On Tuesday, rights defense lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and other activists who attended a seminar on the Tiananmen protests were detained by Beijing police. Actress Zhang Ziyi responded to Pu’s detention through cinematic allusion on Weibo, and other netizens have followed suit.
Three rights defense lawyers have also taken this moment to reflect on rule of law in China. Their comments are not explicitly about Pu Zhiqiang, but were all posted the day after Pu was detained.
The first weibo comes from Guangdong-based lawyer Xu Tianming:
徐天明律师: Don’t think you can stall the people’s demand for political reform by arresting a few corrupt officials. Don’t think you can fool the people out of their Democracy Dream with a superficial Chinese Dream. Don’t think that you can safeguard authoritarianism’s little patch of earth by carrying out repressive stability maintenance and mass arrests. Don’t think that you can cover up the true nature of totalitarianism by saying over and over that the government works diligently for the people. In this Internet Age, the people are their own masters. Above the people, there is no civilizing deity, and there’s certainly no savior. [Chinese Source]
Although FreeWeibo does not indicate that his post has been deleted or censored, the FreeWeibo link to the original post returns a “page not found” message on Weibo itself.
Chen Guangwu, defense attorney to activist Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong’s pen name), quotes military scholar Zhao Chu [Chinese] (Zhao’s May 6 post appears to have been removed):
陈光武律师: Zhao Chu–“Citizens freely assembling to commemorate a national tragedy of great historical importance—this is not causing a disturbance. This is the highest expression of patriotism, a display of independent character and free will. Suppressing this activity is a counter-intuitive, anti-Chinese crime that humiliates the the people and violates civil rights. It is a serious provocation of the vast number of Chinese people.”
【赵楚】“公民自由聚会，纪念包含重大历史意义的民族悲剧，这不是寻衅滋事。这是爱国主义精神的祟高表现，是展现独立人格、自由意志的行为。压制这样的行为是摧残民气、侵害民权、违背良知的反华罪行，是对广大中国人民的严重挑衅。” [Chinese Source]
From Guangdong, lawyer Deng Shulin shares a story from Taiwan’s authoritarian past. On December 10, 1979, Taiwan’s first commemoration of Human Rights Day was thwarted by the authorities. The incident and subsequent trial of the Kaohsiung Eight are now viewed as a turning point for political reform in Taiwan:
律师邓树林: In the late 70s in Taiwan, being a lawyer was a dangerous job. You could be arrested at random. However, there were still a good many lawyers who were unafraid of power, who were willing to go to prison in order to stand up and defend people fighting for democracy. The most famous example of is the Kaohsiung Incident. Defense lawyers made this famous statement in court: “Your Honors, today you judge eight defendants in the courtroom. Do not forget, the entire country is also judging you from outside the courtroom. And tomorrow, history will judge you, me, and everyone.”
台湾七十年代末，律师是个高危职业，随意被抓。不过还是有很多律师不畏强权，不怕坐牢，站出来为民主人士辩护。最著名的就是美丽岛事件。律师们的法庭辩护有这样一句话非常著名：“审判官们，你们今天在法庭上审判8名被告，别忘了，全国同胞在外面审判你们。而明天，历史会审判你我大家” [Chinese Source]
Follow news about Pu Zhiqiang on CDT.
Translation by Little Bluegill.