A Chinese human rights lawyer detained in the city of Changsha since 2015 pleaded guilty Monday to incitement to subversion and disturbing legal proceedings. Prosecutors accused [Xinhua report] Xie Yang of conspiring with people in and out of China to distort reports of police brutality, with the ultimate goals of undermining state power and threatening national security. Xie’s wife has publicly claimed [Reuters report] that the trial was a sham, that Xie’s supporters were barred from accessing the proceedings, and that he is innocent of the charges. The Changsha Intermediate People’s Court released a video of Xie’s statement, in which he also encourages lawyers to abide by the law and says that he was not forced to confess. In January, however, Xie stated through his lawyers that he was was beaten and deprived of sleep while in custody.
China has faced continued international criticism for its treatment of human rights defenders, ranging from filing of arbitrary criminal charges, suspension or dismissal of law licenses, and disappearances. In February, the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders released its annual report [JURIST report] highlighting intensified crackdowns on human rights defenders. In December the UN called on China to investigate the disappearance of human rights lawyer [JURIST report] Jiang Tianyong, after he had been missing for two months. The same month China suspended the law license [JURIST report] of prominent human rights lawyer Li Jinxing, over his apparent allegedly unacceptable behavior in court while defending a client. Last September China handed down a 12 year sentence [JURIST report] to prominent human rights lawyer Xia Lin. In July China announced plans to prosecute [JURIST report] prominent human rights lawyer Zhou Shifeng on charges of subverting state power, furthering its recent crackdown on political dissidents.