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Bill of Indictment Against Rights Activist Wu Gan

January 12, 2017




Tianjin Municipal People’s Procuratorate Number Two Branch

Bill of Indictment

TJ 2d Br Proc Crim Indict (2016) No. 10001


Defendant Wu Gan (吴淦), male, [redacted], identification card number [redacted], Han ethnicity, high school graduate, a native of Xiamen city Fujian province, administrative employee of Beijing Fengrui Law Firm (北京锋锐律师事务所), registered address [redacted], residence [redacted], placed under criminal detention by Public Security Bureau of Siming precinct of Xiamen municipality, Fujian province, on May 27, 2015, on suspicion of picking quarrels and provoking trouble and defamation. With the approval of this procuratorate, arrested by the Xiamen Public Security Bureau on July 3, 2015, on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power and picking quarrels and provoking trouble. His period of detention was recalculated on January 20, 2016, due to suspicion of the crime of subversion of state power.

Investigation of this case has been completed by the Tianjin Public Security Bureau. On August 17, 2016, it referred the case to this procuratorate for prosecutorial review of defendant Wu Gan’s culpability for the crimes of inciting subversion of state power and picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Upon jurisdiction was determined in accordance with the law, this procuratorate, on August 19, 2016, informed the defendant of his right to retain defense counsel, questioned the defendant in accordance with the law, heard the defense lawyer’s opinions, and reviewed the complete set of documents in this case. During this period the case was twice sent back to the investigating organ for additional investigation in accordance with the law, and the deadline for prosecutorial review was extended three times.

Having reviewed the case in accordance with the law, we find: 

Defendant Wu Gan has long been influenced by the infiltration of anti-China forces and gradually formed his idea of overthrowing the country’s current political and judicial system. Since 2010, Wu Gan has used the Internet to publish his ideas about subverting state power and incited people who are unaware of the truth to oppose the government. He published the online articles “Guide to Butchering Pigs,”* “Guide to Drinking Tea,”** and “Guide to Petitioners Fighting Against Forced Demolition of Homes,” and attacked institutions of the state. He accepted interviews by foreign media and posted online video lectures, promoted the so-called idea of “toppling the wall,” and willfully attacked the socialist system. He engaged in criminal activities subverting state power, such as unlawful gatherings and causing disturbances. In October 2014, Wu Gan joined the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm headed by Zhou Shifeng (who carried out activities of subversion of state power using the firm as a platform to hype sensitive cases and incidents, and who has been sentenced) and colluded with Zhou Shifeng (周世锋), Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民  who, for a long time, carried out activities of subversion of state power by unlawfully organizing petitioners to make disturbances and has been sentenced), and Li Heping (李和平 who engaged in activities of subversion of state power by using funds from certain overseas non-governmental organizations and has been dealt with separately) to strengthen the idea of subversion of state power, concentrate on hyping sensitive cases and incidents, and carry out a series of criminal activities of subversion of state power and overthrow of the socialist system, severely harming the state security and social stability. Specific facts are as follows:

  1. In April 2010, Fujian Province Fuzhou City Mawei District People’s Court reviewed a case involving false accusation and framing. During this period, defendant Wu Gan maliciously hyped up this case on the internet, inciting people to gather at the court to make disturbances and antagonize the judicial institutions of the state. On the date of hearing, Wu Gan hung banners and shouted slogans with others outside of the court and posted video on the Internet, severely affecting the People’s Court in its examination of the case according to the law, smearing the image of the judicial institution, and creating bad political effects both at home and abroad.
  1. In April 2012, defendant Wu Gan was involved in a dispute in connection with relocation compensation in Jin’an District, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province. From April to August of the same year, Wu Gan several times organized many people to put up banners and set up tents in front of the Fuzhou Urban and Rural Construction Committee. He posted slogans on houses to be torn down, insulted and verbally abused the Jin’an District director on the Internet, and severely harmed the image of the government and of state employees and instigated people who did not know the facts to oppose the government.
  1. In September 2012, Fujian Province Fuqing City Public Security Bureau investigated by law a case involving official embezzlement. During the investigation, defendant Wu Gan stirred up trouble by holding up signs in front of the Fuqing Public Security Bureau, and online many times wantonly insulted and verbally abused the director of the Public Security Bureau and police officers, and called the martyr who died on duty a “protector of the criminal underworld.” Through these actions he severely harmed the image of the public security apparatus and people’s police, and instigated hatred against state institutions by people who were unaware of the truth.
  1. On March 22, 2014, the Heilongjiang Province, Jiansanjiang Wasteland Reclamation Public Security Bureau administratively detained people involved in disturbing social order. Defendant Wu Gan and others organized a so-called “Jiansanjiang Citizen Solidarity Rescue Group,” published a “Fundraising Proposal for Citizen Rescue,” and acted as the fundraising contact person and supervisor, and encouraged others to illegally gather in Jiansanjiang and create disturbances. Some lawyers and petitioners subsequently unlawfully gathered in front of Jiansanjiang Wasteland Reclamation Public Security Bureau and at Qixing Detention Center to sit in, shout slogans, display banners, and hype up the incident on the internet to defame and attack the institutions of state authority. Wu Gan then published on the Internet personal information of police officers, and asked people to do a “human flesh search” and issued a “most wanted reward notice.” He also insulted and verbally abused public security and police officers, and incited resistance to the state, creating a bad political influence at home and abroad.
  1. In May 2014, Hunan Province Huaihua City Intermediate People’s Court heard a case concerning gathering a crowd to disturb the social order. During the trial, defendant Wu Gan together with Li Heping attempted to hype the case in Mayang County, Huaihua City. From May 20 to 21, Wu Gan held up a sign in front of the Mayang County government headquarters, and submitted a letter of complaint to the Huaihua City People’s Procuratorate, slandering and defaming the county’s Communist Party secretary. He then continued to hype this case on the internet, inciting people who did not know the truth to resent the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.
  1. In May 2014, Henan Province Zhengzhou City Public Security Bureau conducted an investigation of related people involved in disrupting public order. Defendant Wu Gan, together with Zhai Yanmin and others, hyped up antagonism toward the case and numerous times sought fundraising support online. In July of the same year, some lawyers and visiting petitioners gathered illegally in front of the Zhengzhou No. 3 Detention Center to sit-in and hold a hunger strike. They hung banners and shouted slogans, unreasonably demanding the release of the detainees. They maliciously publicized the incident online, slandering and attacking government organs. During this period, Wu Gan issued on the internet the so-called “Award Order” and “Wanted Order,” and carried out so-called “performance art” in front of the detention center to insult and slander the Public Security Bureau director and incite people who didn’t know the facts to resent state organs and thereby created an adverse effect at home and abroad.
  1. In September 2014, Beijing Municipal Changping District Justice Bureau held a hearing on an administrative penalty case. Defendant Wu Gan went online to encourage other people to gather illegally at the hearing. At the scene, he also held up posters insulting the Justice Bureau and Lawyers Association, verbally abused police officers on duty, and shouted slogans and blocked the entrance with others, creating serious chaos at the scene. Upon learning that related people had been administratively detained by the public security organs, Wu Gan maliciously published blog posts with a great number of photos humiliating police officers to slander and attacking the government.
  1. In December 2014, a civil case handled by the Beijing Fengrui Law Office was settled upon mediation by the court. On instructions from Zhou Shifeng, defendant Wu Gan and Xie Yuandong (谢远东 who was dealt with in another case) went to the Dali Bai Ethnic Minority Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, to publicize this case. Between January 7 and 12, 2015, Wu Gan attacked the judicial organs and defamed the judicial system by putting up big-character posters at the Prefecture People’s Government, People’s Procuratorate, Intermediate People’s Court, and other places, and by driving a vehicle with big-character posters inside and outside of the court to make provocations. He also maliciously stirred up trouble on the internet, attempting to incite people who did not know the truth to resent China’s socialism-with-Chinese-characteristics judicial system.
  1. On December 3, 2013, two people were killed during a home demolition in Huqiu District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province. In January 2014, defendant Wu Gan attended a so-called “Suzhou Urbanization and Demolition Symposium.” It slandered this case, and attacked our country’s system, inciting hatred against the socialist system. From January-February 2015, Wu Gan learned that this and a related case were starting. He actively started organizing fundraising online, maliciously created a disturbance, and incited people who didn’t know the facts to come to Suzhou to illegally assemble, stir up trouble and oppose the government.
  1. In March 2015, Hebei Province Baoding City Mancheng District People’s Court heard the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm representative’s extortion case. During the hearing, defendant Wu Gan took instructions from Zhou Shifeng and fabricated a rumor about “Injustice Caused by the Baoding Municipal Communist Party Politics and Law Committee” and other rumors, and created a malicious disturbance online, stirring up resentment against China’s socialism-with-Chinese-characteristics judicial system among people who didn’t know the true circumstances.  
  1. On May 2, 2015, a police officer was attacked in the Qing’an County, Heilongjiang Province Railway Station waiting room, and the officer then shot and killed the attacker. After this incident, defendant Wu Gan published many blog posts distorting the facts of this event, concocting rumors that the attacker was a petitioner and the police opened fire to prevent him from traveling to petition the government. Wu Gan incited others to come to Qing’an County to unlawfully protest. Afterward he published online a so-called “Qing’an Incident Investigation Report,” disseminated falsehoods, and instigated people who didn’t know the facts to oppose the government.  
  1. In May 2015, the Higher People’s Court of Jiangxi Province convened a criminal appeal hearing. From May 18-19, defendant Wu Gan made a malicious disturbance online and afterward loudly abused and insulted the judge in front of the court and erected a “mourning hall,” blackening the image of judicial organs and vilifying and attacking the nation’s legal system.

