American Bar Association Petitions State Department for Chinese Rule of Law

February 12, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Jiang Tianyong’s visit to the United States last October, the Chinese human rights attorney and others urged U.S. officials to meet with human rights lawyers in Beijing, The Chinese legal association had refused to renew Jiang’s license to practice law in the spring of 2009, because had had taken on “highly sensitive cases.” Unable to practice, he was fired from his firm, causing his family’s well-being to suffer. The day after he returned to China from his trip to the U.S, he and four other legal advocates attempted to meet with the U.S. Ambassador in Beijing, but with no success, The next day he was shoved into a police car, his wife beaten before their daughter’s eyes, and detained for over 12 hours.

Cases like Jiang Tianyong’s have rapidly increased in number and severity. Chinese lawyers who specifically defend religious or ethnic minority groups are given disproportionate wages, fired or fined, have their families placed under surveillance, or find their licenses terminated. In more severe cases, lawyers have been tortured. Gao Zhisheng, one of the most prominent Chinese attorneys and two-time Nobel Peace prize nominee, sustained 53 days of brutal torture in 2007, and has been missing without no account for over one year, as of February 4, 2010.

Concerned by these gross violations of rule of law in China, President of the American Bar Association Carolyn Lamm directed a poignant letter to U.S. Secretary Clinton, in December, 2009. The letter cites the four specific cases of well-known Chinese human rights defenders Gao Zhisheng, Jiang Tianyong, Li Suibin, and Xu Zhiyong, and calls on the U.S. Government to urge the Chinese government to “demonstrate its commitment to rule of law principles,” by halting the arbitrary practice of denying legal licenses and to value the role of human rights lawyers in maintaining national stability and preserving the peace.

Read the full ABA Rule of Law letter to Secretary Clinton, sent December 22, 2009.

Though members of Congress and the U.S. Department of State have made previous efforts to inquire about the treatment and conditions of human rights lawyers in China, this is the first bold step an American legal association has made on behalf of Chinese human rights in several years.

“We applaud the efforts of the American Bar Association for their willingness to confront human rights abuses against their Chinese professional colleagues,” said Bob Fu, President of ChinaAid. “They have demonstrated that they resonate with the need for rule of law worldwide.”

Bob Fu was recently able to meet with a representative of the American Bar Association, and was greatly encouraged by the ABA’s commitment to raising concern for their fellow compatriots.

ChinaAid remains committed to enhancing the dialogue concerning rule of law in the Chinese legal system, and will continue to seek opportunities for international legal scholars and professionals from China and around the world to meet.

ChinaAid Contacts
Tracy Oliver, Media Coordinator
Tel: (267) 210-8278, or [email protected]
Mark Shan, CAA Spokesperson
Tel: (267) 205-5210, or [email protected]
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