Rights Lawyers Hit With Disbarment, Video Leak

Rights lawyer and former “Black Friday” detainee Sui Muqing has been stripped of his law license as punishment for his role in two politically sensitive cases, Hong Kong Free Press’ Catherine Lai reports:

Sui told HKFP on Tuesday: “I’m afraid the reason is that I’ve represented clients in too many human rights cases – the things I’ve said about my cases cannot be tolerated by the party.”

[…] Sui was given a notice by the Guangdong Department of Justice that said he was in violation of rules, citing past instances. It claimed that, when defending fellow lawyer in court in 2014, Sui stood up, walked, and spoke without permission many times, and did not comply with the court’s orders.

It also claimed that Sui had violated rules by bringing his cellphone into a meeting with his client – Sichuan activist – at a detention centre. It said he tried to bring out two photos and eight documents, and did not cooperate with police when they tried to stop him.

[…] During the visit with Chen cited by the notice, Sui was trying to photograph injuries his client had sustained from alleged mistreatment. [Source]

Sui’s case is the latest of a long line of reprisals against rights lawyers, including alleged torture, and comes amid continued efforts to enforce Party control of the legal system and demand loyalty from legal workers. It also follows news that fellow rights lawyer Yu Wensheng’s license was revoked last week in what he claimed was retaliation for an open letter, translated by CDT, criticizing top leader Xi Jinping. On Friday, Yu was detained by armed police while walking his 13-year-old son to school after issuing another open call for political reform. His own lawyer, Huang Hanzhong, described the claim that Yu was “disrupting public service” as “absurd” on Saturday. This week, state media and seemingly coordinated social media accounts posted edited video of Yu being detained in an apparent attempt to discredit him. From Catherine Lai at HKFP:

In it, a man is seen arguing with about half a dozen people, including some wearing protective gear and one filming the scene on his phone. The man can be heard saying: “I won’t cooperate, I won’t cooperate… You can use violence. I won’t cooperate.” Later, he swings a punch at a man ordering him to get into a car. After a jump cut, the other men appear to roughly push him into a van as he swears at them.

Citing information from Beijing police, The Paper said that Yu was uncooperative with police summons and injured two officers by kicking one in the knee and biting another’s finger. It said he was suspected of “disrupting public service.”

[…] Yu’s wife Xu Yan told HKFP that the police did not produce documents when they seized Yu.

[…] “This was not the complete video – what did experience at the time? They should release the entire video.”

[…] Ou Biaofeng, a Hunan rights activist, said on Twitter that the media outlet was being untruthful and “acting as an accomplice to the villain” by framing Yu Wensheng. He also pointed out that the video had been edited and cuts between footage from different cameras and timecodes. [Source]

Campaigners from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed similar skepticism.

China Change describes the measures against Yu and Sui as apparent parts of “a deliberate and determined campaign to remove and deter human rights lawyers.” Among the other recent cases it cited:

[… Last] week, Shanghai-based lawyer Peng Yonghe (彭永和) lost his law license for demanding financial transparency from the Shanghai Lawyers Association and for a letter he was involved in calling for the crime of subversion of state power to be abolished.

In December, 2017, the Yunnan provincial Justice Department revoked the licenses of lawyers Wang Liqian (王理乾) and Wang Longde (王龙得). For years the two had fought hard for their right to meet clients under judicially-stipulated conditions. They also challenged the legitimacy of the local Lawyers Association, which amasses large fees from members but seldom defends their rights.

[…] In September 2017, Shandong lawyer Zhu Shengwu (祝圣武)’s license was revoked for defending a man who made disparaging comments about Xi Jinping on WeChat.

[…] Human across China are regularly summoned by provincial and local Justice Departments, who issue receive warnings and threats. The regime’s Justice Departments at all levels have an office that “manages” lawyers. Lawyers go through a mandatory annual review by the departments, which renew their licenses — a mechanism designed to keep lawyers on a short leash and ensure they submit to the state, lest they lose their livelihoods. [Source]

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