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Li Wenzu, September 6, 2019 In 2016, the police issued an order to all the kindergartens, including all the early education centers in Beijing’s Shijingshan District (石景山区) to not accept my son at their schools. My son, Quanquan (泉泉), had stayed home, unable to attend school since May 2018. Then, by luck and coincidence, I found a private school that accepted him. Quanquan finally was able to go to school, joining the top kindergarten class there. It was a hard-won opportunity for Quanquan, and he was very excited. On the first day of school [in 2018], he woke up at 6 am. He tugged at me, acting cute one moment and threatening me the next. I had to get out of bed. We washed together, […]


July 9, 2019 The world was shocked by the mass detention of Chinese human right lawyers on July 9, 2015 –– in what became known as the “709 Incident.” Following the secret sentencing of “709” lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), who was tried for the crime of “subversion of state power,” people thought that the “709 Incident,” at least for the time being, should have come to an end. But in fact, the opposite is true. The relevant authorities not only have not ended their persecution of human rights lawyers; on the contrary, they have intensified their efforts. After the roundup of human rights lawyers in the “709 Incident” in July 2015, four additional human rights lawyers, Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) Li Yuhan (李昱函), Yu Wensheng (余文生), […]


China Change, June 24, 2019 When Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) was released from prison on February 28 from Henan Province Second Prison in the city Xinxiang (新乡), many people breathed a sigh of relief. China first put him in secret detention, known as Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location, then in prison, since Nov 2016, for rallying domestic and international support for his lawyer colleagues swept up in the 709 Crackdown in 2015. He was tortured during secret detention, made to confess on TV that he had fabricated the torture details of lawyer Xie Yang, one of the 709 detainees. Through a proxy media outlet, the government also issued videos smearing Jiang Tianyong’s work as well as his character. But he was not set free. Through […]


Chen Jiangang, April 1, 2019 In the summer of 2018, I applied for the “Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program” to study law and human rights. After I was interviewed and had taken the TOEFL, I was accepted into the program. According to arrangements made by the program administrators, I was due to fly to the United States on April 1, 2019, to participate in English study in advance of the start of my program. In order to succeed in traveling to the United States to study, I contacted the relevant personnel of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (Beijing PSB) to ask if I was still prohibited from leaving the country. I was told that I was prohibited from going to the United States for […]


China Change, March 31, 2019 Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) stands prominent among China’s human rights lawyers. In 2004, he came to Beijing to practice at the age of 40. In the roughly one decade up to mid-2015, he represented countless rights cases. Some of the more notable of these include the appeal of a death sentence by farmer Li Zhiping (李志平) in Dingzhou, Hebei Province; the Yang Jia (杨佳) police murder case in Shanghai; the case of the three netizens in Fujian (福建三网民); the case of journalist Qi Chonghuai (齐崇淮) in Shandong; and the case of Ji Zhongxing (冀中星), the migrant worker who threw a homemade bomb at the Beijing Capital Airport in 2013. Cases Liu Xiaoyuan has taken on in recent years include the “separatist” […]


Tang Jitian, January 30, 2019 On December 10, 2018, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (La Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme) has awarded the annual French Republic Human Rights Prize to six personalities or organizations that have distinguished themselves in their country for the defense and promotion of human rights, and Chinese human rights lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) is one of them. He was unable to travel to France to receive the prize. On January 14, 2019, the French Ambassador to China, Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, presented him the award in Beijing. –– The Editors Ladies and Gentlemen:  I […]


September 13, 2018     On September 13, 2013, lawyers Wang Cheng (王成), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) announced the establishment of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group (中国人权律师团). All three had been disbarred by the Chinese authorities because of their commitment to defending the rights of the Chinese people. In just one year, more than 300 Chinese lawyers joined the Group. Many seasons later, the Human Rights Lawyers Group now marks the fifth anniversary of its founding. On this otherwise ordinary day, we will take inventory of what we have done over the last five years, reiterate the basic principles of the group, and plan our steps for the future. In the past five years, we have gone through hardships and sadness; […]


China Change, August 13, 2018     On August 9, the Beijing Justice Bureau issued a decision to cancel lawyer Cheng Hai’s  (程海) license. Six months ago in February, the bureau cancelled the registration of his small Beijing Wutian Law Firm, claiming that the firm had not accepted the annual review on schedule. According to China’s Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers (《律师执业管理办法》), a lawyer’s license is revoked if they’re not hired by a firm for six months. On August 10, lawyer Cheng Hai filed an Application for Administrative Review, which shows that the authorities were committed to having him disbarred, and refused to view contrary evidence. The application shows that Cheng Hai signed an employment contract with the Beijing Liangzhi Law […]


July 19, 2018   Lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), who was disappeared on July 15, 2018 in the Chinese Communist Party’s infamous 709 Crackdown on human rights lawyers, has been held incommunicado for just over three years now. Until recently, almost nothing was known about him, including where he was being held, the conditions under which he was being held, and what charges are likely to be brought against him. Whether he was even dead or alive was unknown until recently. Following are two updates on his situation translated by China Change. The first comes from Wang’s newly appointed lawyer, Liu Weiguo (刘卫国); the second, expressing great concern over Wang’s health, from his wife Li Wenzu (李文足). — The Editors   An Update on Wang Quanzhang’s […]


