16 May 2015

Why Pu Zhiqiang is Facing Eight (not 10 or 20) Years in Prison


On 15 May, the Second Branch of the Beijing People’s Procuratorate posted the following message to its Weibo account:

On May 15, 2015, the Second Branch of the Beijing People’s Procuratorate sent the Beijing Number Two Intermediate People’s Court an indictment in accordance with the law against defendant Pu Zhiqiang on charges of suspected inciting ethnic hatred and provoking a serious disturbance. The bill of indictment charges that defendant Pu Zhiqiang used information networks to publish multiple microblog posts over a period of time that incited ethnic hatred with aggravating circumstances and brazenly insulted others with odious circumstances and damage to social order. [On the basis of these acts,] he should be held criminally responsible in accordance with the law.

At this point, I would like to say that I believe these charges to be an untenable violation of Pu Zhiqiang’s right to free expression under China’s constitution. Unfortunately, as Pu Zhiqiang—a tireless advocate for many people charged with speech-related offenses over the years—knows only too well, that argument will have a difficult time winning the day in a Chinese court.

Below, I want to address a very specific issue. One of the obvious questions that many have asked is: if Pu is convicted of these two charges, what might his sentence be? There’s been a great deal of confusion on this point, with claims of a possible sentence of up to 20 years. But Shang Baojun, one of Pu Zhiqiang’s defense lawyers, told Verna Yu of the South China Morning Post that his client was facing a maximum of eight years in prison.

I believe that Shang Baojun is correct. To explain why, it’s necessary to consider a number of things.

First, let’s look at Art. 249, the offense of “inciting ethnic hatred or discrimination.” Here is the text:

Whoever incites ethnic hatred or discrimination, if the circumstances are aggravated (情节严重), shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights; if the circumstances are especially serious (情节特别严重), he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than 10 years.

In general, one could thus say that the maximum possible sentence for the offense is 10 years’ imprisonment. But does that apply in this case?

The summary of the charges given in the indictment makes it pretty clearly that Pu’s alleged offense falls under the category of “aggravated circumstances” not “especially serious” circumstances. I don’t believe that the procuratorate chose that language arbitrarily. So, I think this means that the prosecution is seeking a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment for this one charge.

Now, let’s look at Art. 293, “provoking a serious disturbance” (or “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” if you like):

Whoever disrupts the social order by committing any of the following provocative and disturbing acts shall be sentenced to imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention or control:

(1) Assaulting any other person at will, with odious circumstances;

(2) Chasing, intercepting, reviling or intimidating any other person, with odious circumstances;

(3) Taking or demanding forcibly or vandalizing or occupying at will public or private property, with aggravated circumstances; or

(4) Making trouble in a public place, which causes a serious disorder of the public place.

Whoever assembles other people to commit the acts as mentioned in the preceding paragraph many times, which seriously disrupt the social order, shall be sentenced to imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than 10 years and may be fined in addition.

This last clause was added to the statute in 2011. Prior to that, the maximum sentence under Art. 293 was five years’ imprisonment. Since the 2011 revision, a heavier penalty may be imposed for those who “assemble others” to commit offenses “multiple times.” If these conditions are not met, then the heavier sentencing range is not available.

So, do those condition apply in Pu’s case? I doubt it. One of the more ridiculous things about the way this charge is being used against Pu Zhiqiang is the way it applies an offense written to cover behavior in physical space on actions that appear to have taken place solely online. For that, we can thank a “judicial interpretation” on “using information networks to commit defamation and related crimes” issued by the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate in September 2013, which states, in Article 5:

Using information networks to insult or threaten others with odious circumstances and damage to social order shall be convicted of provoking a serious disturbance and penalized in accordance with Criminal Law Article 293(1)(2).

The way this interpretation is constructed, it seems unlikely that Pu is being accused of using the Internet to “gather others” to insult people. I believe that if the prosecution wished to make this allegation, it would have been mentioned in its summary of the indictment. Therefore, I see no reason to believe that the prosecution seeks a sentence of more than five years on this charge.

Based on this analysis, the maximum possible sentence on these two charges should be eight years’ imprisonment. But even if Pu were to receive the maximum sentence on both charges, his combined sentence would most likely fall somewhere between the heaviest of the two and the total of the two—i.e., between five and eight years in prison.

