China: Make Sacrifices to Illuminate the Future. Commemorating the fifth anniversary of the founding of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group

September 13, 2018

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On September 13, 2013, lawyers Wang Cheng (王成), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) announced the establishment of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group (中国人权律师团). All three had been disbarred by the Chinese authorities because of their commitment to defending the rights of the Chinese people. In just one year, more than 300 Chinese lawyers joined the Group. Many seasons later, the Human Rights Lawyers Group now marks the fifth anniversary of its founding. On this otherwise ordinary day, we will take inventory of what we have done over the last five years, reiterate the basic principles of the group, and plan our steps for the future.

In the past five years, we have gone through hardships and sadness; we have seen our hopes dashed. We struggle to improve the human rights situation in our country, only to see it worsen progressively.

In the past five years, Chinese human rights lawyers have been demonized by the authorities and smeared by people who harbor ulterior motives. Our members have endured persecution of a severity seldom seen, stunning the international community.

In the past five years, many Chinese human rights lawyers have been imprisoned or disappeared. Since the “709” crackdown of July 2015 that shocked people in China and abroad, human rights lawyers have sustained heavy blows to the point of near destruction.

But even in the face of these cruel realities, members of the Human Rights Lawyers Group have continued their fruitful work. They issued joint statements to express their solidarity and expose human rights violations. It is an endeavor fraught with hardship that is difficult to imagine. They defended political dissidents until they themselves were labeled as dissidents; they defended people of faith until they themselves became the target of the authorities’ “stability maintenance;” they defended the petitioners and the victims of forced demolition, until the day they were disbarred by the judicial establishment under orders from the Party. They defended the ethnic minorities until the day they themselves were denounced as traitors; they defended the workers until they themselves were deprived of their right to practice. Their sacrifices are too numerous to list.

We cannot help but ask why the human rights lawyers, passionate for justice, should be targeted for political persecution. Why do the judicial authorities restrict human rights lawyers from working on their cases? Why does the judiciary use sly tricks to revoke or suspend their right to practice?

The answer is simple: it is because human rights lawyers pursue justice, and their persecutors represent darkness and evil.

Today, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Lawyers Group, we reaffirm our mission to advance human rights in China. We shall continue to uphold the values we cherish through the practice of law.

We yearn for freedom, but we know the importance of order; we pursue justice, but we do not subscribe to self-righteousness; we emphasize basic human rights, but we will honor the principle of gradual progress through proper procedures; as human rights lawyers, we insist on the right of independent judgment, but respect the different perspectives and views held by others.

Once again, we announce to the world that we are not this country’s enemy. We are a group of true patriots. We know that we must transcend class, nationality, and faith in order to work for the dignity and basic human rights of all Chinese. Regardless of how others perceive and label us and attempt to discredit our work, we will stand by our principles as we strive to improve human rights in China.

At the same time, we look forward to healthy cooperation and dialogue with the authorities to find a feasible path to furthering and improving human rights. We want everyone to know that human rights lawyers regaining their own rights is a victory for everyone, regardless of occupation, social status, economic background, or ethnicity.

We are aware that the effort of human rights lawyers alone cannot change the human rights situation in this country. We are ready to work with all people and groups that pursue freedom, justice, and the rule of law, and to take a stand for the beautiful goals to which we all aspire.

In the next five years, we must first and foremost fight for the freedom of every citizen to be free from fear. We demand the repeal of the provision in the Supervision Act that affords law enforcement officials the power of wanton detention, as well as the provisions in the Criminal Procedure Law that allow for secret detention known as “residential surveillance at a designated place.”

We vow to fight for victims who have been forcefully disappeared and tortured by the authorities, and we will not tolerate the illegal detention and disappearance, in the name of the state, of anyone living on this land, be they officials or ordinary citizens. Everyone has basic rights, including the right to litigation.

We will advocate establishing open records of human rights violations committed by public officials. This list will record the deeds of all, from leaders at the highest levels down to infractions committed by local level of guobao, or public security police. If they do not rein themselves in, they will one day stand trial to face justice in court.

