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.

(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

  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:


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


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.


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  

16 June 2014

Lawyers Call for Rule Change after Police Refuse Meeting with Detainees on "State Security" Grounds

Original text here. For background, see here and here.

121 Legal Professionals Sign Citizen Petition Calling on State Council to Revise Article 374 of the Procedural Regulations for the Handling of Criminal Cases by Public Security Organs

15 June 2014

To: State Council of the People’s Republic of China

We are practicing lawyers and legal professionals in the People’s Republic of China. Recently, lawyers acting as defense counsel in a case in Zhengzhou, Henan, involving individuals suspected of gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place were illegally deprived of their right to meet [with clients] by the Zhengzhou No. 3 Detention Center and the Zhengzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB). The basis upon which the Zhengzhou PSB deprived these lawyers of their legitimate right to meet with clients was Article 374 of the Procedural Regulations for the Handling of Criminal Cases by Public Security Organs (MPS Decree No. 127, hereafter “Regulations”). After serious study and comparison between the Regulations and the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), we believe that Article 374 of the Regulations is prone to ambiguity and makes an expanded interpretation of Article 37(3) of the CPL.

The details are as follows:

The Zhengzhou PSB placed Henan lawyers Chang Boyang 常伯阳 and Ji Laisong 姬来松 under criminal detention along with reporter Shi Ping 施平 [a.k.a. Shi Yu 施玉] on suspicion of gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place. After being appointed by their relatives, defense lawyers presented their lawyer’s licenses, visit applications, and letters of appointment to the Zhengzhou No. 3 Detention Center and requested to meet their respective clients. However, the detention center refused to arrange meetings, stating that it had received written instructions from the investigating organ that the latter must give prior approval before any meetings between defense lawyers and suspects in this case. The defense lawyers pointed out that it was illegal to refuse to arrange meetings because the offense alleged in this case was an ordinary crime not covered under the provisions of Article 37(3) of the CPL concerning need for prior approval for meetings.

With the detention center turning a deaf ear, the defense lawyers had no choice but to intervene with the Zhengzhou PSB. Deputy Chief Zhong Zhicai 钟志才 of the Zhengzhou PSB replied: “Even though the offense in this case is ordinary, the case involves matters of endangering state security and meetings with lawyers require approval in accordance with the law.” The defense lawyers pointed out that there was no legal basis for this and that it was a violation of the CPL. Deputy Chief Zhong said that they were implementing Article 374 of the Regulations, which states that “crimes of endangering state security” included both the state security offenses in Chapter I of the enumerated offenses of the Criminal Law and other offenses that endanger state security, and that the situation of Chang Boyang and Ji Laisong falls under the category of “other crimes that endanger state security.”

We believe that the Zhengzhou PSB’s reading of the Regulations is in error. But even setting aside the matter of whether or not their reading is correct, we believe the Regulations themselves are prone to ambiguity. The Regulations are internal rules enacted by the MPS in order to implement the CPL. According to the Legislation Law, they may not expansively interpret the provisions of superior law. According to Article 37(3) of the CPL, “In cases involving crimes of endangering state security, terrorist activity, or especially serious bribery, defense lawyers wishing to meet with suspects who are in custody during the preliminary investigation stage shall first receive approval from the investigating organ.” Here “ESS offenses” is clearly meant to be specific; in other words, “Crimes of Endangering State Security” in Chapter I of the enumerated offenses of the Criminal Law. There is nothing about “and other crimes that endanger state security.” The MPS Regulations are obviously an expanded interpretation of Article 37(3) of the CPL.

If no change is made to Article 374 of the Regulations, local investigators can arbitrarily deprive defense lawyers of their right to meet with clients in any ordinary case on the grounds that the case “involves matters that endanger state security.” This indirectly deprives suspects of their procedural rights, which will undoubtedly lead to violations of procedural justice—the importance of which it should be unnecessary to discuss in greater detail.

Therefore, in order to ensure the unity between human rights and the Chinese legal system, Article 374 of the Regulations should be revised in accordance with the law.

Therefore, we request that the State Council use its official powers to revise Article 374 of the Procedural Regulations for the Handling of Criminal Cases by Public Security Organs (MPS Decree No. 127).

N.B.: A copy of this recommendation letter will be sent to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, calling on it to carry out its oversight of the “exercise of official duties by the State Council. We welcome lawyer colleagues to sign and defend the right of lawyers to meet with clients.


