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War on Human Rights Lawyers Continues: Up to 16 More Lawyers in China Face Disbarment or Inability to Practice

China Change, May 14, 2018

 

disbarment, collage 1

disbarment, collage 2

 

Following the ‘709 crackdown’ — a large-scale attack against human rights lawyers that began on July 9, 2015 — China has continued to target this small group (about 0.1% of China’s 300,000 lawyers) who have taken on cases to defend basic human rights and other forms of social injustice. While torture and imprisonment have failed to cowe them, the government is now resorting to simple disbarment, or more subtle techniques, like preventing them from getting work so as to force their licenses to lapse, in order to take human rights lawyers off the field. The government regards this group of lawyers and those they defend a threat to communist rule; their determination to eliminate them is meeting with success, and the onslaught appears likely to continue and deepen.

China Change has reported several recent cases of disbarment, such as that of Sui Muqing (隋牧青), Yu Wensheng (余文生) and Zhu Shengwu (祝圣武). The following is an overview of 16 more cases of lawyers who are facing imminent disbarment or forms of harassment that prevent them from practicing law.

This campaign to remove lawyers who defend human rights, or any lawyer who is outspoken or rejects governmental control through the Lawyers’ Associations, appears to be deliberate, coordinated and sweeping. As we prepare the following list, more cases of threatened disbarment have continued to emerge; we will keep our readers updated.

Meanwhile, we are reminded by lawyers we correspond with that many human rights lawyers who face neither disbarment nor inability to practice also face increasing obstacles to doing their jobs: the justice bureaus have demanded that lawyers must report to the bureaus the cases they take on; recent news says that judicial bureaus want to implement a ‘grid-style’ control system over lawyers; Party cells are being set up in law firms; and lawyers are required to disclose to the judicial bureaus their religious beliefs, social media accounts, and other personal information.

As the authorities set about their rectification campaign against rights lawyers and strip them of their right to practice law, plaintiffs in human rights-related cases are having a difficult time finding defense attorneys, a circumstance that is likely to get worse as time goes on.

Lawyers Who Have Been Arrested During the 709 Crackdown

Xie Yanyi (谢燕益)

In April 2018, lawyer Xie Yanyi found that his license to practice law had been marked ‘void’ on the website of the Beijing Bureau of Justice — though he had personally received no such notice. On May 4, the Beijing Lawyers’ Association informed him that a hearing would be held on May 16 regarding his alleged violation of regulations. The notice said that Xie was being investigated for suspicion of violating regulations during his representation of a client in Yinchuan, Ningxia, who was being charged with ‘using an evil religious organization to undermine the rule of law’ (the legal terminology used by the courts in Falun Gong cases).

Xie YanyiThe authorities have been using the excuse of ‘conducting an investigation into violating regulations’ on a past case simply to provide some pretext for cancelling a lawyer’s license to practice. Xie is the latest victim of this method.

In January 2017, not long after Xie was released on bail, he continued taking on cases at his original law firm, including the well-known case of the Canadian citizen of Chinese heritage and Falun Gong practitioner Sun Qian (孙茜).

On Sunday, Xie Yanyi requested postponement of the hearing, stating that his oral and written requests for copying materials that support the so-called ‘violations’ have gone unanswered, and that he is thus unable to defend himself during the hearing.

After being released from prison, Xie penned a “Record of 709” in which he described being tortured while in custody, as well as the authorities’ threats against his wife as a form of psychological torture.

Li Heping (李和平)

During a detention of nearly two years, Li Heping was subjected to an inconceivable degree of torture, including hands and ankles being chained together for over a month. He got through by silently reciting passages from the Bible and thinking how much his six-year-old daughter needed a father. On April 25, 2017, the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court held a secret trial on Li Heping’s alleged subversion of state power. Three days later he received the sentence to three years imprisonment, suspended for four years, as well as the deprivation of political rights for four years. Li declined to appeal. On May 9 the same year, after the appeal period had expired, Li was released and allowed to return to his family.

Li Heping screen shotLi Heping is one of China’s earliest human rights lawyers, having been harassed and beaten by police for his work since 2007. Before the 709 crackdown he worked with a foreign NGO documenting cases of torture in custody and conducting anti-torture training classes.

On April 25, 2018, Li received notice from the Beijing Bureau of Justice that his law license was to be revoked — they said that according to Chinese law and regulations, lawyers who have deliberately committed crimes and been sentenced must have their professional licenses cancelled. Li rejected this explanation and demanded that a hearing be held about his case. On May 7, a man came to Li’s house to sever the notice, and Li scrawled the following on the receipt: “This is a great injustice. This is a false case, a case of political persecution. The truth will ultimately see its day!”

The hearing about Li’s law license will be held at 3:00 p.m. on May 17 at the Sunshine Halfway House (阳光中途之家), a community corrections center in Chaoyang District, Beijing.