Terence Halliday, July 9, 2018     Again and again, across history and across regions, lawyers stand in the vanguard of change. In Britain in the 1600s, in France in the 1700s, in Germany in the 1800s, in India and Brazil in the 1970s, in Egypt and Pakistan in the 1990s, in Zambia and Kenya, and, not least in South Korea and Taiwan over the last generation, and in many other places.     In the last days of June 2015 I spent many hours in coffee shops and hotels and restaurants and offices with many of China’s notable rights lawyers. Wang Yu (王宇) and I discussed the extraordinary nationwide attack on her reputation. Yu Wensheng (余文生) described his unbearable torture in the hands of […]


Yaxue Cao, on the second China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day, July 8, 2018, New York   As of today, lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been held incommunicado for 1,095 days. Over the 1,095 days, his toddler has grown into a boy who vows to fight the “Monster” that took his father; his wife has metamorphosed from a timid housewife to one of the most recognizable faces of the 709 resistance. With each day, we worry about Wang Quanzhang’s fate: Is he still alive? Has he been so severely debilitated by torture that they can’t even show him? These dreadful thoughts eat at our hearts when we think about Wang Quanzhang, and we don’t know how not to think about him. Wang Quanzhang is 42 years old. […]


Xie Yanyi, July 8, 2018 My name is Xie Yanyi. I’ve been a lawyer for 17 years. In 2003 I was the first person to bring a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin for violating the constitution by continuing as the chairman of the state Central Military Commission. From that point forward, I attracted the attention of the authorities. In June and July 2015 — around then — due to the Qing’an case and a number of other rights defense cases, numerous rights lawyers and citizens were called in and interrogated by the authorities, some were arrested and paraded on state media. The Qing’an incident was the fuse that lit the 709 crackdown. In the early morning of July 12, 2015, I heard a knock at the […]


Xie Yang, July 6, 2018       My name is Xie Yang. I’m a lawyer at the Gangwei Law Firm, in Changsha, Hunan. On July 9, 2015, I immediately got word of the arrest of Wang Yu, Bao Longjun, and their son. On the morning of July 10, when I was interviewed by an overseas media outlet. They asked me: What do you think of Wang Yu’s whole family getting taken away? I frankly told them my opinion: I said that this is the beginning of the Chinese authorities’ purge of human rights lawyers. I said that a tempest would soon be upon us. The following afternoon, on July 10 — it was a Friday — I went to Huaihua City in Hunan to […]


Sui Muqing, July 5, 2018       Hello everyone. I’m lawyer Sui Muqing from Guangzhou. I practiced law in Guangzhou from 1998 to 2017. On July 9, 2015, in the early hours of the morning — I happened to still be online — Wang Yu live-broadcasted her arrest. I was arrested the following night, on July 10. At 11:00 p.m. the property management people rang my doorbell and said that my car had been hit. I suspected a ruse, so I ignored them. A little while later they came back, and again said that someone had hit my car. The problem now was that the sound of the doorbell was extremely loud. My wife and kid were already asleep. It was really loud, you […]


Lü Shijie, July 4, 2018     In China, lawyers who handle cases according to the law and uncover the illegal activities of the authorities have increasingly filled the Chinese Communist Party with dread. Their courage has invited strict surveillance and repression. The methods of repression incorporate not only the past experiences of ‘class struggle,’ but have been further refined through continuous innovation to form a comprehensive and more deceptive mechanism of control. 1. Unlawful ‘Annual Review’ of Lawyers Each year, Chinese lawyers must complete a so-called ‘inspection’ with their local judicial bureau. Those who pass receive a blue seal on their practice license to confirm that they are ‘qualified’ (称职). Over the years, the authorities have used this as a means of muzzling lawyers. […]


Wen Donghai, July 4, 2018       Hello everyone. I’m lawyer Wen Donghai (文东海) from Changsha. In the early hours of July 9, 2015, we first heard Wang Yu’s call for help. She said that unidentified men had charged into their home and were going to take her away. For a long time following that, we didn’t hear any news. In the evening of July 10, the next night, I received a phone call. The caller identified themselves as coming from the police station, and said they wanted to speak to me. After I got there they began questioning me. Their main line of enquiry was about the arrest of Wang Yu and Zhou Shifeng. They said that we shouldn’t pay any attention to […]


Jiang Tianyong, July 3, 2018   Following is an excerpt from Jiang Tianyong’s interview with the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, published on July 12, 2016, a year into the 709 Crackdown and four months before his own arrest. Also following is a short video his wife, Jin Bianling, who shares the latest news about Jiang, who is now serving a two-year sentence in Xinxiang Prison, Henan (Henan No. 2 Prison). It is believed that Jiang was severely tortured during custody. The excerpt has been edited for brevity. — The Editors         A Patriot By Himself, a Subverter by the Chinese Government The education we receive from childhood to adulthood is that people must be patriotic, must be involved in politics, […]


