[JURIST] China’s state media on Tuesday criticized [press release] recently-detained human rights lawyers for actions it says undermine the rule of law. The crackdown on human rights lawyers comes as part of a larger push by President Xi Jinping [BBC profile] to discredit the rights defense movement [NYT report] which has been challenging the government through protests and litigation. Since the beginning of the crackdown last week [JURIST report], human rights groups as well as the U.S. Department of State [official website] have urged [press release] China to release those engaged in the peaceful protests and criticism.
China has faced international criticism for its crackdown on dissidents. In May Chinese prosecutors said [JURIST report] that prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang had officially been indicted on charges of fanning ethnic hatred and provoking trouble for comments that he posted online. He had already been detained for one year. Also in May Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] detailing the continued abuse of criminal suspects by Chinese police. The interviewed detainees reported instances of torture, including being shackled to a “tiger chair” for days and being hung by the wrists. In March the Chinese government refused [JURIST report] to discharge five women’s rights activists despite overwhelming calls for their release from the international community. In September the legal defense team representing prominent Chinese human rights activist Guo Feixiong decided to boycott [JURIST report] the start of Guo’s pending trial over procedural irregularities, which resulted in adjournment of the proceedings at the Guangzhou People’s Court in Southern China.