Letter of recommendation of Guoting Guo for 2008 The Third Asian Democracy and Human Rights Award |
Letter of recommendation of Guoting Guo for 2008 The Third Asian Democracy and Human Rights Award
July 5, 2008
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
Re:Attorney Guo Guoting candidate's recommendation letter for [the third Asian democracy and human rights Award]
I recommend Mr. Guo Guoting as a candidate for the third Asian democratic human rights award. Mr. Guo Guoting is a renowned Chinese human rights attorney. He has made extraordinary contributions in advancing democracy and human rights in China, and has paid a huge price for it.
Attorney Guo has been fighting heroically for democracy, freedom, human rights, and rule of law in China under the tyranny of the Chinese Communist Party. He is one of the most characteristic and prominent Chinese human rights lawyer and has been called “the Conscience of Chinese Lawyers”.
Brief background of Guo:
A nationally known attorney in China, Guo was the founding partner of Shanghai Tian-yee Law Group before he went into exile. Guo obtained his Bachelor of Law degree from Jilin University in 1984. He had practised law in Fujian, Hong Kong, and Shanghai for over 20 years. He specializes in international trade law, international maritime law, marine insurance law as well as litigation and arbitration law before he started human rights law practice in 2003. Guo has handled more than 1000 cases and dozens of them had national and international impact.
Guo was named the Best Maritime Attorney of the Year by “Legal 500” magazine for the year of 2001-2002.
He was Arbitrator of China Maritime Arbitration Commission, Arbitrator of China Foreign Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Member of International Bar Association, Committee of Maritime Law and Committee of International Trade Law, visiting professor and researcher of Wuhan University, Shanghai Maritime University and China Economic and Trade University.
Guo has translated and authored over a dozen law books, including Modern bill of Lading(translation), The Art of Judgment(translation), The Law and the Lawyers Practice of International Economic and Trade, The Analysis of Current China Foreign Economic & Trade Cases, CIF & FOB Contracts (4ed, translation), Charter Parties and Bills of Lading (20ed, translation), International Trade Law, Omay on Marine Insurance(translation), Institute Clause (translation) etc. He also published more than 200 papers in the fields of commercial litigation, arbitration practice, international trade law and maritime law.
Human Rights Lawyer
Guo values highly the universal human rights principles. In June 2003, he started human rights and civil rights law practice. He said “I know clearly that this choice has no economical benefits at all; instead, I will be facing heavy political, economical and mental pressure. I have to be prepared to be attacked and revenged at any time. However, a person should pursue a higher principle, even though an individual’s power is so small, the effort is still meaningful. I am aware that I am choosing the most difficult and dangerous path. My only wish is to contribute a little bit to help establish rule of law in China.”
His first case was to defend another civil rights lawyer, Zheng Enchong, who was later sentenced to three years in prison. Since then, his phone was tapped. He received constant threats and harassments from the Chinese authorities. That case and all the subsequent cases he took were cases that were highly sensitive to the Communist party authorities and nobody dared to defend the defendants, who were civil rights defender, journalists, cyber dissidents or Falun Gong practitioners.
Guo was defending freelance journalist Shi Tao, who is to go on trial in the central city of Changsha next March 7 on charges of "illegally providing state secrets to people abroad." The vaguely defined law is frequently used to prosecute people who expose abuses of power and human rights violations or directly criticize Communist Party rule.
Guo was also the defence attorney for Internet journalist Huang Jinqiu, who was sentenced in September 2004 to 12 years in prison for "subversion of state power."
On February 22, before his license was revoked, Guo was barred from a scheduled visit to Zhang Lin, a dissident writer imprisoned since January 29 for articles he posted on overseas online news sites and Web sites related to the Falun Gong movement. Zhang is now being held in "criminal detention" under suspicion of "endangering state security" for articles he posted online calling for political reform.
Those cases had been widely reported by overseas media, including New York Times. Guo was praised by public as the “Conscience of the Chinese lawyers”, “Courageous Defender of Justice”, etc. Guo has also written dozens articles to expose the unfairness and illegal practice in the legal procedures by the law bodies and Communist party authorities, and to defend justice, freedom and basic the rights of defendants and other Chinese people. One of them was a letter he posted on the Internet to express his frustration of being repeatedly rejected to visit his client, a Falun Gong practitioner who was sentenced to 5 years in prison and was on the verge of death. This action was later declared by the authority as part of the reason of his license ban. Full text is in attachment 3.
In China, what Guo has been doing is a taboo. He has experienced tremendous pressures and punishment from the Communist party authorities. His former clients were scared away. His wife divorced him because of the pressure. Justice Department officials in Shanghai searched his offices on 23 February 2005, and seized his lawyer's license and computer that contains all his work in the past 20 years. On March 4, Shanghai's justice department banned him from practising for one year for "anti-constitutional speeches and acts". He had been under house arrest until he was forced into exile in May of 2005.
Mr. Guo obtained the award for seeking justice in July 2005 in Vancouver; in December, 2005, he was named one of the 14 China Human Rights Attorneys of the Year by Asian Weekly.
Mr. Guo is presently a visiting scholar at the University of Victoria in Canada, focus on international human rights law, constitutional government theory and practice and free democracy and constitutional government democracy research.
Attorney Guo Guoting is, under the Chinese Communist Party’s tyranny, one of the first Chinese lawyers who openly demand political rights and fundamental human rights; he is one of the first Chinese lawyers who openly defended Falun Gong practitioners; the first Chinese lawyer who voluntarily give up the Maritime law and transform to human rights attorney, which is of risk and low income; he publicly declared that he would take the defence of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience as his main focus of work. Attorney Guo has shown tremendous integrity and courage in his fearless fight for democracy and for rule-of law in China.
Since he has been forced into exile, he has offered defence for a number of political prisoners; continuously criticized systematically and comprehensively of Chinese Communist Party’s despotic political and legal system.
Mr. Guo believes that the Chinese Communist Party’s tyranny has been the root-cause of the disaster of the Chinese nation, and resolves to be the gravedigger of the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian regime. He is determined to be "the one out of the thousands, the pioneer who has to go through all the sufferings for the rest of all people”. his heroic spirit is inspiring many who are still in China fighting for a democratic China.
Should you need further comment from me, please let me know and I will respond immediately.
Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.