Wang Yu, July 1, 2018   Wang Yu (王宇), born 1971 in Inner Mongolia, was a lawyer with the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm when she was abducted in the early morning of July 9, 2015. The date of her detention marks the beginning of, and gives name to, the most notorious human rights event over the last two years – the 709 Crackdown. That same evening, her husband and son, en route to Australia for the son to attend school, were also detained. Wang Yu and her husband Bao Longjun, also a lawyer, were released on bail in August 2016 and the family of three was sequestered in an apartment in Ulan Hot, Inner Mongolia, under severe surveillance. This continued until late 2017, when they […]


June 24, 2018     China’s community of human rights lawyers have made enormous sacrifices to defend the rights and freedoms of citizens and promote China’s progress toward the rule-of-law and democracy. As representatives of China’s wider community of lawyers, human rights lawyers have, since the beginning of the rights defense movement in early 2000s, been the constant target of severe government repression. This has included, without letup, cancellation of legal licenses, being stalked, being threatened, being publicly defamed, being kidnapped, being secretly disappeared, and being subject to forced labor, long-term incarceration, or torture. On July 9, 2017, marking the second anniversary of the Communist Party’s most brutal persecution of human rights lawyers with the ‘709 incident,’ 14 human rights organizations held an ‘Inaugural China […]


Xie Yanyi, May 21, 2018   Xie Yanyi, who turned 43 this year, is a lawyer in Beijing who has taken on numerous human rights cases over his career. In April 2015 Xie led a small group of rights lawyers seeking restitution after the police shooting of passenger Xu Chunhe (徐纯合) at the Qing’an railway station in Heilongjiang, and later published a legal investigation of the incident. This case is believed to be one of the fuses leading to the 709 (July 9, 2015) mass arrest of lawyers, and Xie Yanyi was one of the scores of lawyers arrested during that crackdown. He was accused of inciting subversion of state power and detained for 553 days, until being released on probationary bail. Last year Xie […]


Liu Shuqing, May 16, 2018   Beginning last year as the 709 crackdown gradually petered out, the government’s hands were freed up, and they decided to do something about the ‘unconventional lawyers’ (非常规律师) they kept seeing. They have since been targeting these lawyers using a combination of methods that aim at terminating their professional lives. These include straightforward revocation or annulment of legal licences; forcing lawyers to transfer law offices but then gumming up the process so they end up with no place of employment; delaying lawyer annual assessments and more. The community has felt the blow and the sting. The reason I place these targeted lawyers under the term ‘unconventional’ is because the scope of targets in this round of assault is fairly broad: […]


China Change, May 14, 2018     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 […]


May 9, 2018       Background On July 9, 2015, Wang Yu (王宇) became the first target in a campaign of mass arrests against human rights lawyers in China. Over the next roughly two weeks, over 300 rights lawyers were arrested, interrogated, detained, and threatened — thus begetting the notorious ‘709 Incident.’ After over a month in secret detention at a black site in Beijing, Wang Yu was transferred to Tianjin for a continuation of her detention, then under so-called ‘residential surveillance at a designated place’ (指定居所監視居住). For over a year she was not allowed to see her lawyer, family, or communicate with the outside world. Another 20 or so lawyers and activists, including Wang Yu’s husband Bao Longjun (包龍軍), were given similar treatment. […]


Li Wenzu, April 12, 2018   Li Wenzu (李文足) is the wife of 709 lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋). On April 4, the 1000th day of her husband’s disappearance on July 10, 2015, she and a group of 709 lawyers’ wives began a march from Beijing to Tianjin, about 130 kilometers, where Wang Quanzhang is supposedly being detained. Along the way, other activists joined them on and off. On the sixth day of their march, their march were broken up by scores of plainclothes police officers, and Li Wenzu was taken back home to Beijing by force. Human Rights in China translated Li Wenzu’s account of her first day back. We offer you a translation of her account of the second day. However, as we prepare […]


March 2, 2018     Minister Zhang Jun: We are among the lawyers who have been disbarred or prevented from practicing as a result of coordinated suppression by the Ministry of Justice in the year 2017. We are well aware that open letters are regularly received by ministries, commissions, and high officials in the Party, state, and military — some angry, some polite, some beseeching… letters of every kind imaginable. There are simply too many people who, unable to find redress anywhere else, will put their hopes in making direct appeal to officials. Whereas local officials may occasionally respond to letters, writing to high-ranking officials in Party Central is like tossing a rock into the ocean. There are also many, in particular human rights lawyers, […]


February 19, 2018   On July 9, 2015, in the mass arrest of Chinese human rights lawyers and defenders known as the “709 Crackdown,” the security authorities used “residential surveillance at a designated place” (指定居所监视居住), a disguised form of secret detention, to detain lawyers. They denied family the ability to hire their own counsel, conducted secret trials, and violated the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” by forcing prisoners to plead guilt in video recordings for state media before trial. This campaign-style (运动式) suppression has engendered panic and backlash domestically, and led to widespread censure from the international community. The lessons of the 709 mass arrests are deep. The rising prominence of human rights lawyers was, in the first place, a wonderful opportunity for the […]