On May 27, 2015, defendant Wu Gan was arrested and brought to justice.

The principal evidence of the above facts includes: 1. Material and documentary evidence such as big-character posters and criminal court judgment; 2. Testimony of witnesses Zhai Yanmin and Xie Yuandong, etc.; 3. Inspection reports and evaluative opinions; 4. Written notes of searches, detention, and examinations; 5. Video and audio material and digital data; 6. Defendant Wu Gan’s deposition and defense.

This procuratorate believes that defendant Wu Gan organized, plotted, and implemented the crime of subverting state power and overturning the socialist system. His actions violated Article 105(1) of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. The criminal facts are clear and the evidence is reliable and abundant. He should be held responsible for the crime of subverting state power. 

Prosecution is brought in accordance with Article 172(2) of the Criminal Procedural Law of the People’s Republic of China. Please sentence in accordance with the law.


To: Tianjin Number Two Intermediate People’s Court

Prosecutor: Guan Ning

Acting Prosecutor: Sheng Guowen

Acting Prosecutor: Cao Jiyuan

December 23, 2016



Translator’s notes:

*Guide to Butchering Pigs (《杀猪宝典》) is Wu Gan’s guide to confronting human rights violators, including collection of personal information, and strategies and techniques of effective activism. The Guide, first posted in 2012, has been very popular and its tactics widely adopted by activists.

**Guide to Drinking Tea (《喝茶宝典》) is Wu Gan’s guide to how to cope with police interrogations, which often is given the euphemism of “drinking tea.” He details strategies and tactics on how to overcome fear, and how to give as little information as possible.

***Guide to Petitioners Fighting Against Forced Demolition of Homes (《访民杀猪宝典》). In this Guide, Wu Gan, who has worked with many petitioners whose homes have been demolished illegally and by force, instructs petitioners how to fight for their rights by exposing officials, making use of the law, and staging effective activism.





Wu Gan the Butcher, July, 2015.




‘A Notice to Foreign Forces: We’ve Captured Jiang Tianyong!’ — Video Denigrates Human Rights Lawyer

December 22, 2016

On December 20 the official Weibo account of the Communist Youth League Central Committee posted a short video (YouTube) targeting human right lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇). Jiang was disappeared on November 21, and the Chinese government has not formally notified his relatives of his whereabouts, which violates China’s own laws. As the Party’s propaganda juggernaut churns out videos like this, the word “shameless” fails to describe it. The Chinese narration of the video is presented, interspersed with the images and corresponding text in italics. — The Editors



As the population of society has continued to grow, the number of people using fake identities to commit crimes has increased in large numbers.

Thus, the real name-registration system is an important feature of public security in modern life.

Imagine you’re on a train and find that next to you is an individual who has falsely assumed the identity of another to ride the train. Wouldn’t you feel afraid?

If you find that this chap is carrying 7 cell phones with him, and 11 SIM cards, wouldn’t you be frightened?

If, then, you find that he has even been keeping in close contact with an evil religious organization [the official designation of Falun Gong], and has boarded your train with unspeakable motives, wouldn’t you want ‘Uncle Policeman’ to come and immediately take him away?

[On the screen, subtitles and pictures say: “The pretty rabbit’s eyes turn sharp. No criminal has ever been able to escape their gaze. Come now, the pretty rabbit will unpack everything for you!”]

On the evening of November 21, traveling from Southern Changsha to Western Beijing on the D940 train, there was just such a man. After he was discovered by police, he was taken away.

Arresting miscreants who falsify and misuse the identities of other citizens is the duty of the People’s Police as part of their job to protect law-abiding citizens.

[The picture says:

China: Forging, modifying, or buying and selling identification cards, passports, social security cards, licenses, or other documents that can legally demonstrate identity, may be punished by up to three years imprisonment, detention, supervision, or deprivation of political rights, as well as a fine. Severe circumstances could lead to between three and seven years imprisonment and a fine.

United States: Any person who for any reason uses false information to apply for a social security card or who bribes a government employee to illegally obtain a social security card, or who uses forged or stolen social security cards, all constitute severe crimes. Each charge brings a maximum of five years imprisonment, with a maximum fine of $10,000 (about 60,000 yuan), or both penalties.]

Not a single country with the rule of law would tolerate people posing under false names.

Yet when this suspect was arrested, enthusiasts around the world leapt out to say that he had been “disappeared,” crying how the rule of law in China is so awful and dark.

What was their goal? Of course, it was to fool the masses into complaining with them, trying to cook up international headlines that would draw everyone’s attention.



Jiang Tianyong outside Changsha First Detention Center on November 21, where lawyer Xie Yang has been detained since July, 2015, and tortured.


[Picture: Jiang Tianyong, male, human rights lawyer. Has represented Chen Guangcheng  (陈光诚), Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), AIDS victims, and other human rights cases. He has been abducted by secret police several times in the past and subject to torture. Place of disappearance: On a train between Hunan and Beijing. Days since disappearance: 15.]

