China Change, November 21, 2021
Lin Qilei (蔺其磊) is one of the most productive human rights lawyers in China for over a decade. Like many human rights lawyers, especially since the 709 Crackdown, he has been targeted and now driven out of the profession for his work. In this 12-minute video, he recounts how the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau denied his law firm of annual reviews and then shut it down, and how it eventually revoked his license in October 2021. More than 40 human rights lawyers have been disbarred since 2016, and Lin Qilei is the third lawyer disbarred in 2021. All three were involved in the defense of “the Hong Kong 12.” You may also want to watch “Lawyer Lin”, a short documentary made by German student David Missal. — The Editors
Hello, I am lawyer Lin Qilei. Today is November 9, 2021. I have been wanting to make videos, and here I am today. This is my first time. The main purpose of recording this video is to sum up how my law license was revoked and my law firm, the Beijing Ruikai Law Firm, was shut down by the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau.
The law firm I founded, Beijing Ruikai Law Firm, was established in Sept. 2009. At first we handled some public interest cases, followed by many cases of religious believers and pro-democracy activists that were considered “sensitive” by the authorities. This got us noticed and targeted. As a result, the firm met difficulties during the Justice Bureau’s annual review of lawyers and law firms, the cases we handled were interfered. But I have always insisted on doing what a lawyer should do, adhering to my professional duties within the scope of the law. That means I wouldn’t obey certain directives from the authorities.
Our firm and our lawyers then became targets unfortunately. When the authorities failed to control us, they started to make things difficult for us; when this too failed to have the intended outcome, they resorted to denying us some of the conditions required for lawyers to practice law. June 1, 2018 was the deadline for Beijing Justice Bureau’s annual review. Both the Beijing Justice Bureau and the Chaoyang District Justice Bureau refused to accept our law firm’s materials for the annual review.
This was followed by a so-called on-site investigation of our law firm, including the issuance of an administrative investigation notice. One of the problems they cited was that our legal practice certificates were not displayed in the office. This was the reason the Justice Bureau cited for refuse to pass our annual review. During the two-year administrative investigation, our firm’s annual reviews were denied twice in a row. In the end, we were unable to reach a consensus with the Justice Bureau, as I could not accept some of their arguments.
On January 4, 2021, I received a written decision from the Beijing Justice Bureau to terminate Beijing Ruikai Law Firm. Our firm, which had been operating for more than 10 years, was thus illegally shut down on the grounds that the firm had not taken part in the annual review. Within the statutory deadline, we filed a complaint in the Beijing Tongzhou District Court against the decision, because it clearly stated that, if we do not accept the decision, we may file a complaint with the Beijing Tongzhou District People’s Court.
On June 26, I went to the Tongzhou court to submit a complaint against the Beijing Justice Bureau and related evidence. Staff at the court’s filing office accepting the materials, made me wait for more than three hours until the end of the day, and told me: “Your filing did not comply with the relevant provisions of the Supreme People’s Court concerning filing registration, so we are returning your documents but we will not issue any written ruling.” When I asked them which provisions of the Supreme Court’s rule we were not in compliance with, the court staff said, “You are a lawyer, you should know.” That was it, they wouldn’t even take our documents.
We then mailed our complaint to the Tongzhou court, and the court returned it after opening the mail.
Faced with this situation, we filed a complaint with the Beijing No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court and listed our demands. The intermediate court accepted the case application, but only after our repeated inquiries and an in-person visit to the court amidst the pandemic, were we told that we would still have to resolve the matter through the Tongzhou District Court. We then filed a complaint with the Beijing High People’s Court and the Central Supervisory Group for Education and Rectification of Political and Legal Teams regarding the actions of the Tongzhou District Court and the Beijing No. 3 Intermediate Court, but as of now nothing has come of it.
In the meantime, a law firm in Beijing agreed to admit me to practice. I mailed the original labor contract and other relevant documents to the Beijing Chaoyang District Justice Bureau, but to date nothing has come of it either.
Instead, on October 30, 2021, I received Beijing Justice Bureau’s decision to revoke my lawyer’s license. So far, they have taken all the usual methods of suppressing a lawyer. I’m a lawyer, faced with this illegal administrative decision, I don’t even have a way to file a lawsuit against it, and the People’s Courts, in the face of such obvious facts, have refused to accept my complaints.
Going forward, to address the shutdown of Beijing Ruikai Law Firm, I will begin five series of rights-defense actions. The courts may refuse to file my cases, the Beijing and Chaoyang District justice bureaus may shut their doors on me, but I am determined to use the law to defend my rights.
As you can see, my hair has grown out. When I started growing my hair, I childishly thought that by the time my hair flow over my shoulders, the court may file my case. Now, it seems that even when my long hair spread on the ground, the court will still refuse to file my complaints regarding the closure of my law firm, the revocation of my lawyer’s license, the blocking of my transfer to another firm, and all the lawsuits for state compensation and information disclosure. But I value the rights that I have. The court may be lawless, but I will follow legal procedures and fight for my rights.
I’ll keep you posted on future developments. Thank you for watching.
“Lawyer Lin” by David Missal, 2018.
The Persecution List / 中國人權律師受迫害名單, 2021.