Rights organization Amnesty International (AI) yesterday accused the Chinese government of unleashing “an uncompromising series of measures intended to rein in the legal profession and suppress lawyers pursuing human rights cases.” The state’s efforts to control lawyers have intensified over the past two years and have been stepped up further in recent months, the London-based rights body says in a report titled Against the Law – Crackdown on China’s Human Rights Lawyers Deepens. “The crackdown stems from government fears of a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ inspired by the Arab Spring, AI says, adding that it has led to the detention of scores of government critics, activists and netizens since February. “Human rights lawyers are subject to escalating silencing tactics from suspension or revoking of licenses, to harassment, enforced disappearance or even torture,” said Catherine Baber, AI’s Asia Pacific deputy director. AI cites the case of the Beijing Gongxin law firm which represented Uighur Christian, Alimujiang Yimiti, jailed for “passing state secrets to foreign organizations," and has since suffered regular harassment. It also attacks Beijing over the “disappearance” of the Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. He was taken in for questioning in February 2009 and was not seen again until March 2010. He vanished again within a month and has not been seen since. The government denies knowledge of his whereabouts. “The Chinese state is attempting to wield and manipulate the law to crush those it perceives as a threat," Baber said. “Human rights lawyers are being targeted as they try to use the law to protect citizens against the excesses of the state.”
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