Christian advocacy organisation Release International has called on the Chinese government to declare where missing human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong is being held and give reassurances the missing lawyer is not being tortured by the authorities.
Release partners fear he may already have been tortured. The outspoken lawyer disappeared on his way home in 2016 from visiting the wife of another imprisoned attorney, Xie Yang. The official Chinese media claims Jiang is accused of handing over state secrets to foreigners.
Mr Jiang was held at a secret location in one of China’s so-called ‘black jails’, an unregistered detention centre and has been denied any legal representation. Although the authorities claim to have released him, his whereabouts is unknown and his family have not been told where he is.
The 45-year-old man is the latest in a long line of lawyers to have ‘disappeared’ in China. Since 2011, China has been clamping down on lawyers who have legally defended human rights cases and opposed tearing down church crosses and demolishing churches.
According to reports, since July 2015 China has rounded up and detained more than 230 human rights lawyers and activists. State-controlled media have mounted a high-profile campaign against them, branding them as both corrupt and criminal.
‘Forced confessions are common, and in the case of Christian lawyers, often extracted under extreme intimidation and torture’, according to Paul Robinson, chief executive of Release International.
‘Jiang has courageously stood up in the courts to call for justice. He has worked lawfully within the Chinese legal system at great risk to himself. What does this say about a nation when it kidnaps, intimidates and even tortures its human rights lawyers?’
Back in 2011, Jiang has told Release International that he believed he was being watched closely by the Chinese authorities and predicted his own disappearance.