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Lawyers Call For an End to Police Harassment, Abuse and Detention of Supporters of Chen Guangcheng

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers  February 18, 2011

The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers calls on the Beijing Lawyers Association, the Shanghai Bar Association and other Chinese bar groups to investigate reports that fellow lawyers were among those beaten, detained, and harassed in the aftermath of a video publicizing blind, self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng's (陈光诚) extra-judicial detention. It has been reported that, on February 16, 2011, lawyers and other rights defenders planning to meet to discuss Chen’s case were in some cases placed under house arrest to prevent attendance, and, in other cases, seized, detained, and beaten after attending. In at least one case, prominent lawyer Tang Jitian, (唐吉田) has been seized from his apartment and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Reports indicate that, on February 16, 2011, a group of Chen's supporters planned a lunch to discuss how they could help Chen and his wife.  The police reportedly prevented lawyers Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵) and Li Heping (李和平) and legal scholar Xu Zhiyong (许志永) from attending by placing them under house arrest. After leaving the restaurant, Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) was reportedly seized and taken to the police station, where his interrogator grabbed him by the neck and smashed his head against the wall. Jiang has been told he will not be allowed to leave his home without permission until February 19.  Teng Biao (滕彪) was also picked up by police on the street and placed under house arrest.  Rights defenders Wang Lihong (王荔蕻), Mo Zhixu (莫之许), Chen Tianshi (陈天石), and blogger Liu Di (刘荻) were also prevented from attending the meeting and placed under house arrest. We understand that Li Heping, Li Fangping, Jiang Tianyong remain under harsh surveillance.  The swift and severe actions of the police are likely due in part to the fact that these lawyers are well-known rights defenders in Beijing who have previously been targeted by authorities for their work on politically sensitive cases.

Most significantly, two police officers, including a State Security district head, reportedly seized Tang Jitian (唐吉田) at his home that afternoon and took him to a police station in a police car. They also searched his person and his home and seized some of his personal belongings.  Reportedly, the police told Tang's friends that Beijing police officers took Tang from the police station to another, undisclosed location that same evening. It has been impossible to contact Tang Jitian since his detention on the afternoon of 16 February.  The Committee is greatly concerned that Tang's current whereabouts are unknown, and that Tang Jitian may be subjected to similar or worse ill-treatment as his colleague Jiang Tianyong.

Preemptive arrests and violent retaliation against those who would seek to hold the government to the rule of law is a serious abuse of state power The Committee urges the authorities to release Tang Jitian and to stop engaging in violent and abusive practices against peaceful advocates.  The Committee also calls on the Beijing Lawyers Association, the Shanghai Bar Association and other Chinese bar groups to investigate these incidents and provide support lawyers who have been targets of physical violence. 

The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers ( is a group of independent lawyers from outside China whose goal is to support lawyers in China in their quest to strengthen the rule of law there. The Committee, which is housed at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School in New York City, seeks to strengthen the role of lawyers and to promote their independence.

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