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A Call for a UN Investigation, and US Sanctions, on the Human Rights Disaster Unfolding in Xinjiang

August 10, 2018

 

Uighur, FLG, praying

Thousands of Uighurs praying in Kashgar, July 2014. Source: farwestchina.com

 

It is now clear, from numerous reliable sources, that shocking human rights atrocities are being perpetrated in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China (XUAR).

The Communist Party authorities have established a large number of political re-education centers in Xinjiang, detaining people without any judicial process, stripping them of their personal liberty, imprisoning them, and detaining them for indeterminate ‘sentences.’ Estimates of the numbers detained range from hundreds of thousands to over a million, primarily targeting Uighurs, but also Kazakhs, Hui people, and other minorities who follow Islam. Among those detainees are peasants, workers, university, college, high-school and middle-school students, teachers, poets, writers, artists, scholars, the head of a provincial department, bureau chiefs, village chiefs, and even Uighur police officers. Uighurs overseas, as well as their family members and Uighur students who return to China after studying abroad — and even Uighurs who have simply visited abroad for tourism — have been particular targets of attack.

Those locked up in detention centers have been forced to sing Red Songs, learn Mandarin Chinese, and study Xi Jinping Thought. Many have been forced to eat pork, drink alcohol, and been force-fed unidentified drugs. Abuse and torture is common in re-education centers, and reports of deaths in custody due to torture have become common. The well-known deaths confirmed to date include Muhammad Salih Hajim (穆罕穆德.萨利阿吉), the renowned Uighur scholar of Islam known for translating the Quran with official approval; Halmurat Ghopur (哈木拉提·吾甫尔), a leading food safety administrator and Communist Party official in Xinjiang; and Ayhan Memet, mother of Dolkun Isa (多里坤·艾沙), the chairman of the World Uyghur Congress. Many children, because their parents were disappeared, have been crammed into orphanages and are now suffering terrible conditions.

According to official Chinese statistics, over 227,000 Uighurs in Xinjiang were criminally arrested in 2017, 8 times the 27,000 recorded in 2016. In 2017, the number of people detained on criminal charges in Xinjiang was 21% of the total in all of China, while Xinjiang’s population is only 1.5% of the country’s.

Further, Communist Party authorities have set up a comprehensive electronic surveillance system trained on the daily lives of Uighurs in Xinjiang. They’ve deployed cameras with facial recognition capabilities, cell phone scanners, a DNA collection system, and a ubiquitous police presence, turning the entire Xinjiang region into the world’s most high-tech Police Garrison. All of the Party’s efforts are directed toward the cultural destruction of the Uighur people, who now face a crisis of survival.

In light of this grave human rights catastrophe, all who value human rights and universal values cannot be silent. We hereby state the following:

  1. We strenuously protest the CCP’s unilateral barbaric violence, and we demand that the authorities immediately cease the political persecution of Uighurs and other minority peoples, shut down the political re-education camps, and release all prisoners of conscience including Ilham Tohti  (伊力哈木.土赫提) and Gheyret Niyaz (海莱特尼亚孜);
  2. We support the righteous struggle by Uighurs and other minority peoples in XUAR aimed at securing their basic human rights;
  3. We call upon the U.S. government to continue speaking out about the human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and to put more effective pressure on Party authorities;
  4. We call upon the United Nations to launch an investigation into what is taking place in XUAR and to publicly censure the CCP’s despicable acts.

 

Signatories:

Hu Ping (胡平), honorary chief editor of Beijing Spring, New York.

Wang Dan (王丹), founder and director of China Dialogue, Washington, DC.

Teng Biao (滕彪), human rights lawyer, visiting scholar at New York University, Princeton.

Xia Yeliang (夏业良), independent scholar, Washington, DC.

Mo Li (茉莉), teacher, Sweden.

Fu Zhengming (傅正明), scholar, Sweden.

Cai Chu (蔡楚), editor of minzhuzhongguo.org and canyu.org, Mobile, Alabama.

Zhang Yu (张裕), coordinator of the Committee on Imprisoned Writers, Independent Chinese PEN Center. Stockholm, Sweden.

Lü Jinghua (吕京花), deputy chair of Chinese Alliance for Democracy, New York.

Liao Tianqi (廖天琪), president of Independent Chinese PEN Center, Köln, Germany.

 

Zhang Qing (张菁), chairwoman of Women’s Rights in China, New York.

Liao Yiwu (廖亦武), writer in exile, Berlin, Germany.

Yaxue Cao (曹雅学), editor of chinachange.org, Washington, DC.

Sulaiman Gu (古懿), student, Georgia, USA.

Wang Juntao (王军涛), chairman of the National Committee of China Democracy Party, New Jersey.

Qi Jiazhen (齐家贞), independent writer, Melbourne, Australia.

Chen Weijian (陈维健), chief editor of Beijing Spring, Auckland, New Zealand.

