Prominent Chinese Legal Researcher Abruptly Dismissed for "Political Reasons"

Constitutional law researcher and house church pastor Dr. Fan Yafeng is considered one of the most intelligent scholars in China.

November 3, 2009

BEIJING–Dr. Fan Yafeng, one of China’s most prominent legal researchers, was dismissed by the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Monday, November 1st. The Party Secretary at the Institute of Legal Studies informed Dr. Fan that he would no longer be permitted to work at CASS because of “political reasons.” The action was abrupt, but not unprecedented, as Dr. Fan has been tenaciously leading efforts for religious freedom cases for years–including the defense of Beijing house church pastor Cai Zhuohua in 2004. The recent crackdown on house churches in Beijing since this August has placed increased pressure on all scholars who defend religious freedom based on human rights.

Internationally acclaimed as a leading expert in Chinese constitutional law, Dr. Fan Yafeng is one of founding members of the Chinese Christian Rights Defense Lawyers Association.  He also serves as a Christian house church leader in Beijing. In 2005, he was invited by ChinaAid to visit the United States, along with other six legal rights defenders. Most recently, Dr. Fan was made aware of the dire situation of Linfen-Fushan Church in Shanxi, whose leading members were instructed to hire lawyers for their expedited trial, without having received prior Notices of Arrest. Dr. Fan was one of many Christian legal defenders who sought to privately help the Linfen Church. Though not confirmed, ChinaAid suspects Dr. Fan’s summary dismal may have been due to his affiliation with this highly contentious case. Regardless, Dr. Fan’s dismissal for political reasons was both illegal and indicative of the increasing repression of legal workers representing faith-based clients.

ChinaAid President Bob Fu expressed concern for the prominent scholar: “To use an illegal tactic to dismiss a moderate constitutional law Christian scholar like Dr. Fan shows the current Chinese leadership’s lack of ruling confidence. Dr. Fan has been advocating for moderation, peace, and justice. We ask the Chinese government to reconsider its action and reverse its wrong decision.”

Dr. Fan Yafeng himself has become a victim of religious and political persecution, in the place of the people he traditionally defends. ChinaAid urges the international community to call for the China Academy of Social Sciences to reinstate Dr. Fan, and allow him to continue his valuable research free from repression by the political organs of the country.

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