As we all know now, Xia Lin, a 46-year-old lawyer whose clients have included dissident artist Ai Weiwei and free speech champion Pu Zhiqiang, was sentenced to jail for 12 years — a verdict meant as both payback and warning to China’s human rights lawyers. Legal activist and scholar, Guo Yushan, penned this essay in the lead up to Xia’s sentencing reflecting on the price paid by Xia and his colleagues for work that has been described elsewhere as “all that is hopeful and optimistic about China”.
Guo Yushan and He Zhengjun, detained former members of the influential Beijing Transition Institute (now shuttered), have been released on bail by Chinese authorities. Some analysts see the move as a symbolic concession to US concerns over Beijing’s human rights record. What might their release mean going forward? Radio Free Asia reports.
China must free Guo Yushan and He Zhengjun and restore confidence in their country.
On July 9, more than 100 lawyers in China issued an open letter on the Internet calling for an end to the shuttering of public interest groups and the detention and prosecution of individuals working for the public good.
The Chinese government should withdraw its draft law on foreign organizations, which represents “nothing more than a means to block the activities of groups Beijing doesn’t like,” Human Rights Watch said today in a submission to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee Legislative Affairs Commission.
This terrific commentary deals with Beijing’s crackdown on NGOs and its larger ramifications if the country’s (remaining) civil society groups do not stand together against tremendous pressure to steer clear of a “political red line” that keeps moving to ensure anything, if the authorities wish, can be deemed off-limits.
China Digital Times highlights Chinese writer and activist Zeng Jinyan’s post on Beijing’s crackdown on NGOs and, in particular, the independent think tank, Transition Institute. Even groups that historically have played an important role in China are finding themselves on the wrong side of the security apparatus, says Jinyan. Likewise, the space to negotiate is also closing fast for the country’s rights lawyers, reports CDT.
Chinese writer and activist, Zeng Jinyan, discusses here in this extraordinarily nuanced piece, first published on Chinese social media, the shifting ground affecting domestic “pragmatic” NGOs and the implications for foreign NGOs with partners in China.
Democracies and dictatorships alike are cracking down on NGOs, but for different reasons.
Eighty-six days after being taken from his Bejing home by police on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” Guo Yushan is officially arrested and charged with “operating an illegal business”. Guo’s wife, Pan Haixia, posts her fourth letter to him online in his absence. Pan appears to have gained a sense of renewed fortitude from the endurance of others in similar situations, the support of friends and the online world that permits “people to express in solidarity with others”; an outlet that has also allowed Pan to share these extraordinary letters that will stand the test of time as part of her country’s historical record.
An Open Letter to Procuratorate of Haidian District from senior researchers of the Transition Institute
Former members of the Beijing-based independent think-tank, Transition Institute, in this open letter to the authority charged with deciding whether or not to prosecute TI’s co-founder, Guo Yushan, and He Zhengjun, TI’s former administrative director, challenge the case against them and call for their immediate release. The Transition Institute was shut down last October in a heightened government crackdown on Chinese civil groups.
The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Recommendation for the Indictment of Guo Yushan and He Zhengjun
In its recommendation to indict Transition Institute founder, Guo Yushan, and administrative director, He Zhengjun, for “illegal business operation,” the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said that the Transition Institute wrote research papers and articles and offered lectures at universities on such subjects as China’s tax reform, education rights, and legal reform using funds from domestic and international foundations, including Probe International. The police claim to have uncovered the alleged “illegal” activities while they were investigating Guo Yushan, an economist, for the suspected crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles. “Criminal suspects Guo Yushan and He Zhengjun were captured and brought to justice on October 9, 2014 and November 26, 2014 respectively,” the Public Security Bureau says.
China considers new law aimed at crackdown on foreign NGO operations and funding of activities feared threatening to Communist rule. Probe International, named as one of several international foundations in a recent criminal investigation, told the New York Times: “From our perspective in Canada, it is perplexing that such activities [researching and writing articles and reports, and giving university lectures] would be considered illegal.”
Amid China’s fiercely renewed attack on civil society and free speech advocates, Probe International is one of several international foundations named in a police indictment targeting two leading members of a Beijing-based independent economics and education think tank.
More than fifty days have passed since detained legal activist and scholar, Guo Yushan, was taken from his Beijing home. His wife, Pan Haixia, posts her third letter to him online in his absence.