Liu Shuqing 刘书庆 (Shandong, lawyer)
Lin Qilei 蔺其磊 (Beijing, lawyer)
Zhang Junjie 张俊杰 (Henan, lawyer)
Fu Yonggang 付永刚 (Shandong, lawyer)
Jiang Yuanmin 蒋援民 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Qin Yongpei 覃永沛 (Guangxi, lawyer)
Jiang Tianyong 江天勇 (Beijing, lawyer)
Zhang Zhongshi 张重实 (Hunan, lawyer)
Li Ruyu 李如玉 (Jiangsu, law Ph.D.)
Pang Kun 庞琨 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Feng Yanqiang 冯延强 (Shandong, lawyer)
Shi Yongsheng 石永胜 (Hebei, lawyer)
Chen Jian’gang 陈建刚 (Beijing, lawyer)
Liang Xiaojun 梁小军 (Beijing, lawyer)
Liu Weiguo 刘卫国 (Shandong, lawyer)
Tang Jitian 唐吉田 (Beijing, lawyer)
Yue Jinfu 岳金福 (Shandong, lawyer)
Wu Kuiming 吴魁明 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Ge Wenxiu 葛文秀 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Liu Sixin 刘四新 (Beijing, lawyer)
Wen Yu 闻宇 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Li Dawei 李大伟 (Gansu, legal professional)
Zhang Lei 张磊 (Beijing, lawyer)
Chen Shuqing 陈树庆 (Zhejiang, lawyer)
Teng Biao 滕彪 (Beijing, lawyer)
Cheng Weishan 程为善 (Jiangsu, lawyer)
Chen Jinxue 陈进学 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Lan Zhixue 兰志学 (Beijing, lawyer)
Sui Muqing 隋牧青 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Jiang Yongji 蒋永继 (Gansu, lawyer)
Deng Wei 邓巍 (Shandong, lawyer)
Xu Guijuan 许桂娟 (Shandong, lawyer)
Situ Yiping 司徒一平 (Shandong, lawyer)
Zheng Xiang 郑湘 (Shandong, lawyer)
Shu Xiangxin 舒向新 (Shandong, lawyer)
Li Chunfu 李春富 (Beijing, lawyer)
Zhang Keke 张科科 (Hubei, lawyer)
Li Jinxing 李金星 (Shandong, lawyer)
Zhang Chuanli 张传利 (Beijing, lawyer)
Ran Tong 冉彤 (Sichuan, lawyer)
Zhang Weiyu 张维玉 (Shandong, lawyer)
Chen Jinshi 陈金石 (Hunan, lawyer)
Wang Cheng 王成 (Zhejiang, lawyer)
Li Heping 李和平 (Beijing, lawyer)
Li Fangping 李方平 (Beijing, lawyer)
Wang Quanping 王全平 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Ge Yongxi 葛永喜 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Chen Keyun 陈科云 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Liu Zhengqing 刘正清 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Liu Shihui 刘士辉 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Wu Zhenqi 吴镇琦 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Xie Yang 谢阳 (Hunan, lawyer)
Xu Can 徐灿 (Beijing, lawyer)
Chen Wuquan 陈武权 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Wang Quanzhang 王全章 (Beijing, lawyer)
Hu Guiyun 胡贵云 (Beijing, lawyer)
Zhao Yonglin 赵永林 (Shandong, lawyer)
Liu Wei 刘巍 (Beijing, lawyer)
Zheng Enchong 郑恩宠 (Shanghai, lawyer)
Zhou Lixin 周立新 (Beijing, lawyer)
Fan Biaowen 范标文 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Liang Xiubo 梁秀波 (Henan, lawyer)
Li Weida 李威达 (Hebei, lawyer)
Yu Quan 于全 (Sichuan, lawyer)
Liu Wei 刘伟 (Henan, lawyer)
Wang Zongyue 王宗跃 (Guizhou, lawyer)
Xiao Fanghua 肖芳华 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Zhang Guo 张国 (Hunan, lawyer)
Guo Lianhui 郭莲辉 (Jiangxi, lawyer)
Li Changming 李长明 (Beijing, lawyer)
Wei Youyuan 魏友援 (Jiangxi, lawyer)
Tong Chaoping 童朝平 (Beijing, lawyer)
Huang Yuzhu 黄聿珠 (Shandong, lawyer)
Xiao Guozhen 肖国珍 (Beijing, lawyer)
Xue Rongmin 薛荣民 (Shanghai, lawyer)
Liang Lanxiang 梁澜馨 (Hebei, lawyer)
Liu Lianhe 刘连贺 (Tianjin, lawyer)
Deng Shulin 邓树林 (Sichuan, lawyer)
Wang Xueming 王学明 (Shandong, lawyer)
Xu Hongwei 徐红卫 (Shandong, lawyer)
Xu Tao 徐涛 (Hubei, lawyer)
Peng Jian 彭剑 (Beijing, lawyer)
Hou Lingxian 候领献 (Heilongjiang, lawyer)
Xu Xianghui 徐向辉 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Qin Lei 秦雷 (Shanghai, lawyer)
Wang Yu 王宇 (Beijing, lawyer)
Wang Xing 王兴 (Beijing, lawyer)
Xi Xiangdong 袭祥栋 (Shandong, lawyer)
Liu Xiaoyuan 刘晓原 (Beijing, lawyer)
Wang Shengsheng 王胜生 (Guangdong, lawyer)
Ma Lianshun 马连顺 (Henan, lawyer)
Zhang Hai 张海 (Shandong, lawyer)
Zou Lihui 邹丽惠 (Fujian, lawyer)
Liu Jinbin 刘金滨 (Shandong, lawyer)
Xu Zhong 徐忠 (Shandong, lawyer)
Zhang Zanning 张赞宁 (Jiangxi, lawyer)
Yu Wensheng 余文生 (Beijing, lawyer)
Wei Liangyue 韦良月 (Heilongjiang, lawyer)
Yu Guoqiang 喻国强 (Hunan, lawyer)
Fang Qing 方庆 (Henan, lawyer)
Wang Lei 王磊 (Henan, lawyer)
Chen Yixuan 陈以轩 (Hunan, lawyer)
Deng Linhua 邓林华 (Hunan, lawyer)
Zhu Xiaoding 朱孝顶 (Beijing, lawyer)
Xu Silong 许思龙 (Yunnan, lawyer)
Cai Ying 蔡瑛 (Hunan, lawyer)
Liu Yan 刘彦 (Shandong, lawyer)
Zhang Jiankang 张鉴康 (Shaanxi, lawyer)
Zhang Kai 张凯 (Shandong, lawyer)
Zhang Weiyun 张维云 (Beijing, lawyer)
You Feizhu 游飞翥 (Sichuan, lawyer)
Huang Hanzhong 黄汉中 (Beijing, lawyer)
Liu Xinming 刘新明 (Xinjiang, lawyer)
Liu Xinwei 刘新伟 (Shandong, lawyer)
Li Guangming 李光明 (Shandong, lawyer)
Fu Jianbo 付剑波 (Chongqing, lawyer)
Long Zhongyang 龙中阳 (Hunan, lawyer)
Huang Yizhi 黄溢智 (Beijing, lawyer)
Zhuang Daohe 庄道鹤 (Zhejiang, lawyer)
Gao Chengcai 高承才 (Henan, lawyer)
Liu Jinxiang 刘金湘 (Shandong, lawyer)

14 June 2014

Liu Weiguo: "If I am Arrested"

If I am Arrested by Liu Weiguo 刘卫国

If I am arrested one day,
Friends, fellow lawyers,
You must
Go public
          take a stand
                      and make a fuss.

If I am arrested one day,
Friends, fellow lawyers,
You must
Treat it like a political issue.

If I am arrested one day,
Friends, fellow lawyers,
You must
Refuse to deliver depressing or dispiriting news.

That is not who I am.
Most certainly not who I am.

Further reading:
Zhang Xuezhong Discusses Strategy in the Pu Zhiqiang Case
Arrested Chinese Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang Speaks from Prison

11 June 2014

Learning to Count Under China's Criminal Procedure Law

You might have already heard that one of the magic numbers in Chinese criminal procedure is 37.

Individuals placed under criminal detention by investigators can be held in custody for a maximum of 37 days without any intervention by any other authority. That is, criminal detention can last for up to 30 days, at which point the investigating body must (a) apply to the procuratorate (prosecutor's office) for permission to carry out formal arrest, (b) release the suspect on guarantee pending further investigation or into residential surveillance, or (c) release the suspect outright. In case of (a), the procuratorate then has seven days in which to make a decision, during which time the suspect generally remains in custody—so, a total of 37 days.

Here, I'll only mention in passing that criminal detention is, in theory at least, not intended to be used nearly as routinely as it is and that the degree to which detentions are regularly stretched to their 30-day limit also goes well beyond the rather limited set of circumstances for which such detention is provided by law. (For more on this subject, see this.)

My real interest, though, is the question of how to calculate the relevant deadlines with respect to this magic number. It's not nearly as simple as you might think.

First of all, one must be aware that criminal detention may be preceded by up to 24 hours of questioning under the procedure of criminal summons. So, for example, if police come to my home on 1 May with a warrant for me to appear for questioning, they can question me at the police station for up to 24 hours before issuing an official detention notice. Only after this notice is issued am I considered to be under criminal detention.

The second complicating factor is that Article 103 of the Criminal Procedure Law states, in part: "Time periods are calculated in hours, days, and months. The initial hour or day does not count toward the time period."

What does this mean in practice? Let's say my criminal detention notice was issued at 8 p.m. on 1 May. For the purposes of calculating my detention, the clock starts ticking at midnight on 2 May, meaning that 30 days would expire at 11:59:59 p.m. on 31 May. Note that this would be true whether I was placed under detention at 12:01 a.m. or 11:59 p.m on 1 May. In any of these cases, for the purposes of counting the days, you would start from midnight on 2 May.

So, in this hypothetical situation, if the police wanted to arrest me, they would have to send their request to the procuratorate on 31 May at the latest. The subsequent seven days would start from midnight on 1 June, meaning that the procuratorate would have to issue a decision by the end of the day on 7 June.

It's worth pointing out that, other than what I've cited above, the law is not too specific about when to start counting. What I've provided here is the most common scenario, likely to apply in the majority of instances. But, as they say, your mileage may vary.

09 June 2014

Zhang Xuezhong Discusses Strategy in the Pu Zhiqiang Case

Pu Zhiqiang (lower right) was one of several
detained after participating in a seminar
commemorating June Fourth.

In early May, Beijing police detained a handful of people who had participated in a private meeting to discuss and commemorate the 25th anniversary of June Fourth. Among them was Pu Zhiqiang, a former student leader during the 1989 protests who has since become an outspoken defense lawyer and advocate of free speech in China. During his career, Pu has proven himself more than willing to butt heads with authority and mobilize the media and public opinion to exert pressure in hopes of influencing the outcome of the many controversial cases he has taken on.

In contrast to Pu’s outspokenness, however, veteran defense lawyer Zhang Sizhi has been far more circumspect in the way he has handled Pu’s case since being appointed as his lawyer following Pu’s detention. In spite of this low-key approach, however, Zhang has been routinely prevented from meeting with Pu, as police reportedly claim that Pu has been taken for questioning each time a meeting is requested. Another lawyer acting for Pu, Qu Zhenhong (Pu’s niece), has herself been placed under criminal detention, along with two reporters who worked closely with Pu in the past.