Claiming that the case of Li Heping involves state secrets, the authorities announced that the hearing will be held behind closed doors. Nevertheless, we encourage the public, including foreign journalists and diplomats, to attend and observe in solidarity.

Li Chunfu (李春富)

li-chunfuIn April 2018, Li Chunfu’s law license, like Xie Yanyi’s, was marked as ‘void’ on the website of the Beijing Bureau of Justice. However, Li has revealed that his law firm is currently handling his social security and medical insurance paperwork. This means he remains an employee of the firm, and the government has no reason to annul his law license.

On August 1, 2015, Li Chunfu was arrested after speaking out on behalf of his brother, Li Heping, who had also been detained during the 709 crackdown. In January 2017 after Li Chunfu was released on bail, it quickly became clear that he had been terribly abused in custody and was suffering a mental breakdown.

Wang Yu (王宇)

In April 2018, Wang Yu found in a search of the records held by the Beijing Bureau of Justice that her professional status was marked as ‘unregistered.’ Her previous employer, the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm (北京锋锐律师事务所), had been disbanded as a result of the 709 crackdown, and Wang Yu had been unable to find a subsequent law office with which to associate herself.

王宇律师1

Wang Yu has had difficulties finding a  firm to accept her — some law firms have received warnings not to employ her, while others tactfully decline to employ her. In China, a lawyer without a firm is unable to practice; and if they have not found a firm within six months, their license is automatically annulled.

In Wang Yu’s case, as in that of several others, this is a method to disbar a human rights lawyer.

Zhang Kai (张凯)

On March 27, 2018, Zhang Kai of the Beijing Xinqiao Law Firm published the news that his firm had been forced by the authorities to fire him. “If nothing unexpected happens, once I’m laid off there will be no other law firm who accepts me, and in a matter of a few months my law license will be annulled.”

张凯_2He added: “I will continue to proactively communicate with my peers and the judicial bureaus and do my best not to make trouble for anyone, but if communication truly breaks down, I will be left with no choice but defend my own rights.”

Zhang Kai represented a number of churches in the Wenzhou area during the campaign to tear down crosses from 2014 to 2015. On August 25, 2015, Zhang and two assistants were taken away by police while at the Xialing Church (下岭教堂) in Wenzhou, and two days later placed under ‘residential surveillance at a designated place’ (指定居所监视居住) on suspicion of ‘organizing a crowd to disturb public order,’ and ‘stealing, spying, buying, and illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to foreigners.’ Zhang was released on probationary bail in March 2016, upon which he was forcibly taken back to his hometown in Inner Mongolia. In March 2017 his probationary bail was extended another year.

Huang Liqun (黄力群)

Huang LiqunHuang Liqun, a lawyer with the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, was arrested during the 709 crackdown and released in early 2016. In May 2018 on the website of the Beijing Bureau of Justice, his professional status was shown as ‘practicing,’ while his employer remained the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm which had already been shut down by the authorities.

In March 2017, the lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said that after Huang Liqun’s probation was finished, he requested a transfer of employer but was rejected. The authorities said that he was a party to an ongoing case, and that only after the entire case was finished would his status be modified.

包龙军

Bao Longjun (包龙军)

Bao Longjun is the husband of Wang Yu and only passed the bar exam and received his law license a few months prior to July 9, 2015, when he too was taken into custody on the same day as his wife. In August 2016, he and Wang Yu were released on probationary bail. He was still technically a legal intern at the time, and is currently unable to find a new law firm to employ him so that he can finish his internship and become a formally credentialled lawyer.

 

 

The Defense Lawyers of the 709 Detainees

Wen Donghai (文东海)

Wen Donghai, a lawyer from Changsha, Hunan, was the first lawyer to brave the atmosphere of terror after the 709 crackdown began and act as defense counsel for Wang Yu. He then began taking one sensitive case after another. On October 30, 2017, the Changsha Judicial Bureau dispatched a ‘Notification’ (《告知书》) to Wen, informing him that he had been investigated for “suspicion of disrupting court order and disrupting the normal operations of lawsuit activities,” found guilty, and would be subjected to administrative punishment.

Wen Donghai, photoOn April 29, Wen made a freedom of information request to the Hunan Department of Justice, demanding that they disclose the work instructions received from Minister of Justice Fu Zhenghua related to the 709 crackdown, as well as information about the meetings held by Hunan judicial authorities about disciplining lawyers. The freedom of information request that Wen crafted included “the specific circumstances of meetings held by your department prior to the Chinese New Year that invited the participation and coordination of individuals in the Public Security Bureau, the Procuratorate, the courts, and the politico-legal commission, regarding the suppression of human rights lawyers.”

