Defending Rights in China: Roundtable discussion with five prominent Chinese human rights lawyers

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Five human rights or ‘rights protecting’ weiquan lawyers from China spoke at a roundtable event hosted by the Bar Human Rights Committee and the Law Society on Thursday 5th March.

One of the lawyers talked about the infamous Jiansanjiang incident which took place in Heilongjiang Province, northern China in March 2013. This case provoked worldwide concern at the treatment of the four lawyers detained and tortured whilst investigating an extra judicial detention centre which was holding falungong practitioners. The lawyer thanked UK lawyers for their concern and support.

Another lawyer talked about the case of human rights defender Cao Shunli, whose death in custody also caused an outcry both in and outside China.

A third lawyer talked about his own treatment in detention whilst being held for 87 days on false charges. He described in harrowing detail the physical and psychological abuse he endured. He also introduced two cases he was representing, of officials held under shuanggui, a parallel system of detention and interrogation managed by the communist party’s disciplinary committee which has become synonymous with reports of ill treatment and torture. Lawyers who attempt to take shuanggui cases receive ongoing threats and harassment.

The presentations were followed by a lively discussion touching on the kind of support the UK legal community can provide, the impact of the revised criminal procedure law, the role of the All China Lawyers Association in protecting Chinese lawyers and the support provided by growing numbers of China’s commercial lawyers to their embattled colleagues.

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