Lawyers in Modern China, Student Edition
China must respect lawyers’ human rights | Letters
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Enter the password to open this PDF file:. Cancel OK. File name: -. File size: -. Title: -. In September, Beijing police arrested Liu Pengfei, the creator of a WeChat group that had discussed political and social issues.
Authorities continued their assault on academic freedom. Several professors were fired for speaking critically of the Chinese government on social media. In August, Cambridge University Press admitted it had blocked access in China to more than articles published in its journal China Quarterly , following orders from the Chinese government. The international backlash against the decision compelled the publishing house to restore the articles. In November, Springer Nature pulled access to over 1, articles in China. The publisher said the decision was to comply with Chinese regulations.
Gui Minhai, a Swedish national and publisher of books critical of the Chinese leadership, was abducted in Thailand in October Civil liberties in Hong Kong are increasingly being undermined by the growing interference of the central government, 20 years after the city returned to Chinese sovereignty in Opposition political parties and their supporters faced greater harassment from authorities.
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In July, a Hong Kong court disqualified four more pro-democracy lawmakers for modifying their oaths swearing allegiance to China in a ceremony. In a politically motivated move, the secretary of justice, a political appointee, sought a harsher prison sentence for the trio.
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Also in August, the same court convicted 13 defendants of unlawful assembly for another anti-government protest in The 13, who had previously been sentenced to community service, were given prison terms of between 8 and 13 months after the Justice Department sought a review of their sentences. The Chinese government has long conflated peaceful activism with violence in Xinjiang, and has treated many expressions of Uyghur identity, including language and religion, as threatening. Uyghur opposition to government policies has been expressed in peaceful protests but also through violent attacks.
Pacific Basin Law Journal
However, details about protests and violence are scant, as authorities severely curtail independent reporting in the region. After Party Secretary Chen Quanguo was transferred from Tibet to Xinjiang in August , the Xinjiang regional government expanded its already pervasive security measures by hiring thousands more security personnel.
In July, authorities forced residents in a district of Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, to install surveillance apps on their mobile phones. In April, 97 officials in Hotan prefecture were reprimanded. Since October , authorities have arbitrarily recalled passports from residents of Xinjiang. By September, about 20 Uyghurs were forcibly repatriated to Xinjiang while 12 were released. A study reported that at least Uyghurs had joined ISIS, but estimates vary widely and the level of participation remains unconfirmed. Authorities in Tibetan areas continue to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, and assembly, and fail to redress popular concerns about mining and land grabs by local officials, which often involve intimidation and arbitrary violence by security forces.
In , officials intensified surveillance of online and phone communications. But in any area where the rule of law is in contest with the power of the Communist Party, it is the party that wins. It has no truck with people like Mr Li, who has not only represented the weak and dispossessed, such as farmers thrown off their land, but also people whose beliefs the party finds threatening: house-church Christians and followers of Falun Gong, a banned religious sect. Other rights lawyers have found themselves in court for offending officials. Now the party is trying to appear more respectable.
The Faculty of Law of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
In recent years it has abolished the once standard practice of sending lesser offenders to labour camps without trial. It has also tightened rules on obtaining evidence through torture. But that has had little effect. China, unconvincingly, has rejected allegations of torture by Mr Li and several of his fellow lawyers.
Rights Defence Lawyers as Dissidents in Contemporary China
As the second anniversary of the round-up of legal activists approaches, the government appears close to wrapping up their cases. Only four of them remain in custody. They face serious charges, including of subversion. Officials are refusing to allow visits to one of them, Wang Quanzhang whose photograph is displayed by his wife on the right of the picture. Those who have been released remain under intense scrutiny.
Some lawyers have been forced to move to different cities with their families.
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Most of them have been disbarred. Rights lawyers are used to harassment by police. Now their families have to endure similar treatment. Some rights lawyers who remained free in are not allowed to leave the country. The government has launched a public campaign to discredit the lawyers and their families. But the lawyers and their families are not entirely cowed. Though police warn relatives to keep quiet about those detained, some family members have formed a strong, outspoken group which is campaigning for legal reform in China.