Lawyers Face Revocation of their Licenses for Defending Human Rights

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders – May 25, 2009)—CHRD learnedtoday that law firms employing some of the most vocal human rights lawyers inChina have been pressed by the local authorities to “fail” the lawyers in theannual evaluation of their performances. If this happens, as the lawyers fearit will, at least twenty lawyers will not have their licenses to practice law renewedby the judicial authorities when the evaluation concludes on May 31.

The lawyers at risk include:  Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), Li Heping (李和平), LiXiongbing (黎雄兵), Li Chunfu (李春富), Wang Yajun (王雅军), ChengHai (程海), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), Yang Huimin (杨慧文), XieYanyi (谢燕益), Li Dunyong (李敦勇), Wen Haibo (温海波), LiuWei (刘巍), Zhang Lihui (张立辉), Peng Jian (彭剑), LiJinglin (李静林), Lan Zhixue (兰志学), Zhang Kai (张凯), LiuXiaoyuan (刘晓原), Wei Liangyue (韦良玥) and Yang Zaixin (杨在新) .

The law firms for which they work are Gaobo Longhua (高博隆华), An Hui (安汇), GongXin (共信), Shun He (舜和), Guo Gang (国纲), JiuRui (久瑞), Jie Fa (佳法), Yi Jia (亿嘉) and QiJian (旗鉴) in Beijing, Jiao Dian (焦点) in Heilongjiang Province, and Bai Ju Ming (百举鸣) in Guangxi Province. 

The lawyers have been able to ascertain that the law firmswhere they are currently employed have been given directives and warned bytheir respective judicial and administrative departments and their lawyersassociations. Some of the law firms were asked to immediately terminate theircontracts with the lawyers.  Some were askedto “fail” the lawyers in their annual performance evaluation of the lawyers inorder to “coordinate” with the authorities’ plans to cancel or revoke theirlicenses.  The lawyers have also reportedthat while their colleagues have been asked by their firms to fill in the requiredpaperwork to process the the license renewal application, they have not beenapproached.

“These human rights lawyers are at risk of being punishedfor taking ‘sensitive’ human rights cases and for pressing for direct electionof the leadership of the government-controlled Beijing Lawyers Association. Humanrights lawyers are facing this retributive measure as part of efforts by theauthorities to tighten control over dissent as the 20th anniversaryof the Tiananmen Massacre approaches,” said Wang Songlian, CHRD’s researchcoordinator.  

In May 2008, the Beijing Bureau of Judicial Affairs threatenedto suspend the renewal of the licenses of a number of Beijing lawyers to punishthem for extending legal aid to arrested Tibetans following the protests in theTibetan areas. Although the lawyers’ licenses were eventually renewed after theauthorities threatened and intimidated them, some of the renewals were delayedby a month and one lawyer, Teng Biao (滕彪), hadhis license revoked. The Beijing Bureau of Judicial Affairs claimed that one ofTeng’s employers, China University of Political Science and Law, preferred thatTeng not work as a part-time lawyer.

Human rights lawyers in China appear to be facing anincreasingly hostile and intimidating environment in 2009. CHRD has documentedthe following cases since February:

On May 13, Beijing lawyers, Zhang Kai(张凯) and Li Chunfu (李春富),went to Chongqing to meet thefamily of Jiang Xiqing (江锡清),a Re-education-through-Labor detainee who died in detention.  A groupof more than 20 officers, including some from the National Security Unit underthe Jiangjin Public Security Bureau, arrived at the family’s home, demandingthat Zhang and Li produce their identification cards (shenfenzheng). Whenthe lawyers, who were carrying their lawyers’licenses and passports, were unable to produce their personal IDs, the officerssurrounded them, threw the pair to the ground, and beat and kicked them beforeleading them away in handcuffs. Zhang and Li were taken to a nearby policestation, where Zhang was locked in an iron cage with his hands cuffed behindhis back to the cage.  Li was cuffed to a concrete slab in another room.The two were beaten again and interrogated.  The police warned Zhang andLi against handling the case of Jiang Xiqing and released them shortly aftermidnight.

On April 13, Beijing lawyer, Cheng Hai (程海), was attacked and beaten while on his way to meet a clientin Chengdu.  Cheng represents Tao Yuan (陶渊), a former Beijing Normal University graduate student andFalun Gong practitioner imprisoned for “publicizing an evil cult” who isapplying for release on bail for medical treatment.  Cheng was on his way to meet Tao’s mother,Zhang Chengrong (张盛荣), who lives in WuhouDistrict, when four or five men who had been monitoring and following Chengencircled him and began striking him, pushed him to the ground and kickedhim.  According to Cheng, thoseresponsible for the attack were officials from the Jinyang General ManagementOffice, Wuhou District, Chengdu.

On April 10, Yang Zaixin (杨再新), a Guangxi lawyer, was attacked and beaten in Hepu County,Guangxi, after being lured into a trap over the phone by a person posing as apotential client. When Yang arrived at the agreed-upon time and place, hewas surrounded by five men and beaten for more than 10 minutes, at which pointonlookers took Yang to a nearby hospital.  While the identities of theattackers are unknown, Yang believes he was targeted in retaliation for hiswork representing farmers from Hepu County in a recent land dispute between thefarmers and the Qinlian tree farm, a state-owned enterprise.

On the evening of February 28, Li Baiguang (李柏光), Beijing lawyer andconstitutional law expert, was struck by a motorcyclist shortly after leavingthe West Gate of Beijing University.  The man, who bystanders reported ashaving an accent identifying him as being from Yunnan or Guizhou Province,stopped briefly as a crowd gathered and acted concerned, then slipped away inthe ensuing confusion.  Li, who was injured in the collision, remained onthe ground for several minutes before he was able to get up and continuehome.  Li, who is acting as a lawyer for villagers resisting forced landappropriation by a mining company in Yunnan Province, was visited that eveningby police from Beijing and Yunnan, who questioned him for more than one hourand warned him against involving himself with any “Yunnan affairs” in thefuture.

On February 17, 2009, Beijing's Yitong Law Firm (北京忆通律师事务所) was notified that it would be forced to close forsix months for "re-organization" by the Beijing Haidian District Bureauof Justice. Although the authorities cited the reason for the punishment as thefirm’s “facilitation of the illegal work of an individual in providing legalservices without having obtained a professional lawyer's license”, lawyers atthe firm believe the move is in retaliation for Yitong Law Firm lawyers advocatingdirect elections of the leadership of the Beijing Lawyers' Association in 2008.

For more information, please see:

<HumanRights Lawyers in China Face Persecution on the Eve of June Fourth <“六四” 前夕中国维权律师遭全面打压 >” published bya group of human rights lawyers, May 24, 2009, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/200905/20090524012440_15556.html

Media contacts forthis press release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin):+13015479286Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor(English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +85281911660

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