|State media take aim at Falun Gong lawyers
State media lashed out at four rights lawyers detained for investigating the treatment of practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, saying the quartet “incited illegal activities.’’
The four rights lawyers and “an unknown number of citizens'' were held by authorities two weeks ago in Jiansanjiang, Heilongjiang province, according to US-based Human Rights in China, AFP reports.
The group said they had demanded the release of family members from illegal detention centers run by local governments.
Jiansanjiang authorities have maintained that the lawyers were “shouting cult slogans in solidarity'' with the Falun Gong, a Buddhist-inspired religious group that was banned in China in 1999 and branded an “evil cult.’’
The lawyers were sentenced to 5-10 days of administrative detention and fined for their “illegal activities,’’ the Jiansanjiang Public Security Bureau said in a statement on Monday.
In an editorial, the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, argued that the lawyers “instigated confrontation'' by visiting a facility in northeast China where they believed the practitioners were being illegally detained.
“They incited illegal activities rather than offering legal assistance through legitimate channels,'' the newspaper wrote.
“Lawyers addicted to politics appear on the rise,'' it continued. “Judging from cyber opinion, the lawyers of this category have formed a force that is against the current country's system. It is regrettable to see the people that should take the law most seriously challenging it.''
Last month, the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group denounced the detention of lawyers Jian Tianyong, Tang Jitian, Wang Cheng, and Zhang Junjie as well as family members.
Zhang was released late last week.
Asked today about the lawyers' detention, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he had “no information.’’
“But as for policies regarding Falun Gong, we have elaborated on that on many occasions,'' he said.