A top Chinese human rights lawyer has been attacked and threatened immediately after meeting with his client, the dissident Wang Mo, at a detention center in the eastern province of Jiangsu, RFA has learned.
Shanghai-based rights lawyer Peng Yonghe was beaten and threatened by a group of unidentified people at the gate of the Huai'an Detention Center in Jiangsu on Monday, after he went there to visit his client.
"I met with my client Wang Mo at the Huai'an District Detention Center in Huai'an city today," Peng told RFA. "But the [detention center staff] forced me to terminate the meeting when it was only halfway through."
Shortly afterwards, at around 11.00 a.m., Peng was surrounded by a group of men at the detention center gate.
"They threatened me, to make me withdraw from Wang's case," Peng said. "They asked to see my mobile phone. I told them I had shot video on my phone, and they stole it from me, and also beat me in the process."
Peng later uploaded a video of his injuries to his Twitter account, and had reported the attack to the local police station, he said.
Wang Mo was among four mainland Chinese activists jailed for their public support of the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections in Hong Kong in April 2016.
Wang and co-defendant Xie Wenfei were handed four-and-a-half-year prison sentences by the Intermediate People's Court in Guangdong's provincial capital, Guangzhou, after being found guilty of "incitement to subvert state power."
He was redetained last month after serving the jail term, in a move seen as linked to the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre on June 4.
Wang and his co-defendants had expressed public support for the Occupy Central movement, and were detained amid a nationwide roundup of at least 100 mainland Chinese supporters of the Hong Kong protests.
Ever-greater professional risks for lawyers
Fellow rights activist Li Xiongbing said attacks like the one on Peng shouldn't happen.
"The local authorities should take it seriously and thoroughly investigate this matter," Li said. "Those responsible should be dealt with strictly according to the law."
Li said Chinese lawyers are running ever-greater professional risks, if they defend political sensitive clients.
"Although our government often talks about the need to ... rule the country according to law, and so on, this is just a slogan that sounds good," he said.
"It is rarely carried out in practice."
At the end of 2017, Peng was called in for questioning by police after he announced his withdrawal from the ruling Chinese Communist Party-controlled Shanghai Lawyers Association.
His attempts to find work and rent accommodation have been repeatedly blocked by the authorities, while his wife was fired from her job with no reason given.
The Occupy Central, or Umbrella Movement campaigned for Beijing to withdraw an Aug, 31, 2014 electoral reform plan, which it rejected as "fake universal suffrage," and to allow publicly nominated candidates to run for chief executive in 2017.
The plan, which offered a one-person, one-vote in 2017 elections for chief executive, but required candidates to be vetted by Beijing, was voted down on June 18, 2015 by 28 votes to eight in Hong Kong's Legislative Council, leaving the city with its existing voting arrangements still in place.
Reported by Wong Siu-san and Sing Man for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Ai Shi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.