UPDATE: The full indictment has been made public, added here for reference:



18 April 2015

Lawyer Zhang Xuezhong: Gao Yu's Conviction is "Perversion of the Law"

The following is a translation of a commentary produced by Shanghai-based lawyer Zhang Xuezhong in response to yesterday's conviction of the 71-year-old senior journalist, Gao Yu.



This morning (17 April 2015), the Beijing Number Three Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Ms Gao Yu to seven years’ imprisonment, with subsequent deprivation of political rights for one year, for the crime of “illegally providing state secrets abroad.” It is understood that the so-called “state secret” in this case is probably the CCP Central Committee’s Document No. 9, entitled “Communiqué on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere.” But in fact, Ms Gao’s actions did not constitute a crime and the Beijing court’s guilty verdict is a perversion of the law.

My reasoning is as follows, based on the provisions of the Criminal Law and the Law on the Guarding of State Secrets:
  
1. The documents of a political party should not be considered state secrets. A party member has no legal obligation to safeguard secrets (only an organizational obligation), let alone a citizen who is not a member of the political party.

Treating political party documents as state secrets under state law is obviously a mistake based on the failure to separate between party and state or on the substitution of the party for the state. Furthermore, the ruling political party in a state ought to, as much as possible, make public its political program, policy positions, and governing principles so that they may by subjected to criticism and oversight by the full citizenry, who are the source of the state’s sovereignty. If the ruling party treats these things as secrets, it will lead people to have doubts that the interests of the party and state might be opposed to each other.

Even if a political party treats some of its documents as secrets, only party members should be expected to bear the obligation to protect these secrets and this obligation should only be a matter of party discipline. If a party member violates this obligation, at most he or she should receive party disciplinary sanctions, not the sanction of state law. Citizens who are not members of the party should not be under any obligation to protect political party documents that have been designated secret.

2. The document in this case also does not fall under the category of “state secret” as defined in the Law on the Guarding of State Secrets.

According to Article 2 and Article 8(3) of the Law on the Guarding of State Secrets, secrets of political parties may be classified as state secrets if they have “vital bearing on state security and national interests and, as specified by legal procedure, are entrusted to a limited number of people for a given period of time.”

In light of the analysis in point 1 above, these provisions of the Law on the Guarding of State Secrets clearly violate the political principle of separation between political parties and the state. But even if one sets aside this point and the text of the provisions literally, the political party document in this case does not constitute a state secret.

First, as this is a legal provision, the phrase “state security and national interests” must refer to specific and identifable state security and national interests. In other words, it must be the case that any disclosure of the given information would lead to actual, recognizable, and measurable damage to national interests or worsening of state security. Disclosure of information producing some empty or abstract “impact” should absolutely not be treated as damage to national interests or state security as these ideas are specified under law. Otherwise, the result would be for the scope of state secrets to become boundless, and any citizen could potentially be punished unreasonably.

Second, the state secrets in these provisions must be “specified by legal procedure [and] entrusted to a limited number of people for a given period of time.” Here, “legal procedure” must involve a designated state organ carrying out a process of “specification” in accordance with national law. No political party or any of its institutions has the power to act on its own to specify party documents as state secrets.

Based on the reasoning above, I maintain that Ms Gao Yu’s actions should not constitute the crime of illegally providing state secrets abroad.

17 April 2015

16 April 2015

Lawyers Protest Assault against Female Lawyer at Beijing Courthouse

(Original text here. More information here.)

Statement by Chinese Lawyers Regarding
Assault on a Female Lawyer by Judges and Police Officers at the
Tongzhou District (Beijing) Court


On 2 April 2015, lawyer Cui Hui from Beijing’s Hengqing Law Firm went to the Tongzhou District Court in Beijing, where she was physically assaulted twice by Yang Yu and Lai Xiulin, both of the court’s enforcement division, and a court police officer. The assault left her with minor injuries, including contusions on both eyes, bruises on her face, and multiple soft-tissue injuries on her limbs. Lawyer Cui is understood to have previously reported unlawful behavior by judges in the Tongzhou Court’s enforcement division to the Tongzhou District Procuratorate in connection with a case she was handling. This angered the judges, who found many ways of making things difficult for Cui, including this recent violent assault against her inside the court.

As legal professionals, we are concerned about our colleague, Lawyer Cui Hui, and are extremely shocked and angered by the hideous acts committed by judges and court police at the Tongzhou District Court.

