Sunday, October 31, 2010
A brave lawyer
Lawyers generally get a poor press - so I am pleased to pay tribute to those Chinese lawyers who, for the past decade, have been the vanguard of the struggle for rule of law in that country. Reading of individuals who risk everything by standing up for the right of ordinary people to be treated with respect and decency (by the forces of authority) always brings tears to my eyes. It's one reason why I admire Criag Murray - whose Murder in Samarkand should be on the required reading list of all soial science students. And I had been appalled by reading of the treatment of the blind lawyer Chen Guagcheng who made so enemies by his taking municipal authorities to court for the way in which they dispossed villagers of their homes to allow the authorities to sell the land for property development. The clear (if slow and reluctant) progress China is making in building rule of law is due to such individuals.
Recently, prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang had a verbal exchange with Dong Yansheng, deputy director of Fengtai Section of Domestic Security Department of Beijing Public Security Bureau, when Pu was detained following the Nobel Peace Prize announcement. The following transcript is taken from Pu Zhiqiang’s tweets describing the incident. Pu Zhiqiang is a lawyer at the Beijing Huayi Law Firm who takes on many civil rights cases. He was a student leader in the 1989 protests and is a close friend of Liu Xiaobo’s. This is an incredibly brave initiative.
Translated by China Digital Times:
On October 10, Dong Yansheng dispatched Wang Yigang, a police officer from Fengtai Section Of Domestic Security Department of Beijing Public Security Bureau, to take me away and detain me. Wang Yigang apologized for his brutality on the spot, but they detained me in Fanjiacun Police Station, and I quarreled until one o’clock in the early morning. I refused to promise not to receive media interviews, and invited People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency and Global Times to interview me about the Nobel Peace Prize Award, so I was lucky to be “triple-accompanied” [Editor’s note: slang for being escorted, in this case under tight police surveillance] for three days in Zhouyang Hotel which is near the Sanhuan New Plaza. Last night I was released and went home, but was still not allowed to turn on my cell phone. Today I came to Yichun city to handle Feng Yongming’s case, under surveillance. Thanks for the care and attention from friends; I will give a more detailed account of what has happened later on.
Deputy Director Dong Yansheng brusquely said, “Liu Xiaobo won that award, what’s the big deal? Look at you Pu Zhiqiang. You jump around all excited, like you are drugged. I tell you, granting the award to Liu Xiaobo is the action of the western anti-China forces’ conspiracy to subvert the Chinese government. And you people receive foreign media interviews, which is assisting the western anti-China forces to subvert the Chinese government!”
I answered Dong Yansheng: “Awarding Liu Xiaobo is the mainstream civilization’s [the world’s] acknowledgment of his peaceful, non-violent efforts. Such good news cannot be hidden or suppressed, and I am excited and send Xiaobo and his wife my best greetings. The Chinese Communist Party needs to learn how to face the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize Award winner is sitting in a dark jail in China. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao don’t know what to do about this, so it’s time to lift the media censorship, pave a way for the whole society to reach a consensus, and move forward. You are acting blindly and this will just further tarnish the image of your party bosses.”
I corrected Dong Yansheng: “You were talking about the anti-China forces’ attempt to subvert the Chinese government, but such nonsense only reflects you’re outdated and shallow, like you are stuck in the 1980s. Your remarks went against the lines marked by Wen Jiabao in his recent speeches and that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. See, only Ma Zhaoxu (MFA spokesman) dared to criticize the Nobel Prize Award Committee for blaspheming against the award; how come such a low official like you dares to make such a blunt speech to create enemies for the Hu administration? I am asking you to show me, where are the anti-China forces from the west?
Dong Yansheng pointed at my nose and said: “You denounce the Chinese Communist Party, so you are making yourself a target for attack by the public security authority. I am now officially informing you, you are subject to my control [管制]. Where I want you to go, you need to go. When I want you to leave, you need to leave!” I started to educate him: “Control [管制] is a criminal punishment and is only decided by a court verdict. You are law illiterate, not even qualified to speak! The government deserves to be vilified, and so long as I am not breaking the law I can use my own devices. But you need to have procedures otherwise you are violating the law.”
