After Beijing lawyers Li Chunfu and Zhang Kai handled the case of Jiang Xiqing, a Falun Gong practitioner who died under suspicious circumstances, they were beaten by Chongqing police. Since then, a wave of protests has broken out among networks of lawyers in China. These two lawyers have been continuously appealing to the relevant authorities in Chongqing to defend their rights. Six additional lawyers have since gone to Chongqing to support them.
On May 20, the two lawyers and their attorneys, Rui Tianpeng and Tang Jitian, met with Beijing Municipal Attorney Association Secretary General Li Bingru, Feng Xinqan of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice’s Attorney Management Department, and four other government officials at the office of Chongqing’s Municipal Bureau of Justice Attorney Association.
Secretary-General Li Bingru is reported to have told them, “You two are not to be used by hostile foreign forces. You should return to Beijing right away and let the designated organizations take care of this matter, as it takes time to solve these problems.” However, he mentioned nothing about punishing the assailants or safeguarding the attorneys’ rights.
The attitude of the Beijing Attorney Association towards this case has aroused strong anger among lawyers. Attorney Jiang Tianyong, of the Beijing Gaobo Longhua Law Firm was very angry after he heard about it. He said, “We were happy at first when we heard that the Beijing Attorney Association has sent people to Chongqing to take care of the matter and we thought they would have safeguarded our attorneys’ rights. But later on I heard that they were in such a hurry to send these two lawyers back to Beijing and told them something like they should not let themselves be used by others and so on, I think it is an insult to lawyers.”
It is reported that attorneys Li and Zhang have indicated that they do plan to return to Beijing but they haven’t decided exactly when. They are currently still in Chongqing urging local authorities to punish the assailants severely. However, Chongqing authorities haven not given any reply to their demands as of yet.
On May 17, nearly 60 Chinese legal experts and lawyers held a seminar in Beijing because of this specific case of the two lawyers being beaten by the police. The participants all condemned the police’s actions and and the fact that so many local authorities have become mafia-style organizations. Dozens of lawyers also raised banners saying “Strongly condemn the torture of professional lawyers by the Chongqing Public Security Bureau.” They also demanded that local authorities bring the assailants to justice. This is the first time that Chinese lawyers have joined together to protest against local authorities’ criminal activities and raise banners.