Announcement of the 5th Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Day; Call for one-person-one-photo messages
May 22, 2021
The fifth day of Chinese human rights lawyers will be held practically on July 9, 2021.
The Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Day was established on July 9, 2017 in recognition of the tireless efforts of Chinese human rights lawyers in their struggle for justice and the rule of law. It commemorates the mass arrest of lawyers that took place on July 9, 2015 and celebrates the ideals, courage and tenacity of human rights lawyers in China.
Most human rights lawyers are neither famous nor wealthy, but they have unquestionably stood out in the Chinese legal community, elevating the profession to a more dignified level. Over the past two decades, they have represented clients in all aspects of human rights and public interest including, but not limited to, freedom of speech, freedom of belief, political dissent, property rights, women’s rights, labor rights, minority rights, discrimination, food security and redress for wrongful convictions and other grievances. Their clients are from all walks of Chinese society, including political dissidents, religious believers, human rights defenders, civil society activists, farmers who have lost land due to illegal appropriation, factory workers, NGO practitioners, private entrepreneurs, writers, journalists, ordinary Internet users, street vendors, victims of miscarriages of justice, and even Chinese Communist Party officials who have become prisoners in the so-called anti-corruption campaign. Their clients are often either opponents of the authoritarian regime or people whose rights and dignity are violated.
Human rights lawyers have performed their duties in the process of defending their clients under the law, but precisely because they take the law and their duties seriously, they are the object of hostility. increasingly strong on the part of the authorities. Since the emergence of the legal rights movement in the early 2000s, these lawyers have suffered worse repercussions for their work; many have been arrested and tortured, suspended and deregistered. But the mass arrests of July 9, 2015, marked the start of a wider persecution of human rights lawyers by Chinese authorities. Dozens of human rights lawyers and their assistants were suddenly arrested and hundreds of lawyers threatened across the country. The imprisoned lawyers were victims of physical and mental abuse. They were deprived of legal representation, forcibly injected with unknown drugs, forced to confess. Over the past two decades, more than 70 human rights lawyers have been terminated, and around 40 of them have had their licenses revoked or canceled in the past five years. At least 50 human rights lawyers have been illegally prevented from leaving the country.
Although most of the 709 detainees have been released, the imprisonment of human rights lawyers has not ceased. Today, 13 human rights lawyers remain in prison in China and one has been missing for more than three years.
Although human rights lawyers are a small group among the half a million Chinese lawyers, they are among those who hold a torch lighting the way to the rule of law and freedom for the Chinese people. They emerged during the most dynamic period of China’s reform and opening up, and now face great difficulties and dangers. In a totalitarian state with an overwhelming state apparatus, they have opted for a challenge that few of their peers would be ready to take up, but they have no regrets and hold their heads high in their vocation. They and their families endured suffering and setbacks, but remained resilient and unwavering. They made history and they are paving the way for the future.
For this special day, we invite members of the public, wherever you are and wherever you are, to send a message of recognition and encouragement to human rights lawyers in China by:
· Print or write your message on a sheet of paper (or display it on your laptop screen);
· Take a photo of yourself with your message (a group photo is welcome); and
· Send it to [email protected] with your name, profession and location. Your email address will be carefully kept and not shared or used for any other purpose.
Deadline: June 10, 2021
We will spread your message in a video collage titled “Messages to Human Rights Lawyers in China”.
We hope you will join us in celebrating Chinese human rights lawyers.
Humanitarians China (United States), ChinaAid (United States), China Change (United States), Judicial Reform Foundation (Taiwan), New School for Democracy (Taiwan), Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network