With respect to this incident, we are issuing this statement and making the following demands:

1. The Tongzhou District Precinct of the Beijing PSB should investigate this case thoroughly and launch a criminal investigation for intentional injury against Yang Yu, Lai Xiulin, and the court police officer and strictly punish the perpetrators in accordance with the law.

2. The Tongzhou Procuratorate and Beijing Municipality Procuratorate should investigate Yang Yu and Lai Xiulin for unlawful dereliction of duty and severely punish any such wrongdoing they may discover in order to remove any malignant tumors among the ranks of judges.

3. The Tongzhou District People’s Congress Standing Committee should monitor the Tongzhou District Court to ensure that it deals strictly with the court personnel involved in this incident, up to stripping the judges of their adjudication duties.

4. The Tongzhou District Judicial Administration Bureau, the Beijing Municipal Judicial Administration Bureau, the Tongzhou District Lawyers Association, and the All-China Lawyers Association should immediately initiate rights-defense procedures and unite with other lawyers to help Lawyer Cui defend her rights.

5. The Beijing Municipality Women’s Federation and the All-China Women’s Federation should pay attention to Cui Hui’s situation and assist her in defending her rights.




[Signatures of more than 130 lawyers]

12 April 2015

cc: Ministry of Justice
Beijing Municipality Judicial Administration Bureau
Tongzhou District Judicial Administration Bureau
Beijing Public Security Bureau
Tongzhou District Precinct, Beijing PSB
All-China Lawyers Association
Beijing Municipality Lawyers Association
Tongzhou District Lawyers Association
Beijing Municipality Procuratorate
Tongzhou District Procuratorate
All-China Women’s Federation
Beijing Municipality Women’s Federation
Tongzhou District People’s Congress Standing Committee

20 November 2014

Chinese Lawyers Fear Chilling Effect in Courtroom if Proposed Amendment Made to Criminal Law

The following opinion (original text here) has already been signed by more than 250 Chinese lawyers. 
 

Legal Opinion on Article 35 of the
Ninth (Draft) Amendments to the Criminal Law

We are a group of legal professionals who care about the rights of lawyers and reform of the judicial system who have taken note of the draft for the Ninth Round of Amendments to the Criminal Law (hereafter, “draft amendments”) that was published on the website of the National People’s Congress (NPC). After serious study and discussion, we are unanimous in finding major problems with the revisions proposed in Article 35 of the draft amendments. Below, we present our legal opinion on this matter for the reference of the members of the NPC Standing Committee who will decide on these amendments.

Article 35 of the draft amendments would revise Article 309 of the Criminal Law (hereafter, “CL 309”) to the following:
Whoever engages in one of the following acts, and thereby seriously disrupts the order of the court, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention, or public surveillance or be fined.

(1) Gathering people to stir up trouble in a court or attack the court;
(2) Beating a judicial officer or participant to the litigation;
(3) Insulting, defaming, or threatening a judicial officer or participant to the litigation after being told by the court to stop;
(4) Engaging in other acts that seriously disrupt the order of the court.”
Compared to the current text of CL 309, one sees that the draft amendment adds “insulting, defaming, or threatening a judicial officer or participant to the litigation” and “engaging in other acts that seriously disrupt the order of the court” to the circumstances covered under the crime.

We believe that this revision violates two basic principles of the Criminal Law, runs counter to the direction of China’s judicial reform, and would seriously undermine the procedural justice that is an especially prized part of the judicial process.

Our detailed reasoning is as follows:

First, as a matter of legal parlance, “insulting,” “defaming,” or “threatening” are all words of a strongly subjective nature. Different judges and prosecutors in different contexts and under different emotional conditions will use these words in completely different ways, making it very difficult to predict their meaning. As for the fourth item, “engaging in other acts that seriously disrupt the order of the court,” this is an extremely flexible “pocket clause.” We ask: What acts constitute “disruption”? At precisely what degree does “disruption” become “serious”?

This amemndment cannot answer these questions, and, therefore, it does not possess the necessary explicitness required of a Criminal Law provision. The principle of nulla poena sine lege (no punishment without legal statute) necessitates that criminal statutes be expressed explicitly to prevent judicial personnel from differential or arbitrary application of the criminal law and thereby protect the freedom and security of the public. At the same time, explicit criminal law provisions enable people to predict whether their behavior has the potential to violate the criminal law and thereby promote law-abiding behavior throughout society.

