08/05/2019, 12.48
CHINA – UNITED STATES
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Human rights lawyer Chen Jiangang is safe in the US

by Wang Zhicheng

Last April he tried to fly to the US but was stopped at the airport. He had represented a colleague, Xie Gang, from the "709" group, and had accused the police of violence and torture. He feared threats of "enforced disappearance, torture, or even death.”

Beijing (AsiaNews) – A human rights lawyer, who was not allowed to leave China, arrived safely with his family in the United States.

In a statement issued yesterday by a friend, Chen Jiangang says he landed at New York's JFK airport Saturday evening.

In April he had tried to leave Beijing for Seattle, where he had been invited to study English for a year, but was blocked by Chinese authorities.

Chen was one of many human rights lawyers who fell victims of a harsh crackdown in 2015 when about 300 of them were arrested. The police operation was dubbed "709”, because it began on 9 July of that year.

Human rights lawyers, many of them Protestant or Catholic, took advantage of Chinese law, despite its limits, to represent peasants victims of land grabs, underground Christian communities, members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, as well as dissidents.

Many lawyers were tried and convicted. Several of them gave a video confession of their guilt, emerging from prison physically and psychologically weakened from torture.

Chen represented one of the most prominent lawyers, Xie Yang, and accused the police of using torture and violence against his colleague.

On 3 May he was seized by the police along with his wife and two children and later placed under house arrest.

"Merely for following and defending the law in normal practice, I have met naked threats delivered in my face by officials representing the Chinese government," Chen said in Sunday's statement.

"Such threats have put me in imminent danger of enforced disappearance, torture, or even death."

Chen did not say how he came to leave China, but thanked friends and human rights organisations for their help. "Without them, our family would not have made it to freedom," he said.

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