Taiwan and U.S. civil society groups held an online conference Friday for the 5th China Human Rights Lawyers Festival and the 6th anniversary of the “709” arrests, and presented this year’s China Human Rights Lawyers Award to human rights lawyers Chang Wei-ping and Ding Jiaxi, who are still imprisoned by the Chinese government.
The Central News Agency (CNA) reported that the Civil Justice Reform Foundation, Humanitarian China and other civil society groups in Taiwan and the United States held an online conference on Friday evening for the 5th China Human Rights Lawyers Festival and the 6th anniversary of the “709 arrests” and made the announcement. Chang Wei-ping’s infant son, who delivered the award on his father’s behalf, said, “Today I finally know that my father is a hero in the eyes of others.
In her acceptance speech, Ding Jiaxi’s wife, Luo Shengchun, pointed out that as long as there is no freedom for Chinese human rights lawyers, there will be no human rights in China, and that the road to human rights and freedom is a long and difficult one.
Yu Maochun, a former U.S. government advisor on China and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, said the Chinese Communist Party is using the law to consolidate its monopoly on power, not to rule by law, but to “fix people according to law.
Any government action that goes against the spirit of the law, such as implication and extrajudicial detention, must be abolished, and the key group that makes this ideal a reality “is China’s lawyers,” Yu said.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, cited statistics from the U.S. Congressional and Executive Commission on China (CECC) that there were 1,598 political prisoners in China at the end of 2019, and that the actual number may be higher than the record, with more than 100 of them being lawyers.
Chang Wei-ping participated in the “Xiamen Gathering” at the end of 2019, which was organized by human rights activists, and has publicly described how he was tortured by the authorities. He was arrested this year on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” and is currently detained at Feng County Detention Center in Baoji City.
Ding Jiaxi was arrested shortly after his participation in the Xiamen gathering, and was transferred for prosecution in January of this year, with the charge upgraded from “inciting subversion of state power” to “subversion of state power.