Second, this amendment violates the criminal law’s necessity principle. Insult, defamation, and threats, as well as other acts that disrupt court order, can all be fully dealt with through things like reprimands, fines, or judicial detention, which have the effect of punishing the behavior without resort to the criminal law. Serious cases of insult or defamation or serious disruption of court order are already covered by appropriate criminal statutes, and threats should not be criminalized if they do not result in consequences. Moreover, considering that the entire trial process is carried out in the presence of court police officers, there is already a full ability to control and resolve any such situations that may arise during the trial. The existing CL 309 statute already establishes a set of criminal circumstances; there’s no need to further lower the threshhold for what is considered criminal.

Third, this amendment runs counter to the direction of China’s judicial reforms and does not help to further establish a criminal trial process centered on the trial, in which judges are neutral and prosecution and defense are given equal standing. This amendment, which is flexible and lowers the threshhold of what is considered criminal, will make lawyers feel the need to tread carefully, as if they were walking on thin ice. Criminal defense lawyers will be particularly afraid of being faulted at every turn and thus not dare to speak their minds fully at trial in defense of their clients. This will tilt the already unbalanced playing field between defense and prosecution even further in favor of the prosecution. This not only restricts defendants’ right to defend themselves and undermines procedural justice; it also prevents the judicial panel from fully investigating the facts of the case and will ultimately lead to an increase in the rate of wrongful conviction.

Fourth, when we consider the current reality of criminal trials in China, other than conflicts between prosecution and defense, there are a great number of conflicts between judges and defense lawyers. This amendment will make defense lawyers increasingly timid in the face of judges. In an inquisitorial trial system, judges take the leading role in the proceedings. In trial practice, judges are quite often estremely arrogant and bossy toward defense lawyers, interrupting them for no reason as they speak and even depriving them of their rights to defend their clients.

If this amendment becomes law, one can well imagine what the impact will be on the mindset of defense lawyers. A defense lawyer who is servile and obsequious to a judge will inevitably not dare to fully express his or her defense opinions. The hidden consequence will inevitably be as we have already stated above: a restriction of defendants’ right to defend themselves, undermining procedural justice, and increase in the rate of wrongful conviction.

This is why Article 16(a) of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers makes clear that “governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.”

Based on the above, Article 35 of the draft amendments ought to be eliminated and there should be no change made to the existing text of CL 309.

We hope that members of the NPC Standing Committee will be motivated by their sense of high responsibility and seriously consider our legal opinions.

Sincerely,
(the undersigned)

09 October 2014

Mainland Citizens Express Support for True Universal Suffrage for Hong Kong, Demand Release of Detained Mainland Citizens

(Original Chinese text can be found here.)

Statement of Support for
True Universal Suffrage for Hong Kong People and
Demand for Release of Mainland Citizens
Detained for Supporting Hong Kong Protests

Over the last several days, members of Hong Kong society have been protesting for true universal suffrage in the 2017 election of their chief executive. These protests have captured the attention of people in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, mainland China, and other Chinese communities around the world, as well as the attention of international public opinion. Meanwhile, we are filled with concern and righteous anger at the detention of dozens of mainland citizens for expressing support for the demands of the citizens of Hong Kong! As fellow Chinese who have a shared sense of destiny and are bound by a common cause, we feel the urgent need to make the following statements:
  1. The central issue of Hong Kong society’s protest for true universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election is their strong argument that citizens should have the right to nominate candidates for the position of chief executive. We believe that this is an inalienable right to which Hong Kong people are reasonably entitled as the masters of Hong Kong and that there is no question that their demands are reasonable.

  2. We fully understand, respect, and support the protest demands of our Hong Kong compatriots and urge our brothers and sisters to carry out their struggle for rights in a civilized and rational manner. We firmly oppose and condemn all abuse of official power, violation of human rights, and the use of violence or concealed violence against our compatriots.

  3. Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying must take responsibility for misleading the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee with his political report, and he must conscientiously improve channels of communication and continue to listen patiently and carefully to the forthright admonitions being presented by people from all sectors of Hong Kong society and take effective measures to remedy the problem.

  4. The authorities in charge must clearly understand the unique and difficult evolutionary path and options available to Hong Kong and adhere to the the policy of “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy,” and follow the tide of international and domestic political civilization. The must push for an NPC Standing Committee decision that truly accords with the sincere wishes of the Hong Kong people, that elates and inspires Chinese in the mainland and around the world, and that will be accepted by the mainstream of international society. We demand that the police immediately release all mainland citizens who have been illegally detained for supporting the reasonable demands of Hong Kong citizens.

