China: lawyer detained for post mocking president

Ge Yongxi, a civil rights defense lawyer, was detained and released April 15 by Chinese authorities for posts on social media that "poked fun" at President Xi Jinping in relation to the Panama Papers. The president's brother-in-law, Deng Jiagui, was named—along with a handful of elite Chinese citizens—in the data leak from a Panamanian law firm that exposed offshore accounts held by prominent politicians and others across the globe. Information about the Panama Papers has been censored across China with websites in that country "forbidden" from publishing material about the subject. Ge was also detained 10 months ago and questioned by authorities for being involved in a lawyers' rights movement.

From Jurist, April 15. Used with permission.

Note: Dozens of human rights lawyers gathered outside the public security bureau in Guangzhou, where Ge was detained, to show their support and demand his release. His detention came amid an ongoing crackdown on human rights lawyers that began last July. Under the crackdown, more than 280 lawyers and activists have been summoned or detained or just "disappeared." (BBC News) The Panama Papers have touched several governments around the world, and prompted the prime minister of Iceland to resign. (NYT, April 5)

  1. China: civil rights lawyer placed under house arrest

    Civil rights lawyer Ni Yulan on April 25 told Western media that the Chinese government has put her under house arrest, presumably for her work as an advocate for citizens being evicted to make way for development. Foreign diplomats from the EU, Germany, Canada, France and Switzerland sought to meet with Ni at her home over the weekend but were turned away by Chinese police officers. Ni, who won the US State Department's International Women of Courage Award earlier this year, but was not allowed to leave China to accept it, expects to be evicted from her home but has been prevented from seeking a new dwelling. US Secretary of State John Kerry she has paid a "steep price" as an advocate. Ni has been relegated to a wheelchair since 2002, when police beat her for videoing the forced demolition of a client's home. Ni also had run-ins with the police in 2008 and 2012, and was jailed for "making trouble." (Jurist)

  2. China: lawyers condemn ‘709 crackdown’

    Over 50 Chinese lawyers have issued a joint declaration condemning the Tianjin police for denying human rights lawyers access to their own defense attorneys. The lawyers were detained in the so-called "709 crackdown."

    The statement asserts that family-assigned counsel have been denied access to meetings with their clients at the detention centers where they are being held, as the Tianjin police claimed that the arrested lawyers had already entrusted other people to be their defence representatives. The statement also said the identities of the appointed lawyers were concealed from family members.

    "In our opinion, the practice of the Tianjin police has trampled upon the principle of justice that humanity has evolved, the basic human rights of defendants, as well as the existing domestic laws," the statement read.

    In an operation dubbed the "709 crackdown," China detained many human rights lawyers for "subversion of state power" in July last year. According to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, at least 319 lawyers, law firm staff, human rights activists and family members have been arrested, detained, questioned, summoned, forbidden to leave the country, held under house arrest, or are missing, as of May this year. (HKFP, June 2)

  3. Ai Weiwei’s lawyer imprisoned in China

    A Beijing lawyer whose clients included the artist Ai Weiwei joined the swelling population of Chinese rights advocates in prison on Sept. 22, when a court sentenced him to 12 years after convicting him on fraud charges. The lawyer, Xia Lin, and his wife and supporters strongly rejected the prosecutors' charges, and said the case was part of the government’s campaign to silence rights defenders. While his conviction was expected, the heavy sentence came as a shock to his lawyers and supporters. "After he heard the verdict, Xia Lin said the case had been procedurally unfair and he was being persecuted for his rights defense work, for the cases he took on," one of his defense lawyers, Ding Xikui, who was in the court for the verdict, said. "He's planning to appeal." (NYT)