ICC Note: More details are coming out on the roundup of human rights lawyers in China. When a police action like this is shrouded in secrecy, it opens up the possibility of many other serious ramifications. We need to keep these lawyers in China, and their fight for human rights, including the freedom of religion, in our prayers.
By Staff Reporter
07/20/2015 China (Human Rights Watch)
Thirteen people who were detained in the course of an unprecedented nationwide attack on human rights lawyers remain in police custody incommunicado, leaving them vulnerable to torture and other abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. Police have not informed the families of the detainees of their whereabouts, nor given them access to lawyers. Six other lawyers and activists have disappeared, and it remains unclear whether they have also been detained by authorities.
Since July 10, 2015, 233 human rights lawyers and activists have been taken into custody across the country as authorities have accused them of being involved with the activism of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, which appears to be at the center of the crackdown. While most of the 200 have been released after being threatened for supporting the firm, 14 remain in custody while 6 others have disappeared, according to the Hong Kong-based NGO Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. Of the 14, 8 have been criminally detained, 3 have been placed under “designated residential surveillance,” and 3 have been placed under other forms of police custody. Only 1 of these 14 has had access to a lawyer.
“Detaining anyone incommunicado and in secret leaves them at high risk of torture or ill-treatment, especially when they are detained on politicized charges,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Beijing’s blatant failure to guarantee even basic protections for these individuals demonstrates the government’s extraordinary disdain for rule of law.”