  5. At this moment in time, we feel more certain than ever of the inseparability of Hong Kong from the mainland and of the importance of civil and political rights to the development of our nation, the  revival of our people, and the happiness of each individual. As the ancient saying goes: “The people are the roots of a country; when the roots are firm, the country will be peaceful.” On this point, we also call on the NPC Standing Committee to begin work without delay to enact legislation to safeguard and promote direct elections in the mainland for county and township leaders and people’s congress deputies at the prefectural level and above, in order to better realize citizens’ rights to vote and stand for election, return government to the people, and do everything possible to establish a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people!

5 October 2014

16 September 2014

Nine Lawyers File Formal Complaint Accusing Police of Unlawful Detention

(Original Chinese text here, roughly translated below.)

To: Beijing Municipality People's Procuratorate

Accusants:
  1. Zhang Lei, Beijing lawyer. (Law firm name and contact details redacted here and below.)
  2. Dong Qianyong, Beijing lawyer.
  3. Wang Yu, Beijing lawyer.
  4. Hu Guiyun, Beijing lawyer.
  5. Chen Jian’gang, Beijing lawyer.
  6. Li Guobei, Beijing lawyer.
  7. Yu Wensheng, Beijing lawyer.
  8. Wang Xing, Beijing lawyer.
  9. Li Jinxing, Shandong lawyer.

Accused (criminal suspects):
  1. Tian Yunsheng, male, chief of Changping Branch of Beijing Public Security Bureau
  2. Liu Gang, male, captain of Changping Branch PSB “Domestic Security” Unit
  3. Zhang Dazhi, male, deputy chief of Huilongguan Police Station
  4. Li Shiwu, male, police officer at Huilongguan Police Station
  5. Li Jinshan, male, police officer at Huilongguan Police Station
  6. Li Zhenxin, male, police officer at Huilongguan Police Station

Subject of Complaint: Pursuit of criminal responsibility in accordance with the law for the crime of unlawful detention committed by the accused

Facts and Legal Rationale:

On the morning of September 5, 2014, the accusants went to the Changping District “Sunshine Halfway House” located in Beixiaoying West Village, Machikou Town, Changping District, Beijing, with the intention of attending a hearing to be conducted by the Changping District Judicial Administration Bureau regarding its proposed one-year suspension of lawyer Cheng Hai’s license. The notice previously issued by the Changping District Judicial Administration Bureau said that the hearing would be conducted in public. After the accusants arrived at the location, they discovered that the gate of the venue was shut and many police and unidentified individuals were blocking the entrance and preventing people from attending.

At approximately 10 a.m., a large group of police suddenly surrounded the accusants and others, forcing them to board one of several buses that had just arrived. Someone dressed in a police uniform announced that the accusants were the subjects of an oral summons, and then the accusants were taken under duress to the Machikou Police Station of the Changping Branch PSB. Later, the accusants and others were forcibly taken to the Huilongguan and Shisanling police stations, where they were detained. During this time, the accusants had their personal items confiscated and were deprived of their personal liberty. Police unlawfully collected the accusants’ personal data, including height, weight, fingerprints, and DNA. (Because he fought desperately to resist, police did not collect this data from accusant Chen Jian’gang and they also did not collect personal data from accusant Wang Xing.) The accusants demanded to leave but were not permitted to do so. Their unlawful detention continued until midnight on September 6. The nine accusants were unlawfully detained for 14 hours.

The accusants have learned that on the same day several dozen law-abiding citizens were also unlawfully detained by police in Changping in the same manner as the accusants.

The accusants maintain that, in the complete absense of any suspicion of illegal or criminal acts, the  abuse of compulsory summons power by the Changping police against several dozen citizens on the pretense of “disruption of work-unit order” is a classic example of abuse of official power and use of what looks like lawful measures (compulsory summons) to cover up an unlawful goal (unlawful detention).

According to the provisions of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate Regulations Regarding Standards for Investigating Criminal Cases of Dereliction of Duty and Violation of Rights: “Unlawful detention refers to the use of detention or other means to unlawfully deprive a person of his or her personal liberty. State employees who use their official powers to carry out unlawful detention shall be subject to criminal investigation when it involves one of the following circumstances: . . . (5) Unlawful detention of three or more persons; (6) Unlawful detention by law-enforcement personnel with knowledge that the person detained has not committed any illegal or criminal act.”

