04/14/2009, 00.00
CHINA

Defense attorney for Falun Gong beaten bloody by police

A brutal attack yesterday in Chengdu, in broad daylight. When the police arrived, the attackers said they were public officials, and no charges were filed. An alarming rise in violence and intimidation against lawyers who defend human rights.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The lawyer Cheng Hai was beaten bloody late yesterday morning in Chengdu, by public officials, only because - the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders claims - he defends a follower of the religious group Falun Gong.

Cheng was going to see the mother of Tao Yuan, a member of the group Falun Gong who is in prison in Chengdu for "publicizing an evil cult." Cheng is asking that he be released for medical reasons. But he was surrounded by 4-5 people who violently beat him, continuing to kick him even when he was on the ground.

The lawyer called the police, but the attackers said they were officials from the Jinyang General Management Office (district of Wuhou, Chengdu), a government agency charged with coordinating the various offices of the police and the courts, and the ultimate guarantor of social order. They called the incident a "misunderstanding." The police left without taking any report of the beating.

Cheng is an expert lawyer, a member of the Yitong law firm in Beijing until a few months ago, when he and some other colleagues were dismissed for defending human rights and asking for the direct election of the heads of the Beijing Lawyer’s Association, who are currently appointed by the Communist Party.

Wang Songlian, CHRD’s research coordinator, points out that the beatings took place "on the same day the ‘National Human Rights Action Plan of China’ was launched [by the government]." The group charges that violence is increasing in the country against lawyers who defend human rights, as in the recent beating of Yang Zaixin (in the photo), who helps farmers in the county of Hepu (Guangxi) who have been deprived of their land.

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