Activists Decry Chief Justice Comments on Activists

In an annual report during the recently concluded annual session of the National People’s Congress, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang proclaimed that the jailing of rights lawyers and activists, notably Zhou Shifeng and Hu Shigen, was one of the court’s major achievements of the year. From the South China Morning Post:

The prosecutions of Zhou and , another rights activist, were also among the Supreme People’s Procuratorate’s most prominent achievements last year, according to its report.

The supreme court ranked “safeguarding state security” first among its list of achievements over the past year – even ahead of its fight against terrorism and religious cults.

Zhou, a graduate from Peking University’s law school, was the founder of the prominent Beijing-based Fengrui law firm.

He was sentenced to seven years’ jail on subversion charges last August after a Tianjin court found him guilty of organising protests and sending associates to attend human rights forums overseas. [Source]

Almost 300 and were jailed over the summer of 2015 in what became known as the “709” or “Black Friday” crackdown. Many have since been released; some were first paraded on television giving scripted “confessions.” Four have been sentenced on charges of subversion, including Zhou Shifeng and Hu Shigen. Several of those detained have offered accounts of torture and other mistreatment in detention. Official media have declared reports from lawyer Xie Yang about his torture in prison “fake news,” while officials have further penalized Xie:

Rights activists have responded to ’s comments by pointing out that the defendants’ legal rights were often violated. From VOA:

“The rhetoric in which they are saying that the crackdown of [human rights] activists is an achievement, I think it’s an alarming indication that this is going to continue to be a major part of the Chinese government policies in the near future,” said Maya Wang, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong.

Expressing similar worries, Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group also said in a press release that China’s national security is so vaguely-defined that it is often used as a tool to suppress dissents and deprive them of their legal rights.

The group also called the top judge’s vision of enhancing oversight on lawsuit procedures and safeguarding the legal rights of defendants “fat lies” because the government has yet to admit its law-violating behavior in its legal actions against rights lawyers. [Source]