Thursday, July 23, 2015

CCP: Who Made Human Rights Lawyers Necessary?

CCP: Who Made Human Rights Lawyers Necessary?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 24, 2015

Executive Summary: In Shakespeare's "Henry VI", a butcher utters the ironic phrase, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." On July 10, the CCP interrogated and arrested large numbers of human rights lawyers. Its action evoked a surreal "let's kill all the lawyers" terror. The motives for its action are hard to tell. But they have clearly undermined the credibility of Xi's "rule of law".

Full Text Below:

In Shakespeare's "Henry VI", a butcher utters the ironic phrase, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." On July 10, the CCP interrogated and arrested large numbers of human rights lawyers. Its action evoked a surreal "let's kill all the lawyers" terror. The motives for its action are hard to tell. But they have clearly undermined the credibility of Xi's "rule of law".

The July 10 roundup of human rights lawyers has alarmed the international community. The timeline was strange. Just nine days before the National People's Congress, the party implemented a constitutional oath system. It assumed a "rule of law" posture. Yet nine days later, it began large-scale police roundups of lawyers. This paradoxical behaviour is leading to speculation about internal dissent over the Mainland's future.

Politically speaking, rounding up the lawyers is like throwing gasoline on the fire. Netizens on the Mainland mocked the action. They said "The authorities are cultivating China's future political leaders", and that "They all have the same name: human rights lawyers." Repression of dissent often creates a succession of public heroes. These heroes lead to "downtrodden masses rising in rebellion".

In a more open society, shysters often lie, whitewash the truth, play word games, and invert right and wrong, just to win cases. They misinterpret evidence, distort the truth, and misinterpret the laws in order to spare criminals from punishment. They care only about profit, and not about justice. But if the government uses authoritarian methods to deal with such lawyers, they may lionize them. They may even give them a new lease on life. Examples include Chen Shui-bian and Roh Tae Woo, both of whom were human rights lawyers turned president.

Human rights lawyers on the Mainland mostly help defend the rights of ordinary citizens in a "rule of law" vacuum. So many people petition the government, one after another, because official abuse of power renders them helpless and in need of legal redress. They need human rights activists because the people's rights have been ignored by the system far too long. Human rights lawyers, paradoxically, are a product of the communist system. Most of them fight only for the right to life, liberty, and property. They work inside the legal framework, dealing with those in power. They seek justice within a system deficient in political rights. They brave all manner of pressure and dangers, using the nation's legal code to fight those in power.

In either a democratic or authoritarian society, the law is the peoples' last line of defense. Lawyers provide legal representation for citizens. Without the freedom to practice law, even distinguished and impartial judges are of no use. People would remain at the mercy of the state, because justice requires an adversarial system. Only by arguing the pros and cons of a case, can justice truly prevail.

The Ministry of Public Security crossed provincial borders north and south. Over 200 human rights lawyers or human rights advocates were interrogated, arrested, or threatened. The public was left fearful and anxious. Some were arrested without charges, then tried and convicted inthe media. Human rights lawyers for the Fengrui Law Firm were accused of "collusion with other petitioners, inciting disorder, and consorting with criminal syndicates."

The crackdown has led to considerable speculation. The crackdown began with female human rights lawyer Wang Yu. Yu assisted parties who sued Jiang Zemin in June. Some think this struck fear in the Jiang faction, launching it into action. In other words, Xi Jinping may not be the instigator of the crackdown. The current climate is unusual. The signs are unusual. They include political czar Zhou Yongkang being sentenced to life imprisonment, the Fourth Plenary Session "rule of law" decisions last year, Xi Jinping's special meeting with Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in June, revisions to the official oath by the Peoples Congress in July, which stipulated that officials must swear allegiance to the constitution, the state, and the people, rather than the party, and the elimination of the term "Chinese characteristics" and the addition of "democracy". These were all important political signals issued by Xi Jinping. But why was Zhou Yongkang left out of this "Zhou Yongkang formula" for arrests?

Clearly, the CCP still does not understand the "rule of law". The majority of the ruling class still worships power and not the law. The arrests were conducted under Xi Jinping's eyes. He did nothing to stop them. Will the CCP address the problems with the legal system? Will it prevent abusive practices that violate people's rights? As long as the people lack confidence and hope, human rights lawyers will continue to practice and gain popular support. No matter how high the walls, the mind yearns for freedom. Those who should be locked in cages, are those who abuse power, not human rights lawyers.











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