We will offer strong and unconditional support for citizens’ freedom of speech. We will never tolerate the administrative detention or legal punishment of a citizen simply for criticizing the government or the party. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of all other freedoms. If no one dares speak out against abuse, all of society will taste the bitter consequences.

We love blue skies and green hills, and we will not turn a blind eye to the environmental pollution or tainted food and drugs. We will urge governments at all levels to take effective measures to reduce pollution, improve the environment, and enforce regulations over the food and drug industry so that everyone can have safe food, medicine, air, and water. We want to tell citizens who have suffered persecution for their efforts to improve the environment or expose the safety hazards posed by tainted food and medicine: you have our full support.

We are extremely concerned about the friction between police and civilians. We call on law enforcement throughout the country to act in strict accordance with the law, to explain the law in good faith, exercise restraint, respect and protect human rights, and not act as accomplices to brutal “stability maintenance.”

It’s been more than three years since the 709 Crackdown; we exhort the authorities to carefully review their attitude and policy towards human rights lawyers, and to treat properly these conscientious and responsible professionals. We ask the authorities to immediately release Tang Jingling (唐荆陵), Jiang Tianyong, Wang Quanqi (王全璋), Yu Wensheng (余文生), Li Yuhan (李昱函), and other lawyers. It is important for everyone to enjoy a more civilized society that upholds reason and the rule of law.

Five years have gone by in a flash, but it’s been five years with historic import. We the human rights lawyers are ordinary human beings, but we are not cowards. If for the sake of China’s human rights we must lose our licenses or even our freedom, then we are willing to make these sacrifices for our country and our people.

Only through sacrifice can we forge ahead to the future! That’s our solemn proclamation on the 5th anniversary of China Human Rights Lawyers Group.

Thank you all!

The China Human Rights Lawyers Group

犧牲自我,點亮未來
—人權律師團成立五周年獻辭

2013年9月13日,王成、唐吉田、江天勇三位被吊銷執業證書的律師基於對中國人權事業的美好願景,發起成立中國人權律師團,公告之日,應者雲集,短短一年,有三百多名中國執業律師聲明加入人權律師團。春去秋來,人權律師團已不知不覺地迎來了自己的五周年紀念日,在這個普通的日子裡,我們認為,對過去五年的歷程做個總結,闡明人權律師團的基本態度,規劃人權律師團未來的工作方向顯得尤為必要。

我們必須承認,過去的五年,是困難的五年,是悲傷的五年,也是看不到希望的五年,我們試圖改善這個國家的人權狀況,卻發現人權狀況越來越糟糕。

過去的五年,中國人權律師被當局妖魔化,被別有用心之人污蔑,其遭受的打壓和迫害全世界罕見,國際社會亦對此目瞪口呆。

過去的五年,多名中國人權律師被判刑,被吊證,被失蹤,尤其是在2015年7月發生了震驚中外的“709”大抓捕之後,人權律師被衝擊得七零八落,幾乎遭遇了滅頂之災。

但即使面對這些殘酷的現實危險,人權律師團律師在過去五年依然開展了卓有成效的工作。人權律師通過發起聯署聲明、簽名聲援等方式,介入人權事件,探尋事實真相,從而揭露罪惡,保護人權,其過程之艱辛,絕非常人可以想像!他們為政治異議人士辯護,直到自己被貼上異議分子的標簽;他們為信仰群體辯護,直到自己成為當局維穩的對像;他們為訪民和被拆遷者辯護,直到有一天自己也變成司法的棄兒;他們為少數民族的良心人士辯護,直到有一天被冠上叛國者的帽子;他們為勞工群體辯護,直到自己被剝奪工作的權利。凡此種種,舉不勝舉!

