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Chinese Lawyers Face Persecution for Defending Rights

Gao Zhisheng (US congress)
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Su Zhi | Minghui

On October 26, 2020, the United States Embassy and Consulates in China published the Chinese version of the “2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China (Includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet)” on its website. The report detailed many human rights violations by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and the lawyers that represented them.

According to the report, “The government suspended or revoked the business licenses or law licenses of some lawyers who took on sensitive cases, such as defending pro-democracy dissidents, house-church activists, Falun Gong practitioners, or government critics. Authorities used the annual licensing review process administered by the All China Lawyers Association to withhold or delay the renewal of professional lawyers’ licenses.”

It says that many political prisoners remain either in prison or detention, including Falun Gong practitioner Bian Lichao and Ma Zhenyu, and rights lawyers Wang Quanzhang, Gao Zhisheng and Jiang Tianyong, etc.

The report states that the Chinese authorities continue to target human rights lawyers. For example, “In January the Guangdong Department of Justice revoked the license of Liu Zhengqing, a Guangdong lawyer known for defending activists and Falun Gong practitioners. The department charged him with ‘jeopardizing national security’ when defending his clients in court.”

Another rights lawyer Qin Yongpei was detained by Guangxi secret police according to the report. It says, “Qin had worked on several human rights cases, including those of ‘709’ lawyers and Falun Gong practitioners, assisted many indigent and vulnerable persons, and publicized misconduct by high-level government and CCP officials.”

Persecuted for Their Faith

The report especially calls attention to the persecution of Falun Gong. The communist government began to persecute Falun Gong in July 1999. Many practitioners have been illegally imprisoned, and physically and mentally tortured in detention centers and prisons. Some were injected with drugs that damaged the central nervous system, while others became victims of forced organ harvesting. To date, Minghui has verified at least 4,500 deaths of practitioners in the persecution. Many more were taken to detention centers, forced labor camps, prisons, brainwashing centers and mental hospitals.

The persecution targets people from all social classes and occupations, including the legal profession. Mr. Liu Ruping, a Falun Gong practitioner, was a lawyer at Shuntian Law Firm in Jinan City of Shandong Province. Mr. Liu was also the director of the Law Department at Changqing District Communist Party Academy. He taught classes in law and business management. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 and suffered severe injures in prison. But his family was not allowed to visit him in prison. He had been detained at brainwashing centers twice prior.

Mr. Wang Yonghang, a Falun Gong practitioner and attorney from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2009. While in police custody, he was bound to a metal chair and deprived of sleep for 13 days. Mr. Wang later suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, pleural, and ascites. He felt numbness in his lower body and feared being paralyzed. His wife repeatedly asked to see him, but the authorities refused her each time.

Mr. Chen Guangchang was an attorney at Yushi Law Firm in Shandong Province for ten years before he lost his job for practicing Falun Gong. He has been required to report his whereabouts to the Bureau of Justice every day. He was told that only when he gave up his belief in Falun Gong could he apply for a lawyer license again.

Despite pressure and intimidation from authorities, some human rights lawyers still defend the innocence of practitioners in court. Lawyers such as Gao Zhisheng, Wang Quanzhang, Yun Wensheng have been persecuted themselves for speaking up for their clients and speaking the truth.

Attorney Yu Wensheng once said in his defense, “Chinese lawyers have defended Falun Gong practitioners’ innocence for more than ten years, yet this human rights disaster continues. During this wrongful persecution campaign, judicial officials who should punish evil, promote good, and uphold justice are blindly carrying out illegal procedures for their own benefits. For 17 years, they repeat the illegal trial one after another, abusing their power.”

Mr. Yu was given a four-year term in prison in 2020 after being held incommunicado for over 18 months. He was charged with “inciting subversion of state power” according to Amnesty International.

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