letter of recommendation of Guoting for 2008 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award |
letter of recommendation of Guoting for 2008 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award
Reply to: Clive M. Ansley
VIA E-MAIL & MAIL 306 – 576 England Avenue,
July 5, 2008
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
No. 4, Alley 17, Lane 147, Sec. 3, Sinyi Rd., Taipei 106, Taiwan V9N 2N3 CANADA
Tel: 250-338 0202
Fax: 250-338 0902
Re: Guo Guoting
I am very pleased to nominate the captioned human rights lawyer and democracy fighter, Guo Guoting, for your 2008 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award.
I acknowledge at the outset that my recommendation is being sent after your June 30 deadline for receiving nominations and for that I apologize. I trust that my tardiness will not prevent you from considering Mr. Guo for this award. My delay in sending this nomination is in no way the fault of Mr. Guo. I had set aside a time for writing this, but a “perfect storm” of events prevented me from completing the task on time. Unexpected developments in a Supreme Court hearing involving the Falun Gong permanent protest site in Vancouver required substantial overtime work and this happened while my Associate, who was assisting me on this case, was absent from British Columbia. Also, June 30th fell during a four day Canada National Day holiday and that meant that I had no support staff in my office.
I trust you will understand and will not penalize Mr. Guo because of my failure to meet the deadline, particularly when he is obviously so richly deserving in terms of his unchallengeable merits.
Mr. Guo emerged as a leading Human Rights lawyer in China in 2003, and very quickly achieved recognition on the international stage. He was subsequently profiled in a New York Times article which highlighted his courageous devotion to defending critics of the Chinese Communist Party, persecuted Falun Gong practitioners, political dissidents, and others who had become targets of the Chinese Communist Party.
At the time the Times article appeared, Mr. Guo was already experiencing intimidation by the Party and by the “Justice” Ministry controlled by the Party. He had first provoked the wrath of the Party by defending fellow lawyer Zheng Enchong on spurious charges of unlawfully providing state secrets to foreigners. Zheng had run afoul of the Party by bringing a class action on behalf of some five hundred Shanghai homeowners evicted from their homes without compensation in order to facilitate a major project by a powerful Shanghai developer who was in bed with the Shanghai authorities. After Guo Guoting stepped forward to undertake Zheng’s legal defence, he was repeatedly warned by “Justice” Ministry officials and lawyers instructed by those officials that he should walk away from the case and that if he did not, his career would be seriously damaged. But Guo Guoting ignored all the pressure, saw the trial of Zheng Enchong through to the end, and publicly excoriated the Chinese Communist Party.
It is difficult to comprehend, and impossible to exaggerate, the courage which Guo Guoting demonstrated between 2003 and 2005.
First, “Justice” Ministry officials broke into his office and confiscated his computer, containing all his legal files and records generated in twenty years of practice. Then the “Justice” Ministry subjected him to a bogus and disgraceful “hearing” which concluded with the confiscation of his licence to practise law. The authorities also closed down his office and made every possible effort to dissuade his clients from contacting him. He was deprived of his right to earn a livelihood.
In the interim, he had also defended or acted for several Falun Gong practitioners, notwithstanding the Chinese Communist Party prohibition against all lawyers from providing legal representation to Falun Gong practitioners; he had defended the famous political dissident, Shi Tao; he had also defended a number of individuals deemed “enemies” by the Chinese Communist Party, including Huang Jingqiu, who was jailed for attempting to organize a political party, and Qi Yanlai, who was persecuted for telling the truth about Falun Gong.
Mr. Guo in this period also proceeded to publish a large number of internet critiques of the Communist Party one-party dictatorship, in absolutely scathing terms.
To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Guo was the first Chinese lawyer to publicly expose the Chinese “judicial” system for the fraudulent and cynical theatre that it is. He was pointing out the obvious, but no one else had dared say it before: If one political party controls all legislation, exercises control over all lawyers and prosecutors, and completely controls all courts and judges, how can it be possible to argue the existence of judicial independence and the Rule of Law? Mr. Guo argued that justice and equity could not possibly exist in a system in which almost 100% of all judges, members of the Judicial Committees, and Secretaries of the Political/Legal Committees which stand above the “courts” were Communist Party members.
Eventually, in early 2005 Mr. Guo and his family were placed under house arrest. Approximately thirty Shanghai police officers were stationed outside his residence each day, his home telephone was cut off, and his cell phone was confiscated. Police indicated that formal “criminal” charges were being prepared against Mr. Guo.
However, before police had laid charges, Mr. Guo had attracted such international attention that his continued persecution had become an embarrassment to the Chinese Communist Party Government. Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and other human rights organizations wrote open letters to Hu Jintao. As the Party had done with Wang Dan, Wei Jingsheng, and others, it decided to bring an end to the embarrassment by allowing Guo to go abroad. He came to Canada as a refugee and has worked unstintingly and unceasingly ever since in the cause of human rights in China, the defence of Chinese Human Rights advocates in China, and the promotion of democracy in China. In all three of these areas, Guo Guoting has published voluminously on the internet.
I have had the opportunity and privilege of working with Mr. Guo over these past three years and have often participated in public forums with him. I have no hesitation in testifying to his honesty, integrity, and tireless devotion to the causes of human rights, democracy, and the Rule of Law in China.
I continue to marvel at the unbelievable courage Mr. Guo displayed in standing up to the Chinese Communist Party and clinging steadfastly to his principles in the days before he went into exile abroad.
Should you need further comment from me, please let me know and I shall respond immediately.