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3/8/11 China (CrossRhythms) – A Chinese lawyer seized by police in a major crackdown on human rights activists warned Release International days before his arrest that his detention and probable torture were inevitable.

High profile lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who has campaigned for religious freedom in China, was seized by police on February 19. The authorities have refused to tell his family where they are holding him or to reveal details of any charges against him. Other lawyers have also been arrested.

Jiang and others have been seized in a crackdown designed to prevent a repeat of the ‘Jasmine’ revolution on the streets of Beijing. The authorities have been out in force after attempts to mobilise pro-democracy campaigners using social networks.

In an interview just days before his arrest Jiang told Release International, which campaigns on behalf of the persecuted Church, that his own abduction – and likely torture – was just a matter of time:

‘My only hope is that the day comes later,’ he said, ‘but I cannot avoid it at all.’

Jiang (41) was a co-signatory to an open letter condemning the current police crackdown on lawyers and human rights activists. One outspoken lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, has been missing since April 2010.

Originally charged with subversion, Gao had given a detailed account of the torture he said he had endured at the hands of the authorities. Jiang said he fully expected to suffer the same fate:

‘The authorities tied Gao up and beat him continually. They used an electric shock baton on his penis. As a human being I am definitely afraid of such torture, but that cannot stop us doing the right thing – the pursuit of justice.’

Jiang said the authorities were using torture to try to intimidate lawyers and human rights activists. ‘It is a deterrent to other human rights lawyers,’ he said. ‘They want to fill our hearts with terror and fear. They also imply that the treatment Gao Zhisheng suffered could also happen to us.’

Jiang was arrested on February 19 while visiting his brother. Three days earlier the authorities had arrested him in a restaurant, where he had been discussing the case of another lawyer who has been put under house arrest.

According to reports he was taken to a police station for interrogation where his head was knocked against a wall. He was released five hours later, then rearrested on the 19th. The authorities have refused to tell his wife where they are holding him or whether he has been charged.

Jiang, a Christian, has represented cases of religious persecution in China and has testified before the US House of Representatives on issues of religious freedom. When he returned from the US he was forcibly arrested and his wife beaten, in front of their terrified seven-year-old daughter.

He told Release he always knew his work as a human rights lawyer in China could get him into trouble. ‘I knew what I was doing was very dangerous,’ he said. ‘I hope God will protect me and my family; but on that day when things happen I can only lift this up to his hand.’

‘Please pray that the Lord will strengthen me and give me wisdom.’

‘This is a brave man who loves his country and wants nothing more than fairness and justice,’ said Andy Dipper, the CEO of Release International, a ministry to persecuted Christians.

‘In cracking down on Jiang and other lawyers, all the authorities are doing is proving their point – that there is still a crying need for human rights to be respected in China.

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