05/09/2011, 00.00
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No protection for lawyers who defend human rights activists in China

by Jian Mei
Published a long list of lawyers arrested because they defended human rights activists. Continues its systematic repression, to remove any defense to those who protest. In Shenzhen, for the World University Games in August, any protest will be punished as a serious offense.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - A long list of lawyers arrested, "disappeared" or under house arrest, has been published by the China Human Rigths Lawyers Concern Group (Chrlcg). Beijing seems determined to crush all dissent. Meanwhile, Shenzhen, host of the World University Games this summer, warns that any single act of protest will be considered a serious offense.

The defence lawyers of human rights and democracy activists have always had a difficult life, often they are denied the right to assist clients or are prevented from participating in trials. But now a systematic and daily persecution is taking place.

Many of them "disappear" without notice, for days and weeks, kidnapped by the police. Liu Shihua has been missing since Feb. 25 and since Feb. 19 Li Tiantian, no-one knows where they are.  Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong (held from 19 February to 19 April), Teng Biao (pictured February kidnapped from 19 to 29 April), Wu Zhenqi, Liu Zhengqing, Jin Guanghong, Liu Xiaoyuan, Li Fangping and Li Xiongbing have all returned home after forced absences of various lengths.

Once home, many of them have refused all dialogue with groups that defend human rights and say nothing of their detention, sometimes explaining that it is "better to do so." Experts believe that their release wa on condition of their silence on what took place during these days. The group Chinese Human Rigths Defenders (CHRD) is concerned that while in detention they are also subjected to torture.

Since April 6 Ni Yulan has been held in preventative detention, accused of "disturbing the peace", with her husband Dong Jiqin In 2008 they documented the case of forced evictions in Beijing to build grandiose Olympic projects.

Tang Jingling was taken away on February 22 and the family later learned that he is under "house arrest" at the learning Dashi centre in Panyu.

Yuan Xianchen is serving four years in prison after being arrested in 2008 for the open letter entitled "We need human rights, not Olympics."

The worst crackdown since 1998 began in February, for fear that Jasmine revolution style protests could erupt in China. Now the lawyers who defend rights activists are placed in a situation where in fact they have no protection and can be "carried away" at any time and held for months without having done anything, without formal charges, without informing relatives, without seeing anyone.

Meanwhile, the Office for Housing and Construction in Shenzhen, where 12 to 23 August University Olympics will take place have warned that over the next five months " any form of protest, including petitions to the authorities or to show the unpaid wages could be considered a crime. "Whoever organizes or takes part in petitions will be harshly punished," warned the statement. Construction companies are also advised that all their work will be suspended if they do not pay the workers.

Already in February Shenzhen reported 14 cases of "illegal petitions," including public disorder, damage to public facilities, even wearing clothes that express protest. While the 2008 Olympics, Beijing was concerned with maintaining a semblance of legality, the present China does not care about the image it projects, but will not tolerate protests.

During the Strategic and Economic Dialogue between China and the U.S., which begin today in Washington, CHRD has asked the U.S. to speak of human rights and their grave deterioration underway in China.
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