面對打壓和迫害,我們不禁要問,為什麼一腔熱血的人權律師會成為整肅的對像?為什麼司法當局在個案中要排除人權律師介入?為什麼司法部門要使用鬼蜮伎倆吊銷或者注銷人權律師的執業證?答案其實非常簡單,因為人權律師追求光明和正義,而迫害者代表著黑暗和邪惡。

今天,值此人權律師團成立五周年之際,我們再次重申,我們將繼續推進中國人權事業的發展,我們將毫不動搖地致力於改善中國的人權狀況,我們將在世俗的法律和道德的天空中尋找價值的平衡。

我們嚮往自由,但我們知道秩序的重要性;我們追求正義,但不會以正義者自居;我們強調人的基本權利,但我們將遵循循序漸進的原則;我們堅持自己作為人權律師的獨立判斷,但尊重其他人的不同觀點。

我們再次光明正大地向世人宣布,我們不是這個國家的敵人,我們是一群真正的愛國者,我們說服自己超越階層、民族和信仰,為所有中國人的尊嚴和基本人權而努力。不管別人如何定位人權律師,如何抹黑人權律師,我們將堅持自己的原則,那就是為改善中國的人權狀況而努力拼搏。

與此同時,我們期待與官方的健康力量互動對話,共濟時艱,相向而行,一起找到改善中國人權狀況的可行之道。大家應該明白,不管你的職業、社會地位、財產狀況和種族性別如何,人權律師爭取到的每一項權利都為你所有。

我們深知,僅憑人權律師的微薄之力無法改變這個國家的人權狀況,我們願意與所有追求自由、公義、法治的民眾和群體一道,為共同嚮往的美好目標而奮鬥。

在未來的五年裡,我們首先要爭取的是每個公民免於恐懼的自由,我們強烈要求廢除《監察法》中對公職人員采取留置措施的條款以及《刑事訴訟法》中對公民采取指定監視居住措施的條款。我們發誓將向強迫失蹤和酷刑開戰,我們絕不容忍以國家的名義對生活在這片土地上的任何人進行非法拘禁和強迫失蹤,不管這個人是官員還是平民,他們享有最起碼的訴訟權利和基本人權。

我們將推動建立公職人員侵犯人權的負面清單,這些清單將記錄上至高級官員,下至普通“國保”侵犯人權的惡劣事件,如果他們不懸崖勒馬,繼續怙惡不悛的話,那麼終究有一天,正義的法庭將對他們進行徹底地審判。

我們將毫無保留地為公民的言論自由提供強有力的保護和支持,我們絕不允許一個公民僅僅因為批評政府或者政黨就受到行政拘留甚至刑事處罰。眾所周知,言論自由是一切自由權利的基石,如果整個社會萬馬齊喑,那麼我們將很快品嘗到它結出的惡果。

我們渴望藍天白雲、青山綠水,我們對國家的環境污染和食品藥品安全問題不會熟視無睹,我們將敦促各級政府切實采取措施消除污染,改善環境質量,加強食品藥品督查和監管力度,為每個民眾提供最安全的食品、藥品、空氣和飲水。我們要告訴那些為了改善環境質量或者揭露食品藥品安全問題而遭受迫害的公民們,人權律師是你們的堅強後盾。

我們呼吁全國各地的警察當局嚴格依法辦事,善意解釋法律,約束警權,尊重和保障人權,切勿成為暴力維穩的幫凶,我們對當下的警民對立情緒感到極大的擔憂。

在“709”大抓捕過去三年多之際,我們呼吁當局能認真檢討對人權律師的態度和政策,善待這群有良知和擔當的專業人士並立即釋放唐荊陵、江天勇、王全璋、余文生、李昱函等律師,我們需要一個更加文明的社會,我們需要一個理性和法治的社會,而這樣的社會對每一個人來講都顯得尤為重要。

短短的五年,如白駒過隙,但它記錄的歷史卻猶如鐫刻在青銅器上的銘文,傳之後世。人權律師均是血肉之軀,但也絕非貪生怕死之輩,如果說中國的人權進步需要犧牲掉人權律師的執業證甚至自由作為代價的話,那麼我們願意將自己的一切奉獻給這片滾燙的熱土。

犧牲自我,點亮未來!這就是中國人權律師團在成立五周年之際帶給全世界的莊重宣言!

謝謝大家。

中國人權律師團律師
2018年9月13日

(Facebook, 13/09/18)

https://chinachange.org/2018/09/12/make-sacrifices-to-illuminate-the-future-commemorating-the-fifth-anniversary-of-the-founding-of-the-china-human-rights-lawyers-group/

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