News / Asia

Amid Crackdown, Chinese Rights Lawyer Goes on Trial

FILE - Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing, China.
FILE - Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing, China.
William Ide
Prominent Chinese rights activist Xu Zhiyong remained silent in court on Wednesday in protest of charges that his campaigning against corruption and other mainstream issues had disrupted public order. Chinese authorities blocked all discussion of the trial online, deleting posts on social media sites. They also barred journalists from getting near the courtroom.
 
Xu’s lawyer says that during the trial Wednesday he and his client refused to speak in protest of the charges brought against him. The judge recessed the proceedings because of the protest.  VOA was unable to reach Xu’s lawyer for comment but he posted a short message saying that he and his client will continue to maintain their silence during the trial.
 
Outside the courtroom, police kept reporters several blocks away from the facility.
 
Authorities harassed a BBC Beijing correspondent as he delivered a live standup broadcast on the proceedings. CNN’s Beijing correspondent says he was pushed, punched and kicked by Chinese security as he tried to get closer to the courtroom’s entrance.
 
Xu’s trial is one of the biggest hearings in several years for a prominent rights activist. The same court has been used for other sensitive trials in the past, including the now jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.
 
China’s Foreign Ministry says reporters at the scene ignored warnings from police and that authorities were acting in accordance with the law. The ministry says courts have the right to maintain order outside and inside the courtroom.
 
Rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang says that while it is ordinary for courts to maintain order in the courtroom, there was no such regulation - that he was aware of - to bar reporters from freely covering what should be the proceedings of a major trial.
 
Pu says the court really only has the right to maintain order at its doorsteps, but not down the street, adding that the right of reporters to cover the trial should be protected by the principle of freedom of the press.
 
Liu Chunxia, a supporter of Xu Zhiyong, one of China's most prominent rights advocates, is detained by policemen while she gathers with other supporters nearby a court where Xu's trial is being held in Beijing, Jan. 22, 2014.Liu Chunxia, a supporter of Xu Zhiyong, one of China's most prominent rights advocates, is detained by policemen while she gathers with other supporters nearby a court where Xu's trial is being held in Beijing, Jan. 22, 2014.
x
Liu Chunxia, a supporter of Xu Zhiyong, one of China's most prominent rights advocates, is detained by policemen while she gathers with other supporters nearby a court where Xu's trial is being held in Beijing, Jan. 22, 2014.
Liu Chunxia, a supporter of Xu Zhiyong, one of China's most prominent rights advocates, is detained by policemen while she gathers with other supporters nearby a court where Xu's trial is being held in Beijing, Jan. 22, 2014.
Some supporters gathered outside the courtroom and briefly protested before being taken away by police. One supporter told VOA that he did not understand why Xu was being charged for his advocacy.
 
How is it that Xu has disrupted order? the supporter asked. Who has he disrupted? We are society, we are the public, they are the ones who are disrupting order, he says.
 
Xu Zhiyong, a 40 year-old legal scholar and founder of the New Citizens Movement, a grassroots civil society group that seeks to promote rule of law in China, has campaigned for high-ranking officials to publicly disclose their assets.
 
The group was initially encouraged when China’s new leader, Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012, believing he would uphold the rule of law and the constitution. However, over the past year, dozens of group members have been taken into custody as the government cracks down on dissent.
 
At least seven other supporters will face trial this week in Beijing.
 
When asked about the case, a U.S. embassy spokesman said Washington is “deeply concerned” about the trial and prosecution of Xu in what it says is retribution for his public campaign to expose official corruption.
 
The U.S. government is calling for the immediate release of Xu and others, the spokesman said, adding that the prosecution is part of a pattern of arrests and detentions of public interest lawyers, Internet activists, journalists and others in China who peacefully challenge official policy and actions.
 
VOA Mandarin Service’s Fred Wang also contributed to this report

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ChasL from: Seattle
February 10, 2014 6:08 PM
As a tax payer who's funding VOA, I'd like like to ask you to cover our own persecuted rights lawyers. If you don't have a clue, google who Lynne Stewart is

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
January 22, 2014 1:42 PM
Seems it's time for him to go to NY university to study. Lol
In Response

by: David from: China
January 22, 2014 7:22 PM
What is wrong with wanting to replace corrupt officials with officials that would abide by the Law that they uphold? If you have good rulers, your people will proper as a whole. Come on China, change for the better, slow but sure:)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs