Reporting on the shuttering of a Beijing-based legal assistance group, Gongmeng (Open Constitution Initiative), this China Daily article, written by Zhu Zhe and Cui Xiaohuo, shows clear sympathy to the case by highlighting lawyer Xu Zhiyong’s quote:
More than a dozen officials of Beijing’s civil affairs bureau, which oversees civil groups in the capital, visited the center’s office in west Beijing on Friday morning and ordered it to shut down. The officials, carrying a legal closure notice, seized some files and computers, too, the center said.
The move comes two days after the Beijing tax authorities sent a formal notice to the center, imposing a hefty fine of 1.42 million yuan ($207,847) for having evaded taxes on funds received from overseas.
Xu Zhiyong, the center’s legal representative and an outspoken lawyer, said: “The bureau has no legal right to order a closure The research center has always been a division of the company that is registered with the authorities. There is no legal proof to show our group has not been registered properly.”
Beijing’s civil affairs and taxation bureaus, and the municipal office of the State taxation administration refused to provide information on the center on Friday.
Also, the following video clips document the above story, and also show some of the Gongmeng lawyers being interviewed by foreign and Hong Kong reporters, from Boxun.com:
The $208,000 penalty might mean nothing to many companies. But for us, it is cruel and evil. It’s not just a punishment against us, it is punishing the children poisoned by milk powder, the kids of migrant workers, the property owners bullied by developers, and those petitioners who tirelessly demand justice… it is a punishment against thousands of the disadvantaged who are the most needy for help. This punishment is utterly devoid of conscience.
Read more about the recent crackdown on China’s human rights lawyers via CDT.