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Christian Times: China's crackdown on human rights lawyers, rights advocates continues

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Christian Times
By Suzette Gutierrez Cachila
21 June, 2016

■ Human rights lawyers in China remain as the government's targets in its effort to silence critics.

About two weeks ago, three women who protested against the incarceration of their husbands, were taken by police. They were released the following day, but they still have not heard any news about their husbands.
Pro-democracy activist Lui Yuk-lin holds a portrait of
Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang during a protest
calling for the release of Pu and other political prisoners,
outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong July 6, 2014.
(Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

The women's husbands were human rights lawyers who have been held by police for a year now and have not been allowed to communicate with their families.

"There is no way to know the physical situation of my husband," said Wang Qiaoling, one of the women who protested, according to Christian Science Monitor. "I have not seen him since they took him away July 10."

Their case is among the hundreds of human rights lawyers and activists that have been detained with false charges following a crackdown that began last year. According to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, more than 300 of them have been affected by the crackdown targeting human rights advocates as of May 2016.

Of these, more than 260 were detained temporarily, some of whom have been released and about 25 still being held by authorities. Thrity-nine were forbidden to go out of the country, 12 were released on bail and at least one was put under house arrest.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China conducted a hearing in May to investigate the Chinese government's activities "to stifle critical discussion of its human rights record and repressive policies."

"Recent cases represent an escalation of China's efforts to blunt scrutiny of its rights record and criticism of government policies," CECC said. China's "heavy-handed tactics" to keep critics quiet are no longer limited within its borders but have become global in reach, according to the CECC.

Some of the methods being used by Chinese authorities include pressuring other nations to "crack down" on those who criticize Beijing, abduction of booksellers from Hong Kong and harassment of foreign human rights activists' families, CECC said.

According to researcher Maya Wang from Human Rights Watch, China's crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists shows only one side of the government's strategy to silence others who voice out their criticisms against the present leadership.

"The purpose is to send a message out to civil society," Wang said, Christian Science Monitor reports. "The message is that the party is in control and no one will be allowed to subvert the state by championing their own version of China's future."

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"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
—Mrs. Laura Bush

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