of Instagram
Bertie sets a new world record!

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The Leo moon adds an element of drama and entertainment. A significant person that you may consult or confide in may play more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.