In The Words of Chinese Human Rights Lawyers

Screenshot of Gao Zhisheng in the 2012 documentary, “Transcending Fear: The Story of Gao Zhisheng.”

Screenshot of Gao Zhisheng in the 2012 documentary, “Transcending Fear: The Story of Gao Zhisheng.”

Since the persecution started in 1999, many of China’s leading human rights lawyers have courageously defended Falun Gong adherents despite Party directives banning such action. These attorneys have defended practitioners in court, presenting detailed arguments as to their innocence and the broader need to observe the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. In response, they have faced harassment, monitoring, disbarment, and even detention or torture at the hands of Chinese authorities.

The following is a small collection of comments made by the lawyers themselves regarding Falun Gong as reported by overseas Chinese media and human rights groups.

Mr. Gao Zhisheng, a prominent Chinese lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, wrote the following in December 2005. Gao was disbarred and has been detained and tortured several times for his work. He disappeared in 2017 while under house arrest and has not been seen since (The Epoch Times).

“Almost every woman’s genitals and breasts or every man’s genitals have been sexually assaulted during the persecution in a most vulgar fashion. Almost all who have been persecuted, be they male or female, were first stripped naked before any torture.

No language or words could describe or re-create our government’s vulgarity and immorality in this respect. Who with a warm body could afford to stay silent when faced with such truths?”

Mr. Wu Shaoping, 2021 (NTDTV):

“No matter what excuse the Chinese Communist Party uses to arrest Falun Gong practitioners, it is illegal. It has no legal basis whether it’s in China or internationally.”

Screenshot of Chinese rights lawyer, Mr, Wu Shaoping, in a 2021 interview with NTDTV

Mr. Jiang Tianyong (Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Freedom of Religion or Belief: The Untold Stories, 2023):

“In their [police officers’] eyes, Falun Gong practitioners are not human beings…They aren’t allowed any opportunity to defend themselves….They don’t have the rights that even murder suspects have. It’s totally unimaginable.”

Jiang Tianyong outside Changsha First Detention Center (credit: China Change)

Mr. Jiang Tianyong, April 2010 (Radio Free Asia):

“[Judges don’t decide Falun Gong cases according to the law], but according to the [secretive] requirements of the 6-10 Office instead. Sometimes they tell us that there are ‘requirements,’ but we are not allowed to see them.

Occasionally they allow us to take a quick glance at them, and [then, we can] see a list of things such as family members not being allowed to attend court trials, lawyers not being allowed to make full defense submissions; and, especially in Falun Gong cases, no mention of the Constitution, law and human rights being allowed in court.”

Jiang Tiangyong was ultimately disbarred for his various efforts to defend justice in China.

Ms. Liu Wei, May 2009:

“The Falun Gong practitioners I met are very nice, very sincere. Through our profession as lawyers, we are striving to push the judiciary to have procedural fairness in court proceedings when dealing with these cases, and to defend [Falun Gong practitioners] adequately in trial. Today Falun Gong is being persecuted, and I speak for them. I speak for Falun Gong today; in fact, I also speak for my own future.”

Mrs. Liu faced disbarment along with fellow lawyer Tang Jitian for defending Falun Gong practitioner Yang Ming and having “disrupted the order of the court and interfered with the regular litigation process.”

Mr. Xie Yanyi, February 2023 (Christian Solidarity Worldwide):

Chinese rights lawyer Mr. Xie Yanyi (credit: Twitter/@okokyea)

Mr. Xie was expelled from a Chinese court on February 17 while defending Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Zhang Suqin. The judge had police summon Mr. Xie to a local police station where they then interrogated him on suspicion of “using a heretical organization to disrupt social order.”

Mr. Xie told Christian Solidarity Worldwide:

“What is most appalling is that, in order to obtain a wrongful conviction, a law court would abuse its power and deprive [the accused] of a defense by making a false report to the police.” He added that such behaviors by judges will lead to “the fundamental destruction of the Chinese criminal justice system and the loss of the dignity of the law.”

Mr. Zhang Kai, May 2009, after he and fellow attorney Li Chunfu were detained when trying to investigate the death of a Falun Gong practitioner in a labor camp. After being taken to a police station, Zhang was hung up by his hands in an iron cage (Human Rights in China).

“This is typical hoodlum behavior. They just wanted to intimidate us and force us to withdraw from the case. They are so frightened; they must be hiding something about this case.”

Mr. Li Subin, May 2009, reflecting on a recent sham trial of a Falun Gong practitioner (New Tang Dynasty TV):

“This is a case of religious belief. He [the judge] seems to have received orders from a higher authority that he can totally disregard the law and openly violate the law during law enforcement. So they want to have an internal trial. We should uphold the client’s rights of defense and also file a complaint against the judge according to corresponding laws and regulations.”

Mr. Li Heping, December 2008 (The Epoch Times):

“Since China’s Constitution stipulates freedom of religious belief, that means anything related to belief, such as dissemination of faith and religious, belief-related activities, I don’t think is illegal.

I hope more people can pay attention to the Falun Gong group. The injustice they face is [of a] large scale, and is a type of very brutal and very cruel injustice and unfairness. For the Chinese people and the world’s people, this is a challenge to the conscience of mankind and a challenge of human nature.”

Mr. Mo Shaoping, November 2008, reflecting on the case of Ms. Liu Jin, a Falun Gong practitioner from Shanghai sent to a prison camp for 3.5 years for downloading information about Falun Gong from the internet (Radio Free Asia):

“She [Liu Jin] downloaded from the internet articles that are good in her judgment and passed them to others to read—[this] caused no harm to society. Liu Jin’s behavior is consistent with provisions of China’s Constitution about the freedom of speech and freedom of belief, provisions of the International Covenant on Civil Rights signed by China, and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Mr. Cheng Hai, in his defense of Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Xu Na. Xu was nonetheless was sent to a prison camp for three years in November 2008 after police found Falun Gong related materials in her car. Her husband, Yu Zhou, 42, who was detained with her, died in custody within weeks of being abducted. (The Epoch Times, Chinese language edition)

“China’s Constitution protects freedom of belief. The core principles promoted in Falun Gong doctrines ‘Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance’ do no harm to society. Falun Gong should be a new form of legal faith, and its believers’ activities should be
protected by law.”

Mr. Wang Yonghang, July 17, 2008, open letter to the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate. In November 2009, Wang was himself sentenced seven years in a prison camp under Article 300 because of his defense of Falun Gong.

“At the end of 2007, in the process of providing legal help to a Falun Gong practitioner, I began to know painfully that this group of people in suffering was deprived of basic legal protection. … I reflected on the legislative and judicial road that China has taken since 1999 when “ruling the nation by law” was added into the Constitution.

The incidents that happened during these 9 years showed that the legal difficulties suffered by the Falun Gong practitioners in the past, would be more or less encountered by other groups in the present day… It can be said that the denial of legal protection endured by the Falun Gong believers has become the true epitome of the legislative and judicial road that China had taken since 1999.

Today I…point in particular to the fact that Falun Gong practitioners are being slapped with criminal sentences and punishment, [and I will] make a comprehensive analysis of the wrong application of Paragraph 1 of the Penal Code [Article] 300 [to Falun Gong]. I insist in doing so because it affects not only the basic rights of survival and living for tens of thousands of practitioners and their family, it also concerns the most basic respect and upholding of the existing laws by the judicial power.”