[VOA report: Three days ago, on China’s National Constitution Day, the wife of Jiang Tianyong, Jin Bianling (金变玲), and three friends initiated a joint petition to collect 10,000 signatures. They called on China’s Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun (郭声琨) to task the public security authorities with investigating Jiang Tianyong’s disappearance. The three other signatories to the open letter were the renowned human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, the legal scholar Teng Biao (滕彪), and the journalist Su Yutong (苏雨桐).]

[Picture: Collecting signatures globally – “Open letter to Guo Shengkun regarding the disappearance of Jiang Tianyong. Jiang Tianyong has been missing for three weeks; the whole world is looking for him.]

[Video: Chairperson of the Taiwan branch of Amnesty International Lin Shu-ya (林淑雅): “Please provide information on his current whereabouts and his health. Please provide him all appropriate physical care.”]

These enthusiasts always tell stories — but very rarely do they give any evidence.

Every time they try get a gang together, like they’re carrying out a mission, trying to spread rumors until they become facts, using cheap tricks to fool people.

[Picture: “Our slogan is to make trouble! Make trouble! Make trouble!”]

Even the ignorant masses are not buying it.

For example, the silliest claim by Jiang Tianyong was when he said that the police had broken eight of his ribs, and afterwards he hid and ran, even going back to Beijing from Heilongjiang, and then onto Tianjin.

And yet there was no X-ray and no diagnosis by the hospital. There are so many swindlers around these days, and they’ve got so many tricks — deliberately making you break something to get you to pay for it, or badger game — so who knows how many cons they’ve got up their sleeves.

It’s said that the real name of this imposter on the train is Jiang Tianyong, 46, once a lawyer in Beijing.

He’s been engaged in all sorts of bizarre and odd activities in the name of being a lawyer, even though the All China Lawyers Association issued a document years ago, back in 2009, saying that this man’s license to practice law had been cancelled.

[Picture: Statement on All China Lawyers’ Association: Recently, the Association has found a series of cases of individuals who have never obtained credentials as lawyers, or whose credentials have been cancelled, or who have been disbarred from practicing law, and who have recently been involved in activities identifying themselves as lawyers, thus misleading other lawyers and the public at large. In order to safeguard the reputation of attorneys as a profession, the following notice is now made: Tang Jitian (唐吉田), Liu Wei (刘巍), Zheng Enchong (郑恩宠), and Tang Jingling (唐荆陵) are all individuals whose licenses to practice law have been revoked. Wang Cheng (王成), Jiang Tianyong, and Teng Biao are individuals who have had their licenses to practice law cancelled. The above individuals are not lawyers, and the activities that they engage in have nothing to do with the legal profession. We hope the legal community and society at large will understand the matter clearly.]


Hospital report on Jiang Tianyong’s broken ribs in 2014. 

So for years Jiang has been an out-and-out fake lawyer, and a fake lawyer, of course, can’t make a living by bringing frivolous cases to court — because the court, just like a hotel or a train, needs to see your ID.

Even though this fake lawyer doesn’t have any honest income, his stubborn character ensures he’ll still do well for himself. In fact, he can just say that he’s a “citizen representative,” and even though he’s not a lawyer, he can use that to win over the victim’s trust.

[Picture: (Writing on smock of woman) Injustice! The Baoding prison in Hubei Province killed my husband Guan Xiangxing (关祥星) with impunity.]

Even though he can’t get a regular income from hyping up sensitive cases, he can still get some side income from foreign forces.

In front of the crowd of Chinese petitioners he sets himself up as a paragon of morality, then becomes a propaganda weapon for foreign forces. He instigates one victim after another, hypes up a normal case into an unresolvable dispute, and eats the “blood cakes” [making a business out of others’ suffering] of one family after another.

Some of these lawyers are real, while some are fake — but such incidents are endless.

There are so many Jiang Tianyongs in the hands of those hidden forces, ready to be used.

Jiang Tianyong has been arrested. Now what awaits the malefactor is further investigation by the procuratorial organs and being brought to justice by the judiciary.

As to how many Jiang Tiangyongs there are out there, yet to be caught — we’ll just have to see how many colleagues of his come out in support.

[The face of lawyer Zhou Shifeng (周世锋) appears in the video.]

We’ll see how big the storm is that’s kicked up.




Disappeared Lawyer a Long-time Target of Surveillance, Detention, and Torture, November, 2015
Wife and Relatives Issue Statement Over Torture of Rights Lawyer Xie Yang in Changsha, August, 2016.
14 Cases Exemplify the Role Played by Lawyers in the Rights Defense Movement, 2003–2015, August, 2015.




To American Bar Association With Regard to ABA Human Rights Award to Wang Yu

August 6, 2016




Over the last week, we all wondered whether the American Bar Association would go ahead with conferring its inaugural International Human Rights Award to the Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu. On August 1 she appeared on camera in China, repenting her courageous work fighting for justice and the rule of law, and repudiating the ABA award because she is a Chinese person and loves her country — as though receiving the award would be a betrayal of China.

It was indeed Wang Yu speaking, but from an undisclosed location, after nearly 13 months in secret detention, to three people whose faces and identities were hidden. We cannot begin to fathom what has happened to her and dozens of other human rights lawyers and activists who have been detained — but luckily now the whole world understands the simple fact that when she’s not free, she’s not free to speak her mind.

One thing we do know is that the Chinese government hates international recognition of the courageous Chinese citizens who seek to uphold justice, and who work to make China a freer and more just place. Hu Jia’s own account illustrates this perfectly:

In 2008, I was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” because I engaged in activities to promote human rights and liberty before the Olympic Games.

The European Parliament awarded me the Sakharov Prize, and I was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. When I was in prison, the head of the Beijing municipal political police led a group of public security and foreign ministry officials to pay a visit to me in prison — they were putting me under intense pressure, trying to force me to make a public announcement that I rejected both the Sakharov Prize and the nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

In exchange, these officials said that they would reduce my sentence by 2.5 years, and also pay me double the cash award of the Sakharov Prize, as economic “compensation.” These secret political police, and the jailers in their charge, lobbied me with this proposal on up to seven occasions. I flatly rejected all of these despicable, filthy political dealings. Thus, I am deeply aware of how moral support, and awards from the international community, place the Communist Party’s security organs and foreign affairs officials under enormous pressure.

We know too well what happened after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: China threw a tantrum at Norway, retaliating against not just the Norwegian government, but also salmon farmers.

We applaud the ABA for going forward with the inaugural International Human Rights Award to Wang Yu as planned. It’s the right thing to do.

This was an extraordinary week. In four days, a Chinese court in Tianjin tried four “subversion” cases at lightning speed, each a tightly-orchestrated affair that lasted only a couple of hours. Family-appointed lawyers were replaced by puppet lawyers that were there to merely stand in as “defense counsel,” to follow the script: no wives, relatives, friends, or free members of the public were allowed in court, or anywhere near the courthouse. Of course, all four were convicted.

China wants the world to believe that the cases were processed in court, but these show trials have only succeeded in once again affirming what we already knew: there is no such thing as the rule of law under the tyranny of dictatorship. Indeed, there is no such thing as a court.

What’s on trial, of course, is once again China’s conscience. These citizens, whether lawyers or human rights defenders, are committed to seeking basic justice according to the Chinese law, and helping those most vulnerable. Over the years, they came to the rescue of the families of victims of poisoned milk powder, victims of violent forced demolitions, private entrepreneurs whose assets were illegally expropriated, believers who were persecuted… the list goes on.

Sadly, in most cases, they were not been able to “rescue” those they tried to rescue, given that no courts in China actually uphold justice. But they kept on, tenaciously, one case at a time. In the process, they have come to ask the question of how to make China a just place. They met in restaurants and in house churches, discussing plans to provide legal assistance and to start public opinion campaigns for victims of injustice. These meetings in good faith became “evidence” of their supposed subversive intent, and grounds for torture and imprisonment.

These lawyers and activists are part of a long tradition of Chinese citizens who fought for their basic human and political rights: the Xidan Democracy Wall, the Tiananmen Movement, the opposition movement of the 1990s, the rights defense movement since the early 2000s, the New Citizens Movement, and the struggle for rule of law as represented by China’s small but brave band of human rights lawyers and activists.

They are, together, the rock of China, and the salt of the earth.

As ludicrous as these show trials were, this week’s performance was not confined to the courtroom. Over the past week, a narrative of an American-led international conspiracy has been propagated at a hysterical pitch, on social media, on CCTV, and in the front pages of the Party’s mouthpieces. The regime has claimed that these lawyers and activists are nothing but pawns of the United States and the West in general who, scheming for a “color revolution,” want to destabilize China and overthrow the government.

This war of propaganda does not just aim at fanning nationalist, anti-American sentiment. It also aims at intimidating the U. S. (which, by the way, has been too accommodating to China at the expense of undermining its own values), and the international community. They want the rest of the world to scurry off at the very word “subversion”; they want to see that Chinese citizens who embrace dignity, freedom, and justice get no support, and will no longer even dare to seek support from the outside world — whether lawyers, journalists, workers, parents, netizens, farmers, or even the Communist Party’s own cadres, for that matter.

That’s why we are here today, to show our support and appreciation for ABA for its steadfastness in upholding this important award to Wang Yu, whose has been known as Zhan Shen, “the warrior goddess,” to those who knew her. She will not be able to speak as a free person anytime soon, nor will she any time be able to travel across China to help those she strived to assist: the school girls who were presented to officials as sexual gifts, the practitioners of Falun Gong detained and tortured, or farmers who defended their homes from forced demolition.

But there might be a day when she, like the Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee, will speak out, with a few simple words, to tear down the wall of lies that has enclosed her for the time being.

No one comes to claim this award today. Because of this absence, and the void it presents, we feel we must speak.

This is a time when the international community, and indeed the United States, must recalibrate its commitment to the values the human race has come to embrace, for the sake of peace and security on earth.


A group of Chinese activists currently living in the U. S.

August 6, 2016











中国想要全世界相信这些案件是经过法庭正当审理的,但这些假庭审只是再次成功地印证了我们早已明白的东西: 在专制强权下没有法治这样的东西,独裁下甚至没有法庭这样的东西。

















China Smears Foreign Diplomats in Another 4-Minute Video, As Trials of Rights Lawyers and Activists Continue in Tianjin

August 4, 2016

This is indeed an extraordinary week. In a beguiling internet style, the Weibo account of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Youth League posted another 4-minute video on August 4, obviously shot by domestic security police, a day after posting one that portrays rights lawyers and dissidents as part of a vast American conspiracy undermining China. In addition, under the hashtag #警惕颜色革命 (“Beware of Color Revolutions”), the Youth League account also posted numerous music videos and articles attacking the United States, rights lawyers, activists, President Tsai of Taiwan and internet freedom. This wave of propaganda is not just for a domestic audience; it aims to intimidate the U.S. and the free world too. A transcript of the narration in the video follows. We add explanations in brackets. — The Editors



The Farce Outside the Tianjin Second Intermediate Court
August 1, 2016

Today we have to talk about something — and if we don’t get to the bottom of it, they’ll go around deceiving people. Everyone knows that a group of foreigners came to our city of Tianjin the other day. What were they doing here? Were they looking for business opportunities? Did they come to take in the beautiful scenery? To try some of the fried dough twists on 18th street? Or some of Tianjin’s famous Goubuli meat buns? None of the above. They came here provoking  trouble!

Just take a look. On August 2, the trials of Zhai Yanmin and others began in Tianjin. On August 1, this mob of foreigners came outside the Tianjin Second Intermediate People’s Court where they met up with the families of the defendants on the street opposite the courthouse. First, they got together for a friendly and familiar little chat. And it seems to me, looking at the scene, that they’ve all known each other for quite some time. And then, the foreigners asked those two women into their vehicle and made their way to the courthouse.

Maybe you’re all wondering: Just who are these foreigners? And you’d be hitting the nail on the head with that question. Let’s just take a look at their vehicles. Look right here. [Camera points to the diplomatic plate of one of the cars, showing the first two digits and blurring the rest: 22xxxx is either a US or UK Embassy vehicle.]

If you’ve got any smarts about you, you definitely know what’s going on. 

Chatting and laughing together, this crowd arrived at the court entrance. Then, upon seeing foreign journalists, the first woman [Fan Lili, wife of Gou Hongguo] suddenly pulled a sad face and expertly fell down, sat on her butt, and made a scene yelling and crying. [She was roughed up by a plainclothes police officer, who pushed her to the ground, according eyewitness accounts.]

The second woman [Wang Quanzhang’s wife Li Wenzu] somehow pulled out a sheet of paper and began shouting too. Our “foreign friends” then, like they were well-trained, made a circle around them, as though they were making a little busking stage for the heroines to display their talents. Truly, these were well-trained performers. [The diplomats encircled the two wives to stop plainclothes police dragging them away.]

A few minutes before, their faces were beaming with radiance; a few minutes later they were suffering pitifully. Suddenly changing the mood like that is just too dramatic and confusing for us ignorant masses to understand.

[Li Wenzu speaking quickly in the background: “Do you see? They were hitting us. They knocked her to the ground.”]

anti-us video, 2

Man in blue shirt pushed Fan Lili to the ground.


Even though it was a lousy show, luckily it was a well rehearsed routine, and they were able to pull it off quickly, so that the foreign journalists who’d be waiting outside could go home early and hand in their homework. You may wonder how they knew they’d have this assignment to do.  Come on. Don’t you know who these guys are? [Zooming in on an AP journalist’ Press Card.]

I have to complain about this. The second woman yelled out: “Two diplomats have been seized! Two diplomats have been seized!” [Listen carefully, she said, “昨天晚上…我们有两位家属被他们抓了” – “Last evening two family members were detained.” She was referring to Wang Qiaoling, lawyer Li Heping’s wife, and Liu Ermin, wife of Zhai Yanmin, who were temporarily detained by police and wasn’t released until a day later. For the remaining of the week, they were placed under house arrest.]

This gives one the heartfelt wish to ask this lady: Dear, have you ever heard of “diplomatic immunity?”

This bunch of people really pulled off a well-coordinated, smooth act. However, one minute on stage requires ten years of training, and this is just the latest of many similar self-scripted and self-directed farces that have been performed over the years.

In February 2011 in Beijing, the then-U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, just by “coincidence” happened to be walking through Wangfujing in Beijing, and “just happened” to come across six or seven separatist elements putting on a so-called Jasmine Revolution there. There also “just happened” to be around 100 foreign journalists gathered there beforehand. Hah — so now doesn’t the scene look familiar?

