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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid