Chinese Lawyers Point to Widening Official Attacks, Harassment

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File photo of human rights lawyer Li Fangping in Beijing, April 3, 2008
File photo of human rights lawyer Li Fangping in Beijing, April 3, 2008

The Chinese government is continuing an apparent policy of nationwide harassment and physical attacks on the nation's lawyers, especially those involved in politically sensitive or high-profile cases, lawyers said.

Liu Zhengqing, a prominent rights attorney from the southern city of Guangzhou, was visited around midnight by four police officers in a hotel room while he was in Guangdong's Foshan city, defending a case, he told RFA.

The officers proceeded to search his room, he said.

"They didn't give a reason, nor did they produce any official documents," Liu said. "They just showed up out of the blue while I was asleep and opened the door and walked right in."

"They flipped through all of my case files. They said they were police, and that they had the power to search any Chinese citizen," he said.

He said he believed the visit to have been a form of deliberate harassment on the part of the authorities.

"I will definitely be pursuing this," Liu said.

Roughly handled

Meanwhile, top Beijing rights lawyer Li Fangping said he had been manhandled and roughly treated by officers from a state prosecution service.

The incident happened after Li traveled to the central province of Hunan to help local attorney Cai Ying with a case. Cai was illegally detained, while the officials used "a great deal of force" to shove Li around, he said.

"They gave no explanation whatsoever, nor did they show what rules [they were acting under]," Li said. "Two of them pushed me out of my room, so that I had minor injuries on my arms from where they had handled me."

"I was on the third floor about half a meter from the stairs, so it was very dangerous," he said. "One push could have sent me falling down them."

Li said such attacks and harassment are becoming more and more common for China's embattled legal profession.

"I am extremely concerned about this [because] I think they are pushing the boundaries all the time, and are abusing their powers of investigation to target lawyers," he said.

An employee who answered the phone at the Hunan provincial procuratorate declined to comment on the incident. "Sorry, I don't know about this," the employee said. "I don't know where you got this from."

'Illegal acts'

Xie Yang, a fellow lawyer who was at the scene, was also held under unofficial detention, Li said.

"We will be publicizing these illegal acts by the Hunan provincial procuratorate online, and calling on them to give us a reasonable explanation," he said.

"They should guarantee that lawyers will be treated with respect in future."

Last month, Chinese lawyers launched a signature campaign against moves by the government to formalize recent curbs on their profession and punish lawyers acting "outside of professional boundaries."

They also called on the head of the ruling Chinese Communist Party-backed All-China Lawyers' Association Wang Junfeng to resign over the controversial new rules, warning of a "large-scale infringement of the civil and political rights of lawyers, and Chinese citizens in general."

The dispute comes amid growing tensions between China's nascent legal profession and law enforcement agencies, who have denied lawyers the right to visit clients in detention in a number of high-profile political cases, including the detention of top rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and his defense attorney.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Comments (2)


from NYC

When the police & govt ignore the law & the Constitution, then you foster an atmosphere of lawlessness. When the govt disobeys the law, then why should ordinary citizens obey the law? What you have left is not a nation ruled by laws but a nation ruled by violence.

Jul 15, 2014 10:23 AM

Anonymous Reader

When asked about police brutality towards lawyers and others the party-state dislikes, prosecutors and police officials often play dumb. "What do you say happened? Who told you this? I haven't heard of this!" Similar to a mafioso or other lawless lout.

Jul 12, 2014 01:25 PM





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