(TibetanReview.net, Jul12, 2015) – China has detained or questioned dozens of human rights lawyers, including some of the country’s more prominent “rights defenders”, over the past few days in a nationwide sweep unprecedented for its coordinated timing, reported ft.com Jul 11, citing London-based international human right group Amnesty International. The move followed the passage of China’s controversial national security law which gives unbridled power to the country’s security apparatus to target anyone under vaguely defined powers.
The report noted that pressure on prominent social media personalities, NGOs, media organisations, and members of ethnic minorities had intensified as Xi Jinping, head of the ruling Communist Party, consolidated his power.
Many of the lawyers had simply disappeared, at the hands of the security authorities, following campaigns in state media over the past few months aimed at discrediting human rights lawyers by using smears on their personal lives and claims that they had paid demonstrators to drum up public support for controversial cases.
The more than 50 lawyers detained in at least seven provinces or cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, were, according to Amnesty International’s China researcher William Nee, active on social media.
The report noted that all the lawyers and activists involved had taken on cases involving free speech, human rights or abuse of state power. Some had taken on religious cases, including the demolition of Christian house churches or defending followers of the banned Falun Gong sect.
One of the most prominent disappeared lawyers is Wang Yu, who was abducted from her house around dawn on Jul 10, prompting about 100 lawyers from across China to sign a petition in her support. Several other lawyers and staff from the Fengrui Law Firm where she worked had also disappeared, the report noted.
Some of the lawyers who were questioned and released were warned not to interfere in Ms Wang’s case, the report cited Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Concern Group (CHRNC) as saying.