Xia Ming (夏明), professor of political science, CUNY, New York.

Sheng Xue (盛雪), writer, journalist, Toronto, Canada.

Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁), president of Humanitarian China, New Jersey.

 

Zhong Jinjiang (钟锦江), chairman of Chinese Alliance for Democracy, Sydney, Australia.

Guo Dongcheng (郭冬成), worker, Sweden.

Cai Yongmei (蔡咏梅), writer, Hong Kong.

Chen Chuangchuang (陈闯创), member of China Democracy Party, New York.

Yang Jianli (杨建利), founder of Initiative for China, Washington, DC.

Pan Yongzhong (潘永忠), secretary general of Federation for a democratic China, Germany.

Chen Pokong (陈破空), political commentator, New York.

Li Weidong (李伟东), director of China Strategic Analysis quarterly, USA.

Zhang Lin (张林), internet writer, New York.

Wang Ce (王策), chairman of Chinese Republican Party, Madrid, Spain.

 

Li Ruijuan (李瑞娟), journalist and editor, Taipei, Taiwan.

Wuerkaixi (吾尔开希), initiator of Friends of Liu Xiaobo, Taiwan.

Zhao Xin (赵昕), civil rights defender, Bay Area, California.

Su Xiaokang (苏晓康), writer, Washington, DC.

Guo Chen (郭琛), businessman, former chief supervisor of the Association of Taiwanese in Europe, Germany.

Bob Fu (傅希秋), founder and president of ChinaAid, Texas.

Fei Liangyong (费良勇), engineer, member of Federation for a democratic China, Nuremberg, Germany.

Wang Jinzhong (王进忠), deputy chair of Chinese Alliance for Democracy, Tokyo, Japan.

Chen Liqun (陈立群), deputy chair of the National Committee of China Democracy Party, New York.

Ma Yuzhong (马育忠), editor, Xi’an, China.

 

Fu Sheng (付升), scientist, Xi’an, China.

Cai Shufang (蔡淑芳), Friends of Conscience, Hong Kong.

Ren Wanding (任畹町), founder of Human Rights Defenders, France.

Chen Hanzhong (陳漢中), board director of China Spring Research Foundation, chief supervisor of Chinese Alliance for Democracy, California.

Zhang Jie (张杰), Boxun News journalist, USA.

Hong Zhesheng (洪哲胜), chief editor of Democracy Forum, New York.

Xue Wei (薛伟), manager of Beijing Spring, New York.

 

 

 

 

German Student at Tsinghua University Expelled for Research on 709 Lawyers

China Change, August 8, 2018

 

IMG_3260

On April 5, 2018, Missal walked with Li Wenzu on their walk to Tianjing.

 

Until recently, David Missal (@DavidJRMissal) was a graduate student at the School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, on a two-year DAAD scholarship (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst; or German Academic Exchange Service). Two months ago, Missal told RFA, he applied to the Exit and Entry Administration of the Beijing Public Security Bureau for the renewal of his student visa. Under normal circumstances, it takes about 10 days to complete the process. But last Friday, the bureau notified him that his renewal was denied, and he was ordered to leave China within 10 days. The reason they gave is that Missal has engaged in activities not in accordance with his student visa.

Missal believes that the denial of visa and expulsion has to do with the topic he chose to work on for his journalism study: the study of human rights lawyers, in particular those targeted from July 9, 2015, onwards. (This is despite his advisor approving the research.)

In April, when 709 lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s wife Li Wenzu and a group of activists started a walking trip to Tianjin to highlight the predicament of Wang Quanzhang, who had been disappeared for over 1,000 days, Missal accompanied them as part of his field work.

On May 2, Missal accompanied lawyer Lin Qilei to Wuhan on the latter’s trip to visit his client, veteran dissident Qin Yongmin. Missal was taken away by police for several hours for questioning. In a video he shot with his cell phone, police can be seen repeatedly stopping him from filming.

 

 

On July 10, the same day that Liu Xiaobo’s widow, Liu Xia, was allowed to leave China for Germany following intense international pressure, Qin Yongmin was sentenced to 13 years in prison for subversion – the most severe sentence for a dissident in over a decade.

Missal has spent time with a number of human rights lawyers for his study, according to Lin Qilai, a rights lawyer. But everywhere they went, domestic security police would intervene and stop him. Retaliating against a foreign student and sever his academic career for studying human rights, Lin argues, doesn’t help China’s international image.

Missal asked the Chinese police which of his activities violated the rules for foreign student visas, and the police responded, “You know yourself!”

Tsinghua University’s international student center declined to comment on the event. The Beijing PSB’s Exit and Entry Administration failed to answer RFA’s calls.

Missal started his two-year program last September; he is now contemplating completing his studies in Taiwan.

