Joint Statement of Taiwanese Human Rights Groups Condemning the PRC government’s Large-scale Suppression of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
Date: July 13, 2015
We, the civil society in Taiwan, strongly urge the Chinese government respect human rights and immediately release the human rights lawyers and human rights defenders who have been taken away since the early morning of July 9 from their workplaces or homes with no proper reasons or procedures.
Within 48 hours after the disappearance of the human rights lawyer Wang Yu from Beijing and his whole family on July 9, who since then remained unaccounted for, at least 120 China human rights lawyers and defenders were nationwide successively subjected to various forms of suppression by the government. These included arrests, forced disappearance, investigations and the restriction of personal freedom. The amount of cases of suppression is still increasing.
The Chinese human rights lawyers have been trying their best to safeguard the civil rights and the right to a fair trial of many people and vulnerable groups of the society within the framework of the legal system of China. Since many of these lawyers were willing to take the risk to stand up in court for the rights of Falun Gong members, Tibetans, Uighurs as well as dissidents of Chinese society, they long ago became a thorn in the eye of the Chinese authorities. Take attorney Wang for example, he provided legal assistance for a Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti and for Falun Gong members, and thus aroused the discontent of the authorities, and made herself subject to serious violations of her rights.
Taiwan has also experienced a long period of political suppression in the past, the so-called “White Terror”, which can be considered a human rights catastrophe. After the lifting of the Martial Law, some human rights defenders and lawyers, unafraid of the suppression by the Nationalist government (led by the KMT), slowly began to create a breathing space for freedom, democracy and human rights in Taiwan. Consequently, the freedom that we are able to enjoy nowadays is the fruit achieved by our predecessors and we are aware of the risks and hard work undertaken by those human rights defenders. The efforts made by Chinese human rights lawyers being confronted with suppression by Chinese authorities are definitely challenging and can only be admired.
The United Nations passed the “Declaration on Human Rights Defenders” in 1998 (UNGA 53/144 resolution). According to Article 8 of the declaration, “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to have effective access, on a nondiscriminatory basis, to participation in the government of his or her country and in the conduct of public affairs. This includes, inter alia, the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organizations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The Chinese human rights lawyers participating in the public affairs in China comply with the law of China and act on a legal basis. All of them should be under the protection of the PRC Constitution and Laws. The PRC, as a member of the UN, should follow the Declaration on HRD, stop any kind of suppression and crackdowns and release the human rights lawyers and activists. Finally, we once more call on the PRC government to ratify the ICCPR as soon as possible in order to give the most basic civil and political rights back to the Chinese people.
We also appeal to the Taiwan government to condemn and criticize the PRC government’s outrageous measures. The communication and trade exchange between Taiwan and China should base on the premise of democracy and human rights. Human rights groups in Taiwan will continue paying attention to the development of the situation of Chinese human rights defenders and lawyers. We also call on the international society to join together and put pressure on the PRC government to give back the courageous human rights defenders their freedom.
Statement endorsed by Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Human Rights Committee of Taipei Bar Association, Covenants Watch, Taiwan Network for supporting Chinese human rights lawyers, New school for Democracy, Taiwan Alliance to End Death Penalty, Awakening Foundation, Taiwan Democracy Watch