Friday (9) marked the sixth anniversary of the 709 arrests. U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken issued a statement honoring the 300 lawyers and human rights defenders who were unjustly detained, interrogated and imprisoned by Chinese authorities on this day six years ago. Blinken called on Chinese authorities to release those detained or imprisoned for 709, to ensure that their families are protected from harassment, and to reinstate those disbarred as lawyers.
Blinken named a number of 709 victims, including Xu Zhiyong, Ding Jiaxi, Li Yuxun and Yu Wensheng, saying that six years later, China is still holding Xu and Ding in pre-trial detention; and that when lawyers have tried to come forward to defend these “brave human rights defenders,” the Chinese authorities have disbarred them and detained and prosecuted them. When lawyers tried to come forward to defend these “courageous human rights defenders,” the Chinese authorities disbarred them and detained and prosecuted them, including Li Yuxuan and Yu Wensheng.
Blinken described 709 as a “crackdown,” saying that China had launched a campaign against them to intimidate and silence those who seek to help China meet its human rights obligations and commitments within the Chinese legal system and to bring about positive change in Chinese society. He emphasized that the United States will always support those brave people who seek to build a more just, stable and prosperous society.