Amnesty: China Targeting Human Rights Lawyers

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 12:40 am (UTC-5)
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Amnesty International says China has increasingly subjected human rights lawyers to harassment, arbitrary detention and even physical abuse in an effort to stifle dissent.

A report issued Thursday by the human rights watchdog outlines the steps Chinese authorities have taken to silence human rights lawyers, including suspending or revoking licenses to prevent them from representing pro-democracy dissidents and banned religious movements such as Falun Gong.

Lawyers who are freed after long periods of detention refuse to speak to journalists after their release, suggesting intimidation by authorities.

Beijing launched a crackdown on activists, lawyers and government critics in February that was seen as an attempt to prevent pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world. Amnesty says more than 130 activists and lawyers have been detained or disappeared.

The group says only a few hundred of the 204,000 lawyers in China risk taking on human rights cases.

One of China's most prominent human rights lawyers, Gao Zhisheng, has been missing for more than a year.