[Press Release]Over 50 World-wide Civil Society Organizations Signed Joint Statement in Support of the Arrested Lawyers in China

Press Release

Date: 13 August 2015

Over 50 World-wide Civil Society Organizations Signed Joint Statement in Support of the Arrested Lawyers in China

In light of the Chinese government’s recent large-scale arrest of human rights lawyers and activists, 8 Hong Kong based organizations (China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, Independent Chinese PEN Center, Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, Network for Women in Politics, Spirit8964 Association, The Association for the Advancement of Feminism, Tiananmen Mothers Campaign) have initiated a joint statement at the end of July, calling upon Hong Kong and International organizations for support against the arrest of human rights lawyers in China.

The extensive arrests have been going on for over a month. Along with the initiating groups, more than 50 groups have already signed the “Joint Statement on Mistreatment of Lawyers and Citizens in China”.

As the statement states, we call on the Hong Kong and International community to continue to show concern for the large-scale arrests carried out by the Chinese government since the 9th of July. As of today, there still remain 17 lawyers, lawyers’ assistants and legal staff who have been illegally detained for over 4 weeks or who are currently missing. In particular, we urge the international community to be actively concerned about the strong possibility of torture or inhuman treatment of the detainees by Chinese law enforcement authorities.

We note that according to Article 89 of China’s “Criminal Procedure Law”, the public security organ may extend the detention for up to 30 days, the People's Procuratorate shall decide either to approve or disapprove the arrest within 7 days from the date of receiving the written request for approval of arrest submitted by a public security organ. If the People's Procuratorate disapproves the arrest, the public security organ shall, upon receiving notification, immediately release the detainee and inform the People's Procuratorate of the result without delay. The majority of the 17 lawyers, lawyers’ assistants and legal staff have been detained for over 30 days therefore now is a critical period. We hope that the international community will pay close attention to the developments of the situation and continue to exert pressure on the Chinese government for the acquittal of the legal workers.

Joint Statement on Mistreatment of Lawyers and Citizens in China

 (20 July 2015, Hong Kong) With regard to “Track on Beijing Fengrui Law Firm case” published on Xinhua on 18 July 2015 (Saturday), we strongly condemn the Chinese authorities, that ignore the internationally recognized principles of due legal process, openly violate domestic criminal procedures, condone and even encourage law enforcement agencies to abuse their power. In an attempt to confuse the public, the authorities have gone so far as to use the state-controlled media as a tool to judge without trial.

We call on the Chinese authorities to ensure that law enforcement agencies strictly abide by the law, immediately stop illegal summoning and detention, and to release all illegally detained lawyers and citizens. There should be strict compliance with all rules and procedures under the criminal procedural law to ensure that all detentions are based on objective facts and the law, the implementation of the presumption of innocence, and the security of personal safety and legal rights of all persons implicated.

From the first arrest on 9th July to 3 pm of 20th July, at least 236 lawyers, law firm staff/human right activists have been targeted, with 14 of them being criminally detained, including a female lawyer and 11 male lawyers. 6 people have been subjected to enforced disappearance, including a female lawyer, and 216 people were temporarily detained, forcibly questioned or summoned, with 119 being lawyers.

The Chinese authorities have disregarded the laws and regulations in their  law enforcement actions, and thereby gone against the promises of “rule of constitution” or “rule of law” promulgated by the Chinese leader Xi Jinping on various occasions.

People's Daily and Xinhua News Agency consecutively published four articles on July 11th and 18th respectively, claiming to have “unveiled the criminal nature of the Fengrui Law Firm”, and published comments about the confession of the lawyers. But the treatment of the detained lawyers is unknown, and they could not obtain legal assistance guaranteed by law. The international community is completely shocked by the Ministry of Public Security’s abuse of power by assuming the roles of Public Security, Procuratorate and the Court to judge without trial, and the self-degrading act of the Supreme People’s Court’s to repost all those articles (See attachment).

According to past records[1], lawyers’ suffering from torture and inhumane treatment in the past decade usually happened during detention, among them were many worrying cases of individuals being forced to plead guilty and repent.  With regard to the current coverage on the so-called confessions by the lawyers who are in detention, we call on the international community to take note of the grave potential of torture and inhumane treatments by the Chinese authorities.

We note the severe breaches of the law and regulations during the Chinese authorities’ implementation of the aforementioned criminal enforcement measures.

Of the 14 that have criminal enforcement measures taken against them, and the 6 that are subject to enforced disappearance, only 3 lawyers or citizens’ family members have received criminal detention notices[2]; with only one being allowed to meet with his lawyer.  All the others have been held incommunicado[3]. In addition, a large number of lawyers and citizens were summoned without the police being able to provide any identification document. Some of them were questioned for over 24 hours and taken away multiple times. Many others were warned or threatened not to express any support nor to represent the lawyers in detention[4]. Bao Mengmeng, the sixteen-year-old son of Wang Yu, was illegally detained for 2 days, summoned for four times consecutively as well as barred from employing any lawyer.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have clear stipulations on procedural justice. As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Chinese government is obliged to uphold the respective standards.