Huntsman states the reason clearly himself. After returning to the U.S. he entered the presidential race, and in a televised debate put it right on the table: “We should be reaching out to our allies and constituencies in China. They’re called the young people, they’re called the internet generation. There are 500 million internet users in China, and 80 million bloggers and they are bringing about change, the likes of which is gonna take China down… GONNA TAKE CHINA DOWN… TAKE CHINA DOWN… DOOWN.”

American politicians and Chinese public intellectuals have been trying to explain it away, but those with a discerning eye can see it clearly. Jon Huntsman is simply making clear what has been an open secret for a long time. This assault meant to smack down China has been going on for years.

Let’s return to the farce outside the Tianjin Second Intermediate Court. On August 2 after the court hearing, Zhai Yanmin accepted a joint interview with multiple domestic and overseas media. A journalist asked: “Did your family come to the hearing today?” [Zhai Yanmin’s wife had been detained and then placed under house arrest since July 31. She recounted the circumstances on social media.]

Zhai Yanmin gave a candid response: “It’s me who stopped my family from coming to the hearing. I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to bear it.”

So I say to you, friends: it seems that what took place outside the Tianjin court wasn’t as simple as it appears.



China Claims Rights Lawyers and Dissidents Are Part of Vast American Conspiracy in 4-Minute Video,  August 3, 2016.

After Four Detainees of the ‘709 Incident’ Are Indicted, Chinese State Media Name Foreign News Organizations, a US Congressman, & Three Embassies in Beijing as ‘Foreign Anti-China Forces’, China Change, July 15, 2016.

Hu Shigen: The Prominent Yet Obscure Political Prisoner, Ren Bumei, August 2, 2016.


The ‘709 Incident:’ some testimony from the human rights lawyer community

By Eva Pils, July 8, 2016


In April and early May 2016, I got the chance to speak to some twenty-odd old and new acquaintances amongst the targets of the so-called 709 Crackdown – the latest and largest crackdown yet on China’s already beleaguered human rights lawyers.  Named after the 9th of July, the date it began with the night-time detention of Lawyers Wang Yu and Bao Longjun and their sixteen year old son, Bao Zhuoxuan, the 709 Crackdown mainly targeted three groups connected to rights advocacy: rights lawyers and assistants connected to Fengrui Law Firm;’ Lawyer Li Heping and his colleagues (with some overlap between these groups); and another group around activist Hu Shigen that included rights lawyers as well as more ‘grassroots’ human rights defenders.

In comparison with past crackdowns, 709 has affected a much larger number of lawyers, with human rights groups such as China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG)  and Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)  putting the total number affected at over 300 as of this week. It has also been much also more openly acknowledged and indeed, more widely advertised, by the Party-State than their other repression of human rights advocates since at least the 1990s.

709 王宇

Wang Yu (王宇) in Wangning, Hainan, May 2013. A screenshot of the documentary film Hooligan Sparrow.

How are we to understand these developments? What should we expect for the future not only of China’s human rights movement, but also for the wider legal profession and civil society more generally? And what next for the 23 lawyers and legal assistants still in custody now, a year later. Most of them are now officially held under suspicion of subversion or inciting subversion, and are still denied access to legal counsel of their own choosing as well as to their friends and family. The views and experience of those closest to the centre of the storm are surely relevant to how we answer these questions and understand the 709 crackdown. So, below, I share a few excerpts and impressions from my conversations with persons most directly involved, supplemented by recent updates. For obvious reasons, I have anonymised these comments.

Some of my interlocutors spoke from personal experience as they had, for example, themselves suffered forced disappearance and/or torture in the past. One major issue they commented on was how ‘residential surveillance in a designated location’ (Article 73 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), revised in 2013) has changed the rules of engagement between human rights defenders and the party-state, by effectively legalising (or purporting to legalise) forced disappearances.. Article 73 purports to allow incommunicado detention without access to legal counsel for up to six months in cases of suspected crimes against national security (inter alia). The term ‘residential surveillance’ is a euphemism as detainees under such measures\ may be held in any ‘designated location’ that is neither their home, nor one of the regulated police detention centres. We have assumed that it may, for example, be a safe-house, a guesthouse, or a police-operated training centre.

709 李和平

Li Heping (李和平)

Conversations directly drawing on the experience of ‘709’ detentions corroborate many fears about residential surveillance.  For example, in the case of at least one person detained in the context of the ‘709’ Crackdown, detention was nominally authorized under the revised under CPL article 73. Detention took place in the same building where rights lawyers had been forcibly disappeared before the CPL revisions, when Article 73 was not yet available; and it was apparently carried out by some of the same personnel, showing that CPL revisions had changed the name, but not the structure of the harassment. [1]

The residential surveillance also involved severe sleep deprivation and use of stress positions amounting to torture and threats of further, even more serious physical torture. As a result of these – if the allegations are correct – in part criminal methods, the detention led to basically the same kind of forced confessions and statements of repentance that had been used, for example, in the 2011 “Jasmine’ crackdown. Also, just as in earlier forced disappearances, the prisoner was forced to read the ‘confession,’ ‘statement of repentance’ and promises to desist from advocacy in future before a camera, before they could be released. Talking with their guards, they referred to their situation as an ‘abduction’ (绑架), and the guards ‘did not bother to object’ to this description.[2]

‘[In the ‘designated location’ during ‘surveillance’] I was not allowed to sleep for [a certain number of] days and nights on end after they had held me for some time. They also brought a pair of handcuffs and showed me how they could handcuff me … [interlocutor demonstrates a painful posture]. At that point I told them, “alright, leave it, I’m not resisting anymore” …Because of the sleep deprivation, I was already completely broken. I thought I was going to die.[3]

In several cases, the authorities provided insufficient or no information on where detainees were held to their families. In the case of Li Heping, for example, no official notification at all was provided for six months; he was for all intents and purposes disappeared. In other cases, the authorities acknowledged that ‘suspects’ were being held but refused to disclose where they were and what they were suspected or accused of.  None of the detainees had access to legal counsel, family or friends during ‘residential surveillance.’ — In January 2016, the authorities formally ‘arrested’ (逮捕) the lawyers after the expiry of the six-month ‘residential surveillance’ period. Later they extended their arrest periods to give themselves additional time to decide whether or not to indict them; and, as discussed later, they sought to manipulate the procedures so as to continue denying the detainees access to counsel.

A second theme in comments on the crackdown was the weakening of communication and advocacy support structures for the now-detained principle targets of the crackdown, taken against a wider range of rights lawyers and supporters, including compulsory ‘chats’ and short-term detentions aimed to intimidate hundreds of rights lawyers and their sympathisers or supporters, as well as their families; strict surveillance and control of social media applications, [4]   and measures to restrict movement, such as ‘soft detention’ at home and travel bans, apparently authorized effective from 6 July 2016, i.e. three days before the first detention.[5]  Some interlocutors mentioned being explicitly told that these measures had been decided at ‘a very high central level,’[6] and concluded that they were integral parts of the crackdown.

709 王全璋

Wang Quanzhang (王全璋)

Those forced to have ‘chats’ were typically ordered to meet the police in the late evening or in the middle of the night (sometimes through phone-calls, other times by officers coming to their homes). Two victimised interlocutors reported being tracked, effortlessly it seemed, through the monitoring of their mobile phone while travelling (on trains, to their hotels, etc.).[7] During their conversations with the (domestic security division) police, they were usually ordered to ‘promise’ not to take on the cases of fellow rights lawyers; not to communicate about these cases via the social media; and not to take media interviews about them.

