July 4, 2017
China’s human rights lawyers have since 2003 become one of the most active and effective forces in the country advancing the ideals of universal values, because of their unique role and professional positions. Their work defending the civil rights and liberties of Chinese citizens extends from the internet to the streets, from courtrooms to jails. They’ve fought hard to promote the rule of law and democracy in China.
As prominent representatives of Chinese lawyers, human rights lawyers have been the target of the Chinese government’s persecution since the beginning of the rights defense movement. They’ve had their licenses to practice law revoked, they’ve been followed, threatened, publicly slandered by state media, abducted, disappeared, sent to forced labor camps, imprisoned for lengthy periods, and tortured. Persecution has become commonplace.
The persecution of rights lawyers in China reached its peak on July 9, 2015, when hundreds were detained and interrogated; the crackdown is now known as the “709 Incident.” The barbarism, cruelty, and absurdity with which the Chinese Communist Party began persecuting 709 lawyers and activists, and the torture and humiliation they suffered, has shocked the world. The 709 lawyers’ own defense attorneys and supporters have put up courageous resistance. The unyielding support and advocacy by the wives of human rights lawyers, through smiles and tears, have become iconic images.
The 709 Incident isn’t over, yet it has already left a profound mark on the development of Chinese civilization. It’s far reaching political and historical significance will become clearer in time.
The date of July 9 must become one that we remember and mark from now on. For this reason, we call for the establishment of July 9 as “China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day.” To inaugurate the occasion we will hold an event in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the bravery, wisdom, and will to resist exhibited by human rights lawyers in China. We’ll recall their suffering and sacrifices, demand accountability for the crimes committed against them, whether by the regime or individuals, and call for the international community to continue monitoring their plight and advocating on their behalf.
We firmly believe that someday in the future, in a constitutionally-governed, democratic, and free China, we’ll mark July 9 as a day to honor and celebrate human rights lawyers, and it will become a day that belongs to all of China’s lawyers.
Plans for the Inaugural Chinese Human Rights Lawyers’ Day are as follows:
Location: 1701 20th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
(Taipei and Hong Kong events to be announced later.)
Time: 10:00 a.m. July 9 (Eastern U.S. time)
Format: Exhibition of photographs, screening of a new documentary film about Chinese human rights lawyers, luncheon, discussions, and a march — broadcast online to the world
Social media tags: #709lawyers #中国人权律师节
Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (Hong Kong)
China Change (U.S.A)
Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers（U.S.A）
Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network (Taiwan)
China Aid (U.S.A)
Initiatives for China (U.S.A)
International Association of People’s Lawyers（Netherlands）
Humanitarian China (U.S.A)
Institute for China’s Democratic Transition (U.S.A)
Day of the Endangered Lawyer (Netherlands)
Taiwan Association for China Human Rights (Taiwan)
New School for Democracy (Hong Kong)
The International Observatory for Lawyers at Risk (OIAD, Europe)
Visual Artists Guild (U.S.A)
【地点】美国华盛顿 1701 20th St NW, Washington, DC 20009