Conflict & Justice

Human rights lawyer detained in China

This Beijing lawyer was grabbed in his parking lot and shoved him into a car that had no license plate. He was blindfolded and then asked many questions about his articles. The men, from the Beijing Public Security Bureau, were especially interested in an essay he'd written with an AIDS activist who's since been arrested. Part of the essay talked about the upcoming Beijing Olympics and the contrasts between the face it will present and realities on the ground in China, socially and politically. It's also apparently prohibited to link such criticisms with the Olympics, as the men told the lawyer. The lawyer had also taken human rights cases, along with other colleagues, trying to hold the government accountable. This China researcher with Human Rights Watch says the lawyers rarely win. The researcher says the number of lawyers in China has quadrupled in recent years but the Defense attorneys in China remain vulnerable and weak and even suffer intimidation. The Beijing lawyer says he was not beaten and a flurry of coverage of his disappearance may have led to his quick release. Another Beijing lawyer who takes on human rights cases regularly had a tougher time last summer. He says he was beaten by security guards and even zapped by tasers. He says he was treated like this for five hours and was threatened to move out of Beijing. He is worried for his and his family's safety but says a higher calling guides him.

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