“Is this what being a lawyer is like…? We have worked hard on behalf of the rank and file; and yet this is the misery we end up with!” – li Jinxing (Chinese lawyer)
Human Rights Lawyers in China have defended the countries most deprived citizens including: migrant laborers, ethnic and religious minorities, Political protestors, etc..
Today they face their toughest challenge: defending themselves from the Chinese Government.
China, has now been ruled by The Chinese Communist Party for more than 6 decades, they remain an authoritarian state that continues to suppress basic fundamental human rights. Like many authoritarian regimes, the senior leaders of the state, “perceiving a threat to their power, now explicitly reject the universality of human rights, characterizing these ideas as “foreign infiltration,” and penalizing those who promote them”. In 2015, new restrictive measures were put into place that promotes the “rule of law”. For Human Right’s lawyers this was a beginning of a nightmare.
The first case reported was of a prominent human rights lawyer named Wang Yu. Witnessing the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, when she was jailed in 2008 (for demanding to board a train in which she held a valid ticket), she began defending key human right’s cases which the government considered “sensitive”. She goes missing (along with her husband and son) on the early hours 9th July, 2015. Her friends received a panicked message, which stated that people are invading her home. Until today she is detained for the charges relating to state security, along with her husband who is also a HR lawyer. Between July and September of 2015, 280 HR lawyers were briefly detained. Today about 40 remain in custody in disclosed locations. These lawyers do not have a choice on whether they can have a lawyer and they are not allowed to see their families.
Another extreme case, which AlJazeera brought up recently, is of the lawyer Xia Lin. Xia Lin is best known for defending an outspoken Chinese artist named Ai Weiwei and fellow rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. He has been sentenced for 12 years on fraud charges. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 120,000 yuan ($18,000) and give total compensation of 4.8 million yuan ($720,000) to fraud victims. The government controls these courts, so the defendants do not have a fair trial.
Coming from Saudi Arabia, this is not news to me. Many states that break Human Rights laws try to suppress those who go against the regime. In Saudi, we all know to not talk about our suppression, as it will lead us into getting in trouble. Today many protestors actually get the death sentence when they try to seek justice. Saudi is a country built on traditions apart of that tradition violates what the West sees as basic human rights. I have now got used to the idea of where I live and I know how to follow the rules, progress is being made in Saudi just like it is in China, but they are baby steps.