Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (30 January) on the arrest of Chinese civil rights lawyer Yu Wensheng:
“The arrest of the legal activist Yu Wensheng has increased my concerns about the human rights situation in China. Several human rights defenders have recently been sentenced to long prison terms. The latest developments are unsettling.
Yu Wensheng was arrested on 19 January. He is now accused of ”inciting subversion of state power“. All Yu Wensheng has done is campaign for democratic reforms in China and support fellow citizens who were harassed for exercising their human rights.
I call on the Chinese Government to release Yu Wensheng without delay, and to fully respect the civil rights guaranteed in the Chinese constitution.”
Human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng was arrested outside his home in Beijing on 19 January 2018. On 27 January he was put under house arrest on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”.
His arrest follows the publication on 18 January 2018 of an open letter in which he called for reform of the Chinese constitution. He is one of the spokesperson of a loose grouping of Chinese human rights lawyers. Yu Wensheng also represented the prominent human rights defender Wang Quanzhang and had previously attracted attention with his legal action against the Beijing and Hebei Governments for their failure to do more to tackle air pollution. He is also a founding member of the Anti Torture Alliance established in early 2017. His licence to practise law had been revoked a few days before his detention.