 

This report is based on a RFA report and other sources. Visit Missal’s blog at davidmissal.de

 

 

 

Guangdong Activist Xu Lin Tried on Charges of ‘Stirring Up Trouble’ For Writing Songs

China Change, July 27, 2018

 

Xu Lin

Xu Lin (徐琳), who described himself as “a dissident, poet, singer-songwriter and senior construction engineer in mainland China,” was put on trial in the Nansha District Court in Guangzhou on July 27, where he faced charges of ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble’ (寻衅滋事) for a series of songs about sensitive political topics that he composed, sung, and posted online.

Xu pleaded not guilty to the charges. The court did not deliver a sentence at the end of the trial.

Xu Lin was arrested and criminally detained in September 2017 while visiting his sick father in Hunan. Among the list of his supposed crimes were the songs he composed supporting human rights lawyers targeted in the July 9, 2015 crackdown, as well as articles he wrote.

The authorities initially said they would reserve two seats in the court for Xu’s family members to witness the trial, but this was denied on the actual day, according to a Ms. Wang, Xu Lin’s wife, who was interviewed by RFA immediately after the trial.

“The trial has just finished, and there were definitely major issues with it. It was completely unfair to Xu Lin. Right now, whatever they say goes. You can’t say anything. And even if you do, they won’t listen,” she said in the interview. Ms. Wang was in the end able to observe the proceedings through a closed video feed in the court house.

Two defense lawyers, Lin Qilei (蔺其磊) and Liu Hao (刘浩), pointed out the procedural irregularities of the case, and stated that citizens had the right to express themselves, to criticize the government, and to produce creative work that commentates on current affairs. The lawyers argued that Mr. Xu’s case is a case of persecution.

Mr. Xu himself was anything but repentant. He said in his court statement that he was merely exercising his constitutional rights. “If I am found guilty, shame on you, not me.”  

 

 

Public security authorities had made extensive preparations for Xu’s trial, staging paramilitary and uniformed police in the streets within a two or three kilometer radius of the court, according to Xu Kun (徐昆), an activist who managed to get into the court house. He was quickly apprehended by seven or eight officers and dropped off at the train station, he said in an interview with RFA.

“The police seemed to know that people would be coming [to watch the trial].”

Liu Sifang (劉四仿), another activist composer who worked with Xu and was also arrested late last year, says that Xu may have been able to avoid prosecution if he expressed his penitence, declared guilt, asked for the favor of the authorities, and promised not to re-offend. It’s a course of action Xu declined to embark upon.

Xu’s commitment to his ideas are clear from his blog posts and lyrics.

On April 9, 2016 — his 52nd birthday — Xu reflected on the meaning of his activism and the significance of imprisonment, and even death, in the service of his commitments. He wrote:

“What can I do outside of jail? I don’t organize, and even less join violent movements. I also don’t have the ability to call everyone to rise up and oppose the authorities at key moments. The greatest skill I have is song composition. Though many people rate my songs very highly, if they’re not heard by 10 million people, then no matter how many I write, it won’t have much of an impact. If my imprisonment leads to my songs being spread much more widely, and wakes up more people, who rise up and resist, well then I’m ready to go to jail. I’m even content to die.”

 

 

Xu also wrote in 2016, “Popular songs are one of the most powerful weapons for mobilizing people… everyone’s brave resistance to this dictatorship is an endless fountain of inspiration for my works.”

Xu’s songs include “The Secretly Detained Human Rights Lawyers,” with the lyrics: “Mother, father, forgive your son’s filial failure. I couldn’t be with in your older years, because my comrades have disappeared for two years.”

Trained as a construction engineer, where he worked as a senior manager, Xu has pursued his activism through writing and song for nearly two decades. He has composed works about the June 4 massacre, the political persecution of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, the plight of petitioners in China, and other topics. He was part of the 2013 Southern Street Movement in Guangdong, and has composed poems about the persecution of dissidents since 2010.

His August 2015 energetic, rock-tinged composition “Song of the Righteous Lawyers,” appeared to infuriate the authorities, leading to a month-long detention.

“We are brave rights defense lawyers. We bear the mission of safeguarding fairness and justice,” the chorus says.

 

 

Xu Lin had previously been threatened by Guangdong authorities, in a particular thug-like manner as he recounts in a December 2015 video on YouTube. “One of the police officers said that the station was really sick of me, and that someone in the public security division threatened to find someone to break my legs. Every time I made a post, they’d come and get me, until I was dead. They said the same thing to my wife.”

If the goal of the intimidation was to stop Xu Lin from posting his songs and poems online, it didn’t work. “They don’t frighten me,” he said in the same video. “This simply demonstrates all the more that this evil system has to be abolished.”

 

 

 

 

709 Crackdown Three Years on: Keynote Address on the Second China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day, July 8, 2018, New York City

Terence Halliday, July 9, 2018

 

Halliday_prize to Gao Zhisheng's wife

Halliday gave the China Human Rights Award for Gao Zhisheng to Gao’s wife.

