Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily has published four reports within a single day praising the central government’s crackdown on human rights lawyers.
The articles, published on Wednesday and penned by the paper itself as well as an array of commentators, referred to the lawyers as a “minority.”
This comes days after China launched an “unprecedented” attack on its human rights lawyers, arresting at least 23 legal professionals and targeting over 100 lawyers, activists and journalists, according to the China Human Rights Lawyer Concern Group (CHRLCG).
The newspaper’s own article quoted comments made by He Yong, deputy director of the Department of Directing Lawyers and Notarisation, who called the legal professionals “black sheep” and “troublemakers.” He said that their behaviour “violated the professional ethical guidelines set for lawyers and seriously disrupted public order.”
He added that the human rights lawyers constituted a very small portion of the nation’s professionals, and “do not represent the 270,000 practicing lawyers in the whole of China.” However, he emphasised that their behaviour has already damaged the industry’s overall image.
In another article, Wang Jinxi of the China University of Political Science and Law said mainstream practicing lawyers are all “working hard for the rule of law in China.” The professor said lawyers are not “businessmen for the law,” and should not destroy public and legal order.
Liu Wujun, editor-in-chief of a magazine published by the Ministry of Justice, said in a third article that the lawyers were “trying to make themselves famous.” The Justice in China editor said: “They argued in court, hyped up events and interfered with the judiciary.” Liu asked lawyers to “get back on track” to providing legal services and to “stop getting addicted to creating trouble on the internet.”
The last of the four articles condemned the lawyers’ conduct and said they should not be allowed in “a society guided by the rule of law.” Commentator Zhang Yang said the legal profession should be a field of work that “makes anyone proud at any time,” and one should not create social disturbances that run contrary to the professional code.
Various human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have condemned the detention of lawyers and human rights activists. Supporters in Hong Kong protested against the crackdown at the China Liaison Office last weekend.
According to a list compiled by the CHRLCG, 183 people have been detained, questioned or put under other forms of restrictions as of Wednesday afternoon.