07/13/2015, 00.00
CHINA
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Over 100 human right lawyers and activists arrested on charges of criminal association

The government unleashes a crackdown on those who defend the rights of the population. Two days of raids lead to the arrest of 106 people in 15 cities across the country. The authorities claim they were plotting to undermine social harmony". Six people are indicted.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - A series of weekend raids unleashed by the National Public Security has led to the arrest of more than 100 lawyers and human rights activists. The operation was conducted in 15 cities across the country, and coordinated by the relevant ministry.

Those arrested include some of the most famous defenders of the population, protagonists of major trials in recent years. The police speak of a "hard blow to a criminal gang that was trying to destroy social harmony".

National Security particularly targeted the associates of the Beijing Fengrui law firm. According to today’s People's Daily, “a platform since July 2012 to draw attention to sensitive cases, seriously disturbing social order". In fact, the study advocated for the liberation of several Chinese nationals victims of abuse and harassment by the authorities.

The director of the Fengrui, Zhou Shifeng, his assistant Liu Sixin, lawyers Quanzhang Wang, Huang Liqun and Wang Yu (along with her husband Bao Longjun) were indicted for "serious violations of the law." According to the criminal law, police can hold them for 37 days before having to validate the arrest before a judge. The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group - an association based in Hong Kong, which monitors the activities of lawyers in China - says that of the 106 arrested, 82 were released.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said the action showed the Ministry of Public Security’s interpretation of “disturbing public order” was ever-expanding. “That these lawyers are a ‘major criminal gang’ is a new and serious allegation, one that demonstrates the authorities’ willingness to warp the law beyond all recognition”.

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