Many initially believed that Pu and the others would be released from detention after the sensitive June Fourth anniversary passed. In fact, most of the other detainees connected to the case have been released on guarantee pending further investigation. Pu, however, remains in custody, indicating that police in Beijing have sent a request for arrest approval to prosecutors and may, in fact, be seriously contemplating criminal prosecution. That decision is expected to be handed down later this week.

Zhang Xuezhong
It is in this uncertain context that Zhang Xuezhong, a legal scholar and lawyer based in Shanghai who has been critical of the Chinese political system and taken on a number of controversial criminal defense cases, has penned an essay expressing his views about the need to resist the sense of fear that many feel about exposing the injustices of the criminal system and adopt a new defense strategy in Pu’s case, one that will take a less deferential attitude toward what appears to be obvious retaliation against Pu’s past legal activism and a clear warning about what fate might befall others who engage in similar outspokenness and willingness to challenge authority.

My Personal View on the Defense Strategy in the Pu Zhiqiang Case

Zhang Xuezhong
Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang is my friend. When the court refused to permit me and five other original lawyers to continue representing Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, and Li Sihua during their second trial hearing, I invited Pu Zhiqiang to participate in the defense. At the time, Lawyer Pu had many of his own cases and his health was not so good, but he still agreed without hesitation and even insisted on covering all of his own travel expenses. I have always felt grateful for his willingness to help out when the circumstances were dire.

As Pu’s friend and colleague, I should have made vigorous appeals and condemned the authorities for their political persecution after he was detained by Beijing police on cooked-up charges. But seeing as his family members and defense lawyer wished to do things more quietly, I of course ought to respect this. Therefore, after writing a short legal brief on the case I have since kept silent and waited.

Personally, I think that the present defense lawyer’s decision to handle the case in a circumspect manner, wait to see how things developed after the detention period came to an end, and how that the case would turn for the better after 4 June is all understandable and can be considered a rather sound defense strategy. (Of course, there are also those who consider this strategy to be overly conservative.)

Now, the detention period has already come to an end. The other suspects have all been released leaving only Lawyer Pu still in custody. (Presumably, a request for arrest approval has already been sent to the procuratorate.) Given the earlier focus of the police on Pu and their intensive investigation, one can see that the authorities have already decided to punish Lawyer Pu. This initial outcome ought to show that the original low-key, non-political strategy did not have a beneficial effect. Of course, we should not condemn the original defense strategy from a position of clear hindsight. But based on the new developments in the case, it is undoubtedly necessary to make adjustments to the original defense strategy.

Some worry that a determined and resolute defense will lead the authorities to retaliate against a suspect. I think that this depends on the circumstances of each case. When a suspect has misbehaved (or is even guilty) or has a poor public image, if the defense lawyer provokes the authorities or stirs up public opinion, it’s entirely possible that it might result in in a heavy sentence for his or her client. (The Li XX case is perhaps an example of this.) But if the suspect is innocent and has a good public image, then a determined and resolute defense can force the authorities to consider the negative consequences and pull back to a certain degree.

We must take note that the exercise of institutional power is rarely individual in nature. In this sort of political case, a low-key and restrained defense attorney is unlikely to move the system to act with kindness or mercy. After all, power is characterized by a tendency to expand and is only likely to stop expanding or pull back in the face of sufficient resistance.

As to the substantive issues in the case, Lawyer Pu merely attended a seminar in a private residence and Beijing police placed him under criminal detention for creating a serious disturbance. This kind of charge is clearly preposterous. With respect to procedure, the Beijing police have flagrantly deprived Pu’s defense lawyer of his right to meed with his client. Clearly, Pu’s detention and the charges against him are legal persecution from beginning to end. At this point, if we continue with a restrained defense strategy, the authorities will be happy to see this persecution through to the end. But if a defense lawyer were to expose the authorities’ persecution publicly and attract the broader attention of public opinion, the authorities might pull back a bit. We should realize that, based on human nature, the more that people can deceive the public, the more daring those people become in persecuting the innocent. When they are in the glare of the public eye, however, those persecutors will feel a certain amount of apprehension and cowardice.

For example, in Zhejiang Wu Ying was given the death sentence in the trial of first instance. After her father went around campaigning on her behalf and wider attention was paid by public opinion, she was rescued from danger and was able to escape with her life. But in Hunan, Zeng Chengjie was sentenced to death on the same charge and his defense attorney adopted a restrained defense strategy in hopes that he would be spared; in the end, though, Zeng was executed.

In reality, the case against Pu Zhiqiang has from the beginning been retaliation for all of Pu’s previous actions in the public interest. What his family and defense lawyers most need to consider now, therefore, is how to prevent the authorities from retaliating against Pu and not worrying whether a strong defense might lead the authorities to retaliate. This is because the authorities’ decision whether or not to punish Pu will be primarily based on what Pu has done prior to being detained, not on what Pu’s defense lawyer does after Pu was arrested.

These are all my personal opinions, and perhaps I am mistaken or my strategy is inappropriate. But I hope that everyone will believe that my intentions are good.

9 June 2014

31 May 2014

Tang Jitian Recounts Torture and Detention in Heilongjiang

The following is an account by human rights lawyer Tang Jitian [唐吉田], one of four lawyers detained earlier this year while investigating illegal detentions in a "legal education center" in Heilongjiang. It was originally published by Boxun on April 13, 2014, and has been translated into English by a group of anonymous translators.

For additional documents related to this case, see these earlier posts.

As Long as Torture Persists,
It Will Be Difficult to Eliminate Injustice:
Sixteen Unforgettable Days and Nights in the Hands
of the Jiansanjiang Police

Tang Jitian
April 13, 2014

At around 8:00 A.M. on March 21, 2014, the families of two clients came to the Jiansanjiang Gelinhaotai Hotel seeking Lawyers Wang Cheng [王成] and Zhang Junjie’s [张俊杰] help in preparing documents to submit to the People’s Procuratorate for the Jiansanjiang Agribusiness Base [建三江农垦检察院]. I was sharing a room with Jiang Tianyong [江天勇] and I’d woken up and was taking some medicine when suddenly some people began violently smashing and kicking in the door. In the blink of an eye, they’d kicked the door open; the anti-burglary chain was no use against such a frenzied assault. I instinctively jumped out of bed, and Jiang Tianyong was also quickly out of bed as well. Six or seven people entered the room and surrounded us, demanding that we pack up our things. Seeing that they weren’t in uniform we asked them what they were doing. One of them menacingly said that they were the police. Since they claimed to be police, they would have to have a basis for barging in and have to follow procedures, so Jiang and I demanded that they show their identification. One older and thick-set one took out his ID and flashed it before our eyes. I couldn’t catch the name on it, but Jiang said that one’s name was Zhai [翟].  

We hastily crammed our things into our luggage and were immediately led downstairs by these unidentified men while they held our hands behind our backs. The man holding me swore incessantly on our way down the stairs, saying that it had been such a pain since we arrived that they hadn’t been able to go off duty as usual.

A lot of cars were parked outside the hotel entrance, and there were nearly twenty police officers. Two female relatives [of our clients] had already been put in a car. Zhang Junjie, Jiang Tianyong, and Wang Cheng were detained in different cars and our luggage was stored separately in a minivan. There were some four or five out-of-uniform policemen in my car. Some were being called the “Li Team” [李队], two of them sandwiched me in on both sides. Our car drove to the entrance of a police bureau, stopped briefly, then drove straight to Outer Jiansanjiang Street. We first passed a highway toll station, drove on the highway a bit, then turned again onto a regular road. Thirty minutes later, we entered the compound of the Daxing Branch Police Bureau [大兴公安分局] (DXPB).

