Last updated: December 8, 2021
In early December 2019, legal advocate Xu Zhiyong (许志永), lawyers Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜) and Chang Weiping, and other lawyers and participants met in Xiamen, Fujian Province, to discuss current affairs and China's future and share their experiences in promoting the construction of civil society. On December 26, the authorities started taking away the participants and others involved in the private gathering. More than 20 citizens and lawyers were disappeared, summoned, or detained. Several were detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” or “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Most of those detained were later released on bail pending trial. Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi were officially arrested. Li Qiaochu, who publicly called for the release of Xu and others, was summoned for questioning several times and was detained at an undisclosed location. Lawyer Chang Weiping was twice subjected to residential surveillance at a designated [undisclosed] location (RSDL) where he was tortured, before he was officially arrested.
Human rights defenders play a critical role in ensuring peaceful exercise of rights and promoting an independent civil society. As China’s civil society faces increasingly steep restrictions, human rights defenders have become the targets of draconian and comprehensive crackdowns. For their efforts, many human rights defenders have lost their jobs, family members, and personal freedom; many suffer mistreatment and torture in prison.
In these dark times for so many of them, HRIC honors their work, their spirit of dedication, and the great price they continue to pay in promoting the progress of civil society. Please take a moment to send messages to the imprisoned and detained rights defenders—to show your concern, solidarity, and support.