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China officials shut legal aid centre founded by pioneering Chinese lawyers

Posted by Author on July 18, 2009

Tania Branigan in Beijing and agencies,, Saturday 18 July 2009-

Officials have shut down a legal aid and research centre founded by pioneering Chinese lawyers, increasing fears of a crackdown on those who take sensitive cases.

Authorities have also revoked the licences of more than 50 lawyers, many known for tackling human rights issues.

About 20 officials from Beijing’s civil affairs bureau arrived at the Gongmeng (Open Constitution Initiative) offices yesterday, confiscating computers and other equipment and questioning staff about their work.

Lawyers from the centre have acted in numerous high-profile cases, most recently representing parents whose children were taken ill due to milk tainted with melamine. It issued a report criticising the government’s handling of unrest across the Tibetan plateau last year and has helped petitioners, relocated families and other disadvantaged groups.

Its closure came two days after the Beijing tax bureau fined Gongmeng 1.4m yuan (about £125,000), saying it had not paid its taxes.

Xu Zhiyong, one of its founders, said officials told them the centre was not registered as an NGO. He said it was operating legally as a charitable body under the Gongmeng company. “Gongmeng had to be registered as a company because when we went to register as an NGO, the civil affairs bureau didn’t allow us to do it,” he said.

Xu said there had been a small delay in paying taxes, but they had paid the full amount and yet the heaviest fine was levied. “There is a reason they gave us a big fine and shut us down. It is because we have offended certain ‘black’ [shady] powers,” he said. “We will continue our work and will act according to our consciences.”

Another of the founders, Teng Biao, wrote in a text message: “Suppressing civil society in this way is illegal and stupid. Maybe it is the dark before the dawn? Anyhow, our ideals and actions in pursuit of freedom won’t change.”

Neither the tax bureau nor the civil affairs bureau responded to faxed questions regarding the shutdown……. (more details from The Guardian)

2 Responses to “China officials shut legal aid centre founded by pioneering Chinese lawyers”

  1. Thanks, I have been hunting for details about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.

  2. David Taylor said

    Even as the United States Congress seems to being placing greater scrutiny on the the CCP, the Chinese government accelerates its human rights abuses against its own people and especially against lawyers in China who attempt to simply do their jobs of enforcing human rights as is done day in and day out in the US and all over the world.
    What is really happening is that the CCP, now run by hooligan and monsterous elements are moving as rapidly as it can to gain a solid foothold against human rights so that it will be far out in front of the very worst that could happen to those hooligans and monsters should their front start to cave in under international pressure. The situation has gotten so bad now that the CCP believes that it is in its best interests to return to that “cultural revolution mentality” rather than lose even a foot of ground to the rest of the world.
    This says, however, that the CCP has effectively abandoned the very idea that there ought to be anything that even resembles human rights as defined under the International Declaration of Human Rights. The Chinese Government believes that the Obama administration will not challenge it as it progresses down the road of persecution against Christians, human rights attorneys in China, Falun Gong, Uighurs and anyone else it chooses. Does anyone wonder why the CCP should feel so confident in that plan?
    It should be clear that, whatever the reason, that is what it thinks. For more than forty years,I have studied Chinese government patterns, and will tell you that no government I know which has ever existed upon the face of this earth has been more consistent in its evil against its own people than the Chinese CCP. As I have said many times you can believe that book title: “You Can trust the Communists to be Communists.” You better believe that that is all you can trust regarding the Communists.
    Until the majority of the world rises up against the Chicom or until its market starts to really suffer, we can all expect those hooligans and gangsters to perpetrate unspeakable inhumanities against the people of China.Can you think of something you can do to help change this? I can. Be vocal,be active against them, contribute money to those organizations which work against them every single day (like Chinaaid Association),write your Congressmen and Senators expressing your views regarding this remaining evil empire,
    and talk to everyone you know about how all of us are getting “screwed” by the Chinese government everday as it refuses to value its currency fairly while taking ours and advocating that the world should essentially ignore the value of the US dollar. If enough of us don’t do these things we may one day see the brown uniforms with red insignia on our streets torturing our people and persecuting us for being Christian. Do you really think that is so “far out?” I hope not–the possibility is real.

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