Li Yuhan received a 6.5-Year verdict amid health struggles
On October 25, 2023, the Heping District Court in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, pronounced human rights lawyer Li Yuhan guilty of charges including “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “fraud.” She was subsequently sentenced to 6.5 years in prison.
Affectionately referred to as the “big sister” within China’s human rights community, Li Yuhan initiated her legal practice in the 1990s. Throughout her legal career, she has passionately dedicated herself to defending individuals facing unjust accusations, with a particular focus on cases related to freedom of religion and belief. Despite being in her seventies, Li has confronted threats to both herself and her family due to her involvement in sensitive cases, including those concerning Falun Gong and Christian house churches. Notably, she also served as the legal representative for Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu during the “709 Crackdown” on lawyers and legal activists.
Given Li Yuhan’s connection to the Wang Yu case, the allegations against her are widely perceived as a component of the Chinese authorities’ persistent crackdown on activists and legal advocates. The secrecy surrounding her trial in October 2021 has consequently sparked significant apprehensions regarding the fairness of the legal proceedings.
Li Yuhan’s sentence accounts for time already served, and supporters anticipate her release in April 2024. However, her declining health, marked by conditions such as arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, unstable angina, hyperthyroidism, acute erosive gastritis, and cerebral concussion, elicits pressing humanitarian concerns. Since her trial in October 2021, her health has further deteriorated, with reported instances of heart attacks. Despite repeated appeals from her legal representatives seeking her release on medical grounds, these pleas have consistently faced rejection.
After expressing concerns about Li Yuhan’s well-being, Lawyers for Lawyers issued a joint statement on November 29, 2022, advocating for her swift release. In light of the recent verdict, the organization emphasizes its plea for Li Yuhan’s unconditional release and urges authorities to guarantee her immediate access to essential medical care.
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