China Authorities Close Down Law Firm Helping Forced Abortion Activist

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 8, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 8, 2005

Beijing, China ( — A Chinese law firm that has been helping a blind man who exposed a radical campaign to force thousands of women in Linyi, China to have abortions or be sterilized has been closed down by national officials. Authorities were also upset that the firm was helping people involved in religious practices opposed by the federal government.

According to Amnesty International, Beijing authorities shut down the Shengzhi Law Office for a period of one year. That action comes on the heels of a letter the firm sent to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao urging them to end the persecution of some religious people.

"Shengzhi Law Office is one of a small number of law firms in China which has taken on cases involving human rights issues, and Amnesty International is concerned that this suspension will severely undercut the work of human rights activists in the country," the group said in a press release.

Gao Zhisheng, director of the firm, received an official notice from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice on November 4 informing him of the temporary closure of the firm.

According to Chinese authorities, the official reason was because of the firm’s failure to disclose a change of address and the "illegal" submission of legal papers by an attorney who no longer works for the firm.

The firm has been supporting Chen Guangcheng, a blind and self-educated lawyer currently under house arrest in Linyi city because of his involvement in bringing international attention to the plight of thousands of women who were forced to have abortions or sterilized against their will.

Chen was apprehended by Linyi officials after meeting with reporters for Time and the Washington Post to discuss the grisly details of the population control officials’ campaign against families there.

His attorneys have been trying to help him and check on his condition, but they and Chen were assaulted twice when trying to help him.