 

Again and again, across history and across regions, lawyers stand in the vanguard of change. In Britain in the 1600s, in France in the 1700s, in Germany in the 1800s, in India and Brazil in the 1970s, in Egypt and Pakistan in the 1990s, in Zambia and Kenya, and, not least in South Korea and Taiwan over the last generation, and in many other places.

 

 

In the last days of June 2015 I spent many hours in coffee shops and hotels and restaurants and offices with many of China’s notable rights lawyers.

Wang Yu (王宇) and I discussed the extraordinary nationwide attack on her reputation.

Yu Wensheng (余文生) described his unbearable torture in the hands of the security apparatus.

Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) talked about the emotional pain of being separated from his family and having no permanent place to live.

Li Heping (李和平) imagined a society where compassion and justice and religious freedom were embraced by all leaders and citizens.

In those last days of June, 3 years ago, what was their state of mind?

They all knew that clouds were gathering.

They all had suffered in the past and they knew they might suffer in the future.

They all had hope that signs of deepening repression in the near future would be temporary. They all looked in the far future to a new New China which respected human rights, protected basic legal freedoms, allowed for an open political society and the rule of law.

Yet, none expected how quickly a great storm was about to break over their heads.

On 9 July, 2015, exactly three years ago, a massive storm swept them all away. It began with Wang Yu’s disappearance in the middle of the night. It spread rapidly over hours and days and weeks and swept away more than 300 rights lawyers and activists across all of mainland China.

Today we remember the 709 crackdown. But we do more than remember. This is not an historical incident that is fading in our memories.

It is not a monument to the past, only to be recorded in history books.

This Second Day for China Human Rights Lawyers’ shows that the 709 Crackdown is present in this moment. It reveals to China’s citizens, to lawyers across the world, to rights activists and the defenders of minorities, to international organizations, to states that still champion global standards of liberal constitutional orders, that a mighty struggle continues.

The end is not near. Indeed, the struggle deepens inside China and across the world.

And so today, we must ask: What does the 709 Crackdown and its shockwaves tell the world about China and its rulers? What have we learned about China’s rights lawyers and the struggle for freedoms? What of the future?

I. What Does the 709 Crackdown Tell Us About China and Its Rulers?  

What does it tell the world about the real China, not the propaganda China, not the mythical China, not the face of China that the Party likes to show the world, but the actual China, the empirical China, the China that free scholars and free media and free international observers report without censorship?

The world is waking up.

The world is waking up to the dark side, the cruelty, the brutality of China’s rulers, and we can see these in the way it treats rights lawyers.

This is:

A China where a single person, such as Wang Yu, is humiliated nation-wide in the state-controlled media

A China where brutalized lawyers are forced to make public confessions and mouth wooden words far removed from the values they expressed in my research on China’s defense lawyers

A China where authorities arbitrarily replace a lawyer’s chosen counsel with a government-friendly substitute.

A China that has expanded its repertoire of torture, intensifying and reinforcing the ways it seeks to break the ideals, the minds, even the bodies of rights lawyers

A China where lawyers are disappeared for weeks, months, years in so-called “designated residential surveillance” sites so they are completely removed from families, lawyers, observers, and exposed to extreme psychological and physical pressure, some of it medieval in its primitive methods.

A China where lawyers are subjected to new tortures, not least being forcibly injected with excruciatingly painful disorienting drugs to alter their minds and leave scars for the short-term or long-term or the rest of their lives.

A China where brothers are compelled to pressure brothers, or children are used against their parents, or parents are pressed to change the minds of their children, or where wives are refused access, even knowledge, about their husbands.

A China that has ratcheted up the charges and sentences for detained lawyers.

A China where secret trials have become a new norm for lawyers who most implausibly have betrayed “state secrets.”

The world is waking up to the recognition that China is a country that runs on the fuel of fear.

China’s leaders fear their own people.

When we view China through the eyes of its criminal defense and rights lawyers, we see a fragile China. Across China enormous grievances accumulate for hundreds of millions of Chinese. Pollution, property-takings, religious persecution, suppression of minorities, forced abortions, magnifying inequality, exploited labor, rampant corruption, unjust treatment by police, tainted food.

China’s leaders are afraid:

— civil society

— of Uyghurs

— of Muslims

— of workers

— of Tibetan Buddhists

— of unofficial Christian Protestant churches

— of women

— of unofficial Roman Catholic churches

— of Hong Kong’s fight to preserve its legal freedoms and open civil society

— and of Taiwan – a country which shows that ethnic Chinese, that inheritors of the Confucian tradition, that non-Han indigenous peoples together can build an open political society that adheres to global norms crafted in part by a pre-revolutionary China,

— of foreigners who care about the dignity and freedom of China’s people

The 709 crackdown has cast a long shadow. The world now sees it is one notable move against lawyers as part of many other “againsts.”

The world is waking up to the recognition that China is a deviant state.

It deviates from global standards on arbitrary arrest and detention, on torture, on disappearances, on fair trials, on an independent judiciary, on access to lawyers, on freedom of speech and association and religion.

