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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More