On May 10, Wen received notice that the Hunan Provincial Department of Justice was planning to annul his law license, and informing him that he had a right to request a hearing. However, hearings of this nature are merely a formality, have no substantive content, and are designed primarily to provide cover for what is in essence a political punishment.

IMG_0864Li Yuhan (李昱函)

Li Yuhan was arrested in October 2017 in Shenyang, Liaoning province. She was charged with provoking quarrels and stirring up trouble, and fraud. This April Li Yuhan was brought before the court and faces the prospect of a prison sentence and the loss of law license. Li Yuhan has represented Wang Yu during the 709 crackdown and secretly traveled to Inner Mongolia to visit the family with another of Wang Yu’s defense lawyers, Wen Donghai.

Liu Shuqing (刘书庆)

Liu ShuqingOn January 4, 2016, Liu Shuqing, simultaneously a lawyer and a professor of chemistry at Qilu University of Technology (齐鲁工业大学) in Shandong, had his law license cancelled in the aftermath of the 709 arrests. Liu had been a lawyer for seven years, and had taken on cases the authorities consider sensitive, like that of Henan petitioner Gong Jianjun (巩建军) accused of killing a private security contractor; the case of Zhejiang dissident Chen Shuqing (陈树庆) accused of ‘subverting state power’; as well as Wang Yu and others. Liu believes that it’s his involvement in these cases that led to the annulment of his law license. In April 2018 the Qilu University of Technology announced that Liu had “repeatedly made inappropriate expressions,” and his teaching career of 16 years was put to an end.

Cheng HaiCheng Hai (程海)

Beijing-based Cheng Hai is the defense attorney for Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), another 709 lawyer who is still in detention. Cheng also took part, unsuccessfully, in the people’s deputy elections in Beijing in 2016 as an independent candidate. On February 5, 2018, the Beijing Bureau of Justice cancelled the license of Cheng Hai’s law firm, the Beijing Wutian Law Firm (北京悟天律师事务所), on the grounds that it had “refused to participate in the 2017 annual assessment.” Thus, if Cheng Hai does not find another law firm to employ him by August 5, his law license will be automatically annulled.

Other Lawyers

Huang Simin (黄思敏)

Huang SiminHuang Simin, a lawyer from Wuhan, Hubei, took on the case of Li Tingyu (李婷玉) among others; most recently the authorities have cancelled her license on the basis that she had failed to complete her transfer from one law firm to another. The truth is, Huang had been forced to leave her firm in Wuhan. Her plans to enter a firm in Guangdong didn’t materialize because orders were sent to firms not to accept her. She was then accepted by a firm in Changsha, Hunan. The local authorities there forced that firm to fire her. Currently Huang is currently seeking a solution to keep her license.

 

Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原)

Liu XiaoyuanLiu Xiaoyuan is a partner at the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Since the 709 crackdown in 2015, though the Beijing Bureau of Justice stated on its website that Liu was ‘practicing’ law, in fact he had been unable to do so for the last three years, and nor was he able to transfer his employment from Fengrui, because, as the authorities say, they’re still investigating Fengrui, and until their investigation is over, no one will be allowed to move onto another employer. This means that Fengrui’s lawyers who have not been otherwise detained during the 709 crackdown will need to wait at least until the case against Wang Quanzhang is finalized.

Wang Quanzhang has been in detention for over 1,000 days now. His wife in February 2017 was informed that he had been formally charged by the Tianjin Municipal Procuratorate with incitement to subvert state power, but his lawyers have not been allowed to see him, and no trial has been conducted. Sources say that Wang has been tortured so badly that he can’t be “shown,”  and that this is the real reason the case has yet to be tried, judged, and that Wang is denied access to his lawyers.

Zhou Lixin (周立新)

Zhou Lixin is another partner with the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Since the 709 crackdown, he’s been listed by the Beijing Bureau of Justice as ‘practicing,’ but is in the same situation as Liu Xiaoyuan: unable to work for the last three years, and no indication of when this situation may change.

Peng Yonghe (彭永和)

Peng YonghePeng Yonghe is a Shanghai-based lawyer. On May 2, 2017, he publicly announced that he was quitting the officially-run Shanghai Lawyer’s Association. After that, he was forced to change law firms, but was prevented from getting new employment, and thus unable to work. The authorities told him on several occasions that as long as he took back his resignation from the Shanghai Lawyer’s Association, he’d be able to go back to practicing law.

In early May 2018, Peng announced that his wife applied for three jobs within the space of around a month, but that ‘relevant departments’ interfered and no one would hire her. Most recently, they’ve been unable to rent in Shanghai, also due to political interference.

Yu Pinjian (玉品健)

Yu PinjianYu Pinjian, based in Guangzhou, has a PhD in law. In September 2017 the authorities demanded that his law firm force him to find another employer. But, in a similar pattern to the other cases, once he left his first employer to transfer to another, the process was interfered with and he was unable to complete the procedures, and it now appears that his law license could be revoked as a result.

