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Continuing Repression of Human Rights Lawyers and Activists

During the summer, the Chinese government continued its repression of human rights activists and lawyers. During a conference at the National Judges College in Beijing at the end of August, Minister of Justice Zhang Jun called on lawyers to refrain from engaging in protests, criticising judges and courts, and speaking or acting for personal gain or to boost their reputation. A couple of weeks later, the Ministry of Justice launched investigations into the conduct of several lawyers and law firms across China, including the firm of prominent human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping. In August, human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong and online activist ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’ Wu Gan went on trial for their crimes of ‘subversion of state power’. On 11 September, Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-cheh went on trial and pleaded guilty to charges of subversion in a televised confession. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng, under house arrest since 2014, was once again reported as missing and was believed to be in police custody. Labour activists did not fare any better. After initially being detained in May 2015, labour activist Liu Shaoming was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ in July. Similarly, in August, Lu Yuyu was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’. On a more positive note, human rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong and labour activist Meng Han were both released from prison, after serving sentences of four years and twenty-one months respectively for ‘gathering crowds to disturb public order’. EN

(Sources: BBC; China Labour Bulletin; Front Line Defenders; Human Rights Watch; Ministry of Justice; Radio Free Asia 1; Radio Free Asia 2; South China Morning Post; The Australian; The New York Times)

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