China Change, February 12, 2018     On February 9, lawyer Chen Wuquan (陈武权) was criminally detained with five villagers on an island off the coast of Zhanjiang (湛江), on the southwest peninsular of Guangdong Province. He was not a lawyer representing clients in a land rights defense case, as one may assume. Instead, he was a disbarred lawyer living at home in his village, leading an effort against forced demolition, illegal land reclamation, and the logging of redwoods along the beach. The group of six had petitioned on behalf of the village, and the police responded by detaining them for “obstructing the start of construction.” On February 11, Chen Wuquan’s family received notice of his criminal detention. Before he led villagers to protest illegal […]


China Change, January 24, 2018       On Monday evening the Guangzhou-based lawyer Sui Muqing (隋牧青) was notified by his law firm that government officials from the provincial Justice Department would inspect the firm the following morning and that Sui, in particular, must be present. He felt a nervous chill and began to suspect that his communications on a series of human rights cases he has represented had upset high-level officials. On Tuesday morning (January 23), two officials from the Justice Department arrived, announcing on the spot that Sui’s law license had been revoked. The written announcement cited two incidents as cause of the punishment: that he disrupted court order while defending New Citizen Movement activists on April 8, 2014, by quitting the court […]


Yaxue Cao, January 15, 2018       As of January 15, 2018, human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) had been held incommunicado for 920 days. This makes him the only 709 detainee who hasn’t been heard from since the notorious 709 Crackdown began in July 2015. Last Friday, two lawyers, a former client, and three wives of 709 victims travelled from Beijing to arrive early morning at the First Detention Center in Tianjin, a half hour ride by high-speed train. The sun had risen, and a rich orange hue cloaked everything. A large-character slogan ran the length of the walls of the Detention Center: “Be Loyal to the Party, Serve the People, Enforce the Law with Fairness.” They were the first visitors waiting for […]


Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, January 1, 2018   It is with a heavy heart and a sense of desolation that we begin our New Year’s dedication, just as China is shrouded in smog and enveloped in haze. But regardless of the challenges and suffering of the past year, we have not cowered. We continue to hope that 2018 will bring us closer to freedom. We also wish that our own hope will become infectious, and that the citizens of China will together fight for a free, beautiful future and country. 2017 was again a year of no shortage of injustice and wanton violations of the law by the country’s judicial organs. Ugly words such as suffocation, shackles, and dungeons tested our resolve; deaths, disappearances, […]


China Citizens Movement Outstanding Citizenship Award Selection Committee, December 10, 2017                                                                                                                                                                    Introducing Li Wenzu Li Wenzu (李文足) was born in Badong, Hubei, on April 5, 1985. She is the wife of Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), a human rights lawyer who was arrested during the 709 crackdown. She worked as a tour guide and did business. After losing contact with her husband in July, 2015, she became a housewife, taking care of her son and working to rescue Wang as well as other lawyers and activists arrested in the 709 Incident. During the two years since Wang’s disappearance, Li and other 709 families have stood by each other in the face of harassment, threats, detentions, and even physical violence. They persevered even as their children […]


Teng Biao, December 7, 2017   This is the Foreword to The People’s Republic of the Disappeared: Stories From Inside China’s System for Enforced Disappearances, a newly published book about China’s “Residential Surveillance at a designated location.”       Those holding unchecked power often seek to hide their cruelty behind euphemisms. In China, classic examples range from “land reform” to the “Cultural Revolution.” You can’t easily see the cruelty from the surface of such words. Expressions like “the three year natural disaster,” used by the Communist Party to describe the Great Leap Forward of 1958 to 1961 in which tens of millions died, or the “6/4 counterrevolutionary riot,” the description of the Tiananmen Democracy movement, are shameless acts of misrepresenting history and reversing right […]


Wang Yu, November 13, 2017   Wang Yu (王宇), born 1971 in Inner Mongolia, was a lawyer with Beijing Fengrui Law Firm when she was abducted in the early morning of July 9, 2015. The date of her detention marks the beginning of, and gives name to, the most notorious human rights event over the last two years – the 709 Crackdown. She was released on bail on August 2016, but until recently Wang Yu, her husband and son have been sequestered in an apartment in Ulan Hot, Inner Mongolia, under severe surveillance. The family returned to their home in Beijing recently. Below is an excerpt of Wang Yu’s account of her first two months in Beijing from July to September, 2015. She is currently […]


China Change, November 13, 2017     Today in Tianjin, lawyer Wang Yu’s 18-year-old son Bao Zhuoxuan (包卓轩) was again blocked from leaving China. He was due to fly to Tokyo. The border control in Tianjing told him and his parents that he is “a national security threat,” and mutilated his passport on spot (see photo above). According to Wang Yu, her son has passed IELTS and is awaiting admission from the University of Melbourne.  On July 9, 2015, Bao Zhuoxuan, on route to Australia to study, was stopped and detained in Beijing Capital Airport along with his father who accompanied him. That same night, his mother was abducted from home, marking the beginning of the 709 Crackdown. The community of Chinese human rights lawyers responded to […]


