Disbarment, Suspension and Harassment
by Patrick Poon, Jurist
When Sui Muqing became a lawyer in 1993, he couldn't imagine that 25 years later he would become a "post-lawyer" (lüshihou), a self-deprecating term often used by lawyers in China who have been stripped of their license to practice.
The authorities accused Sui Muqing of confronting a trial judge and separately of taking a picture of his client, dissident writer Chen Yunfei, when visiting him in detention. This was enough for the Guangdong Provincial Department of Justice to formally revoke his license, after a heavily guarded hearing in early February this year.
However, it is more likely the authorities' motivation was to neuter a vocal and effective human rights lawyer. A thorn in the side of the government, Sui Muqing defended many activists and victims of human rights abuses, including representing high-profile human rights defenders like Guangdong activists Guo Feixiong and Wang Qingying and Falun Gong practitioners. Together with other lawyers, he had written statements on the difficulties for lawyers in sensitive cases, ranging from not being allowed to meet clients to challenges in defending their clients in court.
Sui Muqing's experience exemplifies how much pressure a lawyer in China faces now if he or she takes up human rights cases considered sensitive by the authorities. Since the crackdown against more than 200 human rights lawyers and activists which began in July 2015, that sparked international condemnation, the authorities have increasingly deployed bureaucracy to stifle these determined voices.