24 March 2014

Further Update on Detained Rights Lawyers

Jiang Yuanmin, Zhang Keke, Hu Guiyun, and Cai Ying
pose outside the Qixing Detention Center
Not long after lawyers Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Wang Cheng, and Zhang Junjie were detained by police while investigating a "legal education center" in Heilongjiang Province, other lawyers from around the country rushed to the Jiansanjiang Agricultural Reclamation District to intervene and investigate. A group of lawyers arrived on Sunday to learn that at least two of the lawyers, Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong, were placed under administrative detention. (I am still unclear about the status of the other two lawyers, but there seems to be an assumption that they, too, are being held under administrative detention.)

Efforts on Sunday to gain access to the detainees were unsuccessful. Early this morning, lawyers Jiang Yuanmin, Zhang Keke, Hu Guiyun, and Cai Ying arrived at the Qixing Branch Public Security Bureau (PSB). Told that officials there were having a meeting, the lawyers were kept waiting outside the facility until 11:30 a.m., at which point they were ushered into a meeting room. (They immediately noticed that audio-visual recording equipment had been freshly installed in the room.)

The head of the Qixing PSB, Guo Yuzhong, inspected the two lawyers’ identification documents then informed them that this was a “major” case and that it would be necessary to investigate whether the lawyers had contacts with “some persons who did not understand the true situation.”

For a while, the lawyers and police went back and forth over the matter of the procedure for meeting with detainees. Guo insisted that their request would have to be subject to formal approval, but the lawyers insisted that there was no legal basis for this. In cases involving administrative detention, they argued, the detention center should arrange for immediate meetings with detainees as long as the lawyers’ paperwork is in order. (The relevant regulations seem to be on the side of the lawyers.)

Concerned citizens demand release of
four human rights lawyers

The discussion grew quite tense. Finally, the lawyers calmly told the police chief that having lawyers follow proper legal procedure to get involved in the case should not be seen as such a bad thing, since both sides had an interest in ensuring that the case was correctly handled. Guo conceded that this was true and told the lawyers he would contact them later in the day.

At the time of posting, there was no word on what, if any, progress was made in the afternoon. Meanwhile, more than 45,000 yuan has been contributed to support the rescue effort.

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