“The fact that the lawyers initially hired by Mr. Weiping’s family to represent him have both withdrawn from his case due to pressure they received from officials is also telling of the gravity and scale of the situation faced by human rights defenders and lawyers in China”, Ms. Lawlor added.
She said lawyers who have been detained and released during the crackdown reportedly faced “security measures” in the run-up to Human Rights Day on 10 December, and human rights lawyers’ families had been harassed, threatened, summoned for questioning and subjected to surveillance by the authorities. The had also been affected by the loss of household income.
“Fundamental human rights are not a threat to any Government or society, and neither are the individuals who defend those rights. I urge the Chinese authorities to release at once Chang Weiping and all other detained and disappeared human rights defenders.”