China: Disappearance of Human Rights Lawyer
In response to the disappearance and apparent detention of attorney Jiang Tianyong on November 21, after visiting the wife and lawyer of jailed human rights lawyer Xie Yang in Changsha, Hunan Province, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Chinese police should either confirm Jiang Tianyong’s detention or investigate his disappearance, as his family has repeatedly asked,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “Jiang’s disappearance shows that the act of meeting relatives or lawyers of human rights activists now carries grave risks.”
Jiang Tianyong is an outspoken advocate for human rights in China who has sought to bring attention to the broad crackdown on human rights lawyers. Before authorities in 2009 revoked his license to practice law, Jiang served as counsel for human rights defenders such as Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng. Authorities have repeatedly arrested him for his human rights work and physically mistreated him while in custody.
Since his disappearance on November 21, police and railway officials in Beijing, Zhengzhou, and Changsha have refused requests by Jiang’s wife, father, and lawyers to confirm Jiang’s detention, investigate his disappearance, or provide security footage from the train station where he was last known to be.
Authorities have arrested two well-known Chinese human rights website founders within the last week. On November 25, Liu Feiyue, founder of the website Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch, was charged with alleged “state subversion,” after being detained seven days. On November 28, after raiding his home and roughing up his 83-year old mother, police detained Huang Qi, the founder of 64 Tianwang, which was awarded the Press Freedom Prize by Reporters Without Borders on November 7.
In Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2016 report, China was rated “Not Free” and given a score of 16 out of 100. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China reported 1,433 cases of political and religious prisoners in the country as of October 11, 2016.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.