[JURIST] A Chinese court on Tuesday denied bail to prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who is likely to be indicted in the country’s attempt to deter growing legal activism. The lawyer was detained [JURIST report] last month for “causing a disturbance” after he attended a weekend meeting that urged an investigation into the 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Pu is a leading free-speech lawyer who is well known to be outspoken on his opinions, and has represented a dissident artist and spoken out against labor camps in the past. He is also well known for opposing China’s system of forced labor camps before they were abolished by the government. Many believe that the government’s actions against Pu are intended to set an example [AP report], in hopes of silencing the growing dissonance and social activism amongst lawyers in China.
At least five dissidents and professors have disappeared [Reuters report] since attending the weekend meeting that sought the investigation of Tiananmen Square. The Tiananmen protests began in April 1989 with mainly students and laborers protesting the Communist Party of China. The Chinese government declared martial law in May and initiated the violent dispersal of protesters by the People’s Liberation Army on June 4. The Chinese government has never publicized official figures, but the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy [advocacy website, in Chinese] reported last year that unnamed sources had estimated 600 people were killed [ICHR report, in Chinese]. In 2012 Chinese authorities detained hundreds of activists [JURIST report] in Beijing marking the twenty-third anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. In 2011 the US State Department urged the Chinese government to release protestors arrested for peaceful protests in the square in 1989. Human rights and democracy advocates in 2009 called on the Chinese government [JURIST report] to investigate the 1989 uprising, provide an accurate count of those killed in the government’s response to the uprising, and to accept reform outlines set forth in the Charter 08 proposal. In August 2008 Chinese authorities released [JURIST report] activist Hu Shigen, sentenced to 20 years in prison for carrying out counterrevolutionary propaganda, including organizing events commemorating the uprising.