What many expected and feared would happen to Beijing lawyer Jiang Tianyong came to pass Thursday morning. A veteran human rights attorney, Jiang, 38, had just returned on Tuesday from a four-week speaking tour in the United States, with four other human rights lawyers, according to ChinaAid, when he was seized by Public Security Bureau officers.
ChinaAid is a human rights NGO that actively supports persecuted Christians in China. Their report states that Jiang and his wife were leaving home to take their seven year-old daughter to school when they were prevented from leaving, and “four officers grabbed him violently and forced him into a police car.” At the same time, the report alleges that a police officer named Wang Tao threw Jiang’s wife to the ground and began beating her as the child cried helplessly.
Jiang was held at a Public Security Office for over 13 hours, and was allowed just one meal, the ChinaAid report says. “A dozen human rights lawyers rallied in front of the station to demand Jiang's release and to show support for their colleague. He was released at 9:26 PM (Beijing time) to return home to his family,” the report says.
Amnesty International (AI) UK said on Nov. 20: “The police did not provide [Jiang] with any documentation authorizing his detention. When Jiang challenged the lawfulness of his detention the police told him that he was held for 'attacking the police'.”
Police also questioned his seven year-old daughter at school while he was in custody, according to AI (UK).
Jiang has frequently provided legal counsel to migrant laborers, earthquake victims, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, and attorneys Gao Zhisheng and Chen Guangchen—all of whom are persecuted by the Communist regime. Jiang’s tenure at the Beijing Global Law Firm was terminated in April, and his license to practice law was revoked last June.
The Epoch Times reported on Jiang’s testimony of Oct. 29 before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (“Christian Attorneys Give Stunning Testimony Before Lantos Commission,” held in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill. There, Jiang predicted correctly, “When President Obama visits China next month, I will be forced to stay home.”
When Jiang returned to Beijing on Tuesday, knowing that his home was being heavily monitored, he and a fellow colleague did not go home, according to Annee Kahler, media coordinator for ChinaAid based on their sources. Kahler said that Human Rights in China reported that Jiang did go home.
Jiang and the five other Chinese human rights defenders on tour in the U.S. had said that President Obama should meet with human rights lawyers and speak out on religious freedom while visiting China. The ChinaAid report said that Jiang and a fellow legal researcher attempted to arrange a meeting with President Obama before he left China, hoping for U.S. acknowledgment of the current dire situation.
After receiving a phone call from the U.S. Embassy informing him that Obama would not be meeting with the group, 200 police officers immediately pulled up, and interrogated Jiang and one of his colleagues in the hotel for over an hour, the report said.
The report says that the attorneys were told that they would not be allowed to meet Obama and would "be held until he left" on Wednesday afternoon.
Jiang said at the Lantos Commission Oct. 29 hearing cited above that he and his family have been repeatedly threatened, detained, and held under close government surveillance. The secret police often stalk, harass and threaten human rights defenders, he said at the hearing. He was stalked for defending lawyer Gao Zhisheng and placed under house arrest for five months. He has been repeatedly placed under house arrest for June 4 and Oct. 1 anniversaries, the Beijing Olympics, and state visits by important diplomats.
At this Lantos hearing, three human rights attorneys, including Jiang, gave oral testimony and two attorneys gave written testimony. Showing perhaps prescience, Lantos Commission Chairman Frank Wolf, Congressman from northern Virginia, warned: “If any of them are arrested or harassed when they get back, I will do everything I can to create as big a problem as possible for the Obama Administration and for the Chinese government.”
Despite Wolf’s promise of support, it was nearly a certainty that they would face reprisals when they returned home. However, Jiang like the other attorneys at this hearing are practicing Christians who belong to the “illegal” house churches and not the state-run “patriotic” churches. Their faith may provide them the strength to face the hostile legal environment in Communist China.