"Trial by fire: three years on from the crackdown that put China's nascent human rights law movement to the test"
South China Morning Post
8 July 2018
Sui Muqing was thinking about leaving the law altogether. The forty-something graduate of one of China’s top law schools had an established career in commercial and criminal litigation in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou but was disillusioned by the day-to-day reality.
“I often felt like a worthless wimp, having to cultivate favour with the authorities and judges. It was merely a job to make a living – I got so tired of it over time,” he said.
That all changed when he met the city’s leading human rights lawyer Guo Feixiong and found another way to use his advocacy skills.
Sui was inspired by Guo’s example and started representing the poor and vulnerable, either for free or minimal fees.
“You can’t only think about the money. There is also the question of dignity, your self-worth, your social value, to which you can find an answer in a rights lawyer’s work,” he said.
But now Sui is suffering the consequences of his decision, barred from working as a lawyer in the aftermath the “709” crackdown on or soon after July 9, 2015.
He was one of about 300 rights lawyers, legal assistants and activists rounded up across the nation in a major clampdown on dissent.
Three years on, those events still reverberate in the rights community, with a string of disbarments, new stifling regulations on lawyers and law firms and the ever-extending reach of the Communist Party into the legal profession.
Fu Hualing, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said the crackdown symbolised “the end of an era” of promoting rule of law and human rights that started in the early 1990s.
In China, “human rights” did not became part of the official lexicon until 1991, when the State Council, the country’s cabinet, published its first white paper on the subject. At the time, all lawyers were civil servants on the government payroll, but five years later, with the passage of China’s first lawyers law, they became an independent profession... Click here to read the full article.