Statement in English

Exactly one year after the nationwide crackdown by Chinese security authorities on lawyers and other human rights defenders that had started on July 9 2015, the situation of the persons affected by the crackdown remains an issue of grave concern. We already listed our concerns in a public EU statement together with all European Union member states in May 2016. They include procedural irregularities and denial of basic rights of the detained, their relatives and legal defense representatives. I also remain concerned about the apparent extraterritorial abductions of Chinese and EU citizens to mainland China and call for clarity about the circumstances and whereabouts of the two EU citizens, Lee Po and Gui Minhai.

Since frequent attempts by the Embassy to gain clarity on these issues via diplomatic channels, such as conversations, calls and fax messages in the course of the last few months remained unanswered, it might be of help to refresh memories by reissuing an EU-statement, which has also been endorsed by us, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the so called “709-crackdown”:

 “… [A] large number of human rights lawyers and defenders connected to the 9 July 2015 crackdown are still held in custody […]. Accusations of ‘subversion of state power’ or incitement to subversion deny the nature of the work of these human rights defenders, which involves advocating the promotion and protection of rights guaranteed under the Chinese Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We call for full transparency and the respect for due process in these cases, which should lead to the release of the individuals concerned. Those detained still have not been allowed access to lawyers of their own choosing or visits from their relatives. Legal deadlines for judicial decisions in these cases have been repeatedly deferred, thus prolonging the current state of uncertainty.

We also note with concern that lawyers seeking to defend these individuals have reportedly been threatened with the cancellation of their licenses to practise law. We are also aware of numerous instances where family members of these individuals have been prevented from travelling abroad, while others have been intimidated and told to stop publicly advocating on behalf of their detained relatives.

We urge China to live up to its international human rights obligations, not least respect for the right to freedom of expression, and its stated commitment to build the rule of law.”