A prominent Chinese Christian human rights lawyer and two publishers of human rights news websites in China disappeared in the past two weeks, renewing fears of a crackdown on human rights defenders.
The men could have been detained, although police have only charged one man with an offense. The disappearances are reminiscent of a 2015 operation called the 709 Crackdown, referring to July 9, the day the arrests began, when police arrested more than 250 human rights lawyers, activists, and legal aids in an attempt to silence threats to the Chinese Communist Party’s control.
The family of Jiang Tianyong, a 45-year-old Christian lawyer in Beijing, said he recently traveled to the city of Changsha to visit the wife of human rights attorney Xie Yang, who was arrested in the 709 crackdown. Jiang told his friends he would take a train back to Beijing on the night of Nov. 21, but he never arrived and could not be reached by phone.
When the family reached out to local police, officers claimed they had no record of Jiang’s whereabouts and refused to let them view the closed-circuit television of the railway station where he went missing.
Jiang is known for representing the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng and Christian dissident Gao Zhisheng. He has also represented a Xinjiang journalist and HIV-infected patients and has fought numerous religious liberty cases. Authorities revoked his license in July 2009, yet he carried on his work. Police have abducted and tortured him multiple times, causing a hearing impairment and broken ribs.
“I am very worried about him,” Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, told The Guardian. Jin and their daughter have resettled in Los Angeles to escape government persecution. “I am worried about his health. I am worried he might be tortured while in jail.”
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SOURCE: WORLD News Service