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Chinese Attorneys Petition for Visits with Clients

More than 120 Chinese lawyers have signed a public petition calling for authorities in the eastern city of Zhengzhou to stop denying suspects access to their lawyers.

In the petition this week, they also called on China's State Council to consider the issue from the standpoint of the unity of defending human rights and China’s legal system and change the statutes which allow the Zhengzhou police to deny them access to their clients.

Before this year's 25th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the Public Security Bureau in Zhengzhou detained almost 20 human right activists and lawyers, such as Yu Shiwen, Chen Wei and Shi Yu, for allegedly assembling a crowd to disturb order at public places.

After June 4, attorneys from all over China arrived in Zhengzhou, where they say they were denied access to their clients in violation of the law.

Recently, Liu Weiguo, a human rights lawyer in Shandong who had asked for a meeting with his client in Zhengzhou, told VOA's Mandarin Service that the problems mentioned in the petition are significant and endanger the lawyer-based legal system in China.

”The criminal procedure law says that only in a case related to national security do lawyers need permission to speak with their clients," he said. "Zhengzhou police misused this rule. According to this behavior, any policemen may forbid any attorney from meeting their clients, saying it endangers national security for any crime. In this way, the lawyer system may be cancelled directly.”

Chinese officials have not commented on the petition or its allegations. When VOA called the Zhengzhou public security bureau on Monday, officials there said they could not answer any questions.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.