Over the past few days, many Mainland Chinese human rights lawyers have been arrested, detained or otherwise made to disappear by authorities. The latest information suggests that over 100 such lawyers, their staff or related human rights activists have been so treated. According to the authorities, these persons have incited crowds, cooked up so-called human rights litigation, and sought to raise funds and benefit from the same.
We can of course spend much time conducting significant amounts of analysis to explain why the authorities’ allegations are either unfounded or deeply misleading. However, the fact that the very mission of lawyers is to protect rights needs no analysis. The fact that ordinary people who are being persecuted have the right to seek the assistance of lawyers needs no analysis. The fact that under a system without judicial independence, ordinary citizens and lawyers are forced, as a last resort, to mass protests and fundraising for group litigation in order to seek justice from the Courts, needs no analysis. As such, the fact that the recent arrests, detentions and disappearances are without basis needs no analysis.
Therefore, we strongly demand that the authorities immediately release the human rights lawyers and their associates who have been arrested, detained or have otherwise disappeared. We also call on the Hong Kong Law Society and the Hong Kong Bar Association, whether through their Councils or their Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Committees, to speak out strongly in relation to this. After all, if we remain silent today, it might be our turn to “face the music” one day.
Progressive Lawyers Group 13 July 2015
Statement originally appeared in Stand News on 13 July 2015