Dong Yansheng put a label on me: “ Pu Zhiqiang, you are a f**king traitor and running dog for the western countries. You received foreign media interviews, just like Liu Xiaobo, you are a damn f**king traitor to your motherland!” I asked him: “ Who is a running dog? Who is betraying his country? We both know very well in our hearts. You said I am a traitor, but could you explain to me who sold out the country? Who marked the new boundaries between China and India? Do you know which rank is qualified to sell his country?”
Dong Yansheng laughed and said: “You must have made quite good money, eh? Bought a new house? You’d better move the hell out of my turf, you are driving me mad!” I replied, quite frankly, “Yes, I made good money , bought another house. But when I move, I will pray you are promoted to head the security troop in the district I am about to move into. I will find out which district you are about to be assigned to, and I will definitely buy a house and transfer my residence file to that district. We are familiar with each other, so I will glue myself to you until you have to peel off your dirty police uniform and lose your job!”
Dong Yansheng said:”Tell me how you allied with Liu Xiaobo to conspire to draft Charter 08. Have you changed your attitude?” “You interrogated me on this issue last spring,” I responded. “Today you dragged me here afraid I will receive media interviews. So this topic is irrelevant to your duty today, and I need not answer your questions in this regard. But I tell you, I am just one of the signatories and I didn’t participate in the drafting. I don’t have the research skills or level of theory. You go home and take a good look at the Charter 08, and find out how similar it is to the values that the Chinese Communist Party tried to sell during the 1930s at Yan’an [when the CCP gathered in the Yan’an revolutionary base and prepared themselves to fight the Kuomintang government]. Charter 08 is not reactionary, don’t you understand? ”
I bragged to Dong Yansheng: “My friend Xiao Shu is a famous guy. He compiled all the beautiful words the Communist Party used in an attempt to flatter the Americans when it was trying to overthrow the Kuomintang dictatorship in the 1940s, including many pieces from Xinhua Daily commentaries and official top leaders’ speeches, and published a book titled “Pioneering Voices in History.” But, it was banned by the authorities. Why? Seems the CCP still has a sense of shame. But why did people like you take on the duty and become bloody shameless?”
Dong Yansheng said : “Don’t make yourself believe I have no way to deal with you. I am telling you, the CCP has measures to take care of traitors like you! When you went back and forth to Shijiazhuang city, we carefully recorded all the details, where you went, who you talked to. Sooner or later, we will get you for this! Tell us where you went the other day, whom you met, and what you discussed!”
“I don’t remember,” I responded. “You’ve taken such good notes, so why bother asking me again?” “I want YOU to tell me!” “I just won’t, what are you going to do to me?”
Dong Shansheng and Wang Yigang have both asked me: “Hey, why did Norway give the award to Liu Xiaobo? How much money will that award bring then? He has no way to go abroad, who will go to help him pick up the award then? How will you folks split the money? You’re all so greedy.” I answered: “Those five old men, they are free from government control, they can give the money to whomever they want to, and this year, they decided to grant the award to this big ‘stammerer’.” [Editor’s note: Liu Xiaobo stammers and his friends joke him about this]. Also a man like Liu Xiaobo, he can keep his cool on things like this. This is called going down in history, you understand?”
At six o’clock in the evening, the domestic security officers dragged me to the public security station, and Dong Yansheng arrived soon after. I was still in a bad mood: “Your men broke the law!” “Here you go again! What did they do to break the law? Whatever we do to you will never be understood as violating the law. We are taking out a summons against you according to the law! We have power, we can take out a summons on you whenever we want!” “Where is your legal procedure then? Do you have it?” “Oral authorization! I tell you, we have all the authorization we need! Procedure is easy!” “Easy? Then why can’t you show it to me?”
Dong Yangsheng coaxed me, showing tough mercy: “Making money is good, isn’t it?” he said. “With such good conditions and so much space, all of us in the system have actually given you a lot of face. Do you really believe you grew so successful solely on your own?”
