#BreakingNews 🇱🇦 Chinese Human Rights Lawyer fleeing China to Thailand was arrested in Laos!
Lu Siwei may be deported back to China, where he is likely to face imprisonment and torture!
Lu Siwei, a Chinese rights lawyer stripped of his license for handling sensitive cases in China, has been arrested in Laos. Activists and family members are deeply worried about the potential deportation to China, where he could face imprisonment!
Lu's plans for a family reunion with his wife and daughter in the United States are derailed as Laotian police detain him while trying to board a train for Bangkok, Thailand. In a text message, his wife, Zhang Chunxiao, shared her distress about his potential imprisonment should he be sent back to China.
🎥 VOA Chinese shared an exclusive video on Twitter that captured what appears to be the arrest scene. In the footage, Lao police officers can be seen instructing an individual to maintain distance from another person, while a Lao woman can be heard encouraging others to record the event.
Lu fearlessly defended political targets in sensitive cases throughout his legal career, including individuals arrested for creating liquor bottle labels in remembrance of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations. In 2021, he confronted a series of setbacks, losing his legal license for representing a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist's escape to Taiwan and being barred from a visiting fellowship in the United States, with officials imposing an exit ban.
According to Bob Fu, founder of Texas-based religious rights group ChinaAid, Lu's family sought his help two weeks ago for his departure from China. Fu confirmed that Lu had valid visas for the US and Laos. While Lu was closely monitored, he was not under any investigation or facing criminal charges, said Fu and Zhang, Lu's wife.
The growth of China's legal rights movement has faced significant obstacles during the tenure of President Xi Jinping. For instance, the "709 crackdown" in 2015, named after the date of the event, resulted in the arrest of countless activists and rights lawyers and left a lasting impact on the landscape of civil liberties in the country.
🇺🇳 On July 29th 2023, Mary Lawlor, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, expressed deep concerns regarding Lu's case and urged the Lao authorities to promptly reveal his location and release him!
🎥 On July 31st 2023, Lu Siwei's wife urgently appealed the Lao government to release her husband, not deport to China where he faces imprisonment and torture, and to let him reunite with his family in the United States. Watch her moving appeal here.
✊🏼 Join us at Manushya Foundation in demanding immediate and unconditional release for Lu Siwei, unjustly arrested in Laos. We urge the Lao authorities to refuse any extradition to China, where he faces certain prosecution and persecution. It is imperative that the Lao government ceases its involvement in transnational repression and stops supporting the Chinese government's crackdown on dissenting voices.
🇺🇳 The Lao government must respect and comply with its international human rights obligations under the Convention Against Torture, including the principle of "non-refoulement" (Article 3 of CAT) which prohibits the expulsion, refouler, or extradition if there are “substantial grounds” to believe the individual would be in danger of torture.
Let us rally together to ensure Lu Siwei's safe return to his family in the United States, where he can find refuge and freedom!
Associated Press, “A rights lawyer who was fleeing China has been arrested in neighboring Laos”, (July 28, 2023), available at: https://apnews.com/article/china-laos-dissident-lawyer-human-rights-hong-kong-501e432a0b80baa9af986882b1ef73cb
Safeguard Defenders, Chinese lawyer detained in Laos, deportation imminent, (July 31, 2023), available at: https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/blog/chinese-lawyer-detained-laos-deportation-imminent
Twitter, RFA Chinese’s tweet sharing Lu Siwei’s case, (July 29, 2023), available at: https://twitter.com/rfa_chinese/status/1684979536688291841?s=46&t=952Pecy7C9o0frOna-LvDA
Twitter, VOA Chinese’s tweet sharing Lu Siwei’s case, (July 28, 2023), available at: https://twitter.com/voachinese/status/1684912518844522496?s=12&t=952Pecy7C9o0frOna-LvDA
Twitter, Safeguard Defenders, Urgent Appeal from Lu Siwei's wife, (July 31, 2023), available at: https://twitter.com/safeguarddefend/status/1685968627848085505?s=61&t=GJQEm0h23MnIEIO7eFQ6rw
OHCHR, Convention Against Torture, (December 10, 1984), available at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/convention-against-torture-and-other-cruel-inhuman-or-degrading