Unrelenting Repression of Both Lawyers and Activists

The first quarter of 2018 has seen continuous and unrelenting repression of both lawyers and activists in China. Four days into the new year, 32-year-old Tibetan activist Tashi Wangchuk went on trial for ‘inciting separatism’, a crime that carries a punishment of up to 15 years in jail. He was detained in January 2016, after appearing in a New York Times video that documented his efforts to preserve Tibetan culture and language. According to Wangchuk’s lawyer, the video—in which the activist criticised the education policies of the Chinese authorities—constitutes the prosecution’s main piece of evidence. Also in January, prominent weiquan lawyer Yu Wensheng had his legal licence revoked, and was subsequently detained while walking his son to school. This was in retaliation for an open letter in which he criticised President Xi and called for political reform. In 2014, Yu had already been detained for 99 days, enduring interrogations lasting 17 hours, as well as physical abuse that resulted in a hernia. He is currently being held under ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’. In February, it was reported that jailed weiquan lawyer Jiang Tianyong’s health had severely deteriorated. According to his sister, Jiang is suffering from memory loss, raising concerns that he is being force-fed psychoactive medication—a method commonly employed by Chinese authorities against political prisoners. Likewise, in March, former state prosecutor Shen Liangqing was briefly detained after speaking out against President Xi’s constitutional changes. And things are not looking up for Chinese activists: in March, Fu Zhenghua, previously a deputy head of China’s Ministry of Public Security, who has led several high-profile investigations and crackdowns, was appointed Minister of Justice. EN & TS

(Sources: Amnesty International 1; Amnesty International 2; BBC; Business Insider; China Digital Times 1; China Digital Times 2; The Guardian; The New York Times 1; The New York Times 2; Radio Free Asia; Reuters 1; Reuters 2)

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