The world has woken up to an awareness that this mighty nation, a nuclear power, a state flexing its military muscle, and an economic and geopolitical giant, nevertheless is afraid of these few lawyers and the 1000s of other lawyers who share their values.

 

709 律师节会场,纽约

The audience watch a short video about the human rights lawyers and legal activists.

 

II. What Does 709 Tell Us Today About These Rights Lawyers?  

We’ve learned that activist lawyers are now spread across the country. Once they were largely concentrated in Beijing. Today they are everywhere.

We’ve learned that the struggle for basic freedoms is now nationwide.

In every region ordinary people cried out for justice, for dignity, for their children, for safe food and clear water and pure air, for their property, for their religious beliefs.  And rights lawyers responded.

We’ve learned that rights lawyers fight for a core of ideals fundamental to all peoples in our 21st century world. They fight for basic legal freedoms.

  • They demand procedural protections for their clients, such as freedom to choose or meet with a lawyer, protection of clients from coerced confessions
  • They insist on standards of fairness in court such as seeing and cross-examining evidence.
  • They want fair trials and neutral judges.

They fight for an open civil society where there is freedom of speech and association, including the ability of lawyers to form bar associations independent of state control.

They struggle for freedom of religion and protections for all believers, including the savagely repressed adherents of Falun Gong. They want open exchanges of views and beliefs where citizens are freed from stifling censorship.

They fight against the tyranny of a one-party state where all power is concentrated in the hands of supreme rulers. They insist that political power be divided. That the tyrannies of absolute state power be checked by law and other centers of power inside the state and outside of it.

We’ve learned that lawyers’ ideals are so strong they will suffer terribly to maintain their ideals. We’ve seen that wives and daughters and sons – including those joining us today – have stood up to cry out for the most basic standards of justice and human decency.

And, most important, China’s activist lawyers have shown the world that inside China’s beating heart there is an impulse for justice, for freedoms, for a normal society. It is a society where rulers are not afraid of their own people but welcome their views, where leaders do not fear lawyers but welcome their peaceful respect for a just legality.

Inside China’s beating heart there is a tiny minority that gives voice to wrongs and gives vision for the future.

III. What of the Future?   

I submit to you that we already know the end of this struggle but we do not know when or how.

For 25 years social scientists, legal scholars and historians have investigated the role of lawyers in the creation of open political societies. These are societies where rights are embedded in constitutions and constitutions are implemented in practice.

Again and again, across history and across regions, lawyers stand in the vanguard of change. In Britain in the 1600s, in France in the 1700s, in Germany in the 1800s, in India and Brazil in the 1970s, in Egypt and Pakistan in the 1990s, in Zambia and Kenya, and, not least in South Korea and Taiwan over the last generation, and in many other places.

Lawyers have fought against absolute monarchs, Big Man regimes, military dictatorships, communist parties, fascist regimes. Lawyers wave the flag of legal rights, civil rights, political rights.

Time and again lawyers and their allies – workers, women’s groups, religious believers, the media – have been defeated, and time and again they have fought back from defeat. The struggle is never over, even in countries where lawyers’ ideals have been instituted for decades or centuries.

Hope is still alive among China’s activists. Now is a dark hour, a moment when defeat seems possible. The darkness may last a long time, years, decades, longer, but the end is never in doubt. Victories and defeats have already been the experience of China’s lawyer activists. And defeats and victories will continue.

Today, the Second Day for China Human Rights Lawyers’ keeps hope alive.

This event expresses a solidarity that crosses nationalities, that goes beyond citizenship that binds together persons of every ethnicity and believers from different religions, that crosses continents and knits together peoples and organizations and states in every place.

It is not only China’s hope but a universal hope – a hope in human dignity, in human flourishing, in legal freedoms, in an open political society, in a future where all may worship as they choose, where every person may speak the language of her or his childhood, where all may honor the cultural traditions in which they are embedded.

This hope is maintained by China’s lawyer activists and sustained by those that stand with them. Today we honor them by standing with them for China and for all peoples who long for freedom and justice.

 

 

Terence Halliday is a research professor at the American Bar Foundation, and co-author of Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work (Cambridge U Press, 2016).

 

 

 

 

709 Crackdown Three Years on: A Tribute to Wang Quanzhang

Yaxue Cao, on the second China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day, July 8, 2018, New York

 

Wang Quanzhang, around 2010As of today, lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been held incommunicado for 1,095 days. Over the 1,095 days, his toddler has grown into a boy who vows to fight the “Monster” that took his father; his wife has metamorphosed from a timid housewife to one of the most recognizable faces of the 709 resistance. With each day, we worry about Wang Quanzhang’s fate: Is he still alive? Has he been so severely debilitated by torture that they can’t even show him? These dreadful thoughts eat at our hearts when we think about Wang Quanzhang, and we don’t know how not to think about him.

