Statement in Support of Gao Zhisheng and World Wide Hunger Strike by