“I didn’t do anything,” Yu Pinjian has said on the record, “except for posting a few articles. I didn’t delete them as was told to, and the authorities then wanted to teach me a lesson.” (Yu Pinjian’s article on his public WeChat account, ‘Righteous Person of the Law’ [正义法律人] has already been deleted by censors anyway.)

Yang Jinzhu (杨金柱)

Yang jinzhuOn May 14, the Changsha-based lawyer Yang Jinzhu received a four page Notification from the Hunan Provincial Justice Department of his planned disbarment for “alleged expressions that threaten the national security, using inappropriate methods to influence the handling of cases, disrupting court order, and using malicious language to defame others.”

The first accusation refers to Yang’s article posted in a WeChat group, titled “Lawyer Yang Jinzhu Angrily Fucks the 18 Generations of Ancestors of the Chinese Judicial System,” in which he vented his frustration. “This government ignores the law. The judiciary ignores the law. And when they see lawyers who defend personal rights, they put you in stocks, tie you up, fetter your hands and feet — this, right now, is China’s judicial system!”

 

 


Related:

A Record of 709, Xie Yanyi, October 15, 2017.

The Nightmare – An Excerpt of Lawyer Wang Yu’s Account of 709 Detention and Torture, Wang Yu, November 13, 2017

‘My Name is Li Heping, and I Love Being a Lawyer’, Li Heping, Ai Weiwei, August 21, 2016.

The Anti-Torture Work of Lawyer Li Heping That Irked the Chinese Authorities, January 25, 2017.

Cataloging the Torture of Lawyers in China, China Change, July 5, 2015.

The Vilification of Lawyer Wang Yu and Violence By Other Means, Matthew Robertson and Yaxue Cao, July 27, 2015.

 

 

 

China’s Shattered Dream for the Rule of Law, One Year On

Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, July 8, 2016

 

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Photo: @chrlcg

 

Like the rest of us, they traveled around the country through rain and shine and choking smog, assisting the most vulnerable. Like the rest of us, they were exhausted looking after their parents’ health and finding a school for their children. Like the rest of us, they embraced the lofty China Dream, believing in “governing the country according to the law,” and stepping into the role of defending justice and human rights, committed and tireless.

But that dream was shattered on July 9, 2015.  

It began with the arrest of lawyer Wang Yu’s entire family in the early hours of July 9, 2015. Thereafter, the state’s machine of coercion shifted into full gear, raiding the homes of scores of rights lawyers across the country, and disappearing many of them. Hundreds more lawyers, scholars, and activists, known for their efforts in improving civil rights and political rights, were interrogated, threatened, and forcibly silenced. Some family members were punished by being driven from their homes, or prohibited from leaving China…

If this was the mere momentary convulsion of a police state armed to the teeth, perhaps we wouldn’t need be so shocked — after all, in China, this has become a fairly common occurrence. The Chinese people have never been free of fear. In fact, the opposite is the case: we live in a society in which one could become the next Xu Chunhe (徐纯合), or the next Lei Yang (雷洋) tomorrow — and this fear accompanies us every day. But this utterly brazen suppression of human rights defenders, the level of state hierarchy involved, the manner in which it was conducted, the extent of it, and its intensity, shows that it was planned and coordinated at the highest levels, a new development following the establishment of a certain powerful security organ. With this, we are witnessing a transition from spasmodic suppression to a permanent high-pressure state. No doubt, some people will be making history for such “achievements.”  

This year, human rights lawyers and rights defenders have been through six months of forced disappearances under so-called “residential surveillance at a designated place.” After they’re formally arrested for “inciting subversion of state power” or “subversion of state power,” they’re reportedly transferred to the Tianjin First or Tianjin Second Detention Center;

This year, they have not been able to receive legal help from counsel chosen by their families, nor have their loved ones been provided with the slightest information about their physical and mental well-being;

This year, despite complaints by family, protests by lawyers, attention by foreign media, concern and censure by foreign governments and NGOs, Chinese police have been cold-blooded, callous, and cruel. They manipulate the law as they wish, twist them any which way, appropriate the law maliciously, and are always ready to pull out a different marionette whenever the circumstances require it, as a way of cynically deflecting accountability and questioning.

The most bitterly disappointing and appalling characters of all are the other lawyers who have no sense of conscience. They cast aside what they themselves know is right, sell their souls to the devil, and do deals with the perpetrators. On the surface, they’re the defense counsel for the rights lawyers who have been arrested in the 709 crackdown, but in fact they’re the custom-made excuse by the police to explain why lawyers hired by the family had to be dismissed. But these lawyers don’t dare actually contact the family, nor even reveal their real names to the outside world. They don’t dare defend the lawful rights of their clients, but instead hide in the shadows. Though these questionable lawyers occupy high positions in the [government-controlled] associations of attorneys, have incomes to match, dress the part, and enjoy enviable social status, their actual role in this affair has been more like the decorative ceramic tile in a urinal.

