Why Human Rights Matter -- The Career of Teng Biao

11 Jul 2016
Author: Robert Precht

In July 2015 Chinese police arrested 320 human rights activists. One year later, 23 legal advocates remain in detention on various charges the majority of whom are still held incommunicado and deprived of defense lawyers of their own choosing. In addition, another 39 people having been barred from leaving the country, statistics of the Hong Kong based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group showed.

To commemorate this sad anniversary we present an interview we conducted earlier this year in New York City with Teng Biao -- one of China’s best-known civil-rights lawyers. Mr. Teng first rose to national prominence in 2003 when he and two other students at Peking University successfully petitioned the National People's Congress to end a law that gave police sweeping power to detain people for failing to have a residence permit or valid ID. That year a twenty-seven-year-old university graduate was beaten to death for failing to have proper identity papers.

In this interview in New York City Mr. Teng talks about his intellectual growth, being detained and tortured by the police, the moral dilemma of U.S. universities opening campuses in China, the American Bar Association’s invitation -- later rescinded -- to publish his book, and why human rights is something everyone should care about.