Human rights lawyer criminally detained on unspecified charges

Friday, November 3, 2017

Wang Qiaoling (left) and Li Wenzu (right),
wives of two human rights lawyers who
were imprisoned during the 709 incident,
testify to U.S. officials about China's
human rights abuses. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Shenyang, Liaoning—Nov. 3, 2017) After nearly a month of no information, the family a human rights lawyer who fought legal battles on behalf of wrongly imprisoned attorneys revealed that she had been criminally detained in China’s northeastern Liaoning province.

A stalwart defender of human rights, Li Yuhan, last messaged her brother on Oct. 9, saying that the Heping Sub-bureau of the Shenyang Municipal Public Security Bureau had seized her. However, when her family searched for details about her detainment, they found that the bureau had blocked all relevant information. A police officer surnamed Liu confirmed that she had been detained by public security, saying that he possessed her power of attorney document.

Li has served in the front lines of human rights defense since she became an attorney in 1990. During 1991, she started practicing law in Liaoning, only to flee to Beijing in 2009 to escape government persecution. She began working Dunxin Law Firm in the Chinese capital and assisted lawyers arrested in the famed 709 incident. This occurrence, named for its start date, July 9, 2015, marked China’s largest crackdown on human rights in recent years, with hundreds of lawyers being detained and summoned for questioning. Many suffered long-term prison sentences and severe torture.

One of her most prominent clients, human rights lawyer Wang Yu, was taken into police custody during this crackdown on the false charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” Her charge later changed, and on Jan. 8, 2016, officials formally arrested her for “subversion of state power.” Since her release on bail in August 2016, officials placed Wang under long-term house arrest in Inner Mongolia, along with her entire family.

The Communist Party has not yet provided reasons for Li's detention, but her imprisonment follows an increasingly alarming pattern of human rights suppression in China. Under the helm of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has pretended to promote rule of law while carrying out illegal means, such as torture, in order to pry confessions from individuals it wrongly views as threats to the state, including lawyers and pastors. On Feb. 7, 2017, several Chinese human rights lawyers living abroad signed a letter speaking out against such treatment, which reads: “Torture has always been a chronic illness in China’s judiciary … The main purpose of torture is not only used during the investigation stage to extort a confession but sometimes purely for humiliation and physical and mental torment. This cruel method causes detainees and people serving prison sentences to spiritually surrender. This humiliating type of torture is especially focused on prisoners of conscience.”

On Nov. 1, the wives of other lawyers who had been imprisoned in the 709 incident accompanied Lawyer Wang Qiushi to the detention center to meet with Li.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Li and the lawyers involved in the 709 case, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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