Two Chinese human rights lawyers who have represented Falun Gong [group website; BBC backgrounder] defendants were permanently disbarred [Tang decision, Liu decision, in Chinese] Friday after being accused of disrupting courtrooms. In a Beijing Municipal Judicial Bureau [official website, in Chinese] hearing last month, Liu Wei and Tang Jitian were accused of breaking laws by disputing court rulings as they defended a Falun Gong practitioner in Luzhou. The group Human Rights In China (HRIC) [advocacy website] reports [press release] that the lawyers participated in filing a complaint [text, in Chinese] with the Beijing Public Security Bureau alleging that the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice and the Beijing Lawyers Association were effectively blackmailing lawyers by charging high fees for annual registration. Li Subin, the lawyer in charge of the complaint, suggested that the lawyers' disbarment is a result of their role in filing the complaint. An HRIC spokesperson criticized the decision to disbar Tang and Liu:
In revoking Tang's and Liu's licenses because they withdrew from a show trial in which the judge had made it impossible for them to do their work, the Beijing Bureau of Justice has made a mockery of justice and the rule of law.Both lawyers said they planned to appeal the decision vigorously.
Amnesty International [advocacy website] criticized the disbarment hearing [press release] held last month, calling it "absurd" and claiming that "[g]overnment authorities in China continue to harass and disrupt the work of lawyers taking politically sensitive cases." China banned the Falun Gong movement in 1999, and its followers have faced a severe crackdown over the past decade. In addition to representing members of the banned sect, Tang and Liu have represented victims of government home demolition and individuals suffering discrimination for having HIV/AIDS and other diseases.