EU Parliament Human Rights Committee Hears Testimony of Two Chinese Lawyers

July 16, 2010
Media Summary – 7/16/2010

VIDEO UPDATE – July 19, 2010
BRUSSELS – Following the recent EU-China Human Rights Dialogue hosted in Madrid on June 29, the European Parliament Human Rights Committee held a hearing on July 15 to further discuss human rights in China. Rights lawyers Li Subin and Wu Chenglian were invited by the EU Parliament Human Rights Committee to testify on the issues of religious freedom and rule of law. The hearing marked the first time two rights defenders from mainland China have testified before the EU Parliament in person. Watch an 8-minute video clip of their speeches:

In their testimonies, Ms. Wu specifically addressed concerns of religious freedom, while Mr. Li Subin testified on rule of law conditions in China. Both devout Christians, Wu Chenglian works for the Beijing Holy Mountain Institute as a defense lawyer, and Li Subin recently became the Director of the Applications Committee for the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Defense Association—formed in May to help lawyers protect their licenses to practice law and the rights of citizen petitioners.

Mr. Li remarked that in the past 3 years, there have been some improvements to rule of law in China. “But,” he added, “in some areas of rule of law, there has been no progress.” He illustrated how the Chinese government represses both licensed human rights lawyers who handle sensitive rights cases and “petitioners,” non-legally trained citizens who take it upon themselves to petition the government for their causes directly in Beijing.  “In these two areas of rule of law, there has been regress.”
Li Subin specifically cited the re-disappearance of human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, and the torture of female lawyer, Ni Yulan, who was imprisoned twice and beaten until paralyzed and homeless. He further noted the arbitrary revocation of  Liu Wei’s and Tang Jitian’s lawyer licenses in April, highlighting the need for lawyers to be able to defend their own rights to practice law in the courts.
Wu Chenglian surveyed the changing landscape of religious persecution. “In the past 30 years, the general situation of religious freedom has progressed. But while persecution against house churches and other non-government sanctioned religious groups has changed form, it has never stopped.” The Chinese Government avoids using the name of ‘religious freedom’ to persecute and punish, resorting to other methods instead.
In the case of Shanxi Linfen Church, 10 church leaders were arrested and sentenced. Five were summarily sentenced to Re-Education through labor. The other five stood trial, and were sentenced to 3-7 years in prison for crimes of “assembling a crowd to disturb the traffic order” and other unrelated claims.
In a severe case in Xinjiang last year, Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, for allegedly “leaking state secrets to a foreign individual.” The Chinese Governmen uses these tactics to sidestep the issue of religious freedom.
Attorneys Wu and Li also advised the European Union on how to promote rule of law in China. See the written statements: Li Subin | Wu Chenglian.
“We are glad we are invited to share about the true situation about the rule of law and religious freedom in China as a voice from China’s civil society,” said Li Subin, whose law license has not been returned by the Chinese authorities after it was confiscated for his taking on religious rights-related cases. “We are all optimistic that the trend for freedom and rule of law in China will be unstoppable, despite temporary frustration and setbacks.”
Wu Chenglian and Li Subin joined President of ChinaAid Bob Fu and Christian Solidarity Worldwide leaders in meeting the Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament, the Chair of the EU Human Rights Committee, and several parliamentary members and NGO leaders before and after the hearing, highlighting the need to continue raising awareness on these vitally important cases.
“We applaud the EU Parliament’s decision to invite the two courageous lawyers to testify about the current situation on religious freedom and rule of law in China,” said Bob Fu who has been traveling with the two lawyers in Brussels, along with leaders from Christian Solidarity Worldwide who are cosponsoring the trip. “We sincerely hope as a 27-member important international body, the EU can play a more active role in advancing religious freedom and rule of law in China.”
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