CHINA: Lawyer Jiang Tianyong disappears when released from jail, then reappears but still under police control
Jiang Tianyong is a Chinese lawyer who took on many sensitive human rights cases; he notably defended Falun Gong practitioners, who are persecuted since 1999 by the regime, and Tibetan activists.
After the withdrawal of his professional license by Chinese authorities in 2009, Jiang Tianyong disappeared in November 2016. He was judged in August 2017. Medias reported that during his trial, Jian Tianyong read confessions in which he acknowledged that he had followed foreign trainings delivering hostile messages towards the Chinese regime.
The repression suffered by Jian Tianyong is in the wake of a major offensive launched in 2015 by the regime against human rights lawyers and activists, which resulted in the arrest of several dozens of them. Mr Tianyong spent two years in prison, charged with “inciting subversion”.
Jian Tianyong was supposed to be released on February 28th, 2019, but he did not show up. Some supporters were waiting for him outside the prison; the authorities told them that the lawyer had been “taken away”, without any further precision. His father and sister, who were also planning to welcome him at his release, had also disappeared and were unreachable since February 27th.
Jian Tianyong eventually reappeared two days later, on March 2nd. His wife, who lives in the United States with their daughter, had a video call with him. His father and sister had also come back home.
Yet, Mr Tianyong is not really free: the police is constantly present outside the house in which he lives (which is his parents’ one), and agents follow him wherever he goes.
Doriane Lau, Chinese researcher at Amnesty International, explains that several human rights lawyers face restrictions to their freedom, even after their release. According to her, it is not unusual that these lawyers’ families and friends are threatened by the authorities during and after the lawyers’ detention.
The OIAD is highly concerned with the way Chinese authorities treat a lawyer who has duly served his sentence. These authorities are invited to stop any police surveillance of Mr Tianyong and his family.
The OIAD reaffirms its full solidarity with all the Chinese lawyers who face repression from their national authorities. According to the United Nations Basic principles on the role of lawyers, all lawyers must be “able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” (principle n° 16).