At least during the first few days of the crackdown, the enforced chats had an intensely terrifying effect on the rights lawyer community,[8] also on those of its members who managed to escape. One lawyer was travelling in another city when the first news about the detention started reaching him. With trepidation, he stole back into his hotel and moved out, to avoid being detected through his registration log with the local police. Despite having many friends in the city he dared not ask any of them if he could stay the night. Instead he persuaded a guesthouse to accommodate him without registration for a few hours, and went to an internet café to check up on his WeChat messages.

When I opened my account, the first message I saw read ‘Flee at once.’ As I flicked through the messages they all read: ‘disappeared’—‘disappeared’—‘disappeared’ – over a hundred messages like that. And out of nine people reported disappeared, seven were good friends of mine, really close friends. I knew it took only three minutes, no more than five, to locate someone [via their account]; so I immediately closed it down again.

He then called on a few friends in person, keeping his mobile phone and other electronic equipment turned off all the time, and left the city as soon as he could. Some days later he went home due to an import occasion, and within a short time, the local police called him and demanded to speak to him.  He had only managed to evade capture during the first panicked few hours and days of the crackdown. Among the lawyers I spoke to, only one had thus far entirely avoided the coerced ‘chat.’

‘I thought to myself, as a human rights defender in China, you live in fear without having done anything criminal at all.’

Anyone who was ‘caught’ and questioned might face intense pressure and the threat to be questioned again, or formally detained – as in Lawyer Xie Yanyi’s case, after he refused to make the required ‘promises.’  He was detained under Article 73 CPL after being initially allowed to go home. [9]

A particularly striking aspect in this context is how directly the police warned some lawyers against taking on the criminal defence of their detained colleagues. A lawyer who was ’caught’ when getting off a train and interrogated by domestic security police from his hometown, who had travelled there to meet him, described his conversation as follows.

‘I said, “first tell me what my status is, am I a suspect, or a witness, or what?” He said, “No status.” I said, “Well then what’s the procedure for asking me to speak to you?” He said, “There’s no procedure. But if you want a formal procedure, fine, we can do that.” Later I heard that [with other lawyers] they were using subpoena forms, but without bothering to enter a suspected crime on the form.  So we “chatted.”’

The conversation revolved around the persons of the detained lawyers. Did he know them? Were they friends?

‘He said, “We are warning you herewith, warning you severely, you are not allowed to take part in this matter in any manner whatsoever.” I said, “What do you mean by ‘take part’?” He said, “Any manner whatsoever. Including online messaging or reposting messages – none of that. If you don’t listen, you will be a co-suspect with them.” …He said, “if you get involved you’re a fellow suspect with them. And we know exactly what you have been doing in the past.” …I asked him directly, “do you mean not even if the lawyer’s families asked me to act as someone’s criminal defence lawyer — defending their rights in accordance with law, that would be my job as a lawyer.” His reply was explicit., “No way. If you get involved, you’re a co-suspect.”’ [10]

In the social media chat groups devoted to discussing the crackdown, this sort of incrimination has since come to be sarcastically referred to as ‘the crime of legal defence’ (辩护罪).[11] Such threats to criminalise professional legal advocacy call to mind the widely criticized legislative changes introduced earlier this year, to expand the scope of crimes of disrupting the courtroom.  Their underlying rationale also connects them to the highly suspicious purported ‘dismissals’   of originally appointed criminal defence lawyers by the lawyer detainees.

‘The greatest problem now is that the authorities do not allow the families to appoint lawyers, they want to use the lawyers they themselves like, to disrupt any channels of information and render meetings with the detainees impossible.’[12]

In some cases, family members of the detained were reportedly shown new defence lawyer appointment letters signed by the detainees;[13]  but the previously appointed lawyers have not seen these documents for themselves and have not been sent letters informing them of their ‘dismissal’ so that they are unable to confirm if they have been dismissed.[14] Forced or faked ‘dismissals’ of the originally appointed lawyers would of course violate the detainees’ right to appoint a lawyer of their own choosing; and in the view of one interlocutor signals a significant weakening in the Xi Jinping era of respect for this right recognised, at least in principle, in earlier political cases including those of Wei Jingsheng, Liu Xiaobo, and Hu Jia.[15] It would also testify, in my view, to how much the authorities are worried about forceful rights advocacy.

709 谢燕益

Xie Yanyi (谢燕益)

A third theme has been what might be termed orchestrated crackdown propaganda, including broadcasts and reports vilifying the lawyers connected to Fengrui Law Firm, and TV ‘confessions’ or ‘trial by television’ (电视审判). [16]

Based on current information, all detained victims who have been released had to produce statements admitting guilt and expressing repentance in writing and read the statement out aloud in front of a camera before being released. This followed a well-established pattern also used in the 2011 Jasmine Crackdown, for example. The use of such materials to display lawyers and legal assistants such as Zhou Shifeng, Wang Yu, Bao Longjun, Zhang Kai, and others on television, showing them in the humiliating and terrifying circumstances of detention, is new. For example, Wang Yu and Bao Longjun are shown distraught and in tears over the rendition of their son. Zhou Shifeng is shown expressing repentance; and others are seemingly recriminating their colleagues. [17]

In these broadcasts, targeted individuals generally ‘confess’ to wrongdoing phrased in very general and at times incoherent terms rather than admitting specific crimes; and express repentance and submission. Visually if not verbally they also express fear, anguish, and despair. Confessions etc. were televised selectively, largely focusing on the activities of the Fengrui Law Firm circle and its methods of forceful, vocal and politically aware rights advocacy using methods such as flash-mob demonstrations and social media communication to draw attention to specific cases from wider audiences,[18] and, apparently to establish a public presumption of guilt,

One lawyer commented,

‘[These reports] have in the eyes of many [rights lawyers] done the worst harm to us, because many ordinary people will still be inclined to trust these official reports. They might generally have comes across some positive information about rights lawyers; but after these detentions they will be informed that these lawyers were working in their own interest, to earn foreign money and that this entire circle has actually been doing these things under the direction of foreign anti-China enemy forces. The majority of viewers might accept the message conveyed by these CCTV reports.’

The interlocutor added that fellow legal professionals would also be bound to be frightened by these reports, as they would have to consider the possibility that they would suffer similar consequences, even if all they engaged in was lawful rights advocacy.

We do of course hope that as many lawyers as possible will understand the background of these reports, that they [the detained] have not violated the law… [but they will also learn from these reports] that if they engage in these activities, they will inevitably encounter repression of this kind from the government.’[19]

709 谢阳

Xie Yang (谢阳)

This form of selective crackdown-related propaganda, of ‘TV confessions’ and ‘trial by television’ represents what some see as a conscious reversion to Mao era style denunciation of ‘enemies of the party-state.’[20]  It is hard to see how the conduct depicted in the reports could be the basis for any credible charges of crime, let alone crimes ‘endangering state security.’  Charges of a public order offence, for example based on a few small and peaceful demonstrations for access to justice would seem still baseless, but – based on prior experience – less unlikely. Some interlocutors thought that the authorities had thus far not shown anyone ‘confessing’ to subversion because such ‘confessions’ would simply be too unconvincing or might ‘lead to more social controversy.’[21] But others thought that the state might bend the rules to make them fit whatever the detained rights defenders had done.[22] ‘Trial by TV’ allows the authorities not only to vilify particular individuals or groups like the Ruifeng law firm, but also to project and indeed propagate their power to extract meaningless, even irrational, statements from those it holds captive.