One year isn’t long, but if it’s spent sealed up in solitary confinement, it’s enough to destroy a life. But one year isn’t short — it’s long enough for all to see that the pretense of “governing the country according to the law” has now been torn to shreds!

This year, they have been walled off in prison, bearing witness with their own bodies to the lies that lie beneath the gilded surface, and the cowardice of dictatorship. Outside prison, we are pleased to see that Chinese citizens continue to awaken, as incidents of collective protest increase and spread. China has not become quieter and more stable, as expected by the rulers when they tried to suppress human rights lawyers.

This year, their wives and loved ones have grown to understand their work better. Some wives have stood out bravely, declaring, “We’re leaving behind our makeup to beat the gangsters up,” continuing their husbands’ struggle for rights.

This year, they have never left our thoughts: their convictions, their determined actions, their love and grievances, their smiles and their voices… They travel far and wide in China with firm steps, casting a deep gaze around them. They have never left us, and they will never leave. They are human rights defenders who love this land and this people!  

History will remember them. For now, let’s read aloud their names:

Wang Yu (王宇), Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), Li Heping (李和平), Xie Yanyi (谢燕益), Xie Yang (谢阳), Li Chunfu (李春富), Sui Muqing (隋牧青), Zhou Shifeng (周世锋), Hu Shigen (胡石根), Bao Longjun (包龙军), Liu Sixin (刘四新), Wu Gan (吴淦), Zhao Wei (赵威), Lin Bin (林斌), Gou Hongguo (勾洪国), Tang Zhishun (唐志顺), Xing Qingxian (幸清贤), Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民), Liu Xing (刘星), Zhang Weihong (张卫红), Li Yanjun (李燕军), Yao Jianqing (姚建清), Yin Xu’an (尹旭安), Wang Fang (王芳)……
Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group

July 8, 2016

 

 

The Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group was founded on September 13, 2013. It is an open platform for cooperation. Since its founding, members of the group have worked together to protect human rights and promote the rule of law in China through issuing joint statements and representing human rights cases. Any Chinese lawyer who shares our human rights principles and is willing to defend the basic rights of citizens is welcome to join. We look forward to working with you.
Contact persons:
Chang Boyang 常伯阳 18837183338
Liu Shihui 刘士辉 18516638964
Ling Qilei 蔺其磊 18639228639
Tang Jitian 唐吉田 13161302848
Yu Wensheng 余文生 13910033651

 


Related:

Breaking: This Morning in Beijing, One lawyer Gone Missing, Another Lawyer Kidnapped, and Fengrui Law office Visited by Police, China Change, July 9, 2015.

Biographies of Lawyers, Staffers and Activists Detained or Disappeared in the July 10 Nationwide Raid Against Rights Lawyers, July 23, 2015.

14 Cases Exemplify the Role Played by Lawyers in the Rights Defense Movement, 2003–2015, August 19, 2015.

Crime and Punishment of China’s Rights Lawyers, Mo Zhixu explains why Chinese government is out to get them, China Change, July 23, 2015.

Cataloging the Torture of Lawyers in China, China Change, July 5, 2015.

 

 

 

‘If Anything Happens…:’ Meeting the Now-detained Human Rights Lawyers

By Eva Pils, published: January 10, 2016

 

Meeting people who could be disappeared anytime is a bit unnerving. You keep wondering if this is the last time you’ll see them. You want to ask what you should do in case something bad happens, but you don’t want to distress them by asking too directly.

As part of my research on human rights in China, I’ve spent the past several years interviewing Chinese lawyers. I meet with them in coffee-shops, parks, or in their homes, to discuss their work and their experience of repression. I’ve seen them disbarred, watched them being followed and harassed by the police, spoken to them when they were under house-arrest, and met some of them after spells of imprisonment or forced disappearance to ask them about their experience ‘inside’: What were the prison conditions? What was the mentality of guards and interrogators — and torturers? Six months ago, things started happening to many of them at once. They were taken away under various forms of custodial measures for investigation, or simply disappeared. As of this writing, several have still not come back, as detailed in this open letter. They have been held for six months without access to counsel, and there is good reason to believe that they have been tortured.

When I last met lawyer Wang Yu, she seemed most concerned about her sixteen-year-old son, Mengmeng. She worried that his passion for human rights put him at risk, especially with two human rights lawyer parents already in trouble. After an official news report denounced Wang Yu as a criminal and a fraud, she expected to be detained, or at least disbarred, but was not going to worry about herself as long as her son could leave to study in Australia. ‘I am really afraid they might detain him too. For myself, I no longer care if I am detained, I am not afraid,’ she said. As I looked at her sensitive and tired face and wondered how she could cope with being locked up again, she must have sensed my concern, and added, ‘I’ve been to prison. If I have to go to prison again, that’s fine, no problem.’ She also said, ‘[If I leave now] people will think that I have done something wrong, won’t they? But I haven’t done anything wrong, let alone anything illegal or criminal.’ And: ‘If anything happens, I hope that international society can pay attention and that someone will be taking care of our child.’