I yield to neither coercion or persuasion. I said: “Money is good, but how much is enough? I have never gotten favors from anybody, I made my success because of my own efforts.” I heard Wang Yigang exhale loudly, so I turned around, stared at him, saying: ”What’s up? You don’t agree? Do you believe if you take off your uniform, you are nothing?
I also tried to persuade him: ”You haven’t made good money but have developed quite a lot of faults. You deserve to be made a scapegoat. You’re running around blindly but never know what you are running after, and you are not allowed to ask. Why do you have to jump up and down like this? What’s the reward? I know in your system, there is no place for reasoning, but do you want to be promoted? I can give you some tips. Old Dong, you are a deputy director, if you want to become the chief, the only shortcut is to hire two murderers to kill the incumbent chief.”
I complained to Old Dong that Wang Yigang had injured my left shoulder, but he tried to protect his team by playing dumb. He said: “If you are embarrassed to cooperate with us, you should just be flexible. Don’t strike back when they are trying to catch you. If you hit back, they no doubt have to use force. Hey you,” he shouted at his team buddies. “If Old Pu resists again, you should do the same thing again!”
I tried to change the topic by saying. “Once again, today you acted in bad faith. You spent three hours asking for orders from your superiors but still failed. You tell me do you really have authority or you are also just a running dog?”
By October 11th, I was notified that one of my cases would open trial in Yichun City. That afternoon, Dong came. “You have a court hearing to go to?” he asked. “Yes.” “They sent you a summons?” “No, they didn’t.” “No? Then how did you know it?” “My colleagues told me.” “How did they pass you the information?” “ Via email.” He put on a long face, “You used the Internet? Who approved you to use the Internet?” I got angry: “I did use the Internet! So what? Did I break the law? Who said I couldn’t use the Internet? It’s you who broke the law and I am going to write all of this down and make it public!” “Absolutely don’t write it now!” “Then fine, I will write it right after I am freed! ”
Following the quarrel on October 11th, Dong started to have a heart-to-heart chat: “Just between us, I am here for your own good, to let you reflect and do thought work on you; this is still based on your rescue.” “Thank you so much! The relationship between the CCP and me should be categorized as enemy contradiction, but you are handling it as an internal conflict. On the other hand, any problems that surface among the people in this country should fall into internal conflicts while you police handle them as enemies. Since when did you police officers start to manage people’s thoughts? You want to manage my thoughts? You must be joking. There is only one guy surnamed Dong who could do this, but he was bombed to hell a long time ago. [Editor’s note: In the CCP’s revolutionary history textbook, a PLA solder named Dong Cunrui was commemorated as a model of selfless sacrifice, after he lost his life in a battle against the Kuomingtang military.]
On October 10th, Dong was feeling magnificent. “You listen to me!” he said. “I tell you, you should be clear about the current situation and don’t brag to me!” “It’s you who are talking big! “ I interrupted. “Remember,” I said, “ I am f***in awesome! I bet you dare not use force on me, nor is it necessary to use forced interrogation, because I have made my actions and behavior extremely clear to you. So let’s see what are you going to do? You don’t even have legal authorization, but have bullied me, and you dare to talk big with me?!”
By 5:30pm, October 11th afternoon, Old Dong stood up and said : “OK, you can go on your business trip now. Have a good trip but don’t receive media interviews!” “On a specific topic or on everything?” I asked. “On the case of Liu Xiaobo!” he said. “No, I cannot agree,” I responded. “If you dare to talk to the media…” he said, but I once again stopped him by asking, “Then what? You will run to the northeast to arrest me?” “You will pay as soon as you get back!” he responded. “Nonsense,” I said. “All you can do is “triple-accompany” me, anything else? How will I pay? Hah, Old Dong, your words can be really tough!”
“I won’t waste my damn time talking with you,” he said.
I just refreshed my memory, the second half of the conversation with Dong Yansheng was on the afternoon of October 12th, not 11th, sorry. Actually he is not a bad man. He is from the background of criminal police and good at what he does, and basically kind to his buddies and even enemies like me. It is not easy to be in the domestic security police force. He is just in the role of a police officer, so he and I always clash. Once he overcomes his own mental block, I believe we eventually will be friends.
The painting is a 16th Century Dutch painting of The Lawyer's Office