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China Judicial Authorities Target Human Rights Lawyers, Eroding Rule of Law

Posted by Author on April 22, 2010

Human Rights in China, Apr. 22, 2010-

Beijing lawyers
Tang Jitian (唐吉田) and Liu Wei (刘巍), who are facing revocation of their lawyer’s licenses on the charge of “disrupting courtroom order and interfering with the regular litigation process,” told Human Rights in China (HRIC)  that the “evidence” presented by officials at today’s administrative hearing at the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice “did not include anything whatsoever that could substantiate the charge.” The hearing ended without a decision.

Lawyer Li Subin (李苏滨), who was retained by Liu to represent her at the hearing, told HRIC that he was prevented by police from going. Legal scholar Teng Biao (滕彪)  – one of the three representatives who were allowed in the hearing (the other two were Professor Zhang Shuyi (张树义) and lawyer Yang Jinzhu (杨金柱) ) – told HRIC that protesters in front of the Bureau’s building were dragged away into vehicles, and officials from the U.S., Canadian, and German embassies were barred from attending the hearing.

The current action against Tang and Liu arose from their representation at the second instance trial in April 2009, in Luzhou, Sichuan Province, of a Falun Gong practitioner, Yang Ming, who was charged with “using an evil cult to destroy implementation of the law” (利用邪教破坏法律实施罪). The lawyers told HRIC that one piece of evidence produced by the Bureau at the hearing today (which the lawyers were allowed only to read but not photocopy) was a document the Luzhou Bureau of Justice transmitted to the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Justice recommending disciplinary action against the lawyers. The document stated that the lawyers disrupted court procedure of the 2009 trial by disobeying the presiding judge’s instruction prohibiting them from presenting a description of Falun Gong [that contravened the official designation of it being an “evil cult”] and defended its legitimacy.

(At the end of the 2009 Luzhou trial, the court rejected Yang Ming’s appeal, even after the presiding judge permitted violations of the court’s rules by court officials and unidentified personnel. Yang is now serving a five-year sentence in a prison in Wumaping Prison, in Leshan, Sichuan Province, and reportedly was subjected to very harsh treatment this past winter.)

Liu told HRIC it is clear from the reasoning of the Luzhou Bureau of Justice that the 2009 trial “was completely controlled by the ‘6-10’ Office, and lacked judicial independence.” The 6-10 Office – established on June 10, 1999, by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Politburo member Luo Gan – was created as an extrajudicial security apparatus of the central government to crack down on the Falun Gong and other banned religious groups. Its methods include surveillance and harassment of Falun Gong practitioners and psychological “transformation through reeducation” to convert followers.

Tang Jitian and Liu Wei have been actively involved in various rights defense work, including speaking out for those persecuted for their beliefs and defending the rights of victims of illegal land requisition and home demolition, of those discriminated against for having HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B, and parents of the victims of melamine-tainted milk powder.

In 2008-2009, Tang and Liu were some of the principal participants pushing for direct elections in the Beijing Lawyers Association. After the March 2008 riots in Tibet, Liu Wei signed up to provide legal aid to Tibetans who were arrested. They were among the initial signers of Charter 08 in June 2009.

“After subjecting the lawyers and their client to kangaroo court proceedings in 2009, the authorities are now targeting Tang and Liu – two lawyers trying to fulfill their responsibilities to their client and to the legal profession,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC. “This travesty of justice condoned by authorities charged with upholding the rule of law sends a clear warning to any lawyer who takes on ‘sensitive’ cases and further erodes the credibility of the legal system in China. However, without effective access to justice, the ultimate price will be paid by Chinese citizens.”

Human Rights in China

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