Six months after a sudden series of arrests of human rights lawyers and activists in China, a group of nongovernment organizations and activists have called on the Chinese authorities to release the individuals who are still detained.
About 14 lawyers and 22 other citizens are still under some form of arrest, according to the letter initiated by the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group and the Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network.
The letter was cosigned by 106 NGOs from around the world and made available on the website of the Human Rights Campaign in China.
The letter says that the crackdown on rights activists last July makes a mockery of recent Party policy pronouncements that China would be “administered … in accordance with the law.”
Depriving lawyers themselves of their human rights will ensure that those they seek to defend also find no protection from state power, the letter indicated.
The July crackdown is the largest suppression of rights lawyers since 2003. At least 316 lawyers, assistants, rights activists, and family members have been incriminated, put under house arrest, criminally detained, or otherwise arrested or disappeared. Propaganda organs have also attempted to discredit the activists and their families, claiming they somehow act at the behest of foreign forces, who are never identified.