One of the lawyers in mainland China who aided the ‘Hong Kong 12’ was stripped of his practising license on Tuesday as Beijing continues to suppress and prosecute human rights defenders in the country.
Ren Quanniu is the second lawyer to lose his license after Lu Siwei who had his licence revoked by the judicial officials in Sichuan province in January for trying to represent one of 12 Hong Kong activists.
The group of Hong Kong activists was caught by Chinese coast guard at sea in August while attempting to flee towards Taiwan in a boat.
Defended by court-appointed lawyers, 10 of them were sentenced by a Shenzhen court in December to prison terms ranging from seven months to three years for crossing the border illegally and organising the crossings.
Two of the activists who were minors have been turned over to the Hong Kong police.
Thousands of Hong Kong residents have fled the territory since Beijing’s imposition of a tough new security law that some say is destroying the territory’s Western-style civil liberties.
Since the law was introduced in response to anti-government protests that began in 2019, dozens of activists have been arrested or detained.
The Henan Judicial Department held a hearing on the licence revocation on Friday in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, according to other lawyers who turned up to support Ren. They were not allowed into the hearing.
Ren was told that comments he made in court in a case in 2018 defending Falun Gong practitioners had caused a “negative impact on society”, according to a notice from the Henan Justice Department that he showed to the Associated Press.
An official who answered the phone at the Henan Justice Department declined to comment on the case, saying they did not deal directly with media.
Ren has years of experience in handling human rights cases in China. He has defended people affiliated with the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement which China has labelled a cult and is the subject of persecution after its followers protested in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1999.
Most recently, he represented citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who was sentenced to four years in prison last December for attempting to report on the situation in the city of Wuhan during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic early last year. (Source: CNA)