The next and last time I saw Wang Yu was on television. She had been taken away the same night that her son and husband were, on their way to the airport. Mengmeng, their son, was released after two or three days and sent to live with relatives. When some friends later tried to help smuggle him out of the country, the authorities caught up with him in Myanmar and returned him to stay with his grandmother, where he’s been kept strictly monitored. Perhaps they needed Mengmeng to control his parents. Perhaps they were afraid he would expose details of their crimes against him. Wang Yu and her husband have still not been released, but I saw them both, devastated – she was in tears – on national television when they were told that their son had been returned to China.

Some seven months after our last meeting, I wonder if Wang Yu now regrets her choice to stay. She will be asking herself if she could have somehow saved her son; and I wonder if I should have urged her more to leave while there may still have been a chance to do so. Yet I know that allowing these thoughts means falling prey to a particularly effective form of repression. Repressive systems exploit the guilt we feel towards friends in trouble, and our fear of feeling that guilt (infinitely worse, of course, in the case of a close relation, a child). They benefit from making us believe that we, not they, are in control; that we are responsible for the harm they do to others.

My other friends knew as well as Wang Yu how likely they were to ‘go in.’ They understand as well as anyone what systems for control and punishment the Chinese state has at its disposal. They also know that, as rights lawyers, they are constantly at risk of becoming their own clients. The shadow of state terror hangs over them all the time, and some, like serious, courageous lawyer Wang Quanzhang, have seen so much and been through so much that it has produced a kind of hardened numbness. In one of our exchanges, speaking of an experience of being beaten by a judge, he said this sort of thing had happened so often that ‘I no longer feel hate or humiliation.’ Most insist that fear, even fear of terrible things like torture, can be overcome. They prepare for it – for instance, by appointing each other as legal counsel just in case, and by learning to meditate to detach themselves from their physical environment. And instead of their fear, they try to focus on their victories.

In our last chat in June 2015, for example, veteran rights lawyer Li Heping, another friend of many years, took comfort from the fact that so many lawyers had met each other and bonded through joint advocacy efforts. He thought, and I think he was right, that this was of great importance to China’s human rights movement:  ‘Society still keeps changing, but there is more pressure now. Citizens’ rights consciousness has risen and so has government repression.’ He also observed that repression was in some ways a great testimony to the rights movement’s successes. ‘Regarding us lawyers, more lawyers have gone to prison, but more lawyers are also supporting [the ones who have been taken away].’

Bao Longjun, Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang and Wang Yu are among the ones who have not come back yet, as have Zhou Shifeng, the head of the law firm where three of them used to work, and several other Fengrui employees. Their absence is keenly felt. It does diminish the vibrancy of China’s human rights movement; and I know that unfortunately, some part of a person who ‘went in’ may never be back. It is not their moral convictions, but the ability to be happy, perhaps, or some sort of basic trust in others. Still, for the reasons Li Heping gave, these absences also have effects the authorities cannot have intended; they trigger concern and support. The authorities can disappear him and others, but not the movement these lawyers represent.

 

Eva Pils is a Reader in Transnational Law at King’s College London’s Dickson Poon School of Law, a Non-resident Research Fellow at the U.S. –Asia Law Institute, New York University Law School, and author of China’s human rights lawyers: advocacy and resistance (Routledge, 2014).

 

— 中译如下 —

 

“要是将来有什么事的话…:”与现仍被羁押的人权律师见面

艾华,伦敦国王学院潘迪生法学院副教授

 

与那些随时可能被失踪的人见面有点令人不安。你无时无刻不在想这会不会是你最后一次见到他们。你想问问一旦有什么不好的事情发生你应该做些什么,却又不想问得太直接而令他们烦恼。

过去几年间,我在对中国人权进行研究时访问了许多中国律师。我们在咖啡馆、公园、或他们的家中会面,谈论他们的工作和受打压的经历。我见证了他们被吊照,目睹他们被警察跟踪和骚扰,在他们被软禁时与他们交谈,也在他们中的一些人入狱或被强迫失踪一段时间后和他们见面,询问其“在里面”的经历:监狱中的情况如何?那些看守、讯问人员以及酷刑者有着怎样的心理?六个月前,对于他们中的许多人,事情转瞬发生。他们被带走,遭到各种方式的羁押以受调查,或干脆被失踪。截至本文写作之时,一些人仍未回来: (详情参见此公开信)。他们在无法获得律师帮助的情况下被关押了六个月,亦有足够的理由相信他们已经遭受酷刑。

