Rule of Law requires our consciousness and responsibility |
Rule of Law requires our consciousness and responsibility---An open letter to Chinese representatives in the Congress on the Law of the World
Gao Zhisheng, Xu Zhiyong, and Teng Biao
On Sep. 8th, 2005
Dear Chinese representatives,
How are you?
We, as Chinese attorneys and scholars of law, have the same dream of “Building a Harmonious Society and Rule of Law in China” as you.
Harmonious Society depends on democracy and rule of law, which is the essential lesson we learned from the civilization throughout history. We are delighted to see that you and other scholars of law from the world stand together to discuss democracy and rule of law in Beijing. You are carrying the dreams of millions of Chinese people that in the near future they can enjoy democracy, rule of law, human rights, and freedom as in other countries.
However, at this flourishing and passionate moment, when you, as the representatives of Chinese attorneys and scholars, are giving presentations to the world, when Xiao Yang, the Judge of the High Court, is discussing the recent progress of rule by law in China, please do not forget the real situation outside of the Congress. Forgive us that we have to point out the reality now.
Please remember that even today when you are gathering together for the meeting, there are a series of tragedies occuring in China.
Citizens Guoqing Chen and other three people from HeBei province ChengDe city were imprisoned on suspicion of robbery and homicide in 1994. From then on, thirteen attorneys and several first-class jurists have represented them and pleaded not guilty. Without any solid evidence, Guoqing Chen etc. were sentenced to death five times and now they are still in prison. In fact, we already found the real murderer- we had presented his detailed plots, tools, and evidence to the High Court and the police department; yet nobody cares. Guoqing Chen and the other three still do not see any chance to be freed so far (see details at www.xianzhengchina.org). In 2005, do you notice how many cases are exposed by media and how many cases of injustice are still under covered? Which kind of responsibility do you think you should take when these innocent Chinese citizens are struggling for help?
In June 2003, the local government of Yulin city in ShanXi province seized oil wells from independent drillers and had them nationalized by force. The independent drillers and investors elected their own legal representatives to protect their interests, but their case was rejected by Shan Xi provincial High court. In May 2005, police arrested twelve investors for protesting, and a Beijing-based lawyer Mr. JiuHu Zhu was also detained after filing the lawsuit against the Shanxi government on the investors'behalf. Mr. Zhu right now is still in prison. In fact, with help from local courts and police department, the Yunlin government took over the one billion dollar business from sixty thousand private investors in several days by force. The so called “legal government” ignored the legal process, and deprived any rights from the opposing party. The most unbelievable thing is that they still believe that anyone against them is their political enemy, so they will arrest whoever protests, files law suit, and represents the private investors, even the lawyers. Recently more people got arrested. They challenged not only the civil rights of Chinese people, but also the constitution and the great prospect of Rule of Law. How come we still can hold ourselves aloof from the world?
In March 2004, Yu Huafeng, the associate-chief-editor and chief manager of Southern Metropolis News, and Li Minying, the former board member of the social committee in Southern Daily Newspaper Group, were found guilty and sentenced to prison for bribery and embezzlement. But the crystal clear truth is that the so called “embezzlement” is just a year-end bonus for Yu Huafeng, and the bribery the reward Minying Li got from the News group. It was such a routine procedure for a market-oriented multi-media group, but became the excuse of the local Guangdong provincial government to gain revenge for the exposure of the case of Sun Zhigang, a college graduate and graphic designer who was beaten to death while in police administrative detention, and the case of SARS. The local legal system produced the case of injustice, but refused to justify it. How can we pretend we don't know about it?
From April to August in 2005, the “One Child Policy” was brutally enforced by the Linyi city officials in ShanDong province - false fines, illegal detentions, and the extortion of confessions by torture etc. To prevent their brutality from exposure, they put the human right activist Mr. GuangCheng Chen who is blind home confined. Mr. Chen escaped from their watch and came to Beijing to report their violations of human rights to the media. On Sep. 6th, 2005, when the Congress on the Law of the World kicks off in Beijing, Mr. Chen was beaten by a group of people without identity and abducted back to Shangdong province illegally. Now Mr. Chen is under security watch at home by more than ten people in every minute. How can we still call our society a harmonious society?
In August 2005, some villagers in Tai-Shi of Panyu district in GuangZhou proposed to dismiss the village committee due to their corruption. The legal procedure was rejected by the local government. With no valid legal help, some villages went on a hunger strike. The local government responded by arresting those on the hunger strike. Until today, they are still fighting for their civil rights.
In concordance with the cases of injustice, we are facing the status quo power, brutal and unfair legal system in China. Those interest groups with privileges submit themselves to the superior political power, which makes the enforcement of the constitution impossible. We found that all kinds of new laws are made everyday, but in the meantime the enforcement of laws is so superficial and inefficient. In those cases we presented above, the local governments ignored completely and brutally deprived the civil rights of the opposing parties, and made no response to their legal prosecutions. The courts published legal explanations of why these cases are dismissed one after another in order to protect the privileges of the government. Such type of behavior is the bane of the nation, the country, and human civilization. As the lawyers and attorneys and the people of the great nation, we shall take our responsibilities to deal with it. We can not turn away from the cruel reality that so many injustices are happening everywhere and everyday. Maybe you don't need to talk about it, but please don't forget your consciousness at the bottom of your heart, otherwise there is no hope and no future for the whole country.
We witness the miseries, so we realize that it is a long way to build the rule of law, but it is our unavoidable duty. Please remember it and act accordingly. The history will record what is happening righteously.
Translated by Xiaorong, 11/08/2005