【 China Change 】  时间: 7/9/2018              

709 Crackdown Three Years on: Keynote Address on the Second China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day, July 8, 2018, New York City

作者: Terence Halliday

July 9, 2018

 

 

HALLIDAY GAVE THE CHINA HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD FOR GAO ZHISHENG TO GAO’S WIFE.

 

 

 

Again and again, across history and across regions, lawyers stand in the vanguard of change. In Britain in the 1600s, in France in the 1700s, in Germany in the 1800s, in India and Brazil in the 1970s, in Egypt and Pakistan in the 1990s, in Zambia and Kenya, and, not least in South Korea and Taiwan over the last generation, and in many other places.

 

 

 

 

 

In the last days of June 2015 I spent many hours in coffee shops and hotels and restaurants and offices with many of China’s notable rights lawyers.

 

Wang Yu (王宇) and I discussed the extraordinary nationwide attack on her reputation.

 

Yu Wensheng (余文生) described his unbearable torture in the hands of the security apparatus.

 

Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) talked about the emotional pain of being separated from his family and having no permanent place to live.

 

Li Heping (李和平) imagined a society where compassion and justice and religious freedom were embraced by all leaders and citizens.

 

In those last days of June, 3 years ago, what was their state of mind?

 

They all knew that clouds were gathering.

 

They all had suffered in the past and they knew they might suffer in the future.

 

They all had hope that signs of deepening repression in the near future would be temporary. They all looked in the far future to a new New China which respected human rights, protected basic legal freedoms, allowed for an open political society and the rule of law.

 

Yet, none expected how quickly a great storm was about to break over their heads.

 

On 9 July, 2015, exactly three years ago, a massive storm swept them all away. It began with Wang Yu’s disappearance in the middle of the night. It spread rapidly over hours and days and weeks and swept away more than 300 rights lawyers and activists across all of mainland China.

 

Today we remember the 709 crackdown. But we do more than remember. This is not an historical incident that is fading in our memories.

 

It is not a monument to the past, only to be recorded in history books.

 

This Second Day for China Human Rights Lawyers’ shows that the 709 Crackdown is present in this moment. It reveals to China’s citizens, to lawyers across the world, to rights activists and the defenders of minorities, to international organizations, to states that still champion global standards of liberal constitutional orders, that a mighty struggle continues.

 

The end is not near. Indeed, the struggle deepens inside China and across the world.

 

And so today, we must ask: What does the 709 Crackdown and its shockwaves tell the world about China and its rulers? What have we learned about China’s rights lawyers and the struggle for freedoms? What of the future?

 

I. What Does the 709 Crackdown Tell Us About China and Its Rulers? 

What does it tell the world about the real China, not the propaganda China, not the mythical China, not the face of China that the Party likes to show the world, but the actual China, the empirical China, the China that free scholars and free media and free international observers report without censorship?

 

The world is waking up.

 

The world is waking up to the dark side, the cruelty, the brutality of China’s rulers, and we can see these in the way it treats rights lawyers.

 

This is:

 

A China where a single person, such as Wang Yu, is humiliated nation-wide in the state-controlled media

 

A China where brutalized lawyers are forced to make public confessions and mouth wooden words far removed from the values they expressed in my research on China’s defense lawyers

 

A China where authorities arbitrarily replace a lawyer’s chosen counsel with a government-friendly substitute.

 

A China that has expanded its repertoire of torture, intensifying and reinforcing the ways it seeks to break the ideals, the minds, even the bodies of rights lawyers

 

A China where lawyers are disappeared for weeks, months, years in so-called “designated residential surveillance” sites so they are completely removed from families, lawyers, observers, and exposed to extreme psychological and physical pressure, some of it medieval in its primitive methods.

 

A China where lawyers are subjected to new tortures, not least being forcibly injected with excruciatingly painful disorienting drugs to alter their minds and leave scars for the short-term or long-term or the rest of their lives.

 

A China where brothers are compelled to pressure brothers, or children are used against their parents, or parents are pressed to change the minds of their children, or where wives are refused access, even knowledge, about their husbands.

 

A China that has ratcheted up the charges and sentences for detained lawyers.

 

A China where secret trials have become a new norm for lawyers who most implausibly have betrayed “state secrets.”

 

The world is waking up to the recognition that China is a country that runs on the fuel of fear.

 

China’s leaders fear their own people.

 

When we view China through the eyes of its criminal defense and rights lawyers, we see a fragile China. Across China enormous grievances accumulate for hundreds of millions of Chinese. Pollution, property-takings, religious persecution, suppression of minorities, forced abortions, magnifying inequality, exploited labor, rampant corruption, unjust treatment by police, tainted food.

 

China’s leaders are afraid:

 

— civil society

 

— of Uyghurs

 

— of Muslims

 

— of workers

 

— of Tibetan Buddhists

 

— of unofficial Christian Protestant churches

 

— of women

 

— of unofficial Roman Catholic churches

 

— of Hong Kong’s fight to preserve its legal freedoms and open civil society

 

— and of Taiwan – a country which shows that ethnic Chinese, that inheritors of the Confucian tradition, that non-Han indigenous peoples together can build an open political society that adheres to global norms crafted in part by a pre-revolutionary China,

 

— of foreigners who care about the dignity and freedom of China’s people

 

The 709 crackdown has cast a long shadow. The world now sees it is one notable move against lawyers as part of many other “againsts.”

 

The world is waking up to the recognition that China is a deviant state.

 

It deviates from global standards on arbitrary arrest and detention, on torture, on disappearances, on fair trials, on an independent judiciary, on access to lawyers, on freedom of speech and association and religion.

 

The world has woken up to an awareness that this mighty nation, a nuclear power, a state flexing its military muscle, and an economic and geopolitical giant, nevertheless is afraid of these few lawyers and the 1000s of other lawyers who share their values.

 

 

 

709 律师节会场,纽约

THE AUDIENCE WATCH A SHORT VIDEO ABOUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS AND LEGAL ACTIVISTS.

 

 

 

II. What Does 709 Tell Us Today About These Rights Lawyers? 

We’ve learned that activist lawyers are now spread across the country. Once they were largely concentrated in Beijing. Today they are everywhere.

 

We’ve learned that the struggle for basic freedoms is now nationwide.

 

In every region ordinary people cried out for justice, for dignity, for their children, for safe food and clear water and pure air, for their property, for their religious beliefs.  And rights lawyers responded.

 

We’ve learned that rights lawyers fight for a core of ideals fundamental to all peoples in our 21st century world. They fight for basic legal freedoms.

 

They demand procedural protections for their clients, such as freedom to choose or meet with a lawyer, protection of clients from coerced confessions

They insist on standards of fairness in court such as seeing and cross-examining evidence.

They want fair trials and neutral judges.

They fight for an open civil society where there is freedom of speech and association, including the ability of lawyers to form bar associations independent of state control.

 

They struggle for freedom of religion and protections for all believers, including the savagely repressed adherents of Falun Gong. They want open exchanges of views and beliefs where citizens are freed from stifling censorship.

 

They fight against the tyranny of a one-party state where all power is concentrated in the hands of supreme rulers. They insist that political power be divided. That the tyrannies of absolute state power be checked by law and other centers of power inside the state and outside of it.

 

We’ve learned that lawyers’ ideals are so strong they will suffer terribly to maintain their ideals. We’ve seen that wives and daughters and sons – including those joining us today – have stood up to cry out for the most basic standards of justice and human decency.

 

And, most important, China’s activist lawyers have shown the world that inside China’s beating heart there is an impulse for justice, for freedoms, for a normal society. It is a society where rulers are not afraid of their own people but welcome their views, where leaders do not fear lawyers but welcome their peaceful respect for a just legality.

 

Inside China’s beating heart there is a tiny minority that gives voice to wrongs and gives vision for the future.

 

III. What of the Future?  

I submit to you that we already know the end of this struggle but we do not know when or how.

 

For 25 years social scientists, legal scholars and historians have investigated the role of lawyers in the creation of open political societies. These are societies where rights are embedded in constitutions and constitutions are implemented in practice.

 

Again and again, across history and across regions, lawyers stand in the vanguard of change. In Britain in the 1600s, in France in the 1700s, in Germany in the 1800s, in India and Brazil in the 1970s, in Egypt and Pakistan in the 1990s, in Zambia and Kenya, and, not least in South Korea and Taiwan over the last generation, and in many other places.

 

Lawyers have fought against absolute monarchs, Big Man regimes, military dictatorships, communist parties, fascist regimes. Lawyers wave the flag of legal rights, civil rights, political rights.

 

Time and again lawyers and their allies – workers, women’s groups, religious believers, the media – have been defeated, and time and again they have fought back from defeat. The struggle is never over, even in countries where lawyers’ ideals have been instituted for decades or centuries.

 

Hope is still alive among China’s activists. Now is a dark hour, a moment when defeat seems possible. The darkness may last a long time, years, decades, longer, but the end is never in doubt. Victories and defeats have already been the experience of China’s lawyer activists. And defeats and victories will continue.

 

Today, the Second Day for China Human Rights Lawyers’ keeps hope alive.

 

This event expresses a solidarity that crosses nationalities, that goes beyond citizenship that binds together persons of every ethnicity and believers from different religions, that crosses continents and knits together peoples and organizations and states in every place.

 

It is not only China’s hope but a universal hope – a hope in human dignity, in human flourishing, in legal freedoms, in an open political society, in a future where all may worship as they choose, where every person may speak the language of her or his childhood, where all may honor the cultural traditions in which they are embedded.

 

This hope is maintained by China’s lawyer activists and sustained by those that stand with them. Today we honor them by standing with them for China and for all peoples who long for freedom and justice.

 

 

 

 

 

Terence Halliday is a research professor at the American Bar Foundation, and co-author of Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work (Cambridge U Press, 2016).

 


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