Two Chinese human rights lawyers who defended Falun Gong practitioners in court have been notified that their licenses will be revoked.
This is the most severe crackdown by the Chinese regime on lawyers who defend practitioners of the spiritual Falun Gong movement since the persecution of renowned human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was initiated.
The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice will be holding a public hearing on April 22 to revoke the licenses of lawyers Tang Jitian and Liu Wei. Six months ago the two lawyers withdrew from a court in protest in Luzhou, a city in Sichuan Province, when the judge deprived them of their legal right to speak in defense of a Falun Gong practitioner.
The notice about the revocations from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice stated that the lawyers had “seriously disturbed court order and interfered with normal legal proceedings,” and that they had “damaged implementation of the law using their professions.” Once a law license is revoked, one can never practice law again in China.
Lawyer Tang told The Epoch Times that there are many other factors involved in the case. He described how the court delayed the hearing without providing a reason, banned people from attending, and then forced them to leave the courtroom while monitoring equipment was installed. “Outside the court, I saw unidentified persons videotaping us and the crowd around me, and I stopped them,” Tang said. Later, back in the courtroom, an illegal security check was conducted, and the lawyers refused to cooperate. Officials used that to make a case that the lawyers were disturbing court order.
Tang said that it is actually a few individuals in the Bureau of Justice who are using threats and intimidation to prevent lawyers from carrying out their legal responsibilities. Any lawyer with a conscience would agree to defend a Falun Gong practitioner, he said, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is making it very difficult for lawyers to make responsible decisions.
“I have told officials in the Bureau of Justice that by taking my license away they are creating hardships for myself and my family, but that will not change what I’m supposed to do as a lawyer. I will continue to fight for the rights of others,” Tang said.
Theresa Chu of Taiwan, a human rights lawyer and director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, Asia, told New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) that the CCP’s persecution of human rights lawyers has violated the United Nation’s basic principles on the role of lawyers and should be sanctioned internationally.
Chu said that the CCP has gone to great lengths to persecute Falun Gong practitioners using its judicial system. It is an unspoken rule that Falun Gong practitioners are not supposed to receive a verdict of “innocent,” and lawyers are forbidden from defending Falun Gong practitioners. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng was brutally persecuted and tortured after standing up for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners, and now other lawyers who do the same are being threatened with loss of their licenses to practice.
Human rights lawyers like Tang Jitian, Liu Wei, Li Heping, and others who have defended Falun Gong practitioners have been facing persecution in a variety of ways. They have not only been faced with loss of their licenses, they have also been placed under surveillance, harassed, and forced to stop practicing law.
“These tragic cases should let the international community realize that what the CCP does in the global community is only propaganda and an act,” Chu said, adding that the governments of other countries should pay attention to how China treats its own people and how it uses the judicial system to persecute innocent people.
Chu said she hopes that NGOs and members of the U.N. Human Rights Committee will no longer remain silent on this issue.
Renowned human rights attorney Guo Guoting told The Epoch Times that any legal issues related to Falun Gong are treated as “sensitive” cases and the outcome will be dictated by the CCP. Proper legal proceedings are not followed, and human rights are routinely violated. In these situations, according to Guo, lawyers often exercise their legal right to withdraw from the court in protest.
Li Subin is representing Tang. He described the case as “very vicious,” noting that only lawyers who have themselves committed crimes and been sentenced are supposed to have their licenses revoked.
Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that is Buddhist in nature. It consists of moral teachings, meditation, and exercises. Falun Gong was practiced publicly in China from its introduction in 1992 until then-President Jiang Zemin issued a ban in 1999 that, according to practitioners, was the start of a brutal campaign of persecution.
According to Falun Gong sources, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been sentenced to prison, hundreds of thousands have been sentenced to re-education-through-labor, and more than 3,000 are confirmed to have died from torture and neglect while in custody. There are untold tens of thousands more whose deaths cannot be confirmed but are believed to have occurred, many through torture, many for a gruesome trade in human organs.
Other defenders of Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted. According to a Voice of America report, defense lawyers Zhang Kai and Li Chunfun were hired to investigate the death of their client’s father, a Falun Gong practitioner who died suddenly while serving a one-year sentence in a labor camp. While visiting their client, they were beaten violently by police, taken to the police station, and beaten and abused even more.
Lawyer Gao Zhisheng is one of China’s most fearless and outspoken defenders of the rights of Falun Gong and other religious minorities. In 2004, shortly after defending a Falun Gong practitioner, his law offices were closed, and he was disbarred. Eventually his human rights work led authorities to detain and severely torture him.
Recently, however, more and more mainland Chinese lawyers are taking on Falun Gong practitioners’ cases. Dr. Zhiyuan Wang, cofounder and chief investigator of the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), said he was heartened by the large number of mainland Chinese lawyers who are defending persecuted Falun Gong practitioners.
At a public event in Washington, D.C., on April 11, Wang also said that the five top communist officials responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong in China have already been prosecuted by the Supreme Court of Spain and a court in Argentina has called for their arrest.
Those officials are former CCP leader Jiang Zemin, Luo Gan, Bo Xilai (communist party boss of Chongqing), Jia Qinglin, and Wu Guanzhong.
“Around the globe, the call to track them down and investigate their crimes is gaining momentum,” Wang said.
On March 16, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 412–1 calling for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China.