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(published in Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second largest-selling national newspaper)

May 23, 2015 – The Chinese authorities indicted lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, a well-known human rights defender living in Beijing, earlier this month. It is an unjust action against a conscientious lawyer, and we demand that the Chinese government release Pu immediately.

The 50-year-old Pu was prosecuted for “stirring up racial enmity” and “inciting a public disturbance,” according to an announcement by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. It is believed that Pu’s blog postings, in particular, provoked the authorities to make the move.

Pu has criticized Beijing’s policy toward Uighurs, a minority ethnic group living in inland China, saying the Chinese government treats the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region as if it were a “colony.” He has also voiced doubts about China’s claim to the disputed Senkaku Islands, describing Beijing’s sovereignty claim on the islands under Japan’s effective control as “unreasonable.”

China’s Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.

There are also critics in China of the action against Pu. They say he should not be charged with any crime.

The only possible interpretation of the move against Pu is that the authorities have been aiming to silence him from the beginning.

Pu is known for his successful campaign against the country’s “correction through labor” system, in which government agencies could arbitrarily detain citizens without trial and subject them to forced labor. The program was finally abolished in 2013 after years of Pu’s criticism against it.

Pu has also served as the defense lawyer for persecuted opinion leaders in cases of suppression of free speech. Given his track records as a human rights activist, it is clear that he deeply understands the importance of freedom of speech.

See the full article on The Asahi Shimbun