They held me in an interrogation room at the DXPB, the innermost room on the ground floor. I was watched by two auxiliary police officers. After a while I saw two non-uniformed persons take our luggage to an empty room. One of them, who said his name was Liu, came over with a camera and made me take my belongings out of my suitcase and put them on the floor, where he took pictures of them. After he was done, they made me re-pack the suitcase and put it in a corner of the room. After that, the two auxiliary officers took me to an interrogation room close to the entrance. Before I left I saw that Zhang Junjie and Wang Cheng were also each being ordered into the other room to have pictures taken of their belongings.

These people strapped me down to an iron chair in the interrogation room. Some seven or eight non-uniformed individuals made their appearance in the room at various times, in addition to the auxiliary police officers keeping watch over me. Amongst them were Yu Wenbo [于文波], Yao Wujun [姚武君], Chen Qi [陈奇], and a Mr. Bai [白某] and a Mr. Xu [徐某] (he may have been from the Legal Division and I later learned that his badge number was 151505). They referred to themselves as being from the Li Bureau [李局] or the Li Team.

Mr. Bai and an auxiliary officer (badge number XJ1060) interrogated me. I demanded to see Mr. Bai’s work ID and said that the interrogation ought to be conducted by two full police officers. I said that I should be informed of my procedural rights, and that the entire process should be audio- and video-recorded. Mr. Bai became livid when he heard this. He didn’t just berate me, he smacked me on the face and hit me with a still full bottle of water. I felt lightheaded and two of my front teeth were knocked out. Yu Wenbo and others joined Mr. Bai, hitting the back of my head, my neck and elsewhere, railing at me all the while.

They said that I had, incredibly, still dared to take on Falun Gong cases despite the State having designated them as an “evil cult,” that I probably did not know the power of a dictatorship, and was I going to overthrow the Communist Party or what? I argued with them that the law did not prohibit me from defending victims and that even people like Lin Biao [林彪], Jiang Qing [江青], and their lot had people to conduct a defence. As for the so-called State designation [of Falun Gong as an “evil cult”], there has been no de jure determination [i.e. by the State Bureau for Religious Affairs], and, moreover, there are hardly any other countries in the world that still criminalize what people think!

They also said that the brainwashing classes are places where the State helps detainees, that they spend a lot of money on them every year, and that some of people actually take their relatives there for treatment and that those who have undergone conversion are all deeply grateful to the State. I retorted, asking whether the State has a right to lock people up without having them first detained and tried, and why is it necessary for the State to waste money seizing and detaining people if the families of those being converted, and the converted themselves, are so perfectly happy to be detained?

For the rest of the morning, Mr. Bai and the others were essentially unable to find any further arguments; every so often they’d to threaten or intimidate me, and they also said that I must be wrong in the head to give up on more lucrative and less risky work. During the interrogation, I asked them to consider whether these claims of Falun Gong being an “evil cult” or a “criminal group” didn’t smack of someone shifting blame to cover their own malfeasance.

They took turns eating lunch at midday. I’d had no food since that morning save a bit of water.

In the afternoon, Mr. Bai, Yu Wenbo, and the others returned to the interrogation room one after the other. They continued to try to force me to admit that we had instigated the people to go to the Qinglongshan Brainwashing Class [青龙山洗脑班] [to protest the detention of relatives], and they asked about the minimal [“hardship”] fee we received for taking on the representation in these cases. I didn’t cooperate and emphasized again that I refused to sign a statement as long as they did not provide identification, failed to notify me of my procedural rights, did not have two full police officers question me, did not audio-and video-record the entire interrogation and continued to engage in other illegal conduct, or if the statement did not reflect my actual meaning. When the auxiliary officer gave me a copy of the statement he had typed up I immediately saw that it contained several omissions; most importantly they had left out what I had said to defend and explain myself. I made it clear that I would not sign that statement. At that, Mr. Bai and the others flew into a rage out of humiliation [that I wouldn’t do what they were telling me to do]. They had my hands cuffed behind my back and a black hood placed tightly over my head. Under instruction from Yu Wenbo and the rest, they led me stumbling out of the room and down the stairs out of the building and, following a circuitous route, made me walk to another room. My sense is that it must have been some secret torture chamber of the DXPB. After entering that room, they used rope to suspend me in the air from from the handcuffs, and then, as though I were an elevator, my entire body was pulled up, my feet left the ground, my buttocks jutted out behind, and my head stretched out like a duck.

Once they had hung me up, Yu Wenbo and the others began cursing and beating me. I had no way to see whether they hit me with their fists or some other instruments, and could just perceive the wallops on my chest. Someone also kicked my legs, and my back and buttocks were slammed into the wall behind me multiple times. They beat me for more than ten minutes, until my head was buzzing. I was covered in sweat and in excruciating pain. Someone said that they would bury me and have my kidneys taken out alive, or have me torn to pieces by dogs like Zhang Chengze [张成泽]. Someone else slandered me saying that my real aim in doing this was to make money; that they weren’t convinced I had only taken a 10,000 yuan fee [for expenditures], and threatened that they would impose a fine of at least 100,000 yuan, which would leave me destitute. I was near collapsing after this non-stop verbal and physical abuse, and having missed two meals. Eventually, under duress, I agreed to have a proper chat with them.

When they heard that I was willing to cooperate they did not immediately take me down. Instead they threatened me further before finally loosening the ropes and letting me down. I was led stumbling back to the interrogation room. They only took off my hood after they had sat me in an iron chair, but they left my hands cuffed behind my back. Mr. Bai and the others continued to ask me questions. At that point I was already finding it difficult to maintain the same stance I had taken in the morning, but answered them selectively, trying as best I could not to give answers that would implicate anyone else. I still defended and explained myself when I felt that their questions went too far; this won me further beatings with the water bottle. They hit me in the face, in the back of the head and in my neck. Twice, Yu Wenbo and the rest poured water down my neck, it went down all the way to my lower back. It was so cold that it made me shiver! Not only this, but they also threatened me that they would send me, too, to the Qinglongshan Brainwashing Class for forcible conversion!

At 5:30 P.M., I was forced to sign a transcript of the interrogation. Before ending the interrogation, Mr. Bai said that I could do things the easy way or the hard way, meaning that nothing good could come from not cooperating. Some of them added that previously the Falun Gong practitioners [in Jiansanjiang] had been intimidated by them [the police], but that since we’d arrived they [the Falun Gong practitioners] had become emboldened and would argue with them and assert their rights. Judging by their tone, every one of these policemen felt deep hatred for us.

After the interrogation was concluded, this gang of officers cuffed my hands behind my back like before and took me to the DXPB’s room for on-duty officers, where some auxiliary police and full police guarded me. At around 10 P.M. the auxiliary police gave me two extremely tiny and foul-tasting pieces of bread to eat, the only food I’d had that whole day. Even while I ate they did not take off the handcuffs; they merely moved my cuffed hands from the back to the front. All night they came over and debated with me, especially Mr. Xu, who wanted me to accept the official designation [of Falun Gong] as an “evil cult.” They could not understand why I would give up opportunities to make big money in order to do jobs that paid so little and brought so much risk. As my body was aching and I was fatigued I only gave brief and concise answers: The law can only judge a person’s actions [ed. not their thoughts]; modern, advanced countries do not define crimes of belonging to an “evil cult”; and as long as a Chinese citizen’s rights have been infringed and they seek to entrust me with their representation, and it is possible for me to do so, I am willing to provide whatever help I can. Due to my bad physical state, the fact that people were smoking in the room and that they kept debating with me, I was only able to sleep for a few brief moments. In the second part of the night the auxiliary police officer who had taken the transcription [that I’d signed earlier] came over and asked for my family’s contact information. I guessed that this was because they were going to formally arrest and criminally charge me.

Who says that the human rights situation in China is five times better than in the United States? These techniques that extort confessions under torture are perhaps 5,000 times more brutal than those used in the US! After the torture, I was forced to sign the inaccurate transcripts and also forced as well to sign a document relinquishing my representation of my [Falun Gong] clients who had been persecuted and were being subjected to illegal detention, as well as a document waiving my right to press charges against those who had subjected me to illegal detention and torture.

