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Human Rights Lawyer Abducted and Beaten in Beijing Before China National Day

Posted by Author on October 3, 2007


By DAVID BARBOZA, New York Times, October 3, 2007-

SHANGHAI, Oct. 2 — A prominent human rights lawyer in Beijing says he was abducted, beaten and threatened last weekend by a gang of men who demanded that he and his family leave the city.

The lawyer, Li Heping, has gained renown here for his defense of environmental activists, imprisoned lawyers and church leaders, and has also considered representing a member of Falun Gong, the banned religious sect.

Human rights groups say Chinese lawyers, activists and dissidents are often subjected to harassment, beatings or threats of long jail terms for pressing claims that seem to challenge the government and the nation’s legal system.

In a telephone interview today, Mr. Li said his abductors did not say why they were beating him.

“I don’t know why they did it,” Mr. Li said. “They just told me to leave Beijing. They didn’t tell me why they did it.”

The abduction of Mr. Li, a 37-year-old lawyer, was first reported by Radio Free Asia, a nonprofit group in Washington that broadcasts news to Asian countries in local languages, and that often reports on human rights cases and minority causes in China.

Mr. Li’s ordeal began on Sept. 29, on the eve of a national holiday week marking the 58th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and as Shanghai was preparing to play host to the 2007 Special Olympics, the first time the event has taken place in China.

The opening ceremonies, which were held tonight, were attended by President Hu Jintao.

Radio Free Asia officials say they received a tip about the kidnapping on Sunday and then reached Mr. Li, who described his ordeal.

In the telephone interview tonight, Mr. Li said he was followed after leaving his office late Saturday by a group of men who eventually grabbed him, put a bag over his head and drove him to a location where they beat him in a basement, sometimes tormenting him with a high-powered electric rod.

Later, he said, the abductors drove him to another location in the suburbs of Beijing, where they left him and told him that he and his family ought to sell their home and immediately leave Beijing.

Mr. Li, who has a degree from Renmin University of China Law School in Beijing, said he later visited a hospital because he was suffering from hearing loss and swelling in his face.

Doctors told him he may have suffered serious head injuries, he said. Mr. Li also said he reported the incident to the Beijing police, who promised to investigate the matter.

After being released by his abductors, Mr. Li said he returned home to discover that some of his personal belongings were missing, including legal files and his license to practice law.

In a statement released to a human rights group, Mr. Li said: “As a lawyer, I had the chance to experience electric punishment and torture. I was rolling on the ground and they continued laughing and beating me. This torture lasted about four or five hours.”

Human Rights in China, a New York based organization, issued a statement by its executive director, Sharon Hom, saying: “As the international community increases its scrutiny of China in the lead-up to the Olympics, it is appalling that this kind of attack on lawyers continue.”

The statement went on: “These attacks raise serious concerns about the will and ability of the Chinese government to protect lawyers’ personal safety and right to practice law, which are essential elements of a system of rule of law.”

– Original report from New York Times: Chinese Lawyer Recounts Abduction

Posted in Beijing, China, Human Rights, Incident, Law, Lawyer, News, People, Politics, Social, Torture, World | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »