On November 3, Xu Wanping, a renowned democracy supporter and human rights activist from Chongqing, China, was secretly tried at the Chongqing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, under the charge of “subversion of state power.” Xu Wanping's wife, Chen Xianying, tried to attend the court hearing, but was forced to stay outside the courtroom.
After the trial, Xu Wanping's defense lawyer, Liu Yang, director of the Chongqing Fenghuang law firm, told Chen Xianying that he had argued on behalf of his client's innocence and that he and Xu Wanping had worked together very well. The lawyer said that the judge had not yet made a ruling on the case, and refused to disclose any further details.
Mr. Zhen Ning, a famous human rights activist from Guiyang, told the reporter that many friends were concerned about Xu's case. His friends in Guiyang had originally planned to travel to Chongqing to attend his hearing. Even if they were not permitted in the courthouse, they could have at least put pressure on the Chongqing authorities. But they were not able to make it because they only received the news late in the evening of the day before the trial.
A Possible Heavy Sentence
Zheng Ning said that the charge against Xu Wanping was “subversion of state power” and not the usual “instigation of subversion of state power.” The charge against Xu is quite serious.
Zheng said, “'subversion of state power' is more serious than 'instigation of subversion of state power,' among the so-called national security offenses. The latter offense is usually given a sentence of less than 5 years, but the former can result in a sentence of over 10 years, or even life, in prison.”
Therefore, he suspects that the Chongqing authorities, under the manipulation of high-level authorities in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), may sentence Xu Wanping to over 10 years in prison. He is appealing to the international society and people from all walks of life to watch this case and to put unceasing pressure on the CCP, by urging them to rescind the charge.
“National Secrets” Are Crimes of the Authorities
Before this incident, Chen Xianying retained the renowned, Beijing human rights attorney Mr. Gao Zhisheng and his assistant as his defense lawyers; but the authorities rejected this appointment. They prevented the lawyer from visiting Xu with the excuse that the case involved “national secrets”. They also used the same excuse to prevent family members from attending the hearing.
Zheng Ning stated that the so-called “national secrets” are in fact some of the internal policies the high level CCP authorities use to put dissidents on trial. These internal documents, materials, and policies cannot be revealed to the public, and therefore the authorities call them “national secrets.”
Zheng said that international society and the media should denounce these policies. Such denouncement and support would greatly help all persecuted dissidents.
Authorities' “Black Box” Operations Conceal the Truth
The inspection department and court have refused to give a copy of Xu Wanping's charges to his family and have even denied Chen Xianying's request to read the documents. Therefore, Xu Wanping's relatives, friends, and the outside world still do not know the details of his “crime” and how the documents “involve national secrets.”
Zheng Ning held that refusal to provide the defendant's family with the indictment is exceptional. This act not only violates the legitimate rights of the defendant but also shows the authorities' fear.
Zheng said that the entire case has been a “black box” operation from start to finish. The CCP authorities have obviously done everything possible to conceal the truth, with the intent of preventing the public from understanding Xu Wanping's persecution and blocking support from the international media. They want to terrify other dissidents by making an example of Xu's case.
He pointed out that pressure on the CCP authorities from the international society, key international figures, and media outside of China, have helped to improve the situations of other dissidents in China. Without pressure from international society, China's human rights will only get worse.