*     *     *

The Heilongjiang Agricultural Corps Legal Education Base [黑龙江农垦总局法制教育基地] (i.e. the Qinglongshan Brainwashing Class, located in the Qinglongshan Farm [青龙山农场] managed by the Jiansanjiang Farming Management Bureau [建三江农垦管理局]) referenced above is actually a base for illegal detentions. It is perfectly legal for me to take on cases of illegal detention at the request of victims or their families, to deal with the authorities and press charges. The Heilongjiang Agricultural Corps Legal Education Base and its staff have, for many years, arbitrarily detained citizens like Shi Mengchang [石孟昌], Yu Songjiang [于松江], and Jiang Xinbo [蒋欣波], who adhered to their faith, without any legal procedures or going through any legal process or paperwork. This deprivation of personal freedom might last as little as several months or as long as several years, and is a violation of Article 238 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, constituting the crime of illegal detention. The Legal Education Base is in fact itself the very embodiment of criminal activity. By contrast, for Zhang Junjie to act as a [licensed] lawyer, and Jiang Tianyong, Wang Cheng, and me to legally represent these victims or their relatives as citizens [ed. i.e. lawyers whose formal licenses have been revoked] and to assist them in bringing criminal charges against persons who had illegally detained them, is entirely lawful conduct supported by law and fully completed formalities.

*     *     *

On the afternoon of March 20, I responded to a request from a relative of Shi Mengwen [石孟文] and went to the Heilongjiang Farming Corps Legal Education Base (more commonly known as the Qinglongshan Brainwashing Class), which is the located at the rear of the compound of  Jiansanjiang Agricultural Corps Qixing Farm Public Security Sub-bureau [七星农场公安分局]. I was to discuss the matter of Shi Mengwen’s arbitrary detention with those in charge of the Legal Education Base, and learn more about where he was being detained. Jiang Tianyong, Wang Cheng, Zhang Junjie, and some relatives [of the detained] were with me. Some other citizens whom I didn’t know later gathered around to watch what was happening.

We stood outside the Brainwashing Class’s entrance gate and shouted for Fang Yuechun [房跃春], the man in charge, to emerge and explain why the people there were being detained. He turned, went inside the room, and slammed the door shut, and didn’t come out again. After a while, a middle aged woman wearing a beige woolen jacket came out leading a woman wearing a blue jacket. One of us recognized them as Tao Hua [陶华] leading Han Shujuan [韩淑娟] (Shi Mengchang’s wife). We asked Tao Hua why they were detaining people without the slightest formalities. Tao didn’t say anything, she just smiled contemptuously and led Han back into the room.

Seeing that our attempt to negotiate was fruitless, everybody stormed inside [the compound] and shouted. We demanded that Fang and Tao stop breaking the law and immediately release the detainees, and we called for victims like Shi Menchang, Han Shujuan, and Jiang Xinbo to be released and returned home as soon as possible. Gradually, the sky darkened and the wind began to pick up. Some of us were cold so we rode back to Jiansanjiang by car, feeling that we had clearly expressed our demands. A number of cars followed us, and one, with the license plate DV3748 trailed us, sometimes overtaking us on the road.

Once we felt that we had put enough of a distance between us and the cars following us on the streets of Jiansanjiang, we went to a restaurant to have some rice porridge. After we’d eaten, we went to the Green Tree Inn for a rest, so as to facilitate making headway in the submission of a follow-up complaint to the Jiansanjiang Agricultural Corps Procuratorate [to recommend that they] press charges, while the families of the victims went to their respective homes. That evening Jiang Tianyong and I took room 8265, and Wang Cheng and Zhang Junjie took room 8269. Zhang needed a computer to prepare a complaint statement to be submitted to the Procuratorate but the hotel’s computer did not work well, so Zhang said that he would draft the complaint at one of the victim’s relatives’ homes the next day. The four of us had a brief chat and then went our separate ways to get some rest. It was about 10 P.M. by that point. I sent the hotel’s address and my room number to a friend.

*     *     *

The next day after these events, March 21, I was abducted by the Jiansanjiang police at 8 A.M. and tortured into giving a “confession.”

*     *     *

On the morning of the 22th, the auxiliary police who were watching me and officer Lu left to eat, but no one mentioned anything about breakfast for me. Yu Wenbo and some others came in a while after 8 A.M. and directed the auxiliary officer[s] to put my coat over my head. They walked me toward the interrogation room. I was taken into a car when we got there, squeezed between two auxiliary police officers. I felt that Jiang, Wang, and Zhang were in the same situation, just not in a single car. After a while, the car started and we left the DXPB. I could tell that we went through a toll booth on the highway during our trip. From what they were saying, I could tell that we were first going to Qixing Clinic [七星诊所], which is how I knew that it was to undergo a pre-detention physical examination.

We arrived at Qixing Clinic. I was given an echocardiogram and some other tests, all with my head covered. I plodded up and down the stairs, and could hear from the voices that the other three were doing the same. I was hauled off to another place after the exam was completed. I had no choice but to say that I would cooperate, so that they would uncover my head. I saw the sign for Jiansanjiang Hospital [建三江医院] and realised that I also had to undergo tests there. Yu Wenbo asked Wang Cheng whether he would cooperate, and Wang Cheng also  had no choice but to say that he would, and the cloth covering his head was removed too. I had my chest x-rayed again at Jiansanjiang Hospital. When it was done, the police escorted me to the car and we crossed Lianxin Bridge [连心桥], went past some farmland, and arrived at the Jiansanjiang Agribusiness Public Security Bureau Qixing Detention Center [七星拘留所].

When I entered the lobby, I saw that Wang Cheng had already arrived. After a while, Zhang Junjie and then Jiang Tianyong were also brought in. The officers told us to stand separately and did not allow us to talk. I glanced around and saw that Zhang Junjie's suit had been ripped open and knew that he had definitely been beaten. During the moments that the officers weren't paying attention, I signalled to Jiang that there was something wrong with my upper chest. Jiang indicated that there was something wrong with his front as well, and I knew that he had been beaten quite a bit. As for Wang Cheng, there wasn’t even any need to ask, it was clearly pretty much the same for him. I mumbled softly to myself, saying that the Jiansanjiang police were rogues. When Jiang spoke with the Detention Center duty staff, they said that he couldn’t possibly take on these cases as he had such a kindly face. Before long, the police again dragged me to the Jiansanjiang Hospital for a CT scan. I knew it was because I have tuberculosis. After it was over, I was again dragged back to Qixing Detention Center, where Jiang and the others were still standing in the lobby.

Once I'd returned, the policeman who'd taken us in began asking us to sign the paperwork and it was clear that everyone was going to be formally placed under detention; we just didn’t know how many days we'd be detained for, but I gathered it'd be at least five days based on some signals from him. I was called into the innermost room on the first floor of the Detention Center to sign [an administrative penalty decision]. A colleague of Mr. Bai and that terrible officer gave me the penalty decision, and I read that they'd written that it was for so-called disturbing the social order, with 15 days detention and a fine of 1000 yuan. As I signed my name, I asked to make a statement and plead my case and requested to have a hearing as well. It was after I went near the Detention Center's front desk that I learnt that Zhang Junjie was being detained for five days, and Jiang and Wang for 15 days each. As my paperwork was about to be processed, Mr. Bai and that guy whose name might have been Li called me back to the room where I had signed [the penalty decision]. They were extremely irate that I had asked to make a statement, plead my case, and have a hearing and they threatened to torture me like they had in the DXPB. At the time there were probably 5 or 6 police there and I was under extreme pressure and my hand was forced, I could only sign it and waive all of my rights.

*     *     *

Before I was brought into the Detention Center, police officers with badge numbers 151427 and 153556 had participated in the entire detention process, as had auxiliary officers XJ1713, [XJ]1717, [XJ]1726, [XJ]1727, [XJ]1056, [XJ]1068, [XJ]1087, and XG153102.