709 周世锋

Zhou Shifeng (周世锋)

A fourth aspect commented on were the new transnational dimensions of repression, a sense that there was fewer places one could flee to/be safe in, because of the risks of cross-border abduction and forced retrieval, and the long arm of the authorities through putting pressure on family and friends in China.

For example, Bao Zhuoxuan (Mengmeng), the son of Wang Yu and Bao Longjun, originally detained along with his parents on 9 July, deprived of his passport and held under strict surveillance, left the country with the help of friends. From there, he and the two friends were forcibly taken back to China from the border region with Myanmar. Now seventeen, Mengmeng is living under strictest surveillance with his maternal aunt and grandmother’s family. It is impossible for his parents’ rights lawyer friends to get near him or provide support or counsel.[23] A friend described his state as ‘utterly desperate.’

‘There is no contact with them. Their phone is controlled. And the flat just opposite his aunt’s flat has been taken over by the domestic security police [国保], who got the previous tenants to move out. At his school, they use the head student, teachers, and other classmates to control him. It was exactly the same with Gao Zhisheng’s [daughter] at the time.  So, the boy’s situation now is really under terrible strain. It ought to be the springtime of his life. But now, he has not been able to see his parent’s for such a long time; he has lost his freedom of movement, and his plan to go study abroad was disrupted when they abducted him [in the night of 9 July 2015, on the way to the airport]…his mobile phone was previously forcibly taken away by them so we dare not try to contact him. And [his entire family] is under their control. This family’s situation is really the worst…If Mengmeng could have left, if would have been a consolation for his parents and encouragement for others. The fact he was taken back has now also scared a lot of other lawyers, who are asking themselves, what if their own child has to go through this sort of collective punishment at some point.’[24]

An attempt to make contact attempt to make contact with Mengmeng and his family in late May was unsuccessful.

A fifth theme was apprehensions for the future. The hardest to talk about was the fear of torture. My conversations had, as noted earlier, confirmed that some of the detained who were later released had been tortured – by kicking and beating; sleep deprivation; excessively long interrogation , being blinded with light; stress positions; and  threats of extremely painful further torture, before agreeing to make statements.[25] We still know nothing about the situation of others detained incommunicado. It is unfortunately likely that undue pressure has been and continues to be brought to bear on them (including those displayed ‘confessing’ and ‘repenting’.

‘Torture is probably unavoidable in the cases [of the still-detained]. Torture is just part of the system in China… [Someone who was released] believes that those who have not been released yet have suffered worse torture [than he], because they are more central figures in these cases.’[26]

Another concern was the possibility of de facto secret trials resulting from forced or faked lawyer ‘dismissals,’ even though the lawyers purportedly ‘dismissed’ refused to abandon their clients.

‘Legally speaking, it would have to be the client themselves issuing the dismissal. Emotionally, we all know these people… We’re emotionally connected, and we have the same ideals. We borrow and learn from each other in our legal defence work. So in a situation where they are facing the calamity of imprisonment, there is no way [the detained lawyers] would let the Lawyers’ Association find a completely unknown lawyer for them [in our stead]. And again, from a legal point of view, the Lawyers’ Association can only be approached for a recommendation when the detained suspect does not know any lawyer they could appoint…it is just unconvincing, legally, emotionally, and in terms of common sense.’[27]

Some interlocutors believe that the in substance extremely weak prosecution cases against their colleagues and friends might succeed (in a manner of speaking) if the entire criminal process from detention/abduction to final conviction remained effectively secret, with no public access whatsoever. This might be the reason why the authorities did not resort to refusing access to counsel on the grounds that the cases involved ‘endangering state security.’

‘If they used that reason, they would only be able to block access to counsel during the [police] ‘investigation’ period, but not after public indictment, before the trial hearing…So, what is the point of now telling us that they have appointed [other] lawyers already? It means that we, the families and so on, don’t get to participate in the procedure from beginning to end, because they do not recognize our status. This is very bad news. It means that the families and our own lawyers may not get to know anything at all about the entire process. They can go through first and second instance – they can finish the entire trial without us ever knowing a thing. They can make the trial hearing non-public on ‘state security’ grounds, exclude the family members as witnesses, and only let people attend who don’t understand what is going on…[in that case] we might not find out what happened to them, until they are released from prison. That’s what we really fear.’[28]

In the eyes of the interlocutors, this would be the worst possible outcome. It would be the scenario most likely to allow the authorities to convict those in this process of state security crimes and impose harsh punishments,[29] another feared outcome; and it was the reason why they felt it was important to insist on their status as criminal defence lawyers.

I was sometimes left struggling to understand how, in the face of so many difficulties, the lawyers, friends and family I spoke to managed to stay positive. All the lawyers, rights defenders, friends and family I contacted were happy to meet. Several pointed out that whatever promises had been extracted from them did not bind them, legally or morally. As always, they seemed eager to speak, to come together and work on the cases of their lawyer colleagues, as well as the cases their colleagues had been forced to abandon when detained. And while some of my interlocutors were old friends, there were others I met for the first time because, at a time when all of their ‘rights lawyer’ colleagues already known to the authorities had been warned not to get involved, they had come forward to take on the criminal defence of a colleague in detention, becoming ‘rights lawyers’ themselves at what seemed like the worst possible moment to join these circles. Perhaps, the very fact that my interlocutors were so willing to meet and put their views and experience on record is part of what explains their resilience. They feel sure that history is on their side.


[1] Conversation #120-16-1.

[2] Conversation #120-16-1.

[3] Conversation #120-16-1.

[4] For example the social media app ‘Telegram’ widely used amongst rights defenders, was suspended for a short period at the beginning of the crackdown, in addition to the existing intensive control of digital expression. Also, as of mid-April 2016, ‘Telegram’ was heavily firewalled and only partly functional, with human rights defender circles apparently specially affected.  In addition, the authorities used mobile phones to track target persons down.

[5] Conversation #121-16-1.

[6] Conversation #138-16-1.

[7] Conversations #137-16-1, 138-16-1.

[8] Conversations #137-16-1; #138-16-1.

[9] Conversation #129-16-2, #121-16-1; #121-16-1; #137-16-1

[10] Conversation #137-16-1. Similar: e.g. conversations #121-16-1; #138-16-1.

[11] Screenshot on file with author (April 2016).

[12] Conversation #121-16-1

[13] Conversation #124-16-1.

[14] Conversations #125-16-1; #128-16-1 and 129-16-1.

[15] Conversation #138-16-1. This is not to say that the authorities did not attempt to put pressure on the defendants in these cases, for example, in Hu Jia’s case.

[16] See e.g. Cao Yin, ‘Lawyers “tried to influence verdicts”,’’13 July 2015,; CCTV 13, 北京锋锐律所“维权”黑幕利益链调查, 19 July 2015, 北京锋锐律所“维权”黑幕利益链调查; CCTV Dialogue, Interview with Global Times Editor Hu Jinin, 8 May 2016 .

