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China: Human rights lawyers detained during crackdown

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Since 9 July 2015, the Chinese police have detained or questioned more than 100 human rights defenders and their family members.

While many of them have been released, at least six human rights lawyers, namely Ms Wang Yu and Messrs Zhou Shifeng, Wang Quanzhang, Huang Liqun, Sui Muqing and Xie Yang, remain imprisoned or under house arrest.

The human rights defenders were arrested and detained by police at different times between 9 and 11 July. Sui Muqing and Xie Yang are accused of inciting subversion of state power and have been placed under house arrest. Four lawyers from Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, Wang Yu, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Quanzhang andHuang Liqun, were taken from their homes or offices by police during this period and remain in detention. Wang Yu's husband and fellow human rights defender, Mr Bao Longjun, has also been detained by police in Beijing.

This most recent crackdown started on 9 July, when Wang Yu was kidnapped in the early morning after sending her friends a text message saying that the internet connection and electricity had been cut off at her home and that people were trying to break in. Shortly after her detention, more than 100 Chinese lawyers joined an open letter protesting her disappearance. Later some of those lawyers who signed the letter, as well as her colleagues from Beijing Fengrui Law Firm were detained.

Wang Yu, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Quanzhang and Huang Liqun are human rights lawyers working for Fengrui Law Firm, based in Beijing. The Law Firm has handled a number of high-profile human rights cases including that of the Uighur human rights defenderMr Ilham Tohti, who is currently serving a life sentence on separatism charges. The firm’s director, Zhou Shifeng, represented Zhang Miao, a Chinese journalist who had worked with a German magazine reporting on the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests in 2014 and who was recently released after nine months in detention. Clients of Wang Yu include practitioners of Falun Gong, the religious group banned in China. Guangzhou-based human rights lawyer Sui Muqing, who has been under a travel ban since May 2015, is known for representing clients in so-called politically sensitive cases. Xie Yang is a Hunan-based human rights lawyer who has represented the family of Xu Chunhe, a man shot dead by policeHeilongjiang Province in May 2015.

Front Line Defenders expresses its grave concern at the detention of human rights lawyers Wang Yu, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Quanzhang, Huang Liqun, Sui Muqing, Xie Yang and human rights defender Bao Longjun It further expresses its concern at the questioning, harassment and detention of scores of other human rights defenders between 9 and 13 July. Front Line Defenders believes the actions taken against these human rights 

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