Detained Chinese rights lawyer charged with subversion of state power: wife

Christian Shepherd January 30, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – The wife of detained Chinese rights lawyer Yu Wensheng said on Tuesday her husband had been charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and that police have summonsed her after she gave interviews to foreign media.

Yu, who has been an outspoken critic of a Chinese government crackdown on his fellow rights lawyers and activists, was taken by authorities from outside his home in Beijing on Jan. 19 shortly after he was stripped of his legal license.

Yu’s wife, Xu Yan, said police informed her on Saturday that her husband was being charged with “inciting subversion of state power” rather than the original lighter charge of “obstructing a public service”, she told Reuters on Tuesday.

For the last two days, police in Xuzhou city in southeastern Jiangsu province have repeatedly called to ask her to come to the police station to speak with them in connection with her husband’s crimes, she said.

The police told her that the reason she is wanted is because she had given interviews with the foreign media, she said.

A man who answered the phone at the Xuzhou city public security bureau told Reuters he was unaware of the case.

It is unclear why Yu is being held in Xuzhou. It is not uncommon for sensitive rights cases to be transferred to different jurisdictions.

President Xi Jinping has presided over a sweeping wave of detentions and arrest of rights lawyers and activists, which has come to be known as the “709” incident after the date July 9, 2015, when the crackdown began in earnest.

In response, the families and friends of the rights lawyers and activists have often taken up their loved one’s cause in the wake of their detention, sometimes becoming high-profile activists in their own right.

An edited video of Yu’s detention showing him punching and swearing at the police officers was posed on YouTube on Jan. 22, and has since been shared repeatedly on Twitter.

Xu Yan said the video was an attempt to smear her husband.

The day before Yu was detained he had circulated a call for reform to China’s state constitution, which said China should delete a preamble that grants the ruling Communist Party primacy in leadership.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “Detained Chinese rights lawyer charged with subversion of state power: wife”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Chinese authorities disbar second rights lawyer in two weeks

Christian Shepherd January 23, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – Authorities in China’s southern province of Guangdong have canceled the legal license of human rights lawyer Sui Muqing, he told Reuters on Tuesday, a week after another prominent rights lawyer was detained following similar punishment.

Since coming to power in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has presided over a sweeping crackdown on dissent, which has seen hundreds of rights lawyers and activists detained and dozens jailed.

“I’ve taken on a lot of relatively high-profile human rights cases,” Sui told Reuters. “This is the settling of accounts after the autumn harvest,” he added, using a phrase that means to face the authorities after a movement has ended.

An active and outspoken rights lawyer based in the city of Guangzhou, Sui had regularly defended fellow lawyers and activists charged by the authorities.

The Guangdong justice bureau unexpectedly called him late on Monday, asking for a meeting the next day, at which officials handed him papers saying he had been disbarred for violating conduct rules for lawyers, Sui said.

The Guangdong justice bureau did not respond to requests for comment after office hours on Tuesday.

Yu Wensheng, another prominent rights lawyer who took on similar cases, was disbarred and then detained last week.

In its document notifying Sui of its decision, the bureau said he had broken China’s law for lawyers, as well as rules on the conduct of lawyers and law firms, according to a picture of the document seen by Reuters.

As evidence, it cited Sui’s failure to prevent a client from disrupting court order in Beijing in 2014, as well as an incident in which he took photos while meeting a client in a police station in the southwestern province of Sichuan in 2017.

In the Beijing case, Sui had been defending activist Ding Jiaxi, a leading figure in the “New Citizen’s Movement” that called for Chinese officials to disclose their assets as a part of gradual political change in China.

Sui denied that he had broken the rules or the law and said the 2014 case was too far in the past to reasonably be used as evidence against him.

Rights groups say that 2016 changes to measures on the conduct of lawyers and law firms, which heightened requirements for political loyalty, were designed to make it much more difficult to take on politically sensitive cases.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “Chinese authorities disbar second rights lawyer in two weeks”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

U.N. denounces China crackdown on lawyers, seeks release

The United Nations human rights office on Friday denounced China’s “ongoing crackdown” and detention of lawyers and activists and called on authorities to release all those being held for exercising what it called fundamental freedoms.

It voiced concern at reports that defense lawyer Chen Jiangang and his family were taken by police on Wednesday while traveling in the southwest province of Yunnan. His whereabouts are unknown, though his wife and two children were released.

Chen represents Xie Yang, a lawyer in custody since July 2015 whose trial had been due to begin last week on charges of inciting subversion and disrupting court order, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva.

“Prior to being reportedly taken by police last Wednesday, Chen had, in a video message, expressed concerns that he too may ‘lose his freedom’ and that he may be coerced into self-incrimination,” Shamdasani told a news briefing.

“We are dismayed by this continuing pattern of harassment of lawyers, through continued detention, without full due process guarantees and with alleged exposure to ill-treatment and coercion into self-incrimination,” she said.

The vast majority of detained lawyers were defending citizens’ basic economic, social and cultural rights, she added.

China’s Ministry of Public Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, dozens of Chinese rights lawyers and activists called for Chen’s immediate release. They issued their call in a letter they signed and circulated on instant messaging platforms.

In March, state media accused Chen along with another prominent rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, of fabricating detailed accounts of torture suffered by Xie Yang, saying they had made up “fake news” to grab international headlines.

Chen at the time told Reuters that the accounts were genuine, saying he had interviewed Xie in rooms filled with cameras.

Dozens of rights lawyers and a handful of foreign diplomats traveled to central China’s Changsha city on April 25 after reports that Xie would stand trial that day, but authorities told them the trial was not taking place.

On the same day, a court in Tianjin city near Beijing jailed another prominent rights lawyer, Li Heping, for three years for subverting state power in what his wife called a “secret” trail.

Since 2015, dozens of people linked to a Beijing law firm have been detained or prosecuted by the authorities in a crackdown on dissent.

China consistently rejects criticism of its human rights record and says it is a country ruled by law.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in GENEVA and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Ralph Boulton, Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters “U.N. denounces China crackdown on lawyers, seeks release”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.