我上一次见到王宇律师时,她似乎非常担心她16岁的儿子,蒙蒙。她担心他对人权的热情置其于危险境地,尤其是他有两位已处于麻烦之中的人权律师父母。在一份官方新闻报道谴责王宇是罪犯和骗子后,她预料自己会被拘留,或至少是被吊照,但只要她的儿子能离开去澳大利亚学习,她便不会担心自己。她说:“我特别担心他(蒙蒙)也被抓…我抓不抓我都不在乎了,我不怕。” 当我看着她敏感而疲惫的面庞并问自己她要如何应付再次被关押时,她应该是感受到了我的担忧,便又说道:“我反正以前坐过牢…如果要坐牢的话,那也好, 没有问题。” 她又说:“[现在出国] 不太好, 这样会不会让人觉得我真有错。我一点错误都没有,不用说违法犯罪了。”“要是将来有什么事的话我希望国际社会也能够关注,对我们孩子有所照顾。”

之后一次,亦是我最后一次见到王宇是在电视上。她的儿子和丈夫在去往机场途中被带走的当晚,她也被带走了。他们的儿子,蒙蒙在两三天后被放了出来并送去亲戚家中。当一些朋友稍后试图帮忙将他偷偷带离这个国家时,政府当局在缅甸抓住了他,将他带回国送去姥姥家,并对他实施了严密监视。或许他们需要用蒙蒙来控制他的父母。或许他们害怕他会揭露他们对其犯下种种罪行的细节。王宇和她的丈夫尚未归来,但我在电视上看见他们两位,当被告知他们的儿子已被遣返回国时,悲痛欲绝 — 她满眼泪光。

在距我们上一次见面大概七个月后,我想着王宇此刻是否后悔选择留下来。也许她会问自己曾经是否可以以某种方式救她的儿子;我亦在想自己当初是否应该更强烈些催促她在也许还有机会离开时离开。但我明白允许这些想法意味着受困于一种格外有效的打压。镇压机构利用我们对陷入麻烦的朋友所怀有的内疚之情,以及我们对感受到这一内疚之情的恐惧(无限更糟的情况当然是在涉及与我们关系密切的人或孩子时)。他们让我们相信是我们,而非他们,掌控着这些事;由我们为他们对他人造成的伤害负责,他们从这样的想法中得利。

我的其他朋友如王宇一样知道他们自己多有可能会“进去”。他们十分熟悉中国政府用于控制和惩罚的制度。他们也知道,作为维权律师,他们一直面临着成为自己所代理之人的风险。国家恐怖主义的阴影始终笼罩着他们;他们中的一些,比如认真而勇敢的律师王全璋,已经目睹和遭受了太多以至于产生了一种坚硬的麻木。在我们曾经的一次交流中,谈及被一名法官殴打的经历时,他说这类事情已经过于寻常以至于“我已经没有愤怒感和羞辱感。”他们大多数坚称恐惧,甚至是对于像酷刑那般可怕之事的恐惧,都是可以克服的。他们尽量对此作出准备 – 例如,相互聘请为代理人以防万一,以及通过学习冥想来使自身从所处的物理环境中脱离。同时,他们试着专注于他们的胜利,而非恐惧。

例如,2015年6月,在我们最近的一次交谈中,我的另一位多年的朋友,李和平律师从如此多的律师通过联合倡导得以见面并联系起来这一现状中获得慰藉。他(跟我一样)认为这对中国的人权运动非常重要。“社会还是在变,就是压力大了。公民的权利意识高了一点儿,政府的打压也严酷一些 …” 他还说到打压在某种意义上是对权利运动成功的伟大见证:“ 我们律师的话… 从律师进监狱人数来说还是多了,但是律师参与声援活动也多了。”

包龙军、李和平、王全璋、王宇在尚未归来的人之中,尚未归来的人还有其中三位曾经工作过的锋锐律师事务所的主任,周世锋以及其他几位锋锐所的同事。大家感受到他们暂时不在造成的影响; 而且这的确削减了中国人权运动的活力。我也非常遗憾地明白,对于一个曾“进去过”的人,他的某些部分可能再也回不来了。不是他们的道德信念,而也许是他们感到快乐的能力,或某种对他人的根本的信任。尽管如此,基于李和平所谈及的理由,他们被带走也产生了官方意欲之外的效果;他们激发了关注和支持。政府可以使他和其他人消失,但不会消失的是这些律师所代表的运动。

 

艾华 (Eva Pils)是伦敦国王学院潘迪生法学院的副教授,纽约大学亚美法研究所的客座研究员,China’s human rights lawyers: advocacy and resistance (Routledge, 2014) 一书的作者。本文由 Cathy Xin 翻译成中文。

 

 

A Child Hunted Down by the Chinese State

By Zhao Sile, published: October 12, 2015

“It’s hard to find a word better than ‘terrorism’ to describe the evil way that systematic violence is being used to turn a juvenile into a hostage.”

