Jiang Tianyong released – Joint letter
On 28 February, lawyer Jiang Tianyong was released at the end of a two-year jail term. Jiang Tianyong was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to 2 years in prison and 3-year deprivation of political rights on 21 November 2017. Days before his release, Lawyers for Lawyers, together with 33 other organizations, called for his safe release in a joint letter.
The joint letter reads as follows:
Jiang Tianyong, a Chinese rights defence lawyer, was tried on 22 August 2017 by the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court of the crime of ‘inciting subversion of state power’. His family-appointed defence lawyer did not receive notice of the trial, and yet his father was forced to appear, calling into question the court’s impartiality and transparency. Jiang was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, and three years’ deprivation of political rights.
Finally, on 28 February of this year, Jiang Tianyong is due to be released. We will be paying careful attention to ensure that his release and treatment after release are in line with Chinese law and with international human rights standards. Specifically, we urge the Chinese government to:
- Respect Jiang’s request to return to his home in Beijing upon his release
- Respect Jiang’s right to leave the People’s Republic of China freely, should he choose, in order to be reunited with his family
- Cease harassment, surveillance and continuing persecution of Jiang Tianyong, his family and his colleagues.
Who is Jiang Tianyong?
Jiang Tianyong has a long and impressive history, starting in 2004, of tirelessly working on rights-related cases. He took on so-called ‘sensitive’ cases, such as those of fellow lawyers Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng; documented cases of forced labour in coalmines; and defended the rights of a large number of Falun Gong practitioners and government petitioners. When the 709 crackdown happened in 2015, he was immediately active in organizing support for the families of detained lawyers.
What are the details of his trial and imprisonment?
Ever since he was disappeared in November of 2016, he and his family have been the targets of official intimidation and harassment, living in near-constant fear. For a time while in prison, Jiang was refused visits from his family. Jiang also reported that he was regularly forced to take medicine, each day two pills. As a result, his memory began to suffer, and physically, he reported struggling with swelling, lethargy and weakness. Jiang already suffered from the physical and psychological mistreatment he’d faced in detention in previous years, which exacerbates his current situation. Past experience demonstrates that Jiang, like his former client Gao Zhisheng, risks being subject to ongoing surveillance and potentially house arrest, even after he is formally released.
We urge the Chinese government to ensure that, once Jiang is released, the authorities fully respect the Chinese Constitution, specifically Article 37 guaranteeing freedom of movement
Environment of intimidation
At the same time, Jiang Tianyong is not the only victim. His family remains at risk of harassment. His younger sister has been surveilled, and other family members have reported being temporarily stopped or detained by the authorities. This was, we believe, part of a strategy to pressure Jiang to confess. His wife, Jin Bianling, fled China for the U.S. several years ago, and has not had any way to see her husband since that time; she struggles with depression because of the difficulty of getting information about Jiang’s situation. Whether it is Jiang or his family, they are the victims of an unfair trial and a lack of due process.
Despite these challenges, Jiang’s family has refused to give up and continue to defend and support him. According to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Chinese government should protect the right of everyone to exercise and defend human rights, without the risk of violence, threat or reprisals.
In 2016, Jiang Tianyong supported detained rights activists Guo Feixiong and Yu Shiwen through a hunger strike. He said:
‘When we stand together with Guo Feixiong, Yu Shiwen, those detained in the 709 crackdown and those speaking out for victims, when we act for them and call for their freedom, we also come one step closer to freedom. We struggle together.
Now we commit to struggle, together, for his freedom.
Sincerely, (In Alphabetical Order)
- Barra Mexicana, Colegio de Abogados (Mexican Bar Association) 墨西哥律師協會
- Borderless Movement 無國界社運
- China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group 中國維權律師關注組
- Civil Human Rights Front 民間人權陣線
- Covenants Watch Taiwan 人權公約施行監督聯盟
- Demosisto 香港眾志
- Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China 香港市民支援愛國民主運動聯合會
- Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 香港職工會聯盟
- International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) 國際人民律師協會
- International Service For Human Rights 國際人權服務社
- Judicial Reform Foundation Taiwan 民間司法改革基金會
- Law Lay Dream 法夢
- Lawyers for Lawyers 律師助律師基金會
- Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada 加拿大律師權利觀察
- League of Social Democrats 社會民主連線
- Left 21 左翼廿一
- LegCo Office of Au Nok-hin 區諾軒立法會議員辦事處
- LegCo Office of Kwok Ka-ki 郭家麒立法會議員辦事處
- Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers, International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) 國際人民律師協會監督委員會
- New School for Democracy 華人民主書院
- Progressive Lawyers Group 法政匯思
- Safeguard Defenders 保護衛士
- Student Labour Action Coalition 工學同行
- Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty 台灣廢除死刑推動聯盟
- Taiwan Association for Human Rights 台灣人權促進會
- Taiwan Innocence Project 台灣寃獄平反協會
- Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network 台灣聲援中國人權律師網絡
- Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association 台灣同志諮詢熱線協會
- Taipei Bar Association Human Rights Committee 台北律師公會人權委員會
- The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers 聲援中國律師委員會
- The Rights Practice
- The Human rights commission of the Geneva Bar 日内瓦律師協會人權委員會
- The Law Society of England & Wales 英格蘭和威爾士律師協會
- The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice 萊特納國際法暨正義中心
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