The Sino-American human rights talk that happened in Beijing (which one side considered really concerning and unsatisfying while the other side felt was frank, open and constructive) seems to have had a good result for at least one dissident: human rights lawyer Teng Biao was released Friday afternoon.
Previously a lecturer at the University of Politics and Law in Beijing, he’s been an outspoken critic of the crackdown against other dissidents… which is as good a reason as any to put him under detention, we suppose.
In this case, his arrest seems to have been because of his meeting with other lawyers (Jiang Tianyong and Tang Jitian) over how to help out another famous human rights activist and lawyer Chen Guangcheng. Chen is most famous for revealing that Shandong officials were forcing women to go through sterilizations and abortions in order to keep their one-child quotas down. Those officials were later punished by the central government, though that didn’t stop Chen from getting punished too – he has been under house arrest ever since he was released from jail for “damaging property and organising a mob to disturb traffic.”
In any case, Teng is out, but is not yet talking to the press. According to newswire releases, his wife has said it’s “not convenient” for him to do interviews right now.
Unfortunately, with Teng’s release comes news that another dissident (also connected to Chen Guangcheng) has gone missing.
According to CNN:
Li Fangping was seized by unidentified people while leaving an office building in Beijing and has been out of contact since then, according to China Human Rights Defenders.
Li has represented several high-profile individuals, including lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who remains under house arrest in Shangdong Province following his release from prison.
He also defended Zhao Lianhai, an outspoken food safety activist and parent of a child contaminated by melamine-tainted milk powder in 2008.
China Human Rights Defenders said Li told his wife by phone on Friday that “I may be gone for a period of time … can’t talk more.”
The saddest things about these cases is that, though the crackdown is believed to have happened thanks to the calls for revolution, these lawyers had very little to do with any planning to change the Chinese government. Rather, they were jailed for doing things that would generally be considered worthy or praise, even from Zhongnanhai.
While we’re not saying that any of these recent types of arrests are justified, how crappy is it that you can’t even work within the system, striving for some kind of justice actually BASED on laws handed down from above, without suddenly vanishing when you’re “asked to tea”?