Activists have continued to push the Chinese authorities to act six days after prominent activist Jiang Tianyong went missing.

Jiang has not been heard from since last Monday, after he travelled to Changsha to visit Chen Guiqiu, the wife of a lawyer detained in China’s sweeping crackdown on lawyers and activists in 2015.

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Jiang Tianyong with the son of Wang Quanzhang, a lawyer detained in China’s crackdown on lawyers and activists. Photo: Supplied by activist.

A former lawyer who was disbarred in 2009, Jiang previously defended politically sensitive figures such as dissident Gao Zhisheng and blind activist Chen Guangcheng. He recently worked to publicise China’s crackdown on lawyers but faces constant harassment from authorities. He was previously detained and physically beaten, and activists now believe he is being held by authorities.

NGO Amnesty International called for urgent action in response to Jiang’s disappearance, urging the public to write to the Chinese authorities.

Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, told HKFP: “I believe Jiang Tianyong’s disappearance is related to his endless efforts to help other detained human rights lawyers and their families. It’s alarming to see that even solidarity action can lead to him being silenced and disappeared.”
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Jiang Tianyong (far left) with dissident artist Ai Weiwei (third left), detained lawyer Li Heping (far right) and others in an undated photo. Photo: Supplied by activist.
“If he is detained by the Chinese authorities simply because of his assistance provided to fellow detained human rights lawyers and their families, it means that anybody can be detained if they speak up on human rights.”

Four family members of lawyers detained in China’s crackdown last year, along with 61 Chinese lawyers, issued a statement on Jiang’s disappearance on Monday.

As Jiang disappeared after his visit to the family of a lawyer detained in the crackdown, it said, “this makes us extremely suspicious that Jiang’s disappearance may be due to relevant departments taking him into administrative detention or taking other kinds of coercive measures – even if this is the case, we urge [the authorities] to notify his family members immediately, to avoid causing unnecessary panic to them and to society.”

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Jiang Tianyong with Chen Guiqiu and two lawyers in front of the detention centre in Changsha. Photo: Twitter.

They called for Public Security departments to investigate Jiang’s case, or to notify his family members and allow him access to a lawyer if he is being held in custody.

It would be completely unacceptable if Jiang was subjected to criminal prosecution merely because he met with Chen or because he accompanied her to enquire about her husband, the statement added.

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The Civic Party’s protest in front of the China Liaison Office on Monday calling for the release of Jiang Tianyong and Liu Feiyue. Photo: Kwok Ka-ki.

Hong Kong legislator Kwok Ka-ki of the Civic Party and several others staged a protest on Monday near the China Liaison Office, calling for the release of Jiang Tianyong, Liu Feiyue – the founder of a rights watch website who also went missing recently – and other rights defenders in China.

“Rights defence is not a crime! Release rights defenders immediately!” they chanted.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.