Chinese Criminal Defense Lawyers Need Our Help

The 2008 Olympics are upon us. While I am not a huge Olympics fan I do enjoy the scrutiny China is facing over their horrible human rights record.

What is not talked about as much is the persecution of criminal defense lawyers in China. Human Rights in China is promoting awareness of the abuse, arrest, and harassment of defense lawyers in China. From HRIC

The detention or harassment of lawyers in China for providing a zealous defense of their clients is of serious concern. More serious, however, are reports of physical attacks carried out on lawyers in China. In 2007, lawyers continued to be targeted for attacks. For example, Li Heping (李和平), a Beijing-based rights-defense lawyer, was kidnapped, beaten, and tortured with electric rods by a group of unidentified masked men on September 29, 2007, the weekend before National Day celebrations in China. Li was held in a basement outside Beijing until early September 30, when he was dumped in the woods outside the city. As he was beaten, Li was told to leave Beijing with his family or face the consequences. When he returned home, Li discovered that his license to practice law and other personal belongings were missing. His computer had also been completely erased.

I urge you to look seriously at the situation of lawyers in China, which remains dangerous. Hold China to its promise for a “Free and Open” Olympics by demanding the release of lawyers in China, like Chen Guangcheng, Guo Feixiong, and other lawyers in prison. We especially urge the immediate release of all individuals in who the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined to be in detention arbitrarily and in violation of international norms. These individuals include: Shi Tao, Chen Guangcheng, Yao Fuxin, Hu Shigen, and Li Chang.

Criminal defense attorney’s are the last line of defense against tyranny. I hope more criminal defense lawyers will find a way to support our Chinese counterparts. The best way to do that is up to each individual. Boycotting the Olympics is a popular gesture. However, I don’t often watch the Olympics.

I also purchase a lot of goods made in China. I believe commerce and trade helps all Chinese, including attorneys.

Therefore, I will fight this injustice like any other. I will blog about it and ask fellow bloggers to share some time, copy, and effort on the subject. Visit the HRIC website for more information.

I would also encourage local bar association to endorse this press release from HRIC.

[Insert name of Bar Association] Condemns Ongoing Harassment of Lawyers in China
An independent bar-lawyers who can do their job without harassment, detention, or fear of reprisal-is vital to developing the rule of law. [Insert name of Bar Association] is concerned over reports of ongoing harassment of lawyers in China, including through detentions, surveillance, and physical assault. These reports suggest that lawyers are unable to do their jobs as zealous advocates for their clients.

As one lawyer in China noted, “If you want to be a legal professional, don’t be a lawyer. If you want to be a lawyer, don’t take on criminal cases. If you want to take on criminal cases, don’t collect evidence. If you want to collect evidence, don’t collect from witnesses. If you can’t follow these rules, be prepared to report to a detention center.” The [Insert name of Bar Association] deplores the climate of fear in which Chinese lawyers work and calls on the Chinese government to investigate any and all reports of intimidation and harassment of lawyers.

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One response to “Chinese Criminal Defense Lawyers Need Our Help”

  1. Steve Bush says:

    I commend you for speaking out on this issue. China’s star is rising and there is a lot of interest in the country now. People who do not like lawyers should think about what it would be like to live in a country where lawyers are not allowed to zealously defend their clients.

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