Music Video Puts a Human Face on China’s Sweep of Lawyers

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By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW AUGUST 4, 2015 6:57 AM August 4, 2015 6:57 am

Part roll call, part battle hymn, part warning that justice will be done, a new video circulating quietly in China documents the names and faces of some of the more than 200 civil rights lawyers and their associates who have been detained or questioned by the government since July 9,in a sweep that has drawn wide condemnation inside China and around the world.

Written, sung and produced by two engineers and rights advocates, Xu Lin and Liu Sifang, “The Justice Lawyers’ Song” shows the human face of the sweep, including prominent lawyers such as Wang Yu, Li Heping and Pu Zhiqiang. Some proudly wear their legal garb.

And there appears to be a hidden promise of victory in the penultimate image, which shows 14 lawyers who defended accused writers and political activists in the 1979 “Formosa magazine incident,” in which organizers of a human rights forum in Taiwan were arrested and tried in a crackdown that was criticized around the world. Within a decade, martial law had been lifted and political opposition parties were legalized in Taiwan.

In an interview conducted via social media, Mr. Liu said he and Mr. Xu felt compelled to act after the detentions began: “Rights defense lawyers and their associates have made an enormous contribution, through enormous effort, to China’s social and legal fairness and progress. This current, cruel persecution, though it is of a piece with that of past decades, is the greatest single sweep of present times.

“Xu Lin and myself, the co-creators of this video, felt we had to speak out. On hearing on July 10 of the detention and persecution of the lawyer Wang Yu and others, Mr. Xu began writing ‘The Justice Lawyers’ Song,’ finishing on July 20. Music and production lasted until late into the night of July 31. On Aug. 1, we began distributing it on the Internet.

“There are 93 lawyers or associates pictured in the video. For reasons of time, others were not featured. Since the number of affected lawyers and associates now stands at nearly 300, this represents only a small group of them.”
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