The unlawful detention by Changping police of the accusants potentially constitutes a criminal act. To carry out the unlawful detention of the accusants, the Changping police mobilized more than 100 police officers, several dozen police vehicles, and even a police helicopter. The accusants thus have reason to believe that the persons directly responsible for this large-scale act of unlawful detention are Tian Yunsheng, chief of the Changping Branch PSB, and Liu Gang, captain of the Changping Branch PSB “Domestic Security” Unit. Zhang Dazhi, Li Shiwu, Li Jinshan, and Li Zhenxin are accused of directly carrying out the unlawful detention of eight of the accusants (excluding Wang Xing). The actions of these six accusants violated the provisions of Article 238 of the Criminal Law of the PRC, which prohibits unlawful detention.

We hereby submit these accusations and request criminal investigation in the interest of punishing crime, upholding the dignity of the law, maintaining the serious nature of state power, and preventing public employees from using their positions to commit crimes that ruin China’s national image.

Furthermore, if the accusants discover that there are others who must bear responsibility for this incident of unlawful detention, we shall remain committed to pursuing this accusation to the end, no matter who those people are or what their status might be.

Sincerely, Zhang Lei,
Wang Yu,
Dong Qianyong,
Hu Guiyun,
Chen Jian’gang,
Li Guobei,
Yu Wensheng,
Wang Xing,
Li Jinxing (accusants)

15 September 2014

01 July 2014

ACLA Issues Formal Notice Distancing Itself from Rights Lawyers

The following notice was published on page 2 of the 30 June 2014 edition of Legal Daily, the official organ of the CCP Central Politico-Legal Commission:


Notice

Recently, our association has discovered that some individuals who have never obtained a license to practice as a lawyer or who have had their licenses revoked or suspended have been acting as and identifying themselves as lawyers, misleading other lawyers and the general public. In order to protect the image and reputation of the legal community, we hereby issue the following notice:

Tang Jitian, Liu Wei, Zheng Enchong, and Tang Jingling have all had their lawyer licenses revoked. Wang Cheng, Jiang Tianyong, and Teng Biao have all had their licenses canceled. None of these individuals is a lawyer, and none of their activities have anything to do with the legal profession.

We respectfully request that lawyers and the general public take note.

All-China Lawyers Association, Membership Division
30 June 2014



UPDATE #1:

This response from Wang Cheng, via Weibo:

Stern Statement: In light of the ACLA statement published yesterday in Legal Daily, which stated “Wang Cheng . . . [has] had [his] license to practice canceled,” I hereby make the following stern statement: 1. To date, the Zhejiang Province Department of Judicial Administration has never informed me that my license to practice has been canceled; 2. In the coming days, I will pursue legal measures to hold the ACLA, Legal Daily, and the Zhejiang Department of Judicial Administration responsible.

UPDATE #2:

This response from Tang Jitian, via Facebook:

Tang Jitian’s “Stern Statement”

On 30 June 2014, the membership division of the ACLA published a statement in the Legal Daily (the organ of the Central Politico-Legal Commission), stating: Tang Jitian et al. have all had their lawyer licenses revoked, none of their activities have anything to do with the legal profession, we respectfully request that lawyers and the public take note.

To this, I hereby issue the following statement:

  1. After working as a lawyer, I earned the wrath of powerful departments for handling human rights cases involving dissent and belief and for promoting the professional autonomy of lawyers (by proposing direct elections of the Beijing Lawyers Association). In May 2010, my license to practice was revoked on groundless charges by the Beijing Municipality Bureau of Judicial Administration. On 9 September of that year, I filed suit with the Xicheng District Court in Beijing, but after receiving my documents the court refused to accept the case and never issued any written decision. I have been deprived of my litigation rights ever since.
  2. After my license to practice was illegally revoked, I continued to participate in human rights cases as an ordinary citizen and provide the best legal assistance to others I could possibly provide. I have never deliberately concealed the fact that I did not have a license to practice.
  3. The primary responsibility of the ACLA should be to protect the rights and interests of lawyers, but consciously or not it acts as a foot soldier for powerful departments to retaliate and persecute lawyers.

In today’s world, no one can hold back the tide of economic liberalization and political democratization. If those senior leaders in the ACLA cannot return to their original positions as lawyers and continue to act as thugs, they will inevitably be nailed to history’s pillar of shame!

No amount of noise can make me drop my human rights work. I welcome generous instruction from lawyers and other individuals.

Tang Jitian
1 July 2014