In 2008, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice postponed re-registering Mr. Li’s attorney license on the grounds that he had handled “sensitive cases.” On the morning of May 31, 2009, two police officers warned Mr. Li that he must stop defending Falun Gong practitioners, and agree to never again participate in work promoting the rule of law, or his license would be permanently revoked.
In June of 2009, the authorities increased the pressure on Mr. Li. He and his family were placed under surveillance. On June 5, at the request of police, his landlord asked him to move out and leave Beijing. His child’s kindergarten school was harassed, and his pregnant wife was summoned for questioning repeatedly. On June 30, Mr. Li was blocked from entering court in Jianmusi for the trial of a Falun Gong practitioner he was representing on the grounds that he had failed to pass his Beijing registration; his client was sentenced without defense counsel present. On July 9, the Beijing Justice Bureau announced that it would not re-register his license without further explanation.
After his effective disbarment, Mr. Li has continued to face harassment from authorities. He has been subject to repeated episodes of strict surveillance and house arrest, including for the duration of U.S. President Obama’s visit to Beijing in November of 2009, for a period in anticipation of the 21st anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy movement in May of 2010, and during the period surrounding the ceremony presenting Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize from December 4 to at least December 15.
On December 7, 2010, Mr. Li was forced to resign as the acting head of the Beijing-based Aizhixing foundation, apparently in retaliation after Wan Yanhai, the founder of Aizhixing, attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo. Also in early December, National Security officers barred Mr. Li from attending a legal seminar organized by the Delegation of the European Union to China.
Li Xiongbing was disappeared and held incommunicado between May 4 and May 6, 2011, in part of government officials’ attempted crackdown on the “Jasmine Revolution”. On May 19, he was forced to return to his hometown in Hubei province.
In August, 2012, Mr. Li was prevented from visiting his client, lawyer Gao Zhisheng, after travelling to Xinjiang to visit Mr. Gao in prison. In anticipation of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Conference in November of 2012, Mr. Li was put under tight police surveillance and warned not to write about sensitive topics.
Last updated June 5, 2012
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.
Li Xiongbing, “Practicing Law under Ubiquitous Pressure,” July 5, 2009, available at http://www.cecc.gov/pages/roundtables/2009/20090710/FinalLawyersStatements_bob%20Fu.pdf.
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, ¶588-90, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/12/Add.1 (March 4, 2009), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/10session/reports.htm.