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Yitong Law Firm Closed for Defending Human Rights Cases

ICC Note:

A Chinese law firm has been closed for choosing to defend human rights cases in the country.

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3/6/09 China (ChinaAid) On March 3, a hearing was held for the Beijing Yitong Law Firm which is being forced to shut down for six months by the Haidian District Judicial Bureau. ChinaAid sources say the reason behind the forced closure is that authorities are punishing the firm because some of its attorneys signed an open letter in August 2008 asking that independent candidates be allowed to run in the election of the leadership of the Beijing Lawyers Association [equivalent to the U.S. Bar Association], and because the firm has provided representation for a number of human rights cases, including cases of persecution against house church Christians.

The forced closure of the firm is the most recent in a series of government tactics to shut down the firm in order to stop their human rights defense work. In October, government officials pressured the firm to fire some of their attorneys, including Li Subin, because they signed the open letter asking for the free election of the leadership of Beijing Lawyers Association. The implication for a free election is that the member lawyers would be able to choose their own leadership rather than accept the leaders the government chooses.

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