The arrested lawyers have represented numerous human right cases, their clients include: women, children, disabled persons, practitioners of religion and belief, academics, journalists, writers, artists, workers, victims of forced eviction, petitioners, human right activists, etc. Lawyers are the upholders of the rule of law and defenders of social justice. If the lawyers’ rights are not protected, the rights of citizens cannot be safeguarded. We hence are calling for the society to stand up for the lawyers’ safety and rights.

We hereby urge

  • the international communities to continue expressing their concerns on China, and support human right lawyers in China to perform their legitimate duties;
  • the Chinese government to perform its legal duty as a member of the international community, and respect its pledge to the Chinese citizens - execute power according to the law, and uphold the rule of law, adhere rigorously to all regulations and procedures under criminal procedures law
  • the Chinese government to immediately disclose the whereabouts of the detained lawyers and citizens, allowing them to meet their families and lawyers, implement the presumption of innocence, and to ensure the safety and legal rights of all people targeted.

 Jointly initiated by:

  1. China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group 中國維權律師關注組
  2. Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China香港市民支援愛國民主運動聯合會
  3. Independent Chinese PEN Center 獨立中文筆會
  4. Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese 香港天主教正義和平委員會
  5. Network for Women in Politics 婦女參政網絡
  6. Spirit8964 Association 六四新生代
  7. The Association for the Advancement of Feminism 新婦女協進會
  8. Tiananmen Mothers Campaign 天安門母親運動

Co-signed by: 

  1. Act Voice精算思政
  2. Artists Action藝界起動
  3. China Labour Bulletin 中國勞工通訊
  4. ChinaAid對華援助協會
  5. Christian Solidarity Worldwide 國際無聲者之友
  6. City University of Hong Kong Students' Union 香港城市大學學生會
  7. Civic Party 公民黨(香港)
  8. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 公民社會:世界公民參與聯盟
  9. Civil Human Right Front 民間人權陣線
  10. Cross Cultural Foundation Thailand
  11. Democratic Party (Hong Kong) 民主黨(香港)
  12. Federation for a Democratic China民主中國陣線
  13. Freedom House 自由之家
  14. Front Line Defenders 前線衛士
  15. Globalization Monitor 全球化監察
  16. HK Psychologist Concern良心理政
  17. Hong Kong Baptist University Student Union 香港浸會大學學生會
  18. Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions香港職工會聯盟
  19. Hong Kong Federation of Students 香港專上學生聯會
  20. Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union 香港教育專業人員協會
  21. Hong Kong Shue Yan University Student Union 香港樹仁大學學生會
  22. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Students’ Union 香港科技大學學生會
  23. Hong Kong Women Workers' Association 香港婦女勞工協會
  24. Insurance ARISE保險起動
  25. Labour Action China中國勞動透視
  26. Labour Education and Service Network勞工教育及服務網路
  27. Labour Party工黨
  28. Law Association, HKUSU 香港大學學生會法律學會幹事會
  29. League of Social Democrats 社會民主連線
  30. Left 21左翼21
  31. Lingnan University Students' Union 嶺南大學學生會
  32. MINBYUN - Lawyers for a Democratic Society 民辯
  33. New School for Democracy 華人民主書院
  34. Progressive Lawyers Group 法政匯思
  35. Progressive Teachers' Alliance進步教師同盟
  36. Radiation Therapist and Radiographer Conscience放射良心
  37. Reclaiming Social Work Movement社工復興運動
  38. Scholarism 學民思潮
  39. Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong香港中文大學學生會
  40. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong Community College Students' Union 香港理工大學香港專上學院學生會
  41. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Students' Union 香港理工大學學生會
  42. The Hong Kong University Students' Union 香港大學學生會
  43. The Professional Commons 公共專業聯盟
  44. Women's Rights Without Frontiers 女權無強界
  45. Worker Empowerment勞動力
  46. 大專政關(大專政改關注組) (no English name)


For Enquires, please contact:

Ms. Yam (CHRLCG) Tel: 2388 1377


[1] “An Overview of Torture Cases in China”, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, 26 June 2015, http://issuu.com/chrlawyers/docs/chrlcg_torture_day_report_2015_-_tr

[2] China’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) stipulates, families of individuals under residential surveillance or criminal detention ought to be notified within 24 hours of the criminal enforcement measures taken against the individual (Art. 73 and Art. 83)

[3] CPL stipulates in the event of criminal enforcement measures being taken, the individual in question has a right to entrust lawyer(s) as defender(s) (Art. 33) as well as ensure the lawyer(s) may meet and correspond with the suspect (Art. 37).

[4] CPL stipulates during summoning the interrogators shall produce their certificates issued by People’s Procuratorate or the public security organ. The duration for interrogation through summons or constrained appearance shall not exceed 24 hours, nor can the interrogators imprison the suspect through successive summons or constrained appearance. Food and necessary rest for the suspect shall be guaranteed (Art. 117).