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Chinese Lawyers Disbarred for Taking Cases State Opposes



  • Prominent human rights lawyers in China have accused the state of disbarring attorneys for taking on sensitive cases.
  • The most recent controversy involves lawyers representing Hong Kongers attempting to flee to Taiwan after taking part in the 2019 protests and violating the controversial National Security Law.
  • Officially, the lawyers are being disbarred for social media posts and other writings advocating their cases, a violation of 2016 regulations mandating they only speak about cases inside a courtroom.
  • The attorneys allege that Chinese security officials have also prevented them from meeting with clients behind bars and giving proper legal consultation.

Chinese Defense Lawyers Need to Defend Themselves

Chinese human rights lawyers are fighting the state not only for their clients but for themselves.

Authorities are accused of targeting lawyers who take on particularly ‘sensitive’ cases in the country – notably those dealing with religious minorities or defending Hong Kong protesters.

Ren Quanniu, for instance, was disbarred in January after defending one of 12 Hong Kongers who attempted to escape the territory for Taiwan. The group was caught by the Chinese coast guard and faced criminal charges for crossing a Chinese border and taking part in the 2019 Hong Kong protests.

Ren is one of two lawyers representing clients from that incident who has since been disbarred. Throughout the process, authorities prevented Ren from visiting his client – a standard and necessary practice for lawyers. Police claimed Ren couldn’t provide any proof that his client, Wong Wai-yin, had hired Ren himself, despite the fact that Ren had video and written statements from Wong’s family stating that was the case.

In the end, Ren was removed from the case after he was informed by the court that Wong had reportedly acquired another lawyer.

Throughout the situation, Ren claims that he “received several calls from national security officers. They said they had high-level orders from Beijing that I had to drop this Hong Kong case or my lawyer’s license might be affected.”

In December Wong was found guilty of all charges. Shortly after Ren was given notice that he was facing disbarment. Officially, he was in violation of 2016 regulations that prevented lawyers from discussing their cases outside of the courtroom. The regulation has been selectively enforced as human rights lawyers have born the brunt of violations of those regulations. It’s common for lawyers to speak and write about cases outside of the courtroom since they are advocates for their clients in court, to the media, and to the public.

Changing Tactics for Changing Regime

The move to disbar lawyers is a change in tactics, in multiple ways, by leader Xi Jinping. In the early 2000’s, China had a blossoming legal profession as courts became increasingly independent of the Communist Party and the rule of law began to take root. Many activist lawyers managed to bring serious cases to the limelight, such as one lawsuit that exposed tainted baby formula that led to food safety regulations.

At one point, American judges were invited to China to interact with their local counterparts and help implement some judicial independence.

However, since Xi’s rise to power, that has largely changed. He has centralized power and enforced an older style of government that sees the Communist Party as the bastion of what’s right and wrong, rather than the rule of law.

In 2015, he initiated a campaign that jailed or disqualified more than 200 of the country’s most aggressive legal advocates. After widespread backlash, he and the party changed course, implementing the 2016 regulations that removed lawyers through a softer approach.

The regulations to dissuade defense lawyers from taking politically sensitive cases makes the profession that much harder. The country had a 99.965% conviction rate as of 2018.

See what others are saying: (SCMP) (NPR) (RFA)


95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home



The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.

A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.

Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.

At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.

They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.

The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.

She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.

Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.

After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.

NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.

Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters



London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”

The Public Order Act

A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.

The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”

It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.

“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”

An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests

During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated. 

“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed. 

“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”

Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”

“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote. 

When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should  do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police. 

For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.

“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)

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Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages



The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.

As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.

On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.

An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.

Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.

“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.

Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.

More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.

Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.

Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.

Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.

Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)

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