Qu Yige and Wong Lok-to | Radio Free Asia

A prominent rights lawyer detained during a nationwide crackdown on his profession by the ruling Chinese Communist Party has been made homeless along with his family after police forced them to leave their rented accommodation in a suburb of Beijing.

Xie Yanyi was released from criminal detention on bail in January 2017 but hasn’t been able to practice law, as the authorities have refused to renew his license.

Xie and his wife Yuan Shanshan were recently forced to move yet again from their rented home in Miyun, a town on the outskirts of Beijing, when their landlord refused to renew their lease, citing pressure from the local police, the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website reported.

Fellow rights lawyer Li Jinglin said their treatment was similar to that meted out to many colleagues and their families.

“Lawyers are getting together to mitigate the hardship faced by the families of detained rights lawyers,” Li said.

“Everyone contributes a little money to the fund every month, to help out people whose husbands are in jail, or families who are in difficulty,” he said.

Each family can receive around 3,000 yuan from the fund, Li said.

Meanwhile, lawyers who tried to visit rights attorney Jiang Tianyong, who has been incommunicado in Henan’s Luoshan county since his “release” from jail earlier this year, were chased away with police using pepper spray, RFA has learned.

Rights lawyers Ren Quanniu, Ma Lianshun, and Chang Boyang were detained after they tried to visit Jiang, and have since filed a complaint with the Luoshan county police department, they said.

“They asked to see my ID card, which I refused to show because their attitude was very bad,” Ren said. “Then he suddenly sprayed this stuff on me from less than a meter away; a lot of sprays right in the face which was really very painful.”

He said police had just warned him not to talk about the experience when he went to complain.

Poor health and no freedom

Chang said Jiang is in poor health, and currently enjoys no freedom to speak of, in spite of having been officially released.

“He’s not free, because there are people at his door every day, and if he wants to go out, they have a report where he is going … to their superiors,” Chang said.

“They have to agree that he can go out, and they will go with him,” he said. “For example, if he wants to go to Beijing to see a doctor, this must be approved at a higher level.”

An officer who answered the phone at the Luoshan country police department declined to comment.

“I don’t have his information here,” the officer said. “I can’t answer that. Personal information can’t be disclosed.”

Xie and Jiang were among hundreds of lawyers and associated rights activists detained during a nationwide police operation targeting the legal profession since July 2015.

Jiang, who pleaded guilty to “incitement to subvert state power” at the Intermediate People’s Court in the provincial capital Changsha on Aug. 22, was sentenced in November 2017.

His sentence was based on his setting up of a campaign group in support of rights lawyers detained in a nationwide police operation targeting the profession since July 2015, the court said at the time.

He was accused of “speculating” on politically sensitive cases and “inciting others to illegally gather in public places” and “stirring up” public opinion, the indictment said.

The New York City Bar Association has said the July 2015 crackdown amounts to nothing less than a “war on law.”

Detained lawyers have reported being humiliated, subjected to lengthy interrogation sessions and physical torture, including sleep deprivation, beatings, electric shocks, and forced medication, as well as months of solitary confinement, the group said in July.

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