Stop Crackdown Against Lawyers and Activists in China

Over 225 Chinese human rights lawyers and activists have been targeted by police in a nationwide crackdown which began on Thursday, July 9. At least 22 are believed to be in some form of detention. Many more have been questioned by police, and at least three law firms have also been searched.

At around 3 a.m. on July 9, human rights lawyer Wang Yu went missing after sending a text message to friends saying that her internet and electricity had been cut off and people were trying to break into her home. Her husband and 16-year-old son were also taken into custody that day, and the son has undergone at least three rounds of interrogation. Since then there have been many more reports of lawyers across the country being targeted, including in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Among those missing are Zhou Shifeng, the director of Fengrui Law Firm, whom witnesses saw being taken away from his hotel room in Beijing with a black hood over his head by three unidentified people.

Many of those detained were part of a group of over 100 lawyers and rights activists who signed a public statement on July 9, condemning Wang Yu's disappearance. An article published on July 12 in The People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, said that the Ministry of Public Security had launched an operation to destroy a "major criminal gang" that was using the Fengrui Law firm in Beijing to draw attention to "sensitive cases."

Wang Yu has taken on many important human rights cases that the government has deemed "sensitive" in recent years, including the defense of Cao Shunli, a human rights lawyer who died while in police custody, and prominent Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, who was sentenced to life in prison last year for "separatism."

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