To mark the fifth anniversary of the nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers and human rights defenders in China on 9 July 2015, French Ambassador at Large for Human Rights François Croquette and Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office Bärbel Kofler issued the following statement today (9 July 2020):
Five years ago today, several hundred lawyers and human rights defenders were arrested in China as part of a nationwide crackdown. Many were given harsh sentences without a fair trial. We therefore call once again upon the Chinese institutions to act in accordance with rule of law principles and relevant UN conventions and to finally give effect to the self‑declared aim of strengthening the rule of law. Human rights lawyers and defenders play an important role in this endeavour. Germany and France will continue to monitor the fate of the Chinese human rights defenders and their families.
In this connection, we express our profound concern about the fate of the lawyers Li Yuhan and Yu Wensheng, as well as the activist Ge Jueping and the intellectual Xu Zhangrun, who was arrested on 6 July 2020. We are profoundly alarmed by the fact that human rights lawyers and defenders continue to be taken into custody in China. We call on the Chinese authorities to respect fundamental human rights and to guarantee fair trials for all. We furthermore demand that China investigates in full all cases in which human rights defenders or their families have been harassed or persecuted by the authorities or taken into custody. All human rights defenders imprisoned arbitrarily must be released and must not be obstructed in their work or freedom of movement.