Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Disbarred

By Faith Magbanua, January 20, 2018 03:01 AM

Yu Wensheng(Facebook/ Screenshot)

Three months after writing an open letter criticizing the ruling communist party, the license of a Chinese human rights lawyer has been revoked.

The lawyer, 50-year-old Yu Wensheng received the news in a letter from Beijing's Bureau of Justice on 15 January, a photo of which he has since tweeted (in Chinese).

Yu has long been a frequent and vocal advocate of the government. He is also among hundreds of human rights lawyers who have recently been detained and interrogated by authorities.

According to the letter, Yu's license was cancelled because he had not been employed by a licensed legal firm in the past six months.

However, according to Yu's wife, Xu Yan, she said that her husband had tried setting up an independent legal practice after he left his old firm last year.

Prior to the first notice, Yun have also received another letter on 12 January in which the Beijing municipal authority refused his application to set up a practice.

It states that: "Through investigations, this organization found you have openly expressed opposition to the [Communist] Party's leadership".

As a result, it said, his behavior did not meet the standards required of practicing lawyers.

Yu, a former commercial lawyer, was first arrested in 2014. He disappeared for three months after staging a public protest over not being allowed to meet a client who had been detained. To add to that, he was again arrested in 2015 and after the arrest, he reported of abuse, allegedly conducted by the police while he was in custody.

Yu was also in a team of lawyers that tried suing the Chinese government over its failure to improve air quality in the capital, Beijing.

He even tried defending a fellow lawyer, Wang Quanzhang, who was also detained by authorities.

It is known that Yu has been very outspoken especially about the government's crackdown on human rights lawyers, which intensified in the middle of 2015, halfway through President Xi Jinping's first term.

However, in 2017, China jailed a prominent human rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, and also tried another, Xie Yang, who allegedly admitted to being "brainwashed" overseas during his trial, which was not open to the public or even the media.

More than 300 lawyers, legal assistants and activists have been questioned, and more than two dozen have been formally investigated since 2015.

While some of them have been sentenced to long jail terms, others are still awaiting a sentence, and at least one is reported to have disappeared.


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