China Change, November 6, 2017     Wen Donghai (文东海) is a 43-year-old lawyer in Changsha, Hunan Province. He grew up in a mountainous village and became a policeman in the Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau. Bored and unfulfilled, he quit his job, went to graduate school and became a lawyer in 2009. He came into contact with human rights lawyers in 2014, and in 2015 was a defense lawyer in the case of three Guangzhou activists promoting non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. That was the first human rights case he took on. When the July 9, 2015 (709) crackdown on human rights lawyers began, he became the defense lawyer for Wang Yu, the first of scores of lawyers arrested that day and afterward.  But […]


China Change, October 31, 2017     On the afternoon of October 31, lawyer Li Yuhan’s (李昱函) family revealed that she had been criminally detained by Shenyang Public Security Bureau. The charges against her are unclear. She was last heard from on October 9 when she texted her younger brother that she had been taken away by police from Shenyang PSB Heping District. Over the past three weeks, her relatives called the municipal government offices for her whereabouts. She is one of the two lawyers who have represented lawyer Wang Yu (王宇), the first human rights lawyer detained during the massive 709 Crackdown on human rights lawyers. During Wang Yu’s detention, lawyer Li made numerous trips to Tianjin to try to meet her client but […]


Xie Yanyi, October 15, 2017   Xie Yanyi (谢燕益) is one of the twenty or so 709 detainees during China’s sweeping, still ongoing crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists. He was held incommunicado  from, July 12, 2015 to January 18, 2017, in Tianjin. As a human rights lawyers, Xie Yanyi’s career spans from 2003 to the time when he was detained, representing dozens of cases involving religious freedom, freedom of speech, forced expropriation of land and property, corruption, local elections, political prisoners, and more. Meanwhile, he has been known for passionately advocating democratic transition in China. During the 553 days of disappearance, his wife gave birth to a baby girl, and his mother died without him knowing it. In September he posted a book […]


Yaxue Cao, October 3, 2017   Early in September the Justice Department of Shandong province notified Zhu Shengwu (祝圣武), a 36-year-old lawyer in Jinan, the provincial capital, that his “anti-Communist Party, anti-socialism” expressions online had “threatened national security,” and he was disbarred. Mr. Zhu requested a public hearing. Zhu Shengwu heads the Shandong Xinchang Law Firm (山东信常律师事务所) which he founded about a year ago. He has been practicing for only five years, specializing in intellectual property rights, particularly online copyright disputes. Beginning this year, however, he began taking on so-called “sensitive cases” – i.e., involving human rights. Among others, he represented Wang Jiangfeng (王江峰), a man from Shandong who was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and sentenced to two years in prison […]


The China Human Rights Lawyers Group, September 13, 2017     Today, September 13, 2017, marks the fourth anniversary of the founding of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group. Even though it is the obligation of government to respect and safeguard human rights based on international treaties and the Constitution, it is also the natural and professional duty of lawyers. Four years ago today, the China Human Rights Lawyers Group was founded to provide an open platform for professional cooperation. Over the past four years, we have set foot across the country and worked tirelessly against constant obstacles to protect freedom of expression, freedom of belief and other basic civil and political rights. Among us, some have lost their freedom and even their lives. Since […]


Safeguard Defenders, August 28, 2017     The Human Rights Tulip is an award by the Dutch government for courageous human rights defenders. Wang Quanzhang (CHINA) is a lawyer, father and husband whose work to defend and protect persecuted religious groups, especially Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, has made him a target himself. He is also a defender who understands that broader change in China must come from developing a wider movement of rights defenders. Since 2008, Wang has worked to develop institutions and mechanisms to train, teach, and offer support to the greater rights defense community, from other rights defense lawyers, “barefoot” lawyers working locally, or victims themselves. Wang is the co-founder of an NGO that established training programs, training many hundreds of lawyers […]


Mo Zhixu, August 16, 2017 The Chinese original was first published in December, 2015.       The importance of Wu Gan “the Super Vulgar Butcher” has been widely recognized for some time, and the most direct testament to his importance comes from none other than the party-state itself.   On May 18, 2015, Wu Gan left for Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi, to support lawyers in the Leping wrongful conviction case.* That evening, he joined the lawyers’ sit-in at the gate to the Jiangxi High Court, demanding the lawyers’ right to access the case files. On May 19, in a performance typical of Wu Gan, he set two roll-up signs in front of the court calling out court president Zhang Zhonghou (张忠厚). Soon after, Nanchang […]


China Change, August 2, 2017     According to a recently published video made by Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋), a professor of environmental science and the wife of human rights lawyer Xie Yang, Hunan authorities are setting up a large security door equipped with a fingerprint reader, effectively functioning as a prison cell door, outside the family apartment in Yuelu District, Changsha. As the large metal gate in the hallway is being put up, the Special Task Group in charge of Xie Yang’s case has also rented out the adjacent apartment for a permanent security presence to watch over him. Chen Guiqiu explained in the video that the building is a residence for Hunan University professors, and that she owns the title to their apartment. “They’re […]


