China officials shut down legal center
BEIJING - A legal research center was shut down yesterday and the licenses of more than 50 lawyers - many known for their politically sensitive human rights work - were revoked in what appeared to be one of China’s most drastic moves to restrain activist lawyers.
The actions underscore a renewed official push to control these lawyers, who already run the risk of being detained, harassed, attacked, and threatened with disbarment for their work. China is also preparing for the communist state’s 60th anniversary on Oct. 1 - a particularly sensitive period when dissent is not tolerated.
About 20 officials from Beijing’s Civil Affairs Bureau showed up yesterday at the offices of the Gongmeng rights group’s legal research center and confiscated computers and other equipment, said office manager Tian Qizhuang. They also questioned researchers and other employees on the nature of their work.
“They said the research center was not properly registered,’’ Tian said.