No hearing in trial Li Yuhan
On June 4th, 1989, the People’s Liberation Army forcefully ended student protests in Tiananmen square in Beijing, China. Although the number of dead and wounded has never been officially established, estimates run into the thousands. The protests had started in April of that year, and were largely led by students. Protestors’ aims were many and varied: democratization, greater respect for the rule of law and freedom of speech, but also that the government better address economic anxiety and the joblessness that affected university graduates.
Accurate information about what is known as the ‘June 4 incident’ (Chinese: 六四事件) is generally unavailable in China, and online sources of information about the protests and their violent repression are blocked and censored on the Chinese internet. Memorials for the event were held annually in Hong Kong, but have been explicitly banned as of 2020.
June 4th this year comes exactly one week after veteran human rights lawyer Li Yuhan supposed to have been officially tried for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Li Yuhan has spent more more than three years in pretrial detention. We have been informed that the trial did not take place on May 27th, meaning that Li Yuhan’s pretrial detention continues to this day. Li Yuhan suffers from several medical conditions, and has stated that she has been treated inhumanely during her detention, and has been refused adequate medical care.
As a lawyer, Li Yuhan frequently acted in cases concerning freedom of belief, and in cases concerning access to government information. Li Yuhan also defended one of the most prominent lawyers targeted in the so-called ‘709-crackdown’, a mass-arrest of civil rights lawyers in the summer of 2015. The same issues that student protestors called attention for in 1989 – respect for the rule of law and greater official accountability – are as important now as they were then.
Lawyers for Lawyers has expressed its concerns about the welfare of Li Yuhan, and called for her immediate release. Li Yuhan’s three years is one of the longest pretrial detention periods in China that Lawyers for Lawyers is aware of. No justification or reasoning appears to have been given for the many postponements of Li Yuhan’s trial, and as far as Lawyers for Lawyers is aware, officials have blocked contacts between Li Yuhan and her lawyers as of January 2020, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawyers for Lawyers renews its call for the immediate and unconditional release Li Yuhan, and will continue to advocate against all forms of (official) mistreatment of lawyers, wherever and whenever it occurs.
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