A Chinese lawyer successfully defended his right to practice law by going on a hunger strike.
Every year, Chinese lawyers must undergo an evaluation of their political correctness, called “annual assessment,” to have their licenses renewed.
The Wuhan Bar Association suspended Wuhan lawyer Zhang Keke’s annual assessment in May, allegedly in retaliation for his taking on defense cases of Falun Gong practitioners.
Starting June 10, Zhang Keke protested in front of the Bar Association office by going on hunger strike. In a show of support, many mainland Chinese, including lawyers, joined Zhang on June 11, with plans to hold a 100-day hunger strike and prayer relay.
On June 12 the Wuhan Lawyers Association decided to approve Zhang’s annual assessment.
“They passed my assessment at 2 pm,” Zhang told NTD. “The hunger strike has come to an end. I appreciated the support and help from the director of our firm. I am also thankful to the people in society, my colleagues, my media friends, and you. I thank everyone who has helped and supported me either at the scene, through the Internet, through all possible means, including the hunger strike relay.”
Zhang also said that the annual assessment is illegal, but lawyers are forced to accept it. “Without passing the assessment, lawyers face difficulties and restrictions in their work, such as getting documents and [arranging] meetings. Lawyers should not obey this illegal system, but are left with no choice,” he said.
Zhang said he believed that the Bureau of Justice was behind the move by the Wuhan Bar Association to suppress him for taking on Falun Gong cases.
Lawyers for Social Responsibility
250,000 lawyers are facing the annual evaluation this year. Many lawyers and their firms are being retaliated against for taking on sensitive cases by having their annual assessments suspended.
Rights activist Wang Lan told NTD: “What the CCP does to lawyers says that its power is above the law, and it suppresses the law.… This shows the authoritarian rule of the CCP. The lawyers’ spirit of upholding rights ought to be acknowledged. We should definitely support their insistence on [following] the principles of law, morals and justice. Should this authoritarian way continue, every one of us will become a victim.”
In the past two years, many Chinese lawyers have been treated unfairly. Realizing the dangers they are facing, Chinese lawyers have recently jointly formed a mutual assistance group. In addition, law scholar Xu Xin and over 60 lawyers have posted an online appeal to do away with the annual assessment.
Ma Xiaoming, a former Shaanxi TV reporter, told NTD: “More lawyers now dare to stand up and provide legal advice to petitioners. This shows the strength of Chinese lawyers and their increasing awareness of their legal and social responsibility…. ‘The rule of law’ and ‘governing by law’ are only slogans used by the CCP. In fact, it is very hypocritical. There is no legal system in an authoritarian regime.”
With editing by Gisela Sommer.
Watch the original NTD Television video.