Wang Quanzhang is 42 years old. Like most human rights lawyers in China, he was born and raised in the countryside, and came of age with a deep-rooted sense that Chinese society was unjust and unfair.

He graduated from Shandong University in 2000 with a law degree. While still in college in 1999, the brutal, nationwide suppression against Falun Gong began, and he provided legal assistance to Falun Gong practitioners. That makes him one of the earliest defenders of Falun Gong. As a result, he was threatened and his home was raided by police.

After college, Wang Quanzhang took up volunteer work to teach villagers about Chinese law near Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong. He debated with villagers about whether it was power, or the law, that was supreme in China. The villagers believed that in China, power rules — not the law.

They were right then, and they’re right now.

In 2008 Wang Quanzhang moved to Beijing and worked at a string of NGOs. In 2009 he and friends co-founded the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group NGO (中国维权紧急援助组), to expand access to legal assistance for victims, organize trainings for fellow lawyers, and teach victims to become citizen lawyers using China’s civil and administrative laws.

After 2013, he focused on his legal practice and defended persecuted individuals in court, especially Falun Gong practitioners.

Wang Quanzhang was a lawyer with the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm when he was swept up along with scores of other lawyers and activists in July 2015. Among the rights lawyers, he was known for being beaten up a lot, inside and outside the court.

Oh yes, court bailiffs do beat lawyers sometimes, though China has yet to apply for World Cultural Heritage status for this practice.

In February, 2017, Wang Quanzhang was indicted for “subversion of state power.” No one has yet seen a copy of the indictment. We don’t know how the Communist Party built its case against him, but we do know that they have been eager to have him admit guilt, without success.

Foreseeing what was to come, Wang Quanzhang left a letter for his parents in July 2015:

No matter how despicable and ridiculous we appear to be in the portrayal by the manipulated media, Mother, Father, please believe your son, and please believe your son’s friends.

My taking up the work—and walking down the path—of defending human rights wasn’t just a sudden impulse. Instead, it came from a hidden part of my nature, a calling that has intensified over the years—and has always been slowly reaching up like ivy.

This path is doomed to be thorny, tortuous, and rocky.

Dear Father and Mother, please feel proud of me. Also, no matter how horrible the situation is, you must hang on and live, and wait for the day when the clouds disperse and the sun shines through.

I’m immensely grateful for this note of hope, a note of hope from someone who seems to have the least reason to embrace hope.

So what choice do we have but to remain strong, and forge ahead? We have a monster to slay, or our dignity, our freedoms, and indeed, our humanity, will be in peril.

Thank you.

 

Yaxue Cao edits this website. Follow her on Twitter @YaxueCao

 


 

致敬王全璋:2018年中國人權律師獎獲得者

曹雅學,第二屆中國人權律師節頒獎詞,2018年7月8日,美國紐約

 

截止今天,王全璋律師已經與世隔絕,被秘密羈押了1,095天。在這1,095天裡,他的兒子從一個兩歲的乳兒長成了一個虎虎生風的小男孩。小男孩發誓要去打那個把爸爸帶走的“怪獸”。在這1,095天尋找丈夫的過程中,妻子李文足從一個拘謹的家庭主婦變成了709抗爭中最為人熟悉的面孔之一。每一天,我們擔心著王全璋的命運:他還活著嗎?他是不是被酷刑殘廢了、不能見人?當我們想到王全璋的時候,這些可怕的想法噬咬着我們的心。

王全璋今年42歲。如同大部分中國人權律師一樣,他在貧苦的鄉村出生、長大,對中國社會的不義與不公有早早的、刻骨銘心的體驗。

他於2000年畢業於山東大學法學院。1999年,當中國政府開始在全國對法輪功實施野蠻鎮壓的時候,他還是個在校生,那時就為法輪功學員提供法律援助。這使得他成為中國境內最早為法輪功辯護的人之一。他因此遭到威脅,他的住所遭到查抄。

大學畢業後有三年的時間裡,王全璋工作之餘,在濟南附近的農村給村民上法律課。他和村民辯論在中國是法大,還是權大。村民們認為,在中國,權力大於法律。

村民們那時是對的,現在仍然是對的。

2008年王全璋從濟南搬到北京,在不同的民間公益組織工作過。2009年,他和朋友共同創建了“中國維權緊急援助組”,向權益受害者提供法律救助,為律師提供培訓,同時訓練受害者成為公民律師。

2013年後,他進入律師事務所,成為刑辯律師,專心代理個案,特別是法輪功案件。

2015年7月,王全璋和幾十名律師與公民活動者遭到抓捕的時候,他是北京鋒銳律師事務所的執業律師。在人權律師中,王全璋有“挨打律師”之稱。挨打可以發生在庭外,可以發生在庭上。