For the Detention Center intake procedure, my belt and shoes were removed, and the money in my wallet was placed in storage. The Detention Center said that they charged an administrative fee of 635 yuan. I asked what was the basis for the charge, and they said it was per the Agribusiness General Office regulations. I said that I wanted to wait to have them issue a receipt, and they said that when the time came, I could ask for one and see whether they'd give me one. After we were done, an auxiliary officer led me to the second floor. As they searched me in the restroom, the head of the Detention Center, Han Kui [韩奎], saw that I was injured and asked the auxiliary officer to get Bai Guoqiang [白国强], the person on duty, to come over and take photos. We waited for a good while and Bai Guoqiang still didn’t arrive, then the auxiliary officer reporting came up to tell Han that someone was asking for him downstairs. Han asked him to watch me and went downstairs. When Han returned again, he avoided any mention of having my photo taken and took me directly to Cell 4, where I was to stay. I understood that the department handling the case had pressured the Detention Center [into not documenting my injuries]!

*     *     *

Cell 4 was about a dozen square metres and there were two surveillance cameras above the door and window so that the only blind spot was at the toilet. There was a film sprayed on the window, which faced south, so that we couldn't see out and it was only through a small ventilation hole above the door that we could look around, but there wasn't anything remarkable to see in the compound yard other than the snowbanks. The big group bed nailed together from wooden planks had numbers 1–8 written on it, meaning that this room could hold 8 people, and someone said that when it was crowded, 10 or more could be squeezed in. There were some plastic boxes beneath the bed that could hold a few personal items. There was a TV on the wall above the steel door that was probably for discipline lessons. The two people already in the cell had already gotten a heads-up from the Detention Center asking them to keep an eye on me; later they would learn that I wasn’t necessarily the agitator that the officials saw me as, let alone a Falungong-er.

I finally got some warm food at 5 P.M. on the 22nd: two tiny steamed buns and a bowl of cabbage soup so thin I could see the bottom of the bowl. I heard that I would only get another at noon. This was all included in the 635 yuan management fee. Fortunately, I had bought some pickled vegetables, water, and other things before I went in, so I could get by eating that. I don’t know why but I had diarrhea several times that night, maybe it was caused by the rolls I’d had at the DXPB.

There wasn’t much to do once we were done eating in the Detention Center. They would either have us sit cross-legged on the beds or stand in a line on the floor. Sometimes they would speak to those being disciplined over the intercom. This Detention Center was newly built a few years prior, and was not set up for women. It’s said that women who are administratively arrested are all sent to Raohe [County, Shuangyashan, Heilongjiang]. Most of the people here are in for brawling, driving without a license, gambling or prostitution. Besides the four of us , I learned that a relative of Shi Mengwen was also being held there, also for 15 days. The so-called rules and regulations posted on the wall of the Detention Center were all about supporting the central leadership and socialist system, with lots of rules for detainees. There wasn’t any reliable procedure or guarantees about appeals or reconsiderations posted at all, let alone anything about visitation or communication [with those outside] rights. Inside these high walls it was still duties first, rights second.

*     *     *

They would play the song “The Waves Still Sound Like They Used To” [涛声依旧] to hurry everyone out of bed at 6 A.M. every morning. Our blankets needed to be folded with clean corners and edges, and then we’d wash our faces and wait for breakfast to be served at 7 A.M. After breakfast, we’d sit cross-legged on the beds listening to all kinds of sermons from the loudspeaker, and at noon we could rest for a while, but we usually weren’t permitted to spread the quilts [to air]. (They stank, having been used by a lot of people.) It was a bit easier to pass the time in the afternoon. Besides “The Waves Still Sound Like They Used To,” they would play a drug company’s ad jingle as well, probably “The Myth of Love” [爱的神话]. The police would sometimes come in and search for contraband—cigarettes, lighters and the like.

Three more people arrived in the cell during the day of the 22nd and the night of the 23rd. The one that arrived at night left almost as soon as he had lay down, possibly because his family came and said that he had a serious heart condition. Yet another entered on the 24th, and from that point on we never had fewer than three people in the cell.

It was quite hard for me to lie down or get up inside the cell. A sharp pain would shoot out from my chest when I sneezed or coughed. Someone saw that I was in pain and asked why, but he understood when he saw the swelling and bruises on my chest. In the monitoring room, I lifted up my shirt in front of the Detention Center director and the duty officer to show the plump Detention Center doctor, but they said that they couldn’t treat it because it had to be resolved by the unit handling the case.

I heard someone at the main gate shouting on the afternoon of the 23rd, saying that that Director Liu (Guofeng) [刘国峰] had agreed to meet with us. It sounded like Xiang Li [向莉] and the others. I was happy, but also a little uneasy about the additional trouble I’d caused these dear friends of mine. I felt sorry for making them camp out there in the open and put themselves in danger. Some of my cellmates opened our ventilation window and stood on the windowsill looking out. They asked me what was going on. I said that our friends wanted to see us. Someone worried that this would make things worse for us. I said that since this was their right, there was no reason not to fight for it.

On the 24th, Mr. Bai and that guy from the Li Bureau (the Li Team) who had been amongst those beating me came with an auxiliary police officer (badge number XJ1066) to the Detention Center to have me sign once more the document where I agree not to make a statement, plead my case, and hold a hearing, saying that the earlier version had been improperly formatted. Outside the window, the shouting of our names and the demands to meet with us rose again and again. Someone went to open the ventilation window to take a look, but they were stopped by the control room. The Detention Center sent some workers to seal the ventilation window and turned on the loudspeakers from time to time to shut out the noise. Sometimes the sound could be heard coming in through the door gaps, and I knew our friends had gone around to the rear wall.

We would still hear sounds from them coming from outside on the 25th. It seemed that our friends were calling for us day and night.

On the 26th, someone who had gone out to take a driving test returned and said the police had told him that if our friends [campaigning for our release] outside would not stop, then they would either be detained, or be dealt with in a criminal way. Hearing this I felt concerned for the friends outside, so much so that I woke up several times during the night and was unable to get back to sleep.

In the early morning of the 27th, the alarm lights went off in the courtyard and one could hear a cell door being opened. From the tone of the voice they must have been taking Zhang Junjie out. I reckoned that they did not want to let our friends outside see him and were going to take him directly to Jiamusi or to Harbin [ed. both large cities in Heilongjiang Province] and release him. Anyway, one of us being released early could only be helpful in terms of allowing our friends to learn the truth; but because of the tight watch I had no way of getting a word to him.

Zhu Baowen [朱宝文], Chen Qi, and Mr. Xu came with a female auxiliary police officer (badge number XJ0046) on the 28th to write up statements in the technical room. They questioned who had mobilized people to defend the rights of the victims of Jiansanjiang, liaised with their families, and so on. They said that since the State had determined the nature [of Falun Gong] there was no need [for us] to take risks in representing them; that in handling other cases we could make more money, and that we should give more consideration to our families.

On the 29th, they did an inspection of my personal effects in the office on the ground floor. They had confiscated two mobile phones – a Lenovo and an Apple – and three flash drives. I found that a volume of Interviews with the Dalai Lama [达赖喇嘛访谈] was no longer there, which they said was at the police bureau. The officers overseeing this process were Yu Wenbo, Yao Wujun et al, and it was witnessed by the Detention Center staff Zhao Jun [赵君] (f). There was also someone taking pictures. Someone also suggested taking away the authorization letters the victims’ relatives had given me, but this was rejected. (Yet when I was released on April 6, the authorization letters had disappeared as well.)

On the 30th, Yu Wenbo and a Mr. Wu interrogated me in the easternmost room about what was on the flash drives. They focused on whether I had circumvented the Great Firewall and whether I had accessed any website like Minghui [a Falun Gong website].

