EU Demands China Release Human Rights Lawyers

  • The European Union pointed out that following the "709 crackdown" five years ago, many defendants did not receive proper defense opportunities or a fair trial.
  • “The law works as a tool for China to govern . . . that is, its knife to kill or leather rope to whip, so to speak,” Chinese rights lawyer Chen Jiangang said.
  • The EU statement also mentioned Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Tsinghua University, who had just been arrested.

On Wednesday, the EU demanded that China immediately and unconditionally release lawyers and rights activists who were arrested five years ago, as part of China’s “709 Crackdown.” The EU also tressed that it will continue to criticize China’s human rights situation.  More than 200 people were detained as part of the crackdown in 2015.

The 709 Crackdown was a nationwide crackdown on Chinese lawyers and human rights activists instigated during the summer of 2015. It is known as the “709 crackdown” as it started on 9 July 2015. More than 200 people were detained as part of the 2015 crackdown.

“The European Union also expects the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release, without any restrictions on their movement or work, all lawyers and legal activists imprisoned or persecuted by the authorities for their work before and since the ‘709 crackdown’, such as Yu Wensheng, Li Yuhan and Ge Jueping,” the statement said

In this statement, the European Union pointed out that following the “709 crackdown” five years ago, many defendants did not receive proper defense opportunities or a fair trial. According to credible reports, these lawyers and activists were ill-treated during detention, and their licenses were revoked, even after their release and continue to be monitored.

“The law works as a tool for China to govern . . . that is, its knife to kill or leather rope to whip, so to speak,” Chinese rights lawyer Chen Jiangang said. “Chinese authorities are not subject to the law, which provides no protection to the ruled or the oppressed,” he added.

In the statement, the EU also specifically named lawyers Yu Wensheng, Li Yuhan, and rights activist Ge Jueping. During the “709 Crackdown,” Yu Wensheng was only held for 24 hours, and later became a defense lawyer for other arrested persons.

It wasn’t until January 2018 that Yu Wensheng was arrested again for issuing a constitutional amendment proposals. He was finally sentenced to four years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power and obstructing official duties.”

Xu Zhangrun is a Chinese jurist. He is a professor of Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and a research fellow with the Unirule Institute of Economics. On 6 July 2020, Xu was detained by Chinese police at his home in Beijing.

Attorney Li Yuhan was not arrested during the “709 Crackdown,” but later defended lawyer Wang Yu. In October 2017, Li Yuhan was arrested by the police and charged with the “crime of provocation.” Since the detention, the Chinese authorities have still not tried the Li Yuxin case.

Rights activist Ge Jueping once supported the demolition victims on the Internet. He was arrested during the G20 summit hosted by China in the fall of 2016. After being detained for nearly four years, Ge Jueping was sentenced to four and a half years on June 24 this year for “inciting subversion of state power.” After deducting the previous detention time, Ge Jueping had to wait another year or so before he was released.

The EU statement also mentioned Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Tsinghua University, who had just been arrested. The EU called on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these human rights lawyers and rights defenders, and not to restrict their actions and occupations. ”

The EU will continue to point out China’s deteriorating human rights situation and continue to criticize any violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including Hong Kong after the implementation of the new National Security Act.”

The statement calls on China to “respect the rule of law, ensure a fair trial, and conduct a full investigation” of indiscriminate arrests and abuses suffered by human rights workers. The website of the EU mission in China also published the statement on Thursday, but for the time being only in English, there is no Chinese version.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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