The China Human Rights Lawyers Group, July 9, 2017   In the early hours of the morning on July 9, 2015, the Beijing-based lawyer Wang Yu and her husband and son, Bao Longjun (包龙军) and Bao Zhuoxuan (包卓轩), were suddenly illegally arrested by the police. Before long, Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), Li Heping (李和平), Xie Yanyi (谢燕益), Zhou Shifeng (周世锋), Xie Yang (谢阳), Sui Muqing (隋牧青), Li Chunfu (李春富), Xie Yuandong (谢远东), Liu Sixin (刘四新), Gao Yue (高月), Zhao Wei (赵威), Li Shuyun (李姝云) and dozens of other lawyers and their assistants were also arrested. At around the same time, Wu Gan (吴淦 known online as “The Butcher”), an activist who was in Nanchang protesting the Jiangxi High Court’s refusal to allow a lawyer to examine […]


China Change, July 7, 2017   “Wang Yu (王宇) was at home by herself that night, having just seen off at the airport her husband Bao Longjun (包龙军), and their son Bao Zhuoxuan (包卓軒). A group of men began idling about outside her home, and when she yelled out asking who they were, they shrank away and kept quiet. About an hour later, when she was unable to raise her husband and son on the phone, and just beginning to get anxious, the lights in her apartment suddenly went out. Her internet was also cut. The harsh buzz of an electric drill shattered the silent darkness and within a few minutes the lock had been drilled out, falling to the ground. A gang of men […]


Wen Donghai, July 6, 2017        With the second anniversary of July 9, 2015 approaching, and as someone who has witnessed it first hand and served as the defense lawyer for one of the prominent 709 detainees, I’ve racked my brains about what to say. I feel that I have so much to say — but at the same time, it seems that only being as quiet and still as a mountain could truly encompass the full meaning of the 709 Crackdown. Naturally, the first people I was worried about when the crackdown began were my client Wang Yu (王宇) and her family. Prior to 709, she was extremely active as a human rights lawyer, gaining the nickname “Goddess of War” (战神) for […]


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 […]


China Human Rights Lawyers Group, June 23, 2017   This year, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is partnering with the International Bar Association (IBA) to mark the annual “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture” on June 26. Through storytelling, social media campaigns, and a panel discussion, they hope to advance their “shared ambition for the absolute prohibition of torture.” This year and the year before, we have begun to learn, with horror, about the torture of Chinese human rights lawyers during the 709 Crackdown. Below is a letter from the China Human Rights Lawyers Group addressed and delivered to OHCHR and IBA. — The Editors   To the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for […]


Wang Qiaoling, May 26, 2017 This interview was conducted on May 5, 2017, three days before lawyer Li Heping returned home. – The Editors     Host: Hello everyone and welcome to “Surveying China,” (放眼大陆); I’m Huang Juan (黄娟). From July 9, 2015, for the next two months, about 300 lawyers, rights defenders, and dissidents were subject to mass disappearances; they were summoned by police, detained, and some have eventually been sentenced and jailed. This became the “709 Crackdown” that shocked the world. It’s been almost two years. Some victims have been imprisoned, others have been released on probation, still others have been given suspended sentences. It would seem that what family members want most is for the victims to be released, no matter what […]


Xu Xiaoshun, father of Wu Gan, May 22, 2017 On May 20, 2015, while supporting lawyers on the “Leping Wrongful Conviction Case” at the Jiangxi Provincial Higher People’s Court, Wu Gan (aka “The Butcher”) was detained by the Nanchang municipal police. Several days later he, a native of Fujian province, was charged by the Fujian police with the crimes of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “defamation,” and jailed in Yongtai County Detention Center. During his detention in Fujian he was able to meet with lawyers several times. But then he was suddenly forbidden meetings, and on February 1, 2016, it was learned he’d been transferred to the custody of Tianjin municipal police as part of the 709 (July 9, 2015) case, or the now […]


Chen Guiqiu, May 8, 2017   Over the weekend, ahead of the trial of human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) on Monday, his wife Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋) published an article detailing, for the first time, how she first learned about her husband’s torture during the 6-month “residential surveillance at a designated place” and then in the Changsha 2nd Detention Center. Xie Yang, during the three-hour show trial for subversion and disrupting court order, denied being tortured as part of an apparent deal with the government. He looked gaunt in photographs. He was represented by a government appointed lawyer, and no witnesses were called. A handwritten statement by Xie Yang on January 13, sealed with red wax thumbprints, foretold this unfortunate “denial”: “If, one day in […]


May 4, 2017     We have learned that, around 1 pm on May 3, 2017, Beijing lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), his wife and two young children, as well as their friends Zhang Baocheng (张宝成) and his wife, were forcibly taken into custody by local police while the company was on a tourist trip in Jinghong, Yunnan province (云南景洪). In doing so, the police did not present any legal warrant. Lawyer Chen Jiangang and the company have now been in custody for over 19 hours, and their belongings have been confiscated. [As of the publication of the translation of this statement, they have been detained for over 30 hours.] We are acutely aware that lawyer Chen Jiangang has riled the authorities for revealing the torture […]