On the 31st, Yu Wenbo again came with Mr. Li, who claimed to have been a soldier in Dunhua, Jilin Province, to threaten me: they would find another place to give me a taste [of abuse] if I didn’t give them the passwords for my mobile phones. They made me stand and I felt that they could lash out at me at any time. I endured this for a while but, being under duress, gave the passwords to them in the end.

On the 1st, Yu and Mr Li came to ask me about my contact with [the Legal Education Center victims’] relatives as well as the “Teacher Liu” from Jiamusi whom I had met while handling these cases. They said that they had already got hold of her and demanded that I identify her.

On the 2nd, they focused on asking me about my relationship with Teacher Liu. They asked whether she had been the one to mobilize people for the Qinglongshan action, whether she had been to Qinglongshan, and whether she had shouted Falun Gong slogans. This time they produced more photos and demanded that I identify her.

On the 3rd, Mr. Wu and another, thin, police officer demanded that I acknowledge my punishment. There was also another person who recorded this on video.

On the 4th, Messrs. Yu and Wu took a statement from me on the second floor. They focused  mainly on the human rights lawyers group, the mutual support fund for lawyers, our interaction with diplomats, and related issues. They said that if I did not tell the truth regarding Teacher Liu, I would have to stay a couple of days longer [in detention]. During these two days they started asking questions about Hu Xingdou [胡星斗], Xiang Li, Gao Fei [高飞], and others, and I became quite worried that there might be a reckoning for them later. They also asked whether I knew that my former wife had wanted to come to the Detention Center. Early that afternoon I had a rough shave and, later on, a quick shower.

On the 5th, Yu and Wu asked some additional questions about my [attempts to] travel abroad. They compelled me to write [and sign] a statement acknowledging my punishment, pledges to not file a lawsuit and to not take on Falun Gong rights defence cases in future, and a statement of repentance. If I did not agree to write these, they said that they might lock me up again and not let me go, the same way they had done back in 2009 and 2011. 

That same afternoon, Han Kui, Bai Guoqiang (badge number 152806), and the plump detention center doctor took me to Jiansanjiang for a chest x-ray. Jiang [Tianyong] and Wang [Cheng] must have gone too; on the way I saw that the Detention Center was heavily guarded with sentries on both sides and that there were even checkpoints at the highway entrance.

No one involved in handling my case had provided their first or family names during the procedure of taking statements and examining personal effects and so forth, other than Yao Wuzheng, who showed his work ID card.

The the plump detention center doctor gave me four doses of medication for my chest between the 2nd and the 4th. (The final dose was administered in front of Yu Wenbo and some others.) It felt as though it must have been a Yunnan Baoyao Aerosol. Having received this treatment, my external injuries were practically no longer visible.

Due to pressure from officials, my cellmates blamed being unable to  receive visitors or mail or to receive items sent by their families on our friends calling [for our release] outside. I tried to explain things, but there were still some [of my cellmates] who went on about how no matter how much trouble Falun Gong made they would never be able to overturn the Communist Party, and hadn’t even Chiang Kai-shek’s eight million men been annihilated [by the CPC], and that I should just make a bit more money and forget the rest, and just who would care if I were tortured left, right, and center till I was through?

Although I was not allowed to speak to her, I was eventually able to take the medication that Xiang Li had managed to deliver through her persistent effort, starting from the 25th.

While I was in detention, I did not see a single friend or acquaintance apart from briefly seeing Jiang Tianyong while I was being given my medicine, when I quickly told him how my injuries were faring.

On the morning of the 6th, I walked north out the gate [of the Detention Center] along with another cellmate whose release date had also come. We commented that the snowbanks had finally all left us and melted, so we, too, were meant to leave.

Jiang Tianyong had been released before me, and so I went downstairs to collect my belongings. I found out that I had not been given a receipt for the Dalai Lama book that had been confiscated for being an illegal publication. Mr. Wu and Mr. Xu participated [in the return of our things], along with a police officer with the badge number 024141, and there was another one who made a video recording of the process. Two special forces police carrying loaded weapons watching the three of us [Jiang, Wang, and Tang] during the process. I ate a bowl of noodles, an egg, and two steamed buns. Wang Cheng may have had a lot on his mind, because he didn’t feel like eating, so I shared his food with Jiang. We went to the front desk to fill out our exit forms, and, before the punishment decision and receipt for the fine had been finalized, the Detention Center told us we were not to say that our physical injuries had been caused by ill-treatment at the center. 

After completing the paperwork, Jiang was the first to be taken away by car. I was the next to be taken away, in a black Audi A6L with the plate number R3850. Three policeman were in the car with me as we headed toward Jiamusi. (Someone videotaped our leaving the Detention Center and getting into the car.) On the way we ran into a police road block. It was only when they whispered in the ear (of the police) that they were handling some petitioners’ case that they were able to pass through quickly.

As we travelled, they initially agreed with me that I could take the morning flight back to Beijing. Then they changed their minds and said I should either take the train back or return to my hometown in Jilin [Province]. I said that I had to quickly get back [to Beijing] so I could go to the doctor for my illness, and that it was not suitable for me to return to my hometown because I had divorced four years prior. After some further discussion they agreed that I could take the afternoon flight back to Beijing. At first they wanted to wait to see me onto the plane, but then they allowed me to make my own way after receiving an urgent phone call, so we separated at the Jiamusi train station. I entered a shop to check the time then, and saw it was already past 11 A.M.

After regaining my freedom, I tried calling Xiang Li and Jiang Tianyong, but neither answered. No one answered at Wang Yu’s [王宇] number either. It was so hard to get through to any of my friends to connect with people. That afternoon, before leaving Jiamusi, I was relieved to learn that Chen Jian'gang [陈建刚] and Wang Yu had already regained their freedom.

At 6 P.M. I met up with some friends who had arrived to greet me at Terminal 1 [of Beijing Capital International Airport]. I was extremely happy and somewhat wistful to see these friends I had longed for for so long.

*     *     * 

After I was released from Qixing Detention Center in Jiansanjiang on April 6, I underwent health examinations at three renowned hospitals in Beijing. The results of my examinations after 17 days of torture were as follows:

  • 10 fractured ribs;
  • worsened pulmonary shadowing;
  • spinal tuberculosis;
  • damaged teeth from the beating;
  • bruising on the chest, legs

*     *     * 

In these 16 days, the authorities tried incessantly to link us to the so-called “evil cult.” Their efforts to [bring up charges] such as fraud and gathering of a crowd to disrupt public order were not so subtle. They also focused a lot on the human rights lawyers group, trying to label it an illegal organization. If it weren’t for our friends’ advocacy, which they undertook despite the risks, we might not have been released according to schedule. I feel sorry whenever I think about it. Law in particular has not taken root in the Great Northern Wilderness. In a place as insulated as Jiansanjiang, human rights are a novel concept to most police officers, who follow their superiors unquestioningly. Although we also suffered a bit, we were much luckier in comparison to the sufferings endured by our clients and their families.

The authorities’ on-going crackdown on members of a certain sect [ed. referring to Falun Gong] has been expanded to target other groups as well over the past 15 years. What is clear is that in the process of democratization in mainland China there have been systematic human rights violations against religious and ethnic groups, particularly since 1999.

I feel that one can never underestimate the malevolence of some people within the government, but one also must not overestimate the strength of the people. The overall impact of our friends’ advocacy was quite good, but it pains me to see so many people beaten, detained, or disappeared.
I hope that our friends who were detained, beaten, or disappeared are in good health. When the chance presents itself, I will express my gratitude in person to everyone who came to rescue [us]. I shall never forget their profound compassion and friendship.    

*     *     *

As long as torture persists, it will be difficult eliminate injustice. I want to give a serious warning to Jiansanjiang police who take pleasure in torture that if they do not step back from the brink, they may one day taste the bitterness of their own fruit! If police officers are themselves tortured or forcibly disappeared, I would consider defending or representing them myself or contact others to do so, even if these officers have harmed me before.

