Activists have continued to push the Chinese authorities to act six days after prominent activist Jiang Tianyong went missing.
Jiang has not been heard from since last Monday, after he travelled to Changsha to visit Chen Guiqiu, the wife of a lawyer detained in China’s sweeping crackdown on lawyers and activists in 2015.
A former lawyer who was disbarred in 2009, Jiang previously defended politically sensitive figures such as dissident Gao Zhisheng and blind activist Chen Guangcheng. He recently worked to publicise China’s crackdown on lawyers but faces constant harassment from authorities. He was previously detained and physically beaten, and activists now believe he is being held by authorities.
NGO Amnesty International called for urgent action in response to Jiang’s disappearance, urging the public to write to the Chinese authorities.
Four family members of lawyers detained in China’s crackdown last year, along with 61 Chinese lawyers, issued a statement on Jiang’s disappearance on Monday.
As Jiang disappeared after his visit to the family of a lawyer detained in the crackdown, it said, “this makes us extremely suspicious that Jiang’s disappearance may be due to relevant departments taking him into administrative detention or taking other kinds of coercive measures – even if this is the case, we urge [the authorities] to notify his family members immediately, to avoid causing unnecessary panic to them and to society.”
They called for Public Security departments to investigate Jiang’s case, or to notify his family members and allow him access to a lawyer if he is being held in custody.
It would be completely unacceptable if Jiang was subjected to criminal prosecution merely because he met with Chen or because he accompanied her to enquire about her husband, the statement added.
Hong Kong legislator Kwok Ka-ki of the Civic Party and several others staged a protest on Monday near the China Liaison Office, calling for the release of Jiang Tianyong, Liu Feiyue – the founder of a rights watch website who also went missing recently – and other rights defenders in China.
“Rights defence is not a crime! Release rights defenders immediately!” they chanted.