by overseas Chinese organizations in the greater Washington, D.C. region
5 pm, Thursday, August 13, 2015
3505 International Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008
Since it began in July, the Chinese Communist Party’s large-scale suppression of human rights lawyers has already gone on for more than a month. With the information we have at hand, we know that over 300 lawyers, law firm staff, and rights defenders have been summoned by police, criminally detained, secretly imprisoned, disappeared, or put under house arrest. And in many cases, their family members, coworkers, or even their own legal counsel were subject to all manner of threats by the police. Meanwhile, the authorities have used the media they control to judge the victims before trial, misleading the public with lies. It’s also clear that in the course of all this, the authorities themselves have deliberately violated many laws, including abuse of power and illegal detention.
All this has caused a tempest of anger both inside and outside China, bringing a flood of criticism of the Chinese government.
Given that many lawyers have been forced to “confess,” and in light of the Chinese government’s known modus operandi, we think it’s extremely likely that many of the lawyers and other rights defenders that have been captured may have been tortured.
As a matter of fact, in today’s China, rights lawyers are keeping vigil over the conscience and justice of society; and they’re a safety valve for social pressure and tensions. All along, they’ve been helping citizens to use legal channels to resolve conflicts, and to safeguard rights. The persecution of these lawyers is a persecution of all of China’s people—and it’s an assault on fairness and justice.
The Communist Party has continuously harassed and persecuted rights lawyers over the last decade or so since the onset of the rights defense movement – a movement in which citizens have sought justice through legal means – except that the situation has steadily gotten worse, and we are now at the nadir.
We have all cause to believe the following: that this nationwide suppression of rights lawyers was an organized, premeditated act by the Communist Party to purge and eliminate the rights defense profession; that, at the same time, it is a concentrated exposure of the Party’s lies; and that it is the most clear-cut, telltale sign of the regime’s utter political bankruptcy. Given the involvement of so many organs of the state in the crackdown, as well as its national scope, it’s clear that this attack is not limited to lawyers, but that it is a declaration of war upon China’s entire civil society. It’s no series of accidents, but the result of a carefully-engineered, long term plan.
When the government’s violation of the law becomes the norm, citizens’ abiding by the law becomes a crime. The actions of the authorities are a serious infringement of China’s Constitution and law, and also of many of the internationally-recognized norms that are part of the United Nation’s “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.” The arrests also turn Chairman Xi Jinping’s slogans about “governing the country according to the law” into a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have clear provisions for procedural justice. China is a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, so the Chinese government has the duty to abide by its international promises and comply with international norms.
For those who planned and carried out this attack against rights lawyers, please consider: when you yourselves need a lawyer, where do you think you’ll find one in China who insists on serving the law and the law only? No one would dare say they will never need a lawyer. The mistakes of your predecessors are right before you—the era of Mao is still in living memory, so why haven’t you learnt from it?
We condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s depraved behavior!
We demand that the Chinese government immediately see to it that its law enforcement agencies strictly follow international standards, and scrupulously abide by the procedures of criminal law. Specifically, we demand:
- Release all of the lawyers and citizens who have been illegally detained, and restore their names;
- Immediately cease carrying out illegal summonses, detentions, arrests, and other restrictions of personal freedom;
- Cease the persecution of the family members and other associates of lawyers and activists. Cease limiting their freedom of movement and that of their children and other relatives, including their freedom to exit the country. Immediately return the passport of Bao Zhuoxuan, 16-year-old son of lawyer Wang Yu, and restore his freedom to leave the country to study;
- Ensure that all coercive measures taken against citizens are based on evidence, and are legal, and ensure that the presumption of innocence is implemented in legal proceedings;
- Pursue legal responsibility, according to Chinese law, against those who have broken the law in the current cases.
We also wish to issue an alert and an appeal to the international community: a regime that abuses its own people domestically will not live up to its promises abroad. As China’s internal contradictions continue to escalate, and the Party is unable to manipulate public opinion, it’s likely that the flag of populism will be hoisted to deceive the people, stirring up extreme nationalist sentiment. This will inevitably become a threat to global peace and stability.
To governments and organizations around the world, we make this request: monitor closely the abuses of human rights of the Chinese government, and speak out in support of the persecuted and those who defend them!
《抓捕律师抗议声明 – 2015年8月13日下午在中国驻美国大使馆前》