China Change, May 3, 2017     (Chen Jianggang’s video statement on March 3: “If I lose my freedom.”)   Lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), on a holiday driving tour with wife, two young children (six and three), and two friends, were detained in a police station in Jinghong, Yunnan (云南景洪) around 1:00 p.m. on May 3. Jinghong is part of Xishuangbanna (西双版纳), a popular tourist destination. The two friends are Zhang Baocheng (张宝成) and Zhang’s wife Liu Juefan (刘珏帆). Around 5:00 p.m., all six were taken away in vehicles by a dozen or so armed police, according to a handwritten note by Chen Jiangang, circulating on WeChat. The note said: 1. Before I signed [a list of confiscated belongings], no one showed me any proper […]


China Change, April 28, 2017     Late Friday, evening time Beijing, Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭) and Li Wenzu (李文足) issued the following video statement. China Change offers our audience a translation:   Statement by Wang Qiaoling and Li Wenzu Wang Qiaoling: This morning at 11:00 a.m. I was walking out the first floor entrance of our apartment building with my daughter when I found myself surrounded by a large group of state security agents. Among them were Beijing state security agents, Tianjin state security agents, chief of the Tianjin Jiaguasi (挂甲寺) police station, and the neighborhood property management people. As they closed in on me, the state security officers demanded that we discuss Li Heping’s case. I thought it was a standard attempt to threaten […]


Chen Jiangang, April 24, 2017 This article was written in December, 2015. Between then and now, the 45-year-old but youthful looking human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) performed a rare act of courage: revealing his torture in full detail while still behind bars, and despite the perpetrators’ repeated threats. The author Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), a friend, became Xie Yang’s defense lawyer in December 2016, recording the torture in a series meetings earlier this year. Then in an equally courageous action, Chen published them. The revelations caused an international stir, providing a rare but clear glimpse of  the “709 Crackdown” on human rights lawyers, while also showing how the Chinese authorities routinely use unspeakable torture to extract confessions. “[Xie Yang’s] thought was that he wanted to […]


China Change, April 21, 2017     Since the publication in early January of the “Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang,” made by lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), detailing a series of meetings with Xie Yang (谢阳) at the Changsha 2nd Detention Center, the Xie Yang case has taken many bizarre turns. The revelations of torture in the interviews, the first meticulously-recorded and lengthy account of the abuse meted out to a human rights lawyer, offer a shocking view of the “709 crackdown” since mid-2015. As of now, four human rights lawyers and a number of activists are still in detention, and in the case of lawyer Li Heping (李和平) and Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), have been denied access to their lawyers for well over 600 […]


Yaxue Cao, March 28, 2017     When on March 1 Chinese media launched a sudden and all-out smear campaign claiming that the torture of human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) was a fabrication, and that Western media coverage of it was “fake news,” many of us wondered what this outburst was all about. A UN Human Rights Council meeting? The German Chancellor’s planned visit? Now we know. On February 27, diplomatic missions in Beijing from 11 countries wrote a letter, expressing their “growing concern over recent claims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in cases concerning detained human rights lawyers and other human rights defenders.” The letter also urged China to abandon the practice of secret detention known as […]


Chen Jiangang, March 22, 2017   The public didn’t know until yesterday that ambassadors from 11 countries wrote a letter to China’s Minister of Public Security on February 27, 2017, expressing their grave concern over recent reports of torture of human rights lawyers, and China’s use of secret detention known as “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL). In light of our knowledge of this letter, China’s massive smear campaign beginning on March 1 — two days after the letter was received — becomes much more disturbing. China made lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) “confess” on camera that he had made up the reports of Xie Yang’s (谢阳) torture; Jiang was forcibly disappeared on November 21, 2016, and subsequently placed under RSDL, and thus could not […]


Chen Jiangang, March 4, 2017       1.   I cherish life. I want to live to see the universal values of democracy, liberty, rule of law, and human rights realized in China. I want to see a constitutional system of government established in China. If these things don’t happen I’ll die without peace. I cherish my family. I want to see my children grow and live in freedom and health. For all these reasons, I will not kill myself. If something unexpected happens to me, please know that it will absolutely not be because I committed suicide. 2.  I have committed no crime. I will never, of my own volition, assent to any illegal interrogation, and nor will I level false charges against […]


Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017 When lawyer Chen Jiangang published the “Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang,” the revelations of torture garnered a great deal of attention in the international press and legal profession. To name a few among the many media and professional organizations that covered the transcripts or lamented the lawlessness of Chinese authorities: The Washington Post, the American Bar Association Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, El País, Agencia EFE, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Brussels Diplomatic, and Le Monde. Twenty-nine respected lawyers and judges from around the world penned a letter demanding that China respect the rule of law, while the European Union issued a rare statement expressing concern over the reported torture of human rights lawyers. […]


Chen Jinxue, Qin Chenshou, March 1, 2017   On March 1, 2017, the Global Times, led by Hu Xijin (胡锡进), published a report claiming that it has interviewed Jiang Tianyong. As Jiang Tianyong’s defense lawyers, we make the following statement:   1. Defense lawyers have applied no fewer than three times to meet Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) since his disappearance on November 21, 2016, to no avail. The reason given to us is that meeting our client would obstruct the investigation or possibly divulge state secrets — yet apparently unrelated parties, and Global Times journalists, claim to have seen Jiang Tianyong. Our position has always been: lawyers meeting their clients cannot possibly obstruct the investigation or divulge state secrets, and according to the Criminal Law, when […]


