South China Morning Post’s Mimi Lau reports allegations of violence outside a prominent political trial in Guangzhou on Friday:
Defence lawyers claimed they were attacked and photographed by unidentified, plain-clothed personnel on Friday morning on their way to court for the start of the trial of prominent Chinese rights lawyer Tang Jingling and two activists charged with inciting subversion of state power.
Security was tight outside the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court after many supporters of Tang and the activists, Yuan Xinting and [Wang] Qingying, turned up for the start of the controversial case.
One of the defence lawyers showed his arm, which was marked with two large scratches, outside the courthouse.
He and other lawyers claimed they were attacked and photographed by the unidentified personnel as they left their hotel to go to the courthouse. [Source]
Human Rights Watch urged the three’s release this week, describing a string of procedural violations including beatings, forced labor, and restrictions of lawyers’ access to their clients and case material.
The government’s overbroad interpretation of what constitutes subversion comes into direct conflict with article 35 of China’s Constitution, which guarantees citizens’ freedom of expression, and international standards on freedom of expression.
[…] According to the indictment, their crimes included “publicly inciting others to participate in non-violent civil disobedience movement.” The indictment characterizes Tang’s, Yuan’s, and Wang’s distribution and discussion with others’ publications on ending dictatorships through peaceful means, as well as publicizing these ideas in gatherings of activists, as evidence for “inciting subversion.” The books distributed include those authored by Gene Sharp, a scholar of nonviolent movements around the world, such as From Dictatorship to Democracy, which the indictment characterizes as containing “serious political mistakes.”
[…] “Reading and debating books is no crime, nor is it a basis for mistreatment, torture, or denying basic rights to a fair trial,” [China director Sophie] Richardson said. “If anyone has made a ‘serious political mistake,’ it’s the authorities who seek to crush peaceful debate about China’s future.” [Source]