China - Human rights lawyers detained and tortured after the “709 crackdown” of 2015

Since the 709 Crackdown in 2015, arrests and threats against human rights lawyers and their families continue. At the end of April 2017, Li Heping, a prominent human rights lawyer, was convicted of “subversion of state power” after two years detention. In a secret trial, a court in Tianjin sentenced him to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve, meaning that he was to be released but could still be arrested again at any time. He was accused of repeatedly using the internet and foreign media interviews to discredit and attack China’s state power and the legal system. The court also accused Li of accepting foreign funding and employing paid defendants.
For many others the ordeal continues. The whereabouts of another lawyer, Wang Quanzhang, remain unknown. There were convincing reports of acts of torture committed on Jiang Tianyong while in detention. Tianyong was detained without a trial and has been reported missing since November 2016. Proof of torture of another lawyer, Xie Yang, who had also been detained since November 2016, was presented by his representative lawyer in January 2017. The transcript of a conversation describes the details of the physical and mental abuse he has been subjected to while in detention. On 12 January 2017 human rights lawyer Li Chunfu emerged from nearly 17 months in police custody in a shattered state, suffering from violent bouts of paranoia and with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. On 27 February 2017, eleven diplomatic missions in Beijing wrote a letter to Guo Shenkun – the Minister of Public Security – expressing their “growing concern over recent claims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in cases concerning detained human rights lawyers and other human rights defenders”.

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