A joint letter signed by the Bar Human Rights Committee has been sent today to President Xi Jinping, expressing ongoing concern over China’s treatment of lawyers.
The letter, coordinated by the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group and co-signed by bar associations, law academics and practicing lawyers from around the world, also marks the first anniversary of the “709 Crackdown” in which 709 Chinese human rights lawyers were arrested.
The letter notes that 23 people are still held under formal arrest following the 2015 crackdown, and highlights violations of law in the due process in the handling of the 709 cases, including the use of the board and vaguely defined national security-related crimes to justify prolonged pre-prosecution detention.
Also highlighted are abuses of power by China’s public security officers, who have attempted to coerce the 709 families to dismiss lawyers of their own choosing and have them replaced by the state-appointed lawyers. The majority of the detainees are still not allowed to meet the lawyers appointed by themselves or by their families, and their physical and psychological well-being is unknown.
The letter calls for the release all lawyers and others unlawfully detained, for proper access to counsel chosen freely by those detained, and to ensure that the rights of those detained, including their right to adequate medical treatment and visitation rights, are fully enforced.
Read a previous joint letter signed by BHRC, sent at the time of initial arrest
(Image credit: detained lawyer Wang Yu by Radio Free Asia)