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Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Li Heping Released
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Li Heping

Summary: China finally released a Chinese rights lawyer after detaining him since July 2015 on subversion charges.

Li Heping, a Chinese rights lawyer, was released after being sentenced to three years, with the sentence suspended for four years. The Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court found Li guilty of “subversion of state power” in a closed-door trial. Li was detained during a countrywide crackdown on rights lawyers.

  
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Li’s wife Wang Qiaoling confirmed his release and arrival at home. She previously refused to meet him in Tianjin, fearing their entire family would end up trapped at a secret location under house arrest. She described his condition as “He is extremely thin and he has gone gray, although his mental state isn’t too bad but he seems to have some trouble expressing himself; he no longer sounds like a successful young lawyer.” He arrived at their Beijing home on Tuesday.

She added, “He was very closed in on himself, and I’m sure that there was torture involved. He was also force-fed medication that they said was for high blood pressure but he said it made his muscles ache and blurred his vision.”

Wang claims he was mistreated in jail because he would not incriminate himself or others during interrogations. She said, “They were seriously tortured in there.”

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She blames this event on the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to eliminate rights lawyers and does not think they are done. “They wouldn’t release him and allow him to come home after the [suspended] sentencing, and they tried him in secret,” she said. “They wouldn’t allow him to meet with his own lawyer. They broke the law in a lot of places in the past two years, and I think that the local governments involved should give us an explanation, but instead they are trying to shut us up.”

The court justified a closed court through its Weibo account that they “decided not to proceed with an open trial, owing to the fact that the Li Heping case involved state secrets.” They accused him of using the route of foreign media interviews to attack and discredit “organs of the state and China’s legal system.” They also believed he used foreign funds and “hyped cases” to continually provoke people already upset with the country’s political system. Finally, the court said his “colluded with illegal religious activities to subvert the power of the state.”



The Chinese government alleges that Li and other lawyers and associates conspired to “jointly plan a strategy, steps, and methods to overthrow the socialist system,” which endangers national security and social stability. Families of over 200 lawyers, law firm staff and rights activists that were detained, questioned and banned from every leaving the country among other restrictions since the crackdown in 2015 plan to sue the government.

U.S.-based legal scholar Teng Biao explained that the Xi Jinping administration is apparently erasing the last touches of China’s emerging civil society. He said, “All of these crackdowns are connected. We are now entering the endgame, and the damage done to civil society has been huge but they don’t appear to have lost courage, and it looks as if China’s human rights lawyers are going to get braver and braver the longer they fight this.”

Do you think China has major problems? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about other human rights lawyers, read these articles:

To learn more about the case, read these articles:

Photo: chinachange.org



 

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