Statement by the Chairs on the Sixth Anniversary of the "709 Crackdown"

July 9, 2021

(Washington)—Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), the Chair and Cochair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China, issued the following statement on the sixth anniversary of the "709 Crackdown" on human rights lawyers and other rights defenders in China.

"Through arbitrary detentions, torture, revocation of legal licenses, and threats, the Chinese government has tried to choke off independent representation for Chinese citizens facing politically motivated prosecutions. The unconditional release of human rights lawyers is of critical interest to the United States and the international community. The legal profession is a pillar of the rule of law, without which China’s obligations under international covenants and treaties are but empty words.

"On the anniversary of the crackdown on human rights lawyers and rights defenders in China, the Chairs call for the immediate release of all detained lawyers, including Zhou Shifeng, Yu Wensheng, Li Yuhan, Xia Lin, Ding Jiaxi, Qin Yongpei, and Chang Weiping and for these cases to be raised by the United States and at the United Nations. The Chairs further call for renewed diplomatic efforts to seek information on the status of Gao Zhisheng—arbitrarily detained, tortured, and missing since August 2017."