Detention, Beating of Guangdong Rights Attorney Shows ‘Lack of Restraint’ by Police

Detention, Beating of Guangdong Rights Attorney Shows 'Lack of Restraint' by Police
Chinese rights lawyer Sun Shihua (L), her husband and fellow rights attorney Sui Muqing (R), and their son in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Sun Shihua

Police in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong illegally detained and beat a human rights lawyer, a U.S.-based rights group has said on its website.

Rights lawyer Sun Shihua was beaten and illegally detained by police at Hualin police station in Liwan district of Guangdong’s provincial capital Guangzhou, Human Rights in China (HRIC) said, citing an online report from her husband and fellow rights attorney Sui Muqing.

“She had gone to the [local police] station at about 3 p.m. [on Sept. 20] to speak with the police officer in charge of her client’s case,” HRIC said.

Sui repeatedly called the police to report the incident, but was threatened with detention for interfering with police work, it said.

Sun was finally released at the time of Sui’s post, and had been traumatized by the incident, which included a strip search, ostensibly for “hidden weapons,” Sui told RFA.

“Now she gets very anxious whenever she sees anyone in a uniform,” he said. “Sometimes she cries out in her sleep … I’m really not sure if she’s going to be able to carry on doing this job.”

An employee who answered the phone at the Hualin police station denied that the incident occurred.

“Officers at this police station use their powers granted by law to act within the scope of laws and regulations,” the employee said.

But fellow rights lawyer Wu Zhenqi told RFA that what happened to Sun was a blatant abuse of police power.

“It is most definitely illegal to require a lawyer to be subjected to a strip search when they go to a police department in the process of representing a client, regardless of the circumstances,” Wu said. “They are also not allowed to search her or her belongings for weapons.”

Legal profession under fire

China’s legal profession has been subjected to a nationwide program of detentions, travel bans, and other humiliations since July 2015.

Beijing lawyer Wang Yu, who was among the first to be targeted in a nationwide police operation and who was detained on suspicion of subversion, said new legislation granting wider powers to China’s police force could be behind the violence.

“This is a very serious situation in which the police have abused their power,” Wang told RFA. “The situation is getting out of control. There are no longer any legal constraints on them.”

Sui lost his license in January after he ignored official warnings not to take on politically sensitive cases.

Reported by Jing Yuan and Hwang Chun-mei for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Ng Yik-tung and Sing Man for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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