是的,是有這樣的事情:在中國的法庭上,法警可以對律師大打出手。不過中國政府還沒有給這項舉世無雙的做法申請“世界文化遺產”。

2017年2月,王全璋被以“顛覆國家政權罪”起訴。但不管是他的律師還是家人,無人看到過這份起訴書。因此,我們不知道共產黨是怎麼給他羅織罪名的,但是我們知道,他們急於逼迫王全璋認罪,但沒有獲得成功。

王全璋預見到了將會發生的事情,他在2015年7月被捕前不久留下了一封《致父母書》。他寫道:

無論那些被操縱的媒體把我們描述和刻畫成多麽可憎、可笑的人物,父親母親,請相信你的兒子,請相信你兒子的朋友們。

從事捍衛人權的工作,走上捍衛人權的道路,不是我的心血來潮,隱秘的天性,內心的召喚,歲月的積累,一直像常青藤慢慢向上攀爬。

這樣的道路注定荊棘密布,坎坷崎嶇。

親愛的父親母親,請為我感到驕傲,並且無論周圍環境怎樣惡劣,一定要頑強的活下去,等待雲開日出的那一天。

對於這封信裡透露出的頑強的樂觀,我深懷感激。它出自一個似乎最沒有理由擁抱希望的人,那麼我們其餘的人除了堅強地往前走,還有什麼選擇呢?我們大家有一個“怪獸”要去打敗;不然的話,我們的尊嚴,我們的自由,乃至我們的人性,都將面臨威脅。

謝謝大家。

 

曹雅學是本網站(改變中國)的主編。她的推特號是 @YaxueCao

 

 


Related:

709 Crackdown Three Years on: Mother and Lawyer Reveals Brutality Against Her Teenage Son for the First Time, Wang Yu, July 1, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘I Stayed Because I Want to Change It’, Jiang Tianyong, July 3, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘If This Country Can’t Even Tolerate Lawyers’, a 8-minute video, Wen Donghai, July 4, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: The Many Methods by Which the Chinese Communist Party Cracks Down on Human Rights Lawyers, Lü Shijie, July 4, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘You’re Guilty of Whatever Crime They Say You Are’, a 7-minute video, Sui Muqing, July 5, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘We Don’t Accept the Communist Party’s Attempt to Instill Terror in Us’, a 9-minute video, Xie Yang, July 6, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘The Most Painful Part of It all Was the Squandering of Life’, Xie Yanyi, July 8, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘The Most Painful Part of It all Was the Squandering of Life’

Xie Yanyi, July 8, 2018


My name is Xie Yanyi. I’ve been a lawyer for 17 years. In 2003 I was the first person to bring a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin for violating the constitution by continuing as the chairman of the state Central Military Commission. From that point forward, I attracted the attention of the authorities.

In June and July 2015 — around then — due to the Qing’an case and a number of other rights defense cases, numerous rights lawyers and citizens were called in and interrogated by the authorities, some were arrested and paraded on state media.

The Qing’an incident was the fuse that lit the 709 crackdown.

In the early morning of July 12, 2015, I heard a knock at the door. I looked through the peephole and saw three men. Two of them were Domestic Security agents that had long been watching me. The other one, as I later learned, was a Domestic Security agent in Beijing. They came to my door in the morning and said they wanted to have a chat. So I went with them to the local neighborhood committee office.

Come around midday, all of a sudden over a dozen unidentified men charged in. The leader came right up to me and flashed his ID badge. They handcuffed me, and then escorted me downstairs. They then shoved me in a vehicle, and we sped off in three or four vehicles to the Chengguan police station.

As they were interrogating me, I worked out that they were also raiding my home, and they had asked me for my wife’s cell phone number. By nightfall, when their raid was done, they hooded me, cuffed me again, and put me in their car — this time an SUV. There were three of us in the back, with me in the middle. There was an officer on either side of me. And there were two in front. At that point we were leaving Miyun, Beijing. I had the hood on, so I didn’t know where we were headed.

They drove for an hour and a half, or maybe two hours, and I felt that we’d entered a kind of compound. They told me to get out, and two people came over and pulled me out of the car. We went into a room on the second floor.

They took the hood off, and I surveyed my new surroundings. The cell was about a dozen square meters. The walls were padded. There was a desk in front of me, and a bed to my left. There was a window on the far wall, but it was completely closed, covered with thick curtains. The room seemed air-tight. It was in this cell that my detention began.

Life in captivity was like this: there were a dozen or so armed police, guarding me every day, spread across five shifts. Each shift was two hours, with two police per shift. They stood to the immediate left and right of me. Even when I was asleep, one was at the head of the bed, the other at the foot, watching me 24/7.

The detention location was in Beijing, likely at an armed police base.

I was taken away on July 12; on the 13th I began a hunger strike. My wife was pregnant at the time, and I was really preoccupied about her. I demanded that the special investigating team handling my case give me pen and paper so I could write a letter home. In the end I was able to achieve this goal — they gave me pen and paper, and I wrote a letter to my wife. Although, after I was released I discovered that my wife never did receive this letter.

