China: Closure of Shengzhi law office a major blow to human rights; AP:Activist lawyer to be stripped of license

China Aid Association
CAA photo: Mr. Gao attending the House Church service in Beijing Ark Church
AP:Activist lawyer to be stripped of license
Gao Zhisheng Stripped Of Legal License
Celebrated Chinese Lawyer Quits Chinese Communist Party
China: Closure of Shengzhi law office a major blow to human rights
Amnesty International has learned from reliable sources that operations of the Beijing-based Shengzhi Law Office have been suspended by the Chinese authorities for one year.
The closure comes shortly after the firm’s director sent an open letter to the Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao urging them to end the “barbaric” persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. It is believed that the closure of the firm is closely linked with this letter.
Shengzhi Law Office is one of a small number of law firms in China which has taken on cases involving human rights issues, and Amnesty International is concerned that this suspension will severely undercut the work of human rights activists in the country.
On 4 November 2005, Gao Zhisheng, director of the firm, received an official notice from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice informing him of the temporary closure of the firm. Reportedly, the official reasons for the closure were the firm’s failure to notify the authorities of its change of address and the “illegal” submission of legal documents to a lawyer who does not work for the firm.
The Shengzhi Law Office has recently been involved in a number of high-profile cases, including a land dispute case filed against locally elected officials in Taishi village, Guangdong province, which is seen as a test case for local democracy in China.
The firm has also supported Chen Guangcheng, a self-educated lawyer currently under house arrest in Linyi city, Shandong province, because of his involvement in a class action law suit against local authorities over coercion in implementation of China’s family planning policies, and is involved in the case of Zheng Yichun, a journalist and former professor who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in September for his on-line writings and who is reportedly appealing his sentence.
Activist lawyer to be stripped of license
An outspoken lawyer known for representing clients with complaints of official corruption and police abuse is being stripped of his law license, an official and a colleague said.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
An outspoken lawyer known for representing clients with complaints of official corruption and police abuse is being stripped of his law license, an official and a colleague said.

Gao Zhisheng, who works in Beijing, has defended people who say their land has been seized by corrupt officials and followers of the Falun Gong qigong movement who complain of police abuse.
Gao’s individual law license is to be confiscated today if he does not voluntarily turn it in, said lawyer Li Heping, who works for the Beijing firm Gaobo Longhua Law Group, Tuesday.
The director of lawyers’ affairs at the Beijing Justice Bureau, who gave his name as Cai, confirmed that a decision to remove Gao’s license had been made “some time ago.”
Cai refused to confirm it would be revoked today.
Gao’s wife, Geng He, said that Gao was out of town and unavailable for comment. Geng said her husband’s firm, which had about 14 lawyers, had already disbanded.
Last month, the Beijing Justice Bureau ordered Gao’s firm to close for one year on grounds that it failed to inform authorities of an address change, Li said. “I will continue to work for the rights of ordinary citizens, as an ordinary person myself if they refuse to let me operate as a lawyer,” Gao told Radio Free Asia last month after his law firm’s permit was suspended.
The bureau also decided to strip Gao of his individual right to practice law, according to Li, who has seen the judgment. He said the judgment violates the law.
Gao’s wife said that for the past several months, their house has been under constant police surveillance and Gao is frequently followed.

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