Lawyers who defend human rights advocates and dissidents targeted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have increasingly themselves become subject to political prosecutions, violence and other means of suppression, a report released yesterday said.
The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a coalition of groups working within and outside China, identified six occasions last year that lawyers were allegedly beaten by plaintiffs, police officers or assailants.
In more than a dozen cases detainees were pressured to fire their own lawyers and accept government-supplied attorneys, the report said.
“The [Chinese] government is trying to give this impression that it’s abiding by the rule of law,” said Frances Eve, a researcher for the network. “In fact, it’s just legalizing repressive measures.”
Under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) China has widely suppressed independent organizations and dissenters, as well as lawyers defending people caught in its crackdown.
The report said that 22 people have been convicted since 2014 of subversion or other crimes against state security, including 16 last year alone.
Dozens of lawyers have been questioned or detained in an ongoing campaign against dissident lawyers known as the 709 crackdown launched in July 2015.
Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), who defended members of the banned Falun Gong movement, was charged with subversion of state power in January last year after being beaten and detained.
His wife, Li Wenzu (李文足), on Wednesday told reporters that Wang is now under indictment and being held without access to family or lawyers.
“We have to wait until the sentencing to see him in jail,” Li said.
Four people associated with Wang’s law firm, Fengrui, were convicted in August last year of charges that they incited protests and took funding from foreign groups.
China last year also passed a law tightening controls over foreign non-governmental organizations by subjecting them to close police supervision.
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