Joint Statement Calling on Continued Concern for the 709 (Lawyer) Crackdown in China

“Respect the Due Process, Fulfil its Pledge to uphold the Rule of Law and Release the 38 Illegally Detained Human Rights Lawyers and Citizens” A Joint Statement by ** Worldwide Civil Society Organizations calling on Continued Concern for the 709 Crackdown (9th January 2016, Hong Kong)

Exactly six months have passed since 9 July 2015 when the Chinese government started detaining human rights lawyers and defenders in large scale. To date, we take note that18 of these lawyers and 20 rights defenders have remained under various forms of confinement, with some in complete disappearance. In addition, another 30 of them are banned from travelling out of the country.

The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (the Concern Group), along with ** worldwide civil society organizations, hereby make a joint statement to once again call on the international community for its continued attention to all those who are still in detention arbitrarily, to their psycho and physical well being as well as to safety of all those detained.

We also wish to express our deep regret and strong condemnation with regard to the authorities’ unscrupulous transgression of the legal rights of the lawyers and the rights defenders. Sources of information indicate that persecution on lawyers, their families and other activists by means of intimidation, close surveillance and custody that has not stopped since last July.

It has also come to our attention that despite the numerous attempts by the defending lawyers and families of the detained individuals in search of redress and remedies within the legal frame, all efforts have proved futile with all legal avenues exhausted. By this date, the whereabouts of most of the lawyers and rights defenders in detention have remained unknown to neither their defending lawyers nor their family members. Let alone the chance for them to meet with lawyers.

We also take note of the deteriorating state of human rights and rule of law in China as well as the narrowing down of its civic space over the recent years. Compared to any previous persecution, the 709 crackdown has been one of the most abrasive maneuvers against lawyers and activists in terms of its scale, number of people implicated, duration and severity since rights lawyers first appeared in 2003.

Within a period of six months, 316 lawyers, lawyers and law firm staff were affected across the nation. They were, and still are, summoned, questioned, banned from travelling out of the country, house arrested, put under residential surveillance at designated location or criminally detained, and even with enforced disappearance. Means of suppression have also been more diverse and enshrouding. Apart from manipulating the legally prescribed measure of “residential surveillance at designated locations” for secret detention, the government has also strived to smear by “trial by mass media”. While the scope of control and intimidation was extended by the use of “collective punishment on families and friends”, chilling effect was achieved by threats and extortions; not to say the move to stifle external support and by attacking lawyers’ online communications.

2015 has been a particularly frigid year for the civil society in China, with NGOs forced to close down, human rights lawyers, dissidents, internet leaders and members of religious groups, and socially disadvantaged groups seized and or detained in unprecedented scale.

We wish to point out that with its overt disregard of the international norms and principles and blatant infringement of its own domestic laws, the Chinese government has rendered the pledges of its President Xi Jingping in upholding “rule according to law” sheer mockery.

We reiterate the importance of lawyers as a rational force imperative and indispensable in the promotion and protection of rule of law and human rights in any country. If lawyers had no human rights, there would be no room for rule of law and human rights. In view of the passage of the 37 days for criminal detention and approval of arrest, and the soon-to-expire 6-month period for residential surveillance as stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Law, we earnestly call on the Chinese Government to

1. Respect the due process and abide by its domestic law and by the international obligations it has as member of the United Nations and as state party to the many international human rights conventions that it has signed and ratified;

2. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of the detained lawyers and rights defenders, and ensure that their psycho and physical wellbeing and safety are protected;

3. End all illegal and arbitrary detention and resume the personal freedom of all the 38 lawyers and rights defenders given no charge has been given as of this day;

4. Ensure that lawyers can perform their professional duties without any intimidation, harassment or unwarranted interference. 5. Investigate and call to account for instances of malfeasances and power abuses by any law enforcement officer and bodies.

Initiating organisations:

中國維權律師關注組China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group

台灣聲援中國人權律師網絡 Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network

Cosignatories:

Co-sign please send to this address: mrcnrb@gmail.com (MRC ist abbreviation of the German name of our organization “Menschenrechte für China”, which means “Human Rights for China”, NRB means Nuremberg)

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