In July 2015, large-scale arrests started to be made of prominent human rights lawyers in China. By mid-November, more than 300 people had been swept up in what human rights monitors describe as an unprecedented crackdown on Chinese lawyers. Those detained or questioned include not only some of the most active rights lawyers but also their support staff, associates and even family members.
By early December, most had been released, but at least 41 still were detained or missing, according to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, which is based in Hong Kong.
Some have been put under “residential surveillance”—a status sometimes interpreted to be the equivalent of house arrest but that is actually akin to a “black jail.” There, detainees are held in solitary confinement and subjected to extreme interrogation, forced confessions and even torture. Family members, friends and colleagues have been denied access or even knowledge of their whereabouts.
The following slides profile a few of the human rights lawyers who have been detained by the Chinese government, and what is known about their fates as of January 2016. The woman shown in the foreground of this slide is human rights lawyer Wang Yu, who was detained by the Chinese government, as was her husband, Bao Longjun. Their story is told in one of the following slides.
• Read our related feature article
Attribution: Cutlines written by Lee Rawles with additional reporting from Abby Seiff. Graphics by Brenan Sharp.