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Lawyers Urge Solidarity With Chinese Colleagues



Thursday, June 9, 2011


“I'll bet that there will be others in the future who, like me, will become increasingly mute…
Maybe everyone should learn from me and be a tortoise hiding its head, for it’s because I’ve done this
that not a single hair on my body has been harmed. Of course,
perhaps there’s been a huge earthquake inside my heart.”
—     lawyer Li Tiantian’s blog entry, posted after her return home after two months of secret detention
On the 22nd anniversary of the violent crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, Chinese authorities are engaged in the most severe crackdown on lawyers and human rights defenders since 1989. Just as the protestors who gathered in Tiananmen Square in 1989 called for democratic reform, today, many of China’s human rights lawyers have developed a deep-rooted conviction that the rule of law is not merely a superficial gloss—that it in fact represents a framework for justice that applies equally to all, and with the power to hold even the State that created it accountable.

China has repeatedly avowed its commitment to the rule of law but in recent months has taken violent steps to silence its human rights lawyers. Lawyers are essential to the establishment and maintenance of the rule of law; they play an integral part in the mechanisms that lead to the even-handed and predictable enforcement of laws. As United Nations General Assembly has unanimously recognized, there is nothing disloyal or subversive about a lawyer defending alleged criminals, unpopular clients, or whistleblowers working to bring official corruption to light.
Li Tiantian is among the wave of lawyers, human rights defenders, and activists who have been arbitrarily detained by the government since February, in apparent response to fears of a Chinese “Jasmine” revolution. Lawyers who have been disappeared, detained, tortured and beaten, include:
·         Tang Jitian, disappeared in February; after three weeks he was released to house arrest
·         Teng Biao, disappeared in February for 70 days
·         Jiang Tianyong, disappeared in February for two months
·         Liu Shihui, missing since February
·         Tang Jingling, charged with “inciting subversion of state power” in March
·         Li Fangping, disappeared for five days in April
·         Ni Yulan, criminally detained since April and held on unspecified charges
·         Jin Guanghong, disappeared tortured for ten days in April
·         Li Xiongbing, disappeared for three days in May
As fellow lawyers, we repudiate these attacks on our Chinese counterparts. At this time, when so many of our Chinese colleagues are being silenced, it is imperative that we speak out on their behalf in order to ensure that this disturbing abuse does not successfully quash their efforts to establish the rule of law in China.
The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers (http://www.csclawyers.org) 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.
Encourage your local Bar Association to support Chinese lawyers.
For more information and address information for open letters, please send a request to jchia@law.fordham.edu

Lawyers Urge Solidarity With Chinese Colleagues
“I'll bet that there will be others in the future who, like me, will become increasingly mute…
Maybe everyone should learn from me and be a tortoise hiding its head, for it’s because I’ve done this
that not a single hair on my body has been harmed. Of course,
perhaps there’s been a huge earthquake inside my heart.”
—     lawyer Li Tiantian’s blog entry, posted after her return home after two months of secret detention
On the 22nd anniversary of the violent crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, Chinese authorities are engaged in the most severe crackdown on lawyers and human rights defenders since 1989. Just as the protestors who gathered in Tiananmen Square in 1989 called for democratic reform, today, many of China’s human rights lawyers have developed a deep-rooted conviction that the rule of law is not merely a superficial gloss—that it in fact represents a framework for justice that applies equally to all, and with the power to hold even the State that created it accountable.
China has repeatedly avowed its commitment to the rule of law but in recent months has taken violent steps to silence its human rights lawyers. Lawyers are essential to the establishment and maintenance of the rule of law; they play an integral part in the mechanisms that lead to the even-handed and predictable enforcement of laws. As United Nations General Assembly has unanimously recognized, there is nothing disloyal or subversive about a lawyer defending alleged criminals, unpopular clients, or whistleblowers working to bring official corruption to light.
Li Tiantian is among the wave of lawyers, human rights defenders, and activists who have been arbitrarily detained by the government since February, in apparent response to fears of a Chinese “Jasmine” revolution. Lawyers who have been disappeared, detained, tortured and beaten, include:
·         Tang Jitian, disappeared in February; after three weeks he was released to house arrest
·         Teng Biao, disappeared in February for 70 days
·         Jiang Tianyong, disappeared in February for two months
·         Liu Shihui, missing since February
·         Tang Jingling, charged with “inciting subversion of state power” in March
·         Li Fangping, disappeared for five days in April
·         Ni Yulan, criminally detained since April and held on unspecified charges
·         Jin Guanghong, disappeared tortured for ten days in April
·         Li Xiongbing, disappeared for three days in May
As fellow lawyers, we repudiate these attacks on our Chinese counterparts. At this time, when so many of our Chinese colleagues are being silenced, it is imperative that we speak out on their behalf in order to ensure that this disturbing abuse does not successfully quash their efforts to establish the rule of law in China.
The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers (http://www.csclawyers.org) 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.
Encourage your local Bar Association to support Chinese lawyers.
For more information and address information for open letters, please send a request to jchia@law.fordham.edu



China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
Website: www.chinaaid.org