Wenling, Zhejiang — A prominent Christian human rights lawyer continues to receive death threats, despite officials’ promise to investigate his kidnapping and subsequent beating at the hands of government-backed gangsters in China’s coastal Zhejiang province last month.
On Nov. 4, an anonymous individual phoned Lawyer Li Baiguang, a stalwart defender of human rights, and asked his whereabouts.
“They wanted to kill and destroy me,” Li said. “You see how crazy these people are….”
The call comes weeks after Li filed a case against several unidentified “thugs” who kidnapped him as he entered a hotel in Wenling, Zhejiang. He stayed while defending a group of farmers who lost more than 5,107 acres of beach that they legally owned to the government over the course of 2014 and 2016. Officials subsidized the price of 4,942 of those acres to more than 180 million yuan [$27,072,554.00 USD], but the farmers have not yet received payment. As a result, they hired Li to represent them in a case against the government. Since then, legal professionals have offered him twice the money the farmers are paying him to leave the case, but he refused.
Under the cover of night on Oct. 17, Li’s kidnappers from him into a forest and beat him, threatening to dismember him if he didn’t leave the area by the next morning. They abandoned him in a field, and he reported the incident to the police. However, because the government is the defendant in the farmer’s case and the car the kidnappers forced him into at the time of his abduction belonged to an official, Li suspects that his abductors were hired by the Communist Party.
The police issued Li a “filed case receipt” and told him that they had filed a case. According to Li, “They must investigate after filing the case, and within 60 days, they must tell me the result of the investigation and how they will deal with the result … Currently, they have taken the surveillance videos of the abduction. The license plate number [of the kidnappers’ car] has also been checked, and the next step is to enter the analysis stage. The police can find out the identities of the people involved.”
Li said that another lawyer representing a human rights case had been beaten by a group of men right outside a Zhejiang courthouse in August.