January 8, 2017
July 9, 2015, marked the beginning of a large number of arrests of human rights lawyers and rights defenders in China. Dozens of lawyers and human rights defenders have been disappeared, and hundreds of lawyers and defenders have been called in for intimidating “chats” with the police, or been temporarily detained. The campaign has extended to 23 provinces, shocking both China and the world alike, and is now known as the “709 mass arrest.”
The “709 mass arrest” is the most severe attack on the rule of law and human rights in China for the last decade. This is shown clearly in how it has turned lawyers into imaginary enemies, making their lawful activities a primary target of attack. They’ve been arbitrarily disappeared without notification to their family and subject to torture and abuse in custody; they’ve been subject to forced confessions; they’ve been slandered and tried by state-controlled media; they’ve been deprived of their right to be represented by counsel of their choosing; their own lawyers have been deprived of their right to represent their clients, at times detained and intimidated; and their families have been implicated in collective punishments. This mode of suppression continues to the present, with lawyers in Chengdu, Suzhou, and Shenzhen subject to similar attacks. A sense of terror is spreading, and everyone feels that they could be next. On November 21, human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) was disappeared after he went to call on the detained lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳), one of the “709” lawyers. To this day Jiang’s whereabouts are unknown.
The 709 mass arrests have gone on for 18 months now, with lawyers and activists like Li Heping (李和平), Xie Yang, Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), Xie Yanyi (谢燕益)*, Li Chunfu (李春富), Wu Gan (吴淦)**, and others still being jailed. The cases of Li Heping and Xie Yang have been handed over to the courts, and will likely soon be tried: Xie Yang was indicted on December 16, 2016, for “inciting subversion of state power” and “disrupting court order,” and his case has now been handed to the Changsha Municipal Intermediate People’s Court for trial; Li Heping was indicted on December 5, 2016, for “subversion of state power,” and his case has now been handed to the Tianjin Second Intermediate People’s Court for trial.
All people should enjoy the right to live free of terror, and all yearn for safety, individual rights, and dignity. If this is our consensus, let’s unite and join the “709 Trial Observation Group” to bear witness to the illegal methods of the “709 model” of persecution as well as the bravery of the 709 heroes, and let’s do so from inside and outside the courtroom, in China and outside China.
Those interested in joining the “709 Trial Observation Group” are invited to provide their contact information to the group’s administrator, available at +852-9240-7356 (for WhatsApp or Telegram) or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attachment: A short summary of the Li Heping case and the Xie Yang case
In the course of the past 18 months, Li Heping has been forcibly disappeared for half a year. No word was given to his family by the authorities. On January 8, 2016, he was deprived of the right to legal counsel, though in a disguised manner: the authorities simply refused to recognize the defense lawyers appointed by his family. Li Heping’s wife had her home broken into and was summoned by the public security bureau after she brought suit against state media who had slandered Li Heping. She was then forced to move home, but found she had been locked out of her new residence. She’s also been prevented from leaving the country, and has been unable to secure a passport for her daughter. The couple’s daughter was blocked from enrolling in school, and harassed while attempting to attend school; Li Heping’s wife has herself been followed, threatened, and illegally detained, and Li’s defense lawyers have been denied meetings, access to case files, or communication with their client.
In the course of the past 18 months, Xie Yang has been tortured and subject to sleep deprivation and long hours of interrogation. His legs were injured, exacerbating an existing injury and leading to severe swelling and pain. He was suffocated with cigarette smoke, violently beaten while he suffered an illness, kept in manacles for prolonged periods, locked in a cell with prisoners who had communicable diseases about which he was not informed, been beaten by death row prisoners, had rags stuffed in his mouth by disciplinary officers, been isolated long-term in an attempt to crush his will, and beaten in the head just before a meeting with his lawyer. In Xie Yang’s case, the prosecuting and security agencies prevented defense counsel from seeing him or accessing any of his case files for 16 months. They refused to acknowledge that lawyer Lin Qilei (蔺其磊) was indeed Xie Yang’s counsel. They prevented his wife from leaving the country, trailed her, coerced her, eavesdropped on her calls, and abducted her for forced “vacations” in the company of security personnel. They called in defense counsel for intimidating “chats,” threatened them, prevented them from leaving the country and ignored entirely all of their opinions. The first and second times the case was transferred to the Procuratorate, state prosecutors interrogated Xie Yang for weeks on end and refused to allow defense counsel access to him.
China Change’s notes:
*Xie Yanyi was released “on bail” but, as are the cases of Wang Yu, Bao Longjun, and Zhao Wei, he is still under some form of control, not free to speak to or see people.
** Wu Gan has also been indicted recently.
Translated by China Change. The original: http://www.msguancha.com/a/lanmu4/2016/1223/15295.html