An official responsible for judicial oversight in a southern Chinese city has recently been sacked, the latest high-ranking official to be ousted under Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign.
Liu Shuguang, former Chinese Communist Party Secretary at Shaoguan Intermediate People’s Court and its former president, has been placed under investigation on charges of “violating Party discipline and laws,” the Guangdong provincial branch of the Party’s anti-corruption agency announced on May 31. The turn-of-phrase is an oft-used euphemism for corruption.
Liu had a nearly two-decade stint in the judicial system in Shaoguan and Qingyuan cities of the coastal Guangdong Province. He retired in 2016 at the age of 61.
The brief statement by the Commission for Disciplinary Inspection did not go into detail about the misdeeds that Liu had committed.
Human Rights Abuses
According to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website dedicated to documenting first-hand accounts of the persecution of the banned spiritual practice Falun Gong, Liu was directly involved in human rights crimes.
Falun Gong, introduced in 1992, is a spiritual discipline that combines gentle, meditative exercises and moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. By 1999, it had garnered a following of up to 100 million, according to state estimates at the time. The Chinese Communist Party then saw it as a threat to its rule, and in July 1999, then-Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide persecution, rounding up adherents and throwing them into detention facilities and prisons, where they are often tortured in an effort to coerce them into giving up their faith.
Liu had carried out his role in the persecution since 1999 through the judicial system. While he oversaw the intermediate court, as well as lower courts, Falun Gong practitioners were given harsh prison sentences for adhering to their faith, according to Minghui accounts.
At least eight practitioners were handed sentences of up to eight years under Liu’s watch, according to Minghui records.
In 2005, then-Guangdong Gov. Huang Huahua deemed Shaoguan City a key region to implement the persecution, a policy that Liu “ardently followed through,” according to Minghui.
In one example, the lawyer representing two Falun Gong practitioners at the Qujiang District Court in Shaoguan was not allowed to speak in court in defense of his clients, nor was he allowed to submit his written statement. The lawyer was eventually escorted out of the court by four security officers.
Under Liu’s jurisdiction, Liang Huizhen, a mother of two, was arrested at least five times during 2001 and 2005 and spent five years in prison, according to a 2012 Minghui report.
Huang also established a local branch of the 610 Office, a Gestapo-like police force created expressly for carrying out the suppression of Falun Gong.
Huang has been named by the U.S.-based nonprofit World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) as a perpetrator of human rights abuses.
Calling for an End
At least 94 practitioners in Guangdong Province, and 4,313 in total, has died due to the persecution, according to Minghui records. The website noted, however, that the true numbers are likely much higher, as information from China has to filter through a labyrinth of coverup and censorship from the Chinese communist regime—making it difficult to gauge the true scope of the persecution.
Many U.S. officials and international organizations have since called for an end to the human rights abuses and for the totalitarian regime to recognize the religious freedom of its citizens.
“We are now two decades in. And the extent, the level, the volume, the types of persecution—its horrific. It should shake us all to our core,” said Tina Mufford, deputy director of research and policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in a recent interview with Epoch Media Group affiliate NTD.
“The international committee can’t ignore what’s happening,” said Nadine Maenza, a commissioner at the same organization, an independent federal body that advises the U.S. government and Congress on religious freedom issues.