Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chinese Lawyers for Tibetans Threatened by Chinese Officials

Last week, I reported that the Dalai Lama and his cabinet (Kashag} thanked Chinese lawyers who offered to defend Tibetans detained by China from the recent protests. Human Rights in China reports that 21 Chinese human rights lawyers who offered their services to Tibetans jailed recently have been told not to become involved.

Here is another instance where the virulent anti-Dalai Lama rhetoric as orchestrator of violence in Tibet is summarily discounted by China's actions towards its own people based on statements that such protests are a deep threat to Chinese national unity and the work of outside agitators or 'splitists" taking their orders from the Dalai Lama. Chinese deep undercurrents of social unrest go far beyond Tibet as part of a larger pattern of abuse.

It is estimated that 1.5 million Beijing residents were displaced without renumeration to build the Olympics. Chinese "crack down" policies are an effort to silence millions of disgruntled Chinese who like Tibetans are victims of Chinese internal Human Rights abuses.

HRIC Statement: Chinese Authorities Target Lawyers Offering Legal Assistance to Tibetans

April 09, 2008

[Chinese / 中文]
Human Rights in China is deeply concerned by reports of official threats against Chinese lawyers offering legal aid to Tibetan detainees. “These threats by the Chinese authorities politicize and undermine the independence of the legal profession and China’s goal of establishing a rule of law,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China.

Authorities in China told the members of the group of lawyers, now numbering 21, that they should not involve themselves in the “Tibet incident.” Lawyers involved in the project have been questioned by authorities, put under surveillance, and had their phones tapped, according to reports. The authorities told some members of the group that there were enough lawyers in the region where the Tibetans were being held and there was no need for outside lawyers to get involved, lawyer Li Subin (李苏滨) told the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily on April 9.

The public offer of legal assistance by the group of lawyers first appeared last week on a number of Chinese Internet forums, following the arrest of what is believed to be hundreds of Tibetans as part of a crackdown by the Chinese security forces following protests last month in the Lhasa area. Among the lawyers signing the offer was Teng Biao (滕彪), one of China’s most active rights defense lawyers. The group called on other lawyers to join their cause and appealed to the authorities to deal with the arrested Tibetans “in strict accordance with the Constitution, laws, and related criminal procedures” of China.

For more information on, and an English translation of, the Chinese lawyers’ offer of legal aid to Tibetans, see:

* "HRIC Press Advisory: :Chinese Lawyers Offer Legal Help to Detained Tibetans," April 4, 2008

For more information on attacks on lawyers in China, see:

* "HRIC Trends Bulletin: Setback for the Rule of Law - Lawyers Under Attack in China," February 2007

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