Former Chinese rights lawyer arrested for inciting subversion

  • ASEAN+
  • Saturday, 07 Dec 2019

Beijing: An outspoken former Chinese rights attorney has been arrested on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power", by the Chinese government.

Qin Yongpei, 50, who often criticised Beijing on social media including Twitter, was arrested on Tuesday in southern China, according to an arrest notice seen by reporters..

"He dares to say anything online," explained Qin's wife, Deng Xiaoyun on Saturday (Dec 7).

That is why her husband was accused of inciting state subversion, she told the media over the phone -- "it would be the easiest charge to give".

Qin "drew a lot of attention, and possibly retaliation, from the authorities for openly criticising and reporting high-level public officials", added Doriane Lau, a researcher at Amnesty International.

Qin, who was detained last month in Nanning, southern Guangxi region, often took to social media to comment on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese Communist Party, including pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The Chinese lawyer, who was disbarred in May last year, is also among the growing number of rights lawyers in China to be stripped of their license to practise -- a method activists say effectively silences rights attorneys without attracting as much attention as an arrest.

Qin and Deng have two daughters of university age, and Deng has been struggling financially since her husband was detained.

"We have no income, because I have been a homemaker this whole time, and I never had a job," she said. "Even though I'm trying to find work now, it won't be enough to cover our living expenses."

The widespread disbarment of rights lawyers -- at least a dozen have had their licenses cancelled or revoked since 2018, according to government documents -- follows one of the largest clampdowns on China's legal profession in the country's recent history.

A police sweep launched on July 9, 2015 saw more than 200 Chinese human rights lawyers and activists detained or questioned in a huge operation -- later dubbed the "709 crackdown" -- that rights groups called "unprecedented".

"That authorities arrested Qin is outright political persecution," said Sui Muqing, a Chinese lawyer who was detained during the "709 crackdown" and a friend of Qin's.

His arrest is also "an escalation of political persecution towards lawyers", he added.

Nanning police did not immediately respond to media's request for comment. - Agencies/Asian News Network

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