BEIJING – Around 20 attorneys gathered Saturday in a central Chinese city to demand access to several activists detained ahead of the politically sensitive 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square military suppression of protesters.
Prominent rights lawyer Li Fangping said the attorneys staged an overnight protest starting Friday outside the Zhengzhou city police bureau after authorities denied their requests for weeks to see their clients.
“We feel that the entire system for defence lawyers is facing an enormous challenge,” said Li, who was among those who protested.
VIDEO GALLERY: Tiananmen Square, 25 Years Later
Among the activists detained in Zhengzhou is the well-known lawyer Chang Boyang, who has campaigned for the rights of migrant workers, HIV patients and children poisoned in a 2008 tainted milk scandal.
Discussions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and its military suppression are taboo in China, and authorities tighten security ahead of the anniversary each year. But this year’s suppression was harsher than in previous years, as police rounded up activists who had received only warnings in the past.
“This is setting a very bad precedent in which if you were detained even for the most ordinary offence, you won’t be allowed to see you lawyer on the claim that it endangers state security,” Li said. “This is a subversion of Chinese law.”
© The Associated Press, 2014