Six Years Since the Arrest of Li Yuhan
Today, 9 October 2023, marks the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Chinese human rights lawyer, Li Yuhan. She has been detained in Shenyang City, Liaoning since October 2017. Although her case was tried on 27 October 2021, there is still no verdict, and her release date remains unknown. In the meantime, her health continues to deteriorate, and she has limited access to necessary medical services.
On 21 July 2023, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, along with other UN experts, expressed their deep concerns regarding the arrest and ongoing arbitrary detention of Li Yuhan.
Known as “big sister” within China’s human rights community due to her age and compassionate demeanor, Li Yuhan began her legal practice in the 1990s. She has represented sensitive cases on freedom of belief and access to government information, taking on numerous high-profile human rights cases such as Falon Gong and Christian underground churches. Notably, she represented Wang Yu, one of the most prominent lawyers arrested in the “709 crackdown” – a mass arrest of human rights lawyers and activists in 2015.
Li Yuhan’s detention on 9 October 2017 appears to have been in response to her involvement in cases such as Wang Yu’s. For more than a month after her arrest, she was denied legal representation. On November 15, 2017, she was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “fraud”. Li Yuhan’s trial was scheduled for April 9, 2019, but was postponed. In late November 2019, Li Yuhan informed her lawyer that the court had indicated she could resume her legal practice upon release, provided she confessed to her alleged wrongdoing. Despite several postponements, Li Yuhan’s trial ultimately took place in October 2021. However, she has consistently maintained her refusal to confess, and as of now, no verdict has been announced.
Li Yuhan suffers from several critical medical conditions, including arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, unstable angina, hyperthyroidism, acute erosive gastritis, and cerebral concussion. She has been denied the essential medical care she urgently requires. Since her trial in October 2021, her health has worsened, including instances of heart attacks. Despite multiple appeals from her legal representatives requesting her release on medical grounds, these requests have persistently been rejected.
Lawyers for Lawyers has previously expressed its concerns about Li Yuhan’s welfare and issued a joint statement on 29 November 2022, calling for her immediate release. Lawyers for Lawyers reiterates its calls for Li Yuhan’s unconditional release and urges authorities to facilitate her access to the essential medical care she requires.
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