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PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: Human rights lawyer released on bail amid relentless crackdown

13 May 2017
[International Secretariat]
Region: PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Topic:

The release of Xie Yang on bail does not represent a break in China’s relentless crackdown against human rights lawyers, Amnesty International said today.

Xie Yang was tried in Changsha City Intermediate People’s Court in southern China on 8 May for “inciting subversion of state power” and “disrupting court order” and apparently released on bail even though a verdict has not been announced.

“While it is a relief that Xie Yang is no longer in detention, it doesn’t diminish the fact that he should never have been arrested in the first place.”

“While on bail, Xie Yang is likely to experience constant surveillance and severe restrictions to his freedom of movement as we have witnessed in other such cases.

The court announced the trial would be broadcast on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, only approximately 20 minutes before it began.

At the trial Xie Yang said that he was not tortured, contradicting what he told his lawyers in January when he recounted prolonged torture he had suffered during his detention.

Xie Yang is one of almost 250 lawyers and activists targeted in an unprecedented crackdown by the Chinese government which started in July 2015.

Tortured

After accounts of Xie Yang’s torture were made public by his lawyers in January 2017, the authorities have rejected any further requests from his lawyers to meet with their client.

Xie Yang’s family had also been threatened in an attempt to coerce him to “confess” and provide incriminating statements against other human rights defenders.

The authorities have repeatedly warned one of Xie Yang’s original defence lawyers, to stop discussing the case with international media and initiated an investigation into Chen’s own eligibility to practice law.

“The charges against Xie Yang are baseless. The authorities know it and that is why they have resorted to torture and other forms of coercion against him and his family” said Patrick Poon.

The detention of lawyer Wang Yu and her family on 9 July 2015 marked the beginning of an unprecedented government crackdown on human rights lawyers and other activists. Over the following weeks, almost 250 lawyers and activists were questioned or detained state security agents, and many of their offices and homes were raided.

Apart from Xie Yang, another five have been convicted of “subverting state power”. In August 2016, activists Zhai Yanmin and Gou Hongguo, aka Ge Ping, were given suspended prison sentences. Activist Hu Shigen and lawyer Zhou Shifeng were sentenced to seven and a half years and seven years’ imprisonment respectively. Lawyer Li Heping was tried in Tianjin on 25 April and then sentenced to three years imprisonment, suspended for four years, on 28 April. His whereabouts remained unknown after the verdict until he returned home on 9 May, although images show he has lost weight and his hair has turned noticeably grey.

Three others remain in detention and are awaiting trial dates or verdicts. The trial date of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang still has not been set. Activists Yin Xu’an and Wang Fang are still waiting for their verdicts after appearing in court in September last year and in February this year respectively.

10 May 2017
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

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