[17] Some of the legal workers were also shown apparently recriminating colleagues. A lawyer commented, ‘Probably this video-clip was made when the domestic security police goaded [the detained lawyer] to talk about matters ‘unrelated to business’ and got him to make a few remarks about [his colleague]…and edited the recording to turn it into what looks like a denunciation. Conversation #121-16-1.

[18] Comments in conversation #129-16-1.

[19] Conversation #124-16-1.

[20] Conversation #122-16-1.

[21] Conversation #121-16-1, #122-16-1.

[22] E.g. conversations #138-16-1; 128-16-1.

[23] Conversation #121-16-1.

[24] Conversation #122-16-1/

[25] Conversations #120-16-1; #122-16-1.

[26] Conversation #122-16-1.

[27] Conversation #128-16-1.

[28] Conversation #129-16-1.

[29] E.g. Conversation #129-16-1.


Eva Pils is a Reader in Transnational Law at King’s College London’s Dickson Poon School of Law, a Non-resident Research Fellow at the U.S. –Asia Law Institute, New York University Law School, and author of China’s human rights lawyers: advocacy and resistance (Routledge, 2014).



China’s Shattered Dream for the Rule of Law, One Year On, a statement by the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, July 8, 2016.




China’s Shattered Dream for the Rule of Law, One Year On

Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, July 8, 2016



Photo: @chrlcg


Like the rest of us, they traveled around the country through rain and shine and choking smog, assisting the most vulnerable. Like the rest of us, they were exhausted looking after their parents’ health and finding a school for their children. Like the rest of us, they embraced the lofty China Dream, believing in “governing the country according to the law,” and stepping into the role of defending justice and human rights, committed and tireless.

But that dream was shattered on July 9, 2015.  

It began with the arrest of lawyer Wang Yu’s entire family in the early hours of July 9, 2015. Thereafter, the state’s machine of coercion shifted into full gear, raiding the homes of scores of rights lawyers across the country, and disappearing many of them. Hundreds more lawyers, scholars, and activists, known for their efforts in improving civil rights and political rights, were interrogated, threatened, and forcibly silenced. Some family members were punished by being driven from their homes, or prohibited from leaving China…

If this was the mere momentary convulsion of a police state armed to the teeth, perhaps we wouldn’t need be so shocked — after all, in China, this has become a fairly common occurrence. The Chinese people have never been free of fear. In fact, the opposite is the case: we live in a society in which one could become the next Xu Chunhe (徐纯合), or the next Lei Yang (雷洋) tomorrow — and this fear accompanies us every day. But this utterly brazen suppression of human rights defenders, the level of state hierarchy involved, the manner in which it was conducted, the extent of it, and its intensity, shows that it was planned and coordinated at the highest levels, a new development following the establishment of a certain powerful security organ. With this, we are witnessing a transition from spasmodic suppression to a permanent high-pressure state. No doubt, some people will be making history for such “achievements.”  

This year, human rights lawyers and rights defenders have been through six months of forced disappearances under so-called “residential surveillance at a designated place.” After they’re formally arrested for “inciting subversion of state power” or “subversion of state power,” they’re reportedly transferred to the Tianjin First or Tianjin Second Detention Center;

This year, they have not been able to receive legal help from counsel chosen by their families, nor have their loved ones been provided with the slightest information about their physical and mental well-being;

This year, despite complaints by family, protests by lawyers, attention by foreign media, concern and censure by foreign governments and NGOs, Chinese police have been cold-blooded, callous, and cruel. They manipulate the law as they wish, twist them any which way, appropriate the law maliciously, and are always ready to pull out a different marionette whenever the circumstances require it, as a way of cynically deflecting accountability and questioning.

The most bitterly disappointing and appalling characters of all are the other lawyers who have no sense of conscience. They cast aside what they themselves know is right, sell their souls to the devil, and do deals with the perpetrators. On the surface, they’re the defense counsel for the rights lawyers who have been arrested in the 709 crackdown, but in fact they’re the custom-made excuse by the police to explain why lawyers hired by the family had to be dismissed. But these lawyers don’t dare actually contact the family, nor even reveal their real names to the outside world. They don’t dare defend the lawful rights of their clients, but instead hide in the shadows. Though these questionable lawyers occupy high positions in the [government-controlled] associations of attorneys, have incomes to match, dress the part, and enjoy enviable social status, their actual role in this affair has been more like the decorative ceramic tile in a urinal.

One year isn’t long, but if it’s spent sealed up in solitary confinement, it’s enough to destroy a life. But one year isn’t short — it’s long enough for all to see that the pretense of “governing the country according to the law” has now been torn to shreds!

This year, they have been walled off in prison, bearing witness with their own bodies to the lies that lie beneath the gilded surface, and the cowardice of dictatorship. Outside prison, we are pleased to see that Chinese citizens continue to awaken, as incidents of collective protest increase and spread. China has not become quieter and more stable, as expected by the rulers when they tried to suppress human rights lawyers.

This year, their wives and loved ones have grown to understand their work better. Some wives have stood out bravely, declaring, “We’re leaving behind our makeup to beat the gangsters up,” continuing their husbands’ struggle for rights.

This year, they have never left our thoughts: their convictions, their determined actions, their love and grievances, their smiles and their voices… They travel far and wide in China with firm steps, casting a deep gaze around them. They have never left us, and they will never leave. They are human rights defenders who love this land and this people!  

History will remember them. For now, let’s read aloud their names:

Wang Yu (王宇), Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), Li Heping (李和平), Xie Yanyi (谢燕益), Xie Yang (谢阳), Li Chunfu (李春富), Sui Muqing (隋牧青), Zhou Shifeng (周世锋), Hu Shigen (胡石根), Bao Longjun (包龙军), Liu Sixin (刘四新), Wu Gan (吴淦), Zhao Wei (赵威), Lin Bin (林斌), Gou Hongguo (勾洪国), Tang Zhishun (唐志顺), Xing Qingxian (幸清贤), Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民), Liu Xing (刘星), Zhang Weihong (张卫红), Li Yanjun (李燕军), Yao Jianqing (姚建清), Yin Xu’an (尹旭安), Wang Fang (王芳)……
Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group

July 8, 2016



The Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group was founded on September 13, 2013. It is an open platform for cooperation. Since its founding, members of the group have worked together to protect human rights and promote the rule of law in China through issuing joint statements and representing human rights cases. Any Chinese lawyer who shares our human rights principles and is willing to defend the basic rights of citizens is welcome to join. We look forward to working with you.
Contact persons:
Chang Boyang 常伯阳 18837183338
Liu Shihui 刘士辉 18516638964
Ling Qilei 蔺其磊 18639228639
Tang Jitian 唐吉田 13161302848
Yu Wensheng 余文生 13910033651



Breaking: This Morning in Beijing, One lawyer Gone Missing, Another Lawyer Kidnapped, and Fengrui Law office Visited by Police, China Change, July 9, 2015.

Biographies of Lawyers, Staffers and Activists Detained or Disappeared in the July 10 Nationwide Raid Against Rights Lawyers, July 23, 2015.

14 Cases Exemplify the Role Played by Lawyers in the Rights Defense Movement, 2003–2015, August 19, 2015.

Crime and Punishment of China’s Rights Lawyers, Mo Zhixu explains why Chinese government is out to get them, China Change, July 23, 2015.

Cataloging the Torture of Lawyers in China, China Change, July 5, 2015.