China targeting human rights defenders

The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) released its annual report (PDF) Feb. 16, highlighting an intensified crackdown on rights defenders in the People's Republic. According to the CHRD, rights activities are being criminalized as "political threats to national security." The report documents a number of practices used by the government, such as enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and acts of torture against rights defenders. It points particularly to those secretly detained in the July 2015 arrests of lawyers, known as the "709 Crackdown." CHRD stated: "Not only have authorities denied detainees access to counsel, they have increasingly pressured detainees to dismiss their own lawyers or those hired by their families, and use government appointed lawyers instead." 

The report charges that detention has often led to torture and abuse at the hands of the police, as in the case of Li Chunfu. CHRD also claims the government has cracked down on the development of civil society groups by passing the Law on the Management of Overseas NGO Activities in Mainland China, which imposes strict control over the funding, staffing, and other activities of NGOs.

From Jurist, Feb. 16. Used with permission.