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Pu Zhiqiang

China Well-known human rights lawyer arrested in connection with Tiananmen protests commemoration

Pu Zhiqiang, born in rural eastern China in 1965, is a partner at Beijing Huayi Law Firm. Pu received a Bachelor’s in History from Nankai University in 1986 an a LL.M. from China University of Political Science and Law in 1991. In the spring of 2005, Pu was a visiting scholar at Yale Law School, where he conducted comparative research on media and the law. Although Pu practices in the areas of real estate, bankruptcy, anti-trust, finance, and criminal defences, he is best known as a pioneering free-speech lawyer.

Pu has come under scrutiny by Chinese authorities as a result of both his free-speech cases and his political beliefs. In 1989, Pu joined the pro-democracy movement; in 2008, he was one of the original signers of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for fundamental changes in China, including an independent legal system, freedom of association, and the elimination of one-party rule.

In 2006, Pu Zhiqiang was arrested to prevent him from attending a commemoration of the Tianamen protests. The Tiananmen Square protests was a peaceful protests of students at Tiananmen Square but they were beaten down violently by the Chinese authorities on 4 June 1989, leaving hundreds of demonstrators dead.He was detained and questioned the whole day. Pu was similarly summoned by police in response to the release of Charter 08 and after the announcement of Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize. He was again arrested on 4 May 2014 after he had attended a meeting where the Tiananmen Square protests 25 years ago were commemorated.

On 13 June 2014 Pu was formally arrested for “creating a public disturbance” and “illegally obtaining the personal information of citizens”. In November it was revealed that the police had added additional more serious crimes to the charge sheet, namely “incitement to subvert state power” and “incitement to racial hatred”. Although Pu’s legal team have not adopted a high profile defence, his supporters agree that his case must be kept in the public eye.

In 2015, Pu Zhiqiang learned that he is charged with ‘inciting ethnic hatred’ and ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’. His lawyers believes he risks a 8 year prison sentence. In May, he ended third on the shortlist of the L4L Award jury.

In the video below, which was screened at the L4L Award 2015 ceremony, friends and colleagues of Pu Zhiqiang express their support to him. 

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