Four years ago today, the Chinese government arrested and detained more than 300 human rights lawyers and human rights defenders, during the so-called "709 crackdown". In many of the resulting trials, the accused were denied a proper defence, in violation of international law. Family members as well as the public, including journalists and diplomats, were prevented from observing many of the trials. There are also extensive and credible reports of mistreatment during detention, and grounds for believing that several confessions were forced. Those detainees who have now been released remain subject to monitoring and other restrictions. The lawyers who were detained have been disbarred and are therefore no longer able to work as lawyers. A number remain in detention.
The European Union expects China to abide by its international law obligations, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to respect the rights of all citizens as guaranteed by China's Constitution.
The European Union also expects the Chinese authorities to immediately release all those still detained in connection with the 709 crackdown, including Wang Quanzhang, Zhou Shifeng and Wu Gan; to lift the continuing restrictions on those who have been released; and to release all other lawyers and legal activists imprisoned or persecuted by the authorities for their work before and since the crackdown, such as Yu Wensheng and Li Yuhan.