June 16, 2022
The sixth annual China Human Rights Lawyers Day will be held virtually on July 9, 2022, at 9 a.m. EST (U.S.).
In 2017, human rights organizations in the U.S., Taiwan, and Hong Kong established July 9th as the China Human Rights Lawyers day to commemorate the mass arrests, detention, and torture of human rights lawyers in mainland China that began on July 9, 2015. Since then, the Chinese authorities have continued to imprison and torture lawyers who dare take on politically sensitive cases, while preventing others from engaging in their legal practice. In the last few years, more than 40 Chinese human rights lawyers have had their licenses suspended or permanently revoked. With far-reaching consequences, the authorities have been successful in suppressing these independent defenders of dissidents, religious believers, activists, and others who fall afoul of the Party-state.
The China Human Rights Lawyers Day was created to support Chinese lawyers by bringing their plight to the attention of the international legal community, human rights organizations, and other concerned groups and individuals. While politicians, stakeholders, and multinational corporations fear the Chinese Communist Party and even aid and abet it in undermining and corrupting liberal values and the international liberal order, Chinese human rights lawyers have been working every day on the front lines of the fight against human rights abuses by an authoritarian government, upholding the rule of law in a country where there is none. The price they have paid is huge, but without regret. The world has come to a crossroads where democratic countries are beginning to recognize and confront the dangers of the totalitarian Chinese Communist regime. The meaning of the Day lies in that we must remember the tireless work of the Chinese human rights lawyers over the past two decades. We must therefore acknowledge them and support them, because their fate is tied to the belief in liberty and the rule of law that we cherish.
At last year’s event, we screened a video on the persecution of Chinese lawyers; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, gave the opening address. Colleagues from international law associations such as CCBE and UIA, as well as China-focused legal scholars, attended and spoke at the gathering. In addition, members of the European Parliament and U.S. Congress delivered video speeches expressing their admiration, concern, and encouragement for the Chinese human rights lawyers.
We invite you to the 6th China Human Rights Lawyers Day, to be livestreamed on the YouTube channel of the Judicial Reform Foundation. The event will feature human rights lawyers from China, distinguished members of international bar associations, academics, as well as lawmakers. Topics will include China malicious disbarment and continuing imprisonment of lawyers, the United Nations principles on the role of lawyers and their relevance to the current situation in China, and how to support and protect Chinese human rights lawyers.
Two lawyers will receive this year’s China Human Rights Lawyers Award.
We look forward to seeing you on July 9th!
International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI, London)
Humanitarian China (U.S.)
China Change (U.S.)
Judicial Reform Foundation (Taiwan)
The 29 Principles (U.K.)
New School for Democracy (Taiwan)
Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network
A Documentary by China Change
The Defenders – Twenty Years of Human Rights Lawyers in China
In English and Chinese
When China’s rights defense movement arose at the turn of the century with the advent of the Internet and a booming economy, a group of lawyers known as rights lawyers led the way. Over the past two decades, they have represented clients in all aspects of human rights and public interest, including freedom of speech, freedom of belief (Falun Gong practitioners and Christians), political dissent, property rights, women’s rights, labor rights, minority rights (Tibetans and Uyghurs), anti-discrimination, food safety, redress of wrongful convictions and other grievances.
By 2012, the Chinese authorities identified this small but growing group of lawyers as the No. 1 threat — along with dissidents, believers, internet opinion leaders, and people at the bottom rung of society fighting injustice — to the regime’s political security.
The documentary charts the course of the last twenty years of human rights lawyers’ work, the hostile treatment they have been subjected to, their ideals, their feelings, and their personal reflections. Over 30 of them speak, through video and audio, and many more appeared in photo montages.
Personally, it is so powerful. I choked up in places hearing the voices of people I’ve known for a decade or more, but haven’t heard speak since 709. …The script is superb — just the right balance of sober commentary and terrific editing of arresting and compelling words by the lawyers. Altogether it really is a triumph, not only of a past era, but a tenacious expression of hope for a better future. – Terrence Halliday, Research Professor, American Bar Foundation
[A] new documentary that should be of broad human interest. – Jerome Cohen, New York University
Highly recommend this documentary, in which Chinese rights lawyers do a lot of speaking for themselves. – Donald Clarke, George Washington University
I watched twice. I know most of the people in it and admire them. – @Arete48559007
It brought me to tears. This is what it means to “hold fast to the Good Way till death.” [The Analects, Book VIII] – @Ian69036586