Li Yuhan, a Chinese lawyer who has represented many human rights cases, has been awarded the German-French Human Rights and the Rule of Law Award for her efforts in promoting human rights and the rule of law in China. Some people commented that Li Yuhan deserved the award and represented the international community’s affirmation of China’s human rights champion.
Chinese human rights lawyer Li Yuhan is one of the 15 winners of the 2020 German-French Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law jointly presented by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on World Human Rights Day on December 10, 2020, according to the website of the German Embassy.
Over the years, Li has worked hard to uphold human rights and the rule of law in China. Li has represented sensitive religious freedom cases and cases demanding free access to government information. During the “709 arrests” of Chinese human rights lawyers in 2015, Li defended the detained lawyer Wang Yu and worked to defend the rights of other detained human rights lawyers and their families. Li was also arrested in October 2017. In 2019, he was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “fraud” and has been detained ever since.
Eu foreign affairs (EEAS) on December 21, 2020, issued a statement, called on China to immediately release xu junming letter and other human rights lawyers and human rights defenders: “the eu wants China to ensure full respect for the rule of law, the establishment of a fair trial, and thorough investigation of all the human rights defenders and families of arbitrary detention, abuse and torture.”
The award was received by Wang Yu, a lawyer who represented Li Yuhan, as he remains in detention for an extended period. Wang Yu told the BBC that Li Yuhan deserved the German-French award for the rule of law in human rights. “She has done a lot of work on my behalf in the 709 case, and she has also represented many human rights cases. She has done a lot of legal work on behalf of the vulnerable and dissidents. The human rights situation in China has been deteriorating and she has paid the price of freedom in the process.”
Since Li’s arrest in 2017, authorities have repeatedly delayed court sessions and rejected requests for interviews, Wang said. Li’s health deteriorated during her detention, and medical assistance could not be guaranteed: “After all, Li Yuhan is very old. For a 60-year-old woman, the local public security law still torments and persecutes her. I think the local public security law should be condemned by the whole society and the whole world.”
Wang Yu firmly believes that Li Yuhan is innocent, and the authorities’ prolonged detention of Li Yuhan is political persecution: “It is the persecution of Li Yuhan’s lawyer, the authorities have no evidence to collect, Li Yuhan is innocent. Many places in China have fabricated this crime before they arrest people.”
Wang Yu told the BBC that Li’s lawyer told him that while he was in detention, authorities continued to put pressure on him to confess, but he insisted on his innocence. Therefore, the case remains undecided.
“Big catch 709” released from prison in lawyer Wang Quanzhang told Ben, award for the year and the human rights of the rule of law is xu junming letter to the international community for its struggles affirmation: “xu junming letter of attorney in the ‘709’ events can stand the horrible environment at that time, to the custody of the lawyer as defenders, showed a human rights lawyer devoted spirit, this is to let a person admire.”
Wang believes that by putting pressure on the Chinese government, the international community can protect persecuted human rights lawyers and human rights defenders: “Detainees can get more attention from the international community, and the situation in detention may change. This kind of outside voice, though, will not immediately enable the authorities to release these detained human rights defenders.”
Yang Zhanqing, a Chinese NGO based in the United States, agrees that continued international attention will help improve China’s human rights situation: “International attention like this will certainly put pressure on the Chinese government, but the pressure is very limited. China responds to these public concerns and pressure from other governments in a variety of ways, either by responding in a bureaucratic way and not taking it seriously, but it is still under pressure.”