 

Bao Zhuoxuan (包卓轩), who goes by the nickname Mengmeng (包蒙蒙), is a 16-year-old who wants to study law when he gets older. They say he’s tall for his age, but he still has a boyish face and is a bit of a “mama’s boy.” In the eyes of the Chinese state, however, he’s known simply as “hostage.”

Late on the night of July 8, 2015, Bao Mengmeng and his father, human rights activist Bao Longjun (包龙军), went to Beijing Capital Airport on their way to Australia, where Mengmeng was preparing to continue high school. His mother Wang Yu (王宇), a human rights lawyer, went to the airport to see the two of them off. That was the last time Mengmeng saw his mother.

Wang Yu was last in touch with Bao Longjun and Mengmeng just after 1 a.m. on July 9. At 4:17 a.m., Wang Yu sent a message to a friend saying that the electricity and Internet at her home had both been cut and that someone was attempting to pry her door open. That was the last time Wang Yu made contact with the outside world.

The sweeping arrests of lawyers formally began a day later. In all, 288 lawyers, legal assistants, and human rights defenders were brought in for police questioning, of whom more than 20 were charged with crimes like inciting subversion, endangering state security, or provoking a serious disturbance. None has been granted access to a lawyer, and their whereabouts still remain unknown. Before they’ve even been tried by a court, several state media outlets began publishing accounts describing them as criminals. This is what the world has come to refer to as the “July 9 Mass Detention of Lawyers.”

After two days in custody, Bao Mengmeng was sent to Inner Mongolia to live with his maternal grandmother. His passport was confiscated, and police announced four things he was prohibited from doing: hiring a lawyer, contacting the foreign media, making contact with people trying to help his parents, and going to study overseas. Bao Mengmeng later said in an interview with Hong Kong media: “I’m suffering, but I’m not afraid.”

On October 9, as Wang Yu and Bao Longjun marked their 100th day in detention, news emerged that Bao Mengmeng had disappeared in Burma. The Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said that Mengmeng and his traveling companions, human rights activists Tang Zhishun (唐志顺) and Xing Qingxian (幸清贤), were all taken away from Room 8348 of the Huadu Hotel in the Burmese city of Mong La on October 6. The owner of the hotel said that around a dozen people came to the hotel, showed their Burmese police identification, and searched the room before taking three people away. On October 7, friends and lawyers went to make inquiries at the local police station, where they were told that the police had not taken anyone into custody. Afterwards, they went to make inquiries with the local legal authorities, but there was still no news of the three. At 11 p.m. on October 8, police officers from the Chengdu Public Security Bureau carried out a search of Xing Qingxian’s Chengdu home in association with police from the Xing’an, Inner Mongolia, where Mengmeng’s grandmother lives. In the course of their search, police gave verbal notice that they had taken Bao Mengmeng into custody.

A person familiar with Bao Mengmeng’s situation said: “Bao Zhuoxuan could no longer endure the way that the secret domestic-security police used long-term and continual harassment, intimidation, and mind control (including towards family members). He took advantage of the extended National Day holiday to evade police control and wanted to go via Burma to continue his studies overseas. The loss of contact probably means that those who had been monitoring him became aware of his disappearance, and that means that he is most likely in the hands of the police in Ulanhot, Inner Mongolia.”

Bao Mengmeng is only a 16-year-old teenager. The only reason why he would become the target of this type of “cross-border arrest” is because he’s the son of political prisoners. As such, he can be locked up and used as a hostage to “negotiate” with Wang Yu and Bao Longjun. Outside China, he’s likely to become a focus of the international media. His existence is a lasting indictment of the Chinese human rights situation. It’s hard to find a word better than “terrorism” to describe the evil way that systematic violence is being used to turn a juvenile into a hostage. The Chinese and Burmese governments have come together to carry out this truly international act of terrorism.

 

Zhao SileZhao Sile (赵思乐) is a Guangzhou-based freelance writer and feminist journalist.

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Related:

More Details Emerge About the Disappearance of Three Chinese Citizens in Myanmar, China Change, Oct. 11, 2015.

Bao Zhuoxuan, Son of Detained Rights Lawyer, Is Said to Disappear in Myanmar, the New York Times, Oct. 9, 2015.

Detained Chinese lawyer’s 16-year-old son disappears while trying to flee to US, the Guardian, Oct. 10, 2015.

68 Chinese Lawyers Make Urgent Statement on Disappearance of Bao Zhuoxuan and Two Others in Myanmar, China Change, Oct. 11, 2015.

 

中文原文 《赵思乐:被国家追捕的孩子》