Rule of Law

International lawyers, judges call on Beijing to release detained rights lawyer Xie Yang

“Lawyers in China like Xie Yang are indispensable in ensuring human rights protection and upholding the rule of law in China” reads a statement issued by the International Commission of Jurists calling on Beijing to release Xie, who has reported torture during his incarceration.

Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang in an undated photo. Photo courtesy of activists.

Reported by Ng Yik-tung and Ho Shan for Radio Free Asia’s Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Read the original version of this report at the publisher’s website here

“Xie Yang’s arrest and prosecution seem to be in connection with his performing legitimate professional functions as a human rights lawyer. No lawyer should ever be subject to persecution for carrying out their professional duties.”

An international group of lawyers and judges on Tuesday called on Beijing to release human rights lawyer Xie Yang, who was detained during a nationwide crackdown on the legal profession beginning in July 2015, and whose trial at a court in the central province of Hunan was called off last month.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) called on the Chinese government to release Xie, who has reported torture during his incarceration.

“Xie Yang’s arrest and prosecution seem to be in connection with his performing legitimate professional functions as a human rights lawyer,” ICJ secretary general Sam Zarifi said in a statement on the group’s website.

“No lawyer should ever be subject to persecution for carrying out their professional duties,” Zarifi said. “Lawyers in China like Xie Yang are indispensable in ensuring human rights protection and upholding the rule of law in China.”

“The government should release Xie Yang immediately and conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation on the allegations that he has been subjected to torture,” he said.

The ICJ said Xie has been unable to communicate with his lawyers since he gave them his account of his torture at the hands of police, and is now represented by a government-appointed lawyer.

In the absence of evidence that he has committed a recognizable crime compatible with international human rights law, Xie should be immediately released, it said.

The group called on the government to bring to justice “any persons found to be responsible for the torture of Xie Yang.”

It said no statements made under torture or ill treatment should be admitted as evidence at any trial.

Xie’s wife Chen Guiqiu, who is currently in the United States, said the government lawyer is colluding with police, and can’t be trusted to provide a proper defense for her husband.

She also accused the authorities of breaking a previous promise to release Xie soon.

“They told me before that he would be released around the end of April, and that he’d probably have some restrictions on his freedom for a few days after that,” Chen told RFA. “The conditions attached to this were that we should stop speaking out.”

“Back then, I was still holding onto that illusion [so I didn’t give media interviews], but now they still haven’t released him, so I think that they were just playing for time and fobbing me off,” she said.

Full video ‘confession’

A source close to the authorities told RFA that the promise had been linked to Xie’s making a full video “confession.”

The offer had been made soon after the allegations of Xie’s torture had been published, the source said.

Fellow rights lawyer Wen Donghai said it was unacceptable for the authorities to force Xie to “confess” in such a way.

“From the family’s point of view, they are not going to accept this, but the authorities set a huge amount of store by it,” Wen said. “It’s really a bad way of doing things.”

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that this whole crackdown on lawyers has been really damaging, and there have been repercussions,” he said.

“There was never any law in the July 2015 crackdown cases, and now they are trying to make it look better,” he said.

Meanwhile, a resident of southern China’s Guangdong province said he has been fired from his job after he traveled to Changsha to show support for Xie ahead of the canceled trial on April 25.

Bu Yongzhu said he was sacked without notice from the company where he has worked for seven years.

“They told me I was fired on the spot, and that I couldn’t stay in the company dorm anymore,” Bu told RFA on Monday.

“It is very hard for me to accept this reality, but there is no law to speak of,” he said. “This is ruthless persecution.”

Bu said his bosses had denied any link between his trip to Changsha and his firing.

“I think it is pretty obvious, because it’s not just this court case,” Bu said. “I went to show support when [China’s Gandhi] Tang Jingling, [rights lawyer] Guo Feixiong [and others] were tried in Guangzhou,” he said.

“They also had a talk with me about those times, too,” he said, adding that he plans to seek arbitration from the government’s labor bureau.

Further Reading

Rights lawyer Xie Yang’s trial postponed

Guo Yushan and the predicament of NGOs in China

Friends gone to jail – Chinese activists Kou Yanding and Guo Yushan

This family nightmare is the price of political expression in China

Pan Haixia’s first letter to Guo Yushan, dated October 14

Pan Haixia’s second letter to Guo Yushan, dated November 7

Pan Haixia’s third letter to Guo Yushan, dated December 3

Pan Haixia’s fourth letter to Guo Yushan, dated January 31

An Open Letter to Procuratorate of Haidian District from senior researchers of the Transition Institute

The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Recommendation for the Indictment of Guo Yushan and He Zhengjun

Beijing police recommend charges against civil society advocates

Foreign NGOs under increasing pressure in China

China’s strike against NGOs: “into the pan and deep-fry”

Beijing social think-tank shut down amid crackdown

Silencing Guo Yushan

A letter to my husband Guo Yushan

Yang Zili and the paranoid regime

China crushes intellectual freedom even after decades of successful market reforms

The plight of China’s rights lawyers

In China, to destroy lives is legal, but to save them is not

Just man Guo Yushan

Lawyer Xi Xiangdong: Record of a meeting with He Zhengjun of the Transition Institute, detained on suspicion of “operating an illegal business”

In China, Civic Groups’ Freedom, and Followers, Are Vanishing

Exile in My Own Country – A Letter to Domestic Security Officer Li in Beijing

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