Wang Qiaoling, Li Wenzu, Chen Guiqiu, Jin Bianling, March 1, 2017   The following letter was recently delivered to: U. S. Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Chris Smith, co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China; Congressman James McGovern and Joseph Pitts, co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U. S. Congress; Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the President of Germany; Sigmar Gabriel, the Foreign Minister of Germany; François Hollande, the President of France; Bernard Cazeneuve, the Prime Minister of France.   We thank you for your sustained attention to the human rights situation in China, especially on the matter of the “709 lawyers,” who have been targeted from July 9, 2015 to this day. The case began with the mass […]


February 16, 2017     Torture has long been a chronic disease plaguing China’s judicial system. It is not only that nearly every case of judicial injustice in China is attended by torture, but that torture is much more widely applied than merely as a means of extracting a confession during the criminal investigation process. It’s often used as a form of humiliation, a torment of the flesh and the spirit simultaneously, with an array of methods that are unrestrained and completely unscrupulous. The goal is to have the captive or internee surrender their minds to the authorities, and so prisons and extra-judicial detention facilities — like Legal Education Bases (or centers), brainwashing classes, and shuanggui facilities — make widespread use of torture. Torture aimed […]


Wang Qiaoling, January 13, 2017 Li Chunfu (李春富) is a human rights lawyer and the younger brother of the well-known rights lawyer Li Heping (李和平). On August 1, 2015, he was taken into custody (less than a month after his brother was also detained on July 10) and put under residential surveillance for six months. In January 2016 he was formally arrested on charges of “subversion of state power.” On January 5, 2017, he was granted China’s version of bail awaiting trial, and on January 12 returned home by police. Following is the first report by Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭), Li Heping’s wife, of the homecoming. We know from multiple cases of personal testimony, both published and privately relayed, that the 709 detainees have been subjected […]


January 11, 2017   Hunan Province Changsha Municipal People’s Procuratorate Bill of Indictment CS Proc Crim Indict [2016] No. 85   Defendant Xie Yang (谢阳), male, [redacted], Han ethnicity, master’s degree education, was a practicing lawyer at Hunan Gangwei Law Firm, [redacted]. On July 12, 2015, he was put under residential surveillance by the Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau on suspicion of the crimes of subversion of state power and disrupting court order. On January 8, 2016 this procuratorate approved his arrest on suspicion of the crime of subversion of state power. The arrest was executed the following day by the Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau. The Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau has concluded its investigation of this case and, on August 8, 2016, referred […]


Arthur Waldron, October 17, 2016 This is a speech delivered on October 2, the first day of the three-day conference on the prospect of a democratic China in New York City, organized and attended by overseas Chinese scholars and dissidents. With Professor Waldron’s permission, we are pleased to post the text of his speech here. – The Editors   Good morning, my dear friends, it’s a great honor to be here. The first demonstration against dictatorship in China took place outside of the Chinese Consulate in New York more than 30 years ago. I knew it was going to happen, so I went there. There was no press, just me sitting in a café. About 12 people appeared wearing grocery bags over their heads, and […]


By Eva Pils, July 8, 2016   In April and early May 2016, I got the chance to speak to some twenty-odd old and new acquaintances amongst the targets of the so-called 709 Crackdown – the latest and largest crackdown yet on China’s already beleaguered human rights lawyers.  Named after the 9th of July, the date it began with the night-time detention of Lawyers Wang Yu and Bao Longjun and their sixteen year old son, Bao Zhuoxuan, the 709 Crackdown mainly targeted three groups connected to rights advocacy: rights lawyers and assistants connected to Fengrui Law Firm;’ Lawyer Li Heping and his colleagues (with some overlap between these groups); and another group around activist Hu Shigen that included rights lawyers as well as more ‘grassroots’ […]


Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, July 8, 2016     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 […]


China Change, May 18, 2016   On October 6, 2015, the two Chinese human rights activists Tang Zhishun (唐志顺) and Xing Qingxian (幸清贤) were arrested for attempting to help the son of human rights lawyer Wang Yu (王宇) escape China through Burma, so he could come to the United States to study. Now, seven months after their arrest, the first word of their fates has been heard: Xing Qingxian’s wife was provided with a notice of arrest dated May 5 saying that he is suspected of “organizing human trafficking across borders.” He is currently held in the Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center. The news is a result of months of fruitless efforts on the part of the lawyers and families, though we have yet to […]


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 […]


By Wang Quanzhang, published: June 30, 2015   On June 18 I went to Liaocheng City in Shandong Province (山东聊城) to participate in the defense of a number of Falun Gong practitioners. Gaining the right to actually mount a defense, as a defense lawyer, before and during the trial, was a process filled with difficulties. Finally, at the end of the court session, presiding judge Wang Yingjun (审判长王英军) directed the bailiffs to drag me from the courtroom and beat me savagely. [Note: Following is an abridged translation of pretrial negotiations, the opening of the court session, the demands made during the court session, and numerous other procedural irregularities documented by Wang Quanzhang, as well as the violence dealt him. A full translation of the remaining […]


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