These 16 days, though short, were a major trial in my life. I will continue to focus on human rights issues during my recuperation, especially the rights of every one of my colleagues who struggle for human rights on the frontlines. Let us strive together and make sure the light of freedom shines soon on every corner in China!

28 March 2014

Zhang Junjie's Account, Part Three

Part One Part Two

As I went downstairs to the first-floor interrogation room, it was nearly 2:30 a.m. I saw documents on the table with the names Jiang Tianyong and Tang Jitian on them and inferred that the three other lawyers had already signed statements. After making several changes to the statement that they had prepared—and enduring threats and recrimination—I finally signed my name. It was 5 a.m. exactly.

At around 9 a.m., we were hooded and each taken into a vehicle. After a bumpy ride, when I realized our destination was a hospital it was clear to me that we were going to be detained. After receiving medical checks—hooded—at two hospitals, we were separated and placed in different vehicles. In my vehicle, besides the driver, there were the two men who had beaten me. On the way, they received a telephone call. The other party asked how long each of us were detained for. They said since I had documentation and this was my first time, I’d be detained for five days, which led me to conclude that the other three would be in for longer. But the first real proof that Tang and Jiang had been detained for 15 days came only after we saw the detention documentation.

Since the paperwork was not yet finished when we arrived at the detention center just before 10:30, we were forced to sit there until 2 p.m. before we could be taken into the cell. In the meantime, I demanded my lawyer license several times (my bag and ID card had already been returned to me), to no avail.

It’s worth noting that, on the detention notice they had me sign, they had written “gambling” in the space for the illegal activity and the document number read “Shanghai PSB No. **” (Later, they had me sign another.) You can see what a rush they’d been in. I don’t know whether the other lawyers noticed this.

Speaking objectively, I at least was not beaten after entering the detention center. But I was taken for questioning nearly every day, and they kept asking questions about things that were already in the statement. Maybe it was because I kept asking for my lawyer license, but, one after another, people kept threatening me with suspension of my license and criminal detention. Because they kept asking me who the plotters and organizers were, I had a strong sense of foreboding. I insisted that I had been asked whether I would take on a case of illegal detention and that I came voluntarily. I’m an adult and a lawyer. Those are the facts!!

On the evening of the 26th, Jiansanjiang Domestic Security Police Unit Captain Liu Changhe came with Yu Wenbo to the detention center. They asked me: “How do you plan to go from here? Do you need a police escort?” I told them clearly that I didn’t. Later, I learned that my assistant had been requested to submit an application asking for police escort. Since I’d always been stern and he was wise to them, he politely refused saying that he did not dare make such a request without my approval.

But at 3:50 a.m., I was awoken and, after completing the release formalities and itemizing my possessions (at this moment, my lawyer license miraculously reappeared inside my locked suitcase), I was told to get in a waiting SUV with civilian license plates. The idea was that we’d pick up my assistant along the way and go directly to Jiamusi. But I insisted on first going to the hotel to shower and change my clothes.

After showering, we changed vehicles and were met by a local lawyer surnamed Wang who it was said had volunteered to escort me. Altogether, the six of us proceeded to Jiamusi airport. At the airport, I requested a souvenir photo with Captain Liu Changhe and ate a meal with the special-unit police officers there to take care of me. Then, they escorted me through the security check and onto the plane.

On the way, I had a stern discussion with Yu Wenbo about the violent beating. He perfunctorily expressed regret (but did not apologize) and left. Captain Liu gave a more positive response and made an apology.

Finally, thanks to colleagues and citizen friends for their support and for watching over us. The weibo from Zhang Lei, one of the hunger-striking lawyers on the front lines, can serve as a fitting conclusion to what I want to say. That is the post entitled “The Importance of Lawyers Rescuing Each Other.” For the actual details, please follow @青石律师 on Weibo, he’ll tell you all: You are not alone!! (tears)(tears)

Because of my physical injuries and the fact that I’ve been furious for the past few days, there might be some lapses in my memory. Please allow me to fill in the details later.

Zhang Junjie's Account, Part Two

Part One

Wang Cheng woke me the next day at 7:37 a.m. and told me to hurry up and prepare my complaint so that we could all go to the procuratorate together. I went groggily into the bathroom to start washing up, when I heard sounds of a tussle outside. Before I could open the bathroom door, it burst open and several men in plain clothes and two men wearing para-police uniforms dragged me out of the bathroom and told me to grab my bag and go with them. As I got my things together, I demanded that they show me their identification and protested their use of force. After they rudely refused, they forced me into an elevator and, grabbing me by the neck, shoved me into a white vehicle with no police markings. Shortly thereafter, Wang Cheng was also brought into the same vehicle as me. He was shouting: “I’m a lawyer! I’m handling a case! You’re kidnapping me!” At the time, there were a number of onlookers.

We were taken to an office block with a sign designating it as Daxing Branch PSB. The whole way, Wang Cheng and I were explaining that we were lawyers engaged in proper professional activities, but we were both ignored. In truth, it was very clear to me that we were faced with para-police officers with no law-enforcement powers, and their lack of legal understanding meant that they were in no position to respond to our questions. About a half-hour later, Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong were brought in as well. Past 9 a.m., still no one had shown us any identification or explained why we had been summoned, but we were ordered one-by-one to open up our bags for a search and photograph and video. Our mobile phones had of course already been snatched from us in the car, which meant that we could only protest and had no way to call for help to the outside or call the 110 police hotline.

At about 10 a.m., my questioning commenced and my misfortunes began. As a para-police officer made a big show of giving me fierce looks and berating me, I again demanded that he and the middle-aged man sitting next to him show me their identification. The man said, “You want identification, do you?” I nodded, and he instructed the para-police officer, “Go get Yu Wenbo.” Yu Wenbo came in and asked, “You want identification?” I said, “Yes.” He then said, “Let’s go! I’ll show you identification upstairs.” Then, flanked by the two of them, I was taken from the interrogation room upstairs to a meeting room on the second floor.

As Yu made a show of looking for his identification, the guy behind me (maybe surnamed Li, I’m not sure) closed the door. Before I had a chance to react, Yu smacked me around the head seven or eight times. The next thing I knew, he was hitting me in the head with a big half-full bottle of spring water. Desperate, I shouted: “I’m being beaten by a police! I’m being beaten by a guobao! I’m being beaten by Yu Wenbo!” Then the man behind me got in the action. The two of them knocked me down and kicked and beat me for at least three minutes. Under their blows, I could only protect my head and keep shouting. By the time someone heard and came in, I couldn’t sit up and the slightest movement caused unbearable pain in my lower back.

I knew that my back was injured, and at the time I didn’t even have the strength to lift my head to look at the guy who came in—the guy they said understood the law. I knew that he couldn’t really do the right thing on my behalf, and in this sense he did not disappoint. He merely said a few words and left. Unable to contain my fury, I spoke the most severe words of my life, saying: “Yu Wenbo, you better kill me if you have the balls. Otherwise, I won’t cooperate and you can forget about a statement. Then, if I’m not dead, I’ll press charges against you until my dying day!”

He seemed unperturbed by this threat and said, “Just wait. In a moment, we’ll put you under criminal detention, then you’ll be shot.” Etc., etc. Then, he called in a para-police officer surnamed Ma to watch me and left me there.

At noon, I asked to eat lunch and was told: “None of us have eaten and you expect to eat?” In the evening, I asked to eat dinner and was told: “We haven’t prepared anything for you.” Up until nearly 1 a.m. the next day (22 March), someone surnamed Yao came to say I could have a bowl of instant noodles, but in severe pain and having not had anything to eat or drink all day, I had no appetite.

Faced with hard and soft pressure, plus the fact that I was in unbearable pain, I reluctantly agreed to go submit to questioning. But I clearly told them that I would not sign any statement that violated my conscience or ran contrary to the facts, and I would not cater to their needs.

Part Three