Tue. Jan 19th, 2021
China Moves to Punish Lawyers Hired to Help Hong Kong Activists


HONG KONG — The Chinese legal authorities have threatened to revoke the licenses of two attorneys employed to support a group of Hong Kong protesters who had been arrested final 12 months even though making an attempt to flee to Taiwan by speedboat.

10 of the activists had been convicted final week by a court in the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen of unlawful boundary crossing and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 7 months to 3 many years. Two other members of the group who had been minors at the time of their arrest in August had been returned to Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory.

For Hong Kong’s professional-democracy opposition, the situation has highlighted fears of the Communist Get together-managed legal method on the mainland and the dangers it poses to the city’s tradition of an independent judiciary.

Most of the group faced expenses in Hong Kong linked with antigovernment protests in 2019, which includes arson, rioting, assaulting police officers and weapons possession. A single member, Andy Li, was beneath investigation on suspicion of violating the nationwide protection law imposed on Hong Kong final 12 months. They had been arrested by the Chinese Coast Guard on their way to Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its territory, and detained on the mainland.

The two attorneys, Lu Siwei and Ren Quanniu, had been employed by relatives members of the activists but had been barred from representing them. As an alternative, the defendants had been forced to depend on government-appointed attorneys.

The two attorneys have taken on a lot of delicate situations. Mr. Lu was formally reprimanded immediately after representing yet another human rights attorney in 2019 who had openly criticized the Chinese leadership. Mr. Ren not long ago represented Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist sentenced final week to 4 many years in prison for her reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in the mainland Chinese city of Wuhan.

Mr. Ren acquired a discover from the Division of Justice in Henan Province, wherever he is licensed, saying he faced disbarment in excess of his dealing with of a 2018 situation in which he represented a member of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual group. He explained that situation was most possible an excuse.

“The direct explanation is unquestionably associated to the Hong Kongers’ situation and Shanghai Zhang Zhan situation,” he explained in an audio message.

A letter sent to Mr. Lu by the Division of Justice in Sichuan Province, wherever he is registered, explained he was accused of “repeatedly publishing unsuitable language on-line,” with no providing information. He explained he planned to request a hearing, and named the authorities’ situation towards him “inexplicable suppression and persecution.”

The Chinese authorities have for many years applied yearly licensing necessities to intimidate attorneys concerned in delicate situations, wielding the risk of disbarment to punish these who really do not back down.

Mr. Lu and Mr. Ren had been every offered 3 days to organize hearings in excess of their licenses, but Mr. Ren explained he had minor hope of a effective appeal.

A group representing relatives members of the activists explained they believed the timing of the actions towards the two attorneys indicated that they had been “obviously revenge for their involvement” in the Hong Kong situation.

“For their daring to go towards the powers that be, and persistence in upholding the rights of the twelve, the authorities have resorted to ending their expert profession and cutting off their livelihoods,” the households explained in a statement.

The households have explained they hope to go to their imprisoned family members as quickly as doable, but so far have acquired minor data from the state-appointed attorneys.

Tiffany May possibly contributed reporting.

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