Chinese Lawyers Protest Police Beatings

May 22, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
During the conference, dozens of lawyers protested the police torture of lawyers in Chongqing City in Southwest China. (The Epoch Times)
During the conference, dozens of lawyers protested the police torture of lawyers in Chongqing City in Southwest China. (The Epoch Times)

Nearly 60 legal experts and lawyers attended a legal forum about protection of Chinese lawyers’ human rights in Beijing on May 17. During the forum, Beijing lawyers Zhang Kai and Li Chunfu narrated their recent experience of being beaten and injured by police.

The forum, “Legal Forum of Lawyers’ Annual Assessment and the Incident of Beating up Licensed Lawyers” drew legal experts and scholars from Beijing, Henan Province, Hangzhou and Nanjing cities, and professors from many law colleges, as many of them had experienced the same violation of their own rights.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, well-known Chinese legal expert Zhang Zan-ning, and Beijing lawyers Li Renbing and Li Xiongbing all pointed out that incidents of lawyers’ being beaten up was not accidental nor isolated. It happens frequently in China. The fundamental reason is the issue of the authoritarian system.

Well-known expert of constitutional politics and Economic law from Beijing, Cao Siyuan, told The Epoch Times that at present, all the problems happening in the bar associations are due to three factors, “the old system cannot keep up with economic development, the country is not really ruled by law, and the lawyers have been used as a ‘tool’ [by the regime].”

In the forum, the participants discussed recent vicious incidents violating lawyers’ human and professional rights. For example, on May 13, two Beijing lawyers Zhang Kai and Li Chunfu were entrusted to handle the death case in the Chongqing labor camp. At night, the two lawyers were beaten up by dozens of police and brought to the police station with their hands handcuffed behind them. They were detained until midnight. Attorney Zhang’s right thumb has lost feeling because of the handcuffs. It is suspected to be due to an injured nerve.

Both Zhang Kai and Li Chunfu, who are still handling the case in Chongqing, spoke at the forum via telephone. They said they were “saddened by the serious setback of the rule of law in China.”

The attendees strongly condemned the brutality by the police. After many attorneys delivered their speeches, dozens of attorneys posed with a banner stating “Solemnly Condemning Chongqing Public Security Torture and Beat Licensed Lawyers.” They also shouted “protest,” “reprimand,” and “lawyers can no longer be beaten.”

According to attendees, this is the first time in history that Chinese lawyers collectively protested the regime’s autocracy.

Zhao said, “Safeguarding citizen’s basic rights is a universal principle. Human rights are above the State’s rights, and further above the regime.”

He continued, “This Forum is significant because it concerns everyone’s legal rights and interests. If the authority abuses the system, anyone of us could be the very next victim and everyone is under the threat.”

He also pointed out that everyone should come forward instead of expecting the authority to correct itself. “We can only rely on ourselves.”

Beijing attorney Li Renping indicated that the police beating lawyers signifies the presence of the Triads (mafia) of the regime. It represented the complete decay of the authority’s credibility and the complete failure of so-called law development through restoring the legal system over the past 30 years. “This is a blatant violation of the authority to civil rights, lawyers’ rights, and human rights.

He said, “The regime signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and signed and ratified both the Basic Principles and Role of Lawyers and Article 37 in the Law to provide adequate protection to attorneys. However, these documents are now simply pieces of paper. Violence rules. This is outrageous!”

Zhang Channing pointed out that the vicious assault of lawyers is no accident. In fact, it happens frequently in China. “Attorneys Li Fangping and Li Heping have both experienced beatings. It was done by the plain-clothes police surreptitiously back then. Now, it is done by the police in uniform and in public, the lawyers were handcuffed. This is a serious violation of China’s laws and the International Conventions of the United Nations.”

He said that the autocratic authority is the fundamental problem of all vicious incidents and the culprit for the deterioration of Chinese lawyers’ practice in China. “Those who are in power are not subject to any restrictions. Their power is beyond the constitution and the law. As long as the fundamental systemic problem exists, the violence continues.”

Falun Gong Defended

Zhang pointed out that in particular, the regime has conducted the suppression of Falun Gong practitioners and their defense lawyers without bounds. Attorney Gao Zhisheng’s suffering from the persecution is known worldwide, and he is still persecuted to this day.

He said, “However, there are many more lawyers assisting and defending Falun Gong practitioners’ innocence and rights. This is not only to safeguard the legal rights of Falun Gong practitioners, but also to protect the legal rights of all people. In fact, we have seen the effect of lawyers’ involvement and their concerted effort to correct the wrongdoings.”

Li Renbing indicated that threat, intimidation, and suppression of lawyers defending Falun Gong practitioners are frequent. The persecution of attorney Gao Zhisheng is the most brutal crime the authority has conducted against lawyers. The violence has strengthened our resistance. Gao Zhisheng’s case is unprecedented and has motivated more lawyers to stand up for human rights.

Li Renbing said, “Constant mass protests have threatened the regime. The awakening of civil society has frightened them. However, since civil society is gradually evolving in China, this period of time no longer allows the regime to keep society in the dark.”

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