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Q&A: Chinese Lawyer Speaks Out on Arrests

Ge Yongxi is a 41-year-old lawyer with Guangdong An Guo Law Firm. Graduated from Anhui University, he has been practicing law and defending Christian pastors and anti-corruption activists for years. Ge went on a hunger strike late last year in protest of a Dongguan court judge, whom he accused of failing to inform him of court sessions, causing his cases to be dismissed. Ge ended up receiving a $4,800 fine after his accusations. Early last month, he was illegally detained along with his three colleagues for days after they were denied access to clients in Qing'an County of Heilongjiang Province, who were involved in a police assault trial.

VOA: You were taken to the local police precinct for questioning Saturday. What happened?

Ge: Around 9pm on Saturday, police came knock on my door and asked if we had a water leakage problem in the house. I knew something was not right and asked if they had a subpoena. The police said no because it wasn't a formal subpoena. Five police officers, including two un-uniformed [officers], entered my house and had a chat with me. They later asked me to continue talks in the nearby police station for another hour until after midnight, when I was escorted home.

VOA: What did the police talk to you about?

Ge: We talked about the fine I was given by the First People's Court in Dongguan City and my earlier detention by Qing'an authorities. Though briefly, the police last urged me not to voice support behind Wang Yu and Zhou Shifeng. They warned and asked me to give up my own beliefs on human rights protection and be a dutiful lawyer by their definition. Or something may happen to me, they said. They added that all eyes will be on me since I am, too, a high-profile figure, who has some influence on others.

VOA: Were you intimidated by their warning?

Ge: We will stand by our vision and faith. As the bible says, 'We walk by faith, not by sight.' For sure, we do not have muscles to flex [against the authorities], so we may have to adjust our [future] strategies. With a firm conviction, we will never give up our ideal. I don't believe this [crackdown] will cool down people's attention to Wang Yu's and Zhou Shifeng's cases. The reason we have voiced our support behind Wang was to promote the rule of law by public security officers, who have not fully abided by the laws in many ways.

Many lawyers are now prepared to take a close look into Wang's and Zhou's cases as well as their unlawful detention. They will find out exactly what charges they face and if there is solid evidence. No one knows for sure what "serious crimes" they have committed as the authorities have accused. Based on my own understanding of Wang Yu, I have never seen her do anything unlawful or keep any dirty secrets.

VOA: What action do you expect the international society to take?

Ge: First, the international society should keep urging the Chinese government to ensure the rule of law and human rights protection especially President Xi Jinping has vowed to promote the rule of law after he came to power. Exactly what law is he referring? Whose law?

Secondly, the [rights] issue should be taken seriously during the upcoming dialogues between China and the US, in particular, ahead of Xi's planned state visit to the U.S. If possible, even economic countermeasures should be taken to urge the Chinese government to take a serious look into the [rights] issues. Otherwise, China can only do harm to its own people as well as world peace and stability.

VOA: Thank you.

Ge: I speak with my true consciousness. Even if that invites trouble, I have no plan of avoiding it.