A Chinese language lawyer who represented a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist was stripped of his licence amid efforts by Beijing to crush opposition to its tighter management over the territory.
Lu Siwei, who represented considered one of 12 Hong Kong activists who tried to flee to Taiwan, had his licence revoked by the Sichuan Provincial Justice Division in a proper discover given on Friday.
Ten of the 12 activists caught at sea in August have been sentenced by a Shenzhen court docket in December to jail phrases starting from seven months to a few years for illegally crossing the border and organising unlawful border crossings.
They’re a part of an exodus of Hong Kong residents following Beijing’s imposition of a troublesome new safety regulation they are saying is destroying the territory’s Western-style civil liberties. Because the regulation was launched in response to anti-government protests that started in 2019, dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested or detained.
The regulation has been denounced by European nations, the US and others.
Beijing says the laws permits Hong Kong to “get pleasure from extra social stability, financial improvement and larger freedom”. International Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying known as the 12 activists “parts trying to separate Hong Kong from China”, not democratic activists.
Beijing, which requires attorneys to swear an oath of loyalty to the ruling Communist Social gathering, has tightened management over the occupation. Different attorneys have been stripped of their licences for representing defendants in politically delicate instances. Some have been imprisoned.
In a discover final week, the Chengdu workplace of the Sichuan Justice Division stated Lu had violated legal guidelines on skilled authorized conduct. It accused him of creating feedback on-line that had a “unfavorable influence on society”.
Additionally final week, Ren Quanniu, one other lawyer for one of many 12 activists, was notified by the Zhengzhou workplace of the Henan Justice Division that he may lose his license. He was advised that feedback he made in court docket had induced a “unfavorable influence on society”. His listening to remains to be pending, however is seen as a formality.
On Wednesday, Ren and a small group of supporters confirmed up on the listening to for Lu’s license in Chengdu to again him. They have been forcibly separated by police and Lu was taken inside alone, Ren stated.
Each Lu and Ren have been employed by households of the activists, however have been blocked from seeing their purchasers all through the authorized course of.
“They would not even let me within the entrance door, a lot much less the door to the executive space the place you cope with the paperwork,” Ren stated of his tried first go to to a police station in Shenzhen, the place the Hong Kong activists have been taken by authorities.
On his second go to, he was advised that his shopper had already agreed to a court-appointed lawyer.
All through the case, households of the activists protested that they need to be capable to use attorneys they chose as a substitute of the court-appointed attorneys.
Lu has been summoned typically by the native bureau of the Justice Division in Chengdu for conferences wherein the bureau officers advised him to depart the case.
Neither Lu or Ren backed down. “Why ought to I give up when there is not any authorized purpose for me to give up? How can I clarify myself to the household?” Ren stated.
An individual on the native Justice Division workplace in Chengdu initially advised the AP to name again. Later calls went unanswered. Telephone calls to the Justice Division’s workplace in Zhengzhou went unanswered.
The 2 attorneys each have a historical past of taking over delicate instances, and of navigating the fraught and murky waters of defending people who find themselves deemed to be political targets by authorities.
Ren has dealt with instances associated to the Falun Gong, a non secular motion which China has labeled a cult and is the topic of persecution after its followers protested in Beijing’s Tiananmen Sq. in 1999. Most lately, he represented citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who was sentenced to 4 years in jail for trying to report on the scenario within the metropolis of Wuhan throughout the onset of the coronavirus pandemic early final 12 months.
Lu, an insurance coverage lawyer by commerce, has dealt with instances in a crackdown on human rights attorneys and activists led by President Xi Jinping which started in 2015. Lu defended distinguished human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, who had criticized Xi.
Nonetheless, neither was ready for the way delicate the case of the 12 activists could be.
“They can not punish anybody else. Can they punish the European media? Can they punish Pompeo? They’ll solely take it out on us as a result of we’re attorneys within the mainland,” Lu stated.