Liu Wei is a Beijing-based lawyer from the Shun He Law Firm. Her clients include fellow rights defense lawyer Ni Yulan (倪玉兰). In March 2008, Ms. Liu signed an open letter offering legal assistance to Tibetans facing prosecution following riots in March 2008, and was one of the principal advocates for direct elections within the Beijing Lawyers Association in 2008 and 2009. She was one of the first signers of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for fundamental changes in China, including an independent legal system, freedom of association, and the elimination of one-party rule.
Ms. Liu’s personal law license was formally revoked after she defended a Falun Gong practitioner in Luzhou (泸州) City Intermediate Court, Sichuan. During that trial on April 27, 2009, the judge repeatedly blocked her efforts and those of fellow defense lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) to speak out on behalf of their client. Thereafter, Ms. Liu and Mr. Tang were accused by the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau of “disrupting courtroom order” (扰乱法庭秩序) and “interfering with the regular litigation activities” (干扰诉讼活动). A hearing to revoke her law license was held on April 22, 2010. Police prevented Ms. Liu’s retained counsel of choice, Li Subin, from attending the hearing. Ms. Liu’s license and that of fellow lawyer Mr. Tang were revoked two weeks later.
On May 4, 2010, Ms. Liu and Mr. Tang filed a criminal complaint with the Beijing Xicheng District Procuratorate against Ms. Xiao Lizhu, head of the Bureau’s Lawyers’ Management Department. They claimed that Ms. Xiao had criminally abused her power by retaliating against them for their law reform efforts–including for a criminal complaint previously filed against Ms. Xiao and other Bureau officials for extorting exceptionally high annual license renewal fees from lawyers.
In June 2010, Liu appealed for administrative reconsideration of the revocation of her license; on August 7, 2010, she received written notice that the original decision was sustained. On September 12, 2010, she initiated a lawsuit against the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice, seeking to have the administrative punishment withdrawn and requesting a public apology.
On January 17, 2011, she and 18 other Chinese lawyers released an open letter in response to the torture of human rights lawyers Gao Zhisheng and Fan Yafeng, decrying the use of torture by Chinese police and calling for China to uphold the prohibitions on torture contained in Chinese law. On February 9, 2011, Liu issued an open letter with fellow activist Shen Zichen (申子辰) to the national Women’s League and a local Women’s League branch in Heilongjiang province. The letter called for a thorough investigation into the case of Liu Guiying (刘桂英), a pregnant female lawyer who was allegedly beaten by police, injured, and forced to terminate her pregnancy. Ms. Liu continues to advocate for victims of human rights abuses despite the fact that she has been disbarred and is no longer able to represent them as a lawyer.
Ms. Liu co-founded and is the coordinator of the Public Interest Collaborative Network for Women Lawyers in China. In 2017, she graduated with an LLM degree from Fordham University School of Law. She continues to advocate on behalf of women’s rights in China.
Last updated June 5, 2013
Draft Statement by Tang Jitian and Liu Wei for the Beijing Municipal Bureau of JusticeAdministrative Hearing, April 22, 2010, in Human Rights in China, “Lawyers Facing License Revocation Detail Irregular Courtroom Activities Permitted by Judge,” April 20, 2010, available at http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/press?revision_id=174069&item_id=174065.
Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, Addendum, Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, ¶345-52, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/22/Add.1 (Feb. 24, 2010), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/13session/reports.htm.
China Human Rights Defenders, “Disbarment,” available at http://chrdnet.org/2010/06/03/disbarment/ (video in Chinese with English subtitles).
Edward Wong, “2 Chinese Lawyers Are Facing Disbarment for Defending Falun Gong,” New York Times, April 21, 2010, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/22/world/asia/22beijing.html.