Yesterday (13 July) the office of Zhengzhou Yirenping was raided by police for the second time in a month. The Chinese authorities first raided the premises on 17 June, seizing computers and interrogating staff about the organisation's work with human rights defenders.
The detention of public interest lawyer Chang Boyang on 28 May, shortly before the 25 anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, appears to have been motivated solely by his work on behalf of individuals exposed to discrimination in China, including women, migrant workers, people living with HIV/AIDs or hepatitis B or C, and other vulnerable individuals. However, when the police first detained him it was on the grounds that he was suspected to be gathering to disturb the public order.
Repeatedly refused access to his defence attorney, his family have now been informed that Mr Chang’s detention was approved by the prosecutor’s office on 3 July and that he was suspected of an entirely different crime of engaging in illegal business operations.
Speaking to Equal Rights Trust’s Executive Director, Dimitrina Petrova, Lu Jun said:
“It’s widely believed by lawyers and activists in China that the authorities are trying their best to cook up charges to stop Chang from representing his clients and to punish him for his previous representation in human rights cases. Chang’s family and friends are worried about the possibility of Chang’s being tortured, as police have refused Chang’s defence attorney’s request for meeting him and no one has seen him in the last six weeks.”
Reports from the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers also indicate that Chang continues to be denied access to legal representation. Since his arrest, the authorities have also continued to harass Zhengzhou Yirenping, including through freezing the bank accounts. On 17 June, the Chinese authorities raided the Yirenping office in Zhengzou, seizing computers, and interrogating staff about the organisation’s work with human rights defenders.
Dimitrina Petrova said:
“The authorities’ treatment of lawyer Chang Boyang and Yirenping not only amounts to a flagrant breach of a range of fundamental rights of human rights lawyers and their clients, but also jeopardises the fight for equality in China. Equal Rights Trust remains concerned about the widespread discrimination faced by people from disadvantaged groups in China and notes that Yirenping is one of the few organisations within China working directly with vulnerable individuals to help them challenge discrimination.”
Yirenping co-founder Lu Jun was one of the original signatories of Equal Rights Trust’s Declaration on Principles of Equality in 2008.