It seems that around September 8 we were transferred to another military base in Tianjin. I was again put into a roughly 10 square meter detention cell. Again, the walls were padded, and the window was completely sealed.

During the detention, I was put through some gruelling interrogations. That is, they wouldn’t let me sleep. Also, they starved me — giving me a tiny little bit of food. This went on for about one to two months. They put me through a form of punishment: they made me sit on a block with nothing to lean on. You sat straight like a military man  every day for 15 or 16 hours. This went on for a month. They don’t let you move a muscle. When you sit that long at a stretch, your lower body loses all feeling.

At the same time they submit you to all kind of psychological and emotional pressure. They once threatened me that they would detain my wife too, and they also menaced me, saying that they might harm my child in some fashion.

By January 2016 I was formally arrested on charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power,’ and was transferred to the Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center. When I got to Tianjin No. 2, they wouldn’t use my own name. They gave me an alias — Xie Zhendong.

In the detention center they continued to punish me. The prisoners in this detention center were all serious criminals. In the cell, the person to my left had been given a life sentence; on the right was someone with a suspended death sentence. There was a death row inmate. All of them were recidivist, hardened criminals. They were ordered to surround me – in front of and behind me, to my left and right. These four were assigned to sandwich me and exercise control over me. Every move I made, every individual freedom and right I had, had been stripped of me. Even going to the toilet or drinking water required permission.

I was released on bail ‘pending trial’ in January 2017. On January 5. Even while I was supposedly on bail, they detained me in a hotel room. Only on January 18 did they let me go home and reunite with my family.

The third day after I got out, I exposed to the world the torture I had suffered — in particular [I wanted to expose] the abuse of my brothers along with me. Especially the torture that lawyer Wang Quanzhang and Hu Shigen may have been subjected to. I was in cell no. 8 in this location in Tianjin where we had been put under “residential surveillance” in the detention center. Between October 1 and October 8, 2015, in the depths of the night in my cell I very clearly heard the sound of someone falling down on the floor above me, along with the sounds of anguished wailing, groans, and electric baton shocks. In my judgement that was either Wang Quanzhang or Hu Shigen being tortured.

During this period, not long after I was detained, my mother passed away. When I first heard the news, I didn’t feel that much. I didn’t cry, nor did I feel loss. A bit over a month after I came out, I went to offer sacrifices for her, and as I held her urn of ashes, this ice-cold box of ashes, I ran my fingers along it. It was like I was making contact with my mom. It was at that point only that I really for the first time, at that point the emotions truly came out.

Over this 18 month period of forced residential surveillance, and arrest and detention, the most painful part of it all was the squandering of life. That is, they completely stripped me of every freedom. They didn’t let me engage in any form of communication. And I had no access to any information. Just like this, days become months, months become years. This kind of life wastage, after it goes on long enough, makes you crazy. During that period of residential surveillance, I even started to contemplate suicide.

So the question is how to overcome this dread, this total desperation? I silently told myself stories in my head. I recounted history, contemplated my beliefs, human nature, historical anecdotes. When I got to the detention center, in order to overcome the mental and physical imprisonment, I started to meditate. I sat cross-legged in meditation every morning and every afternoon, for two hours, every single day. This is how I got through it.

[When I got out] I rested up for two or three months. I then spent another three or so months writing “A Record of the 709 Crackdown and 100 Questions about Peaceful Democracy in China.” And then after I published this “Record of 709,” I also published an open letter to Xi Jinping. I told him to release all political prisoners, love your enemies, and start China on the path to peaceful democracy.

This January, 2018, is just when they formally ended my period of bail pending trial. But the authorities are still engaged in illegal infringements and investigations of my right to practice law.

They have committed political persecution against me; they have illegally held hearings on me to disbar me; and they have illegally deprived me of my political rights and a series of due process rights.

The 709 incident has really catalyzed the awakening of the Chinese public. So, we feel more and more that the collapse and crumbling of the totalitarian system could happen at any point. We now need to think through what happens in the post-dictatorship era. What should we do? I think that making peaceful democracy the consensus of the entire Chinese people — that this is extremely important.

Thank you, everyone.


Related:

709 Crackdown Three Years on: Mother and Lawyer Reveals Brutality Against Her Teenage Son for the First Time, Wang Yu, July 1, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘I Stayed Because I Want to Change It’, Jiang Tianyong, July 3, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘If This Country Can’t Even Tolerate Lawyers’, a 8-minute video, Wen Donghai, July 4, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: The Many Methods by Which the Chinese Communist Party Cracks Down on Human Rights Lawyers, Lü Shijie, July 4, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘You’re Guilty of Whatever Crime They Say You Are’, a 7-minute video, Sui Muqing, July 5, 2018.

709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘We Don’t Accept the Communist Party’s Attempt to Instill Terror in Us’, a 9-minute video, Xie Yang, July 6, 2018.