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Chinese Police Must End Enforced Disappearances of Human Rights Activists

(Chinese Human RightsDefenders- February 18, 2011)More than two days after police officers forced openthe door to his Beijinghome and dragged him away, human rights lawyer TangJitian (唐吉田) remains missing.Though officials have stated he is in police custody,they have failed toproduce any legal documentation notifying his familyof his whereabouts.Believed to be related to his attendance at a meetingof lawyers in Beijing todiscuss the case of Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚),Tang’s disappearance is the latest in a growing listof abuses related toChen’s case.“We arealarmed at the Chinese government’s increasing use ofextralegal measures, suchas enforced or involuntary disappearances, against activists,” said ReneeXia, CHRD’s International Director. “Tang Jitian’sdisappearance brings to mind other individuals whoare currently missing, andraises concerns over the growing power of the police.” Others among the morethan one dozen lawyers and activists who gathered inBeijing on February 16were also targeted by the authorities. Fellow lawyerJiang Tianyong (江天勇) was roughed up andinterrogated by police, andlegal scholar Teng Biao (滕彪) was placedunder “soft detention” at his home. However, just asthe location where Tang Jitianis being held remains unknown, so too is it unclearwhy officials decided tosingle him out for harsher punishment. Hisdisappearance comes as internationalattention has focused on the plight of Chen Guangchengand his family in recentdays, following the release of a video testimonyrecorded by the family andnumerous well-documented confrontations betweenforeign journalists and hiredthugs guarding Chen’s village.Enforceddisappearances remain a very real threat toChinese human rights defenders. The best-known case inrecent years is that ofGao Zhisheng (高智晟),a prominent human rights lawyer who remains missing tothis day despite anintense international and domestic outcry. Thewhereabouts of Liu Xia (刘霞),the wife of Nobel LaureateLiu Xiaobo (刘晓波), remain unconfirmed.However, itis not only high-profile individualswho are threatened by this practice: grassroots humanrights activist Yao Lifa(姚立法) returned home on February 18 after he was heldfor six days in an unknown location. This was thefifth time in less than ayear that Yao was forcibly seizedand disappeared. In 2010, CHRD documented the cases of36 individuals subjectedto enforced disappearance for defending their own or others'rights. Far from being acomprehensive total, these reports just hint at thescope of the problem. CHRD demands theimmediate release of Tang Jitian.We call upon the Chinese government to hold legallyaccountable any individualsresponsible for Tang’s enforced disappearance.Furthermore, we urgethe Chinese government to signand ratify the International Convention for theProtection of All Persons fromEnforced Disappearance, and oversee its effectiveimplementation to ensure thatall citizens are protected against enforceddisappearance.Finally, we urge U.S.government, E.U. officials, and the U.N.Working Group on Enforced and InvoluntaryDisappearance to continue to pressthe Chinese government on the cases of Gao Zhishengand Liu Xia, and to raise the cases of Tang Jitian, YaoLifa, and any other individuals subjectedto enforced disappearancesat the hands of police.BackgroundTang Jitianis no stranger to persecution for his work. A longtimehuman rights lawyer,Tang and his colleague Liu Wei (刘巍)had their licenses to practice law revoked in May 2010by the Beijing Bureau ofJustice. Though the pair were alleged to have“disrupted court order andinterfered with the normal conduct of litigationactivities,” the decision waswidely believed to be in retaliation for theirhandling of “sensitive” cases,including defending human rights defenders, politicalactivists and Falun Gongpractitioners. This past December, Tang was forced toleave Beijing by policeahead of the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony. In June2009, Tang was illegallydetained for three days at two different locations inBeijing to prevent himfrom speaking out during the 20thanniversary of the BeijingMassacre.Media ContactsRenee Xia,International Director (English andMandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286David Smalls,Researcher (English), +1 347 448 5285For more information“ChineseGovernment Must End Persecution of Family Members ofActivists,” February2, 2011, “HubeiActivist Yao Lifa Seized at His Home, WhereaboutsUnknown,” in China Human RightsBriefing Weekly, February9-14, 2011, “HearingonRevocation of Lawyers’ Licenses Ends withoutDecision, Lawyers Condemn BaselessPunishment,” April 22, 2010,“Report on SeveralIssuesRaised by the Chinese Government’s Response to the UNCommittee AgainstTorture’s Recommendations for Follow-Up in 2009,”August 5, 2010, (吊照门), a film about therevocation of Tang Jitianand Liu Wei’s licenses (Chinese with Englishsubtitles),

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