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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid