China: Drop politically motivated charges against prominent human rights lawyer
Pu Zhiqiang pictured in November 2011. Copyright AFP/Getty
The Chinese authorities must end their persecution of prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, and drop all charges against him, Amnesty International said.
Pu Zhiqiang was indicted on the charges of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and "inciting ethnic hatred" by Beijing prosecutors on Friday, primarily on the basis of online comments he made. If convicted he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
With this prosecution, the authorities are sending a warning to all lawyers that take up ‘sensitive’ cases to fall in line.
“The charges against Pu Zhiqiang are another act of political persecution. The chances of him receiving a fair trial are close to zero,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.
“He did nothing more than comment on current affairs on social media. The Chinese government is blatantly violating his freedom of expression and attempting to silence an independent voice.”
Pu Zhiqiang was originally detained by police on 6 May 2014, after he attended a seminar in Beijing that called for an investigation into the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
He has represented individuals in many ‘sensitive’ human rights cases, including those linked with the New Citizen Movement, a loose network of activists who aim to promote government transparency and expose corruption.
“With this prosecution, the authorities are sending a warning to all lawyers that take up ‘sensitive’ cases to fall in line. This harassment of those that defend the rights of ordinary citizens must end,” said William Nee.