China Lawyer Who Fought Unfair Arrest is Arrested (Updated)

The Australian and the Los Angeles Times both report on the work of Xu Zhiyong and his recent arrest. From the L.A. Times:

Xu’s law firm was one of the few in China willing to represent the parents of the nearly 300,000 children sickened and the six who died last year as a result of dangerous milk additives.

Since its founding in 2003, the firm, also known as Gongmeng, has not shied away from sensitive topics. It challenged China’s secret detention centers, the so-called black jails, after a 27-year-old graphic designer who was arrested for failing to carry his identification card died in custody. Xu represented an editor of the hard-hitting newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily who was arrested in 2004 on what were widely seen as politically motivated bribery charges.

This summer, Xu’s firm joined the chorus of voices opposing a requirement that all computers sold in China come preinstalled with software that would filter out pornographic or controversial content.

But Xu is by no means a dissident, preferring to work within a system he has hoped to improve, not overthrow.

And from the Australian:

“I’m prepared for the worst to happen,” the activist Beijing lawyer, 38, told The Australian only days before he was arrested. “I have no fear.”

He was prepared for such an event after his well-known but politically risky legal-aid group Open Constitution Initiative, also known as Gongmeng, had been shut down on July 17 after a morning raid by Tax Department officials.

Dr Xu said his aim was to protect the rights of all civilians and especially those who protected the dignity of law and constitution of China.

Now a growing number of non-government organisations who, like OCI, operate with the assistance of foreign funding are being harassed.

Journalist Susan Jakes also writes about Xu, whom she has known since 2004, for China Beat.

Update: The Chinese Law Prof blog has posted more links about this case, including the original sanctioning decision from the State Tax Administration.

August 6, 2009 8:42 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Law, Politics