In 2008, encouraged by a sense that China was opening up to more democratic norms, a group of lawyers in Beijing sought to directly elect the Beijing Lawyers Association. In this film, nine participating lawyers tell this story of struggle and persecution.
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Liang Xiaojun, July 25, 2016 Xie Yanyi (谢燕益) is a human rights lawyer, and one of the 709 detainees. – The Editors It was probably somewhere around the end of 2008 that I started receiving occasional group emails from someone writing under the name Liang Buzheng (梁不正)—“Crooked Beam.” Sometimes the emails would contain this person’s views on politics, while other times they would describe the actions he was taking in the legal sphere. In those days much of my time was spent handling commercial cases in order to make a living, so I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to public interest law or human rights issues. As a result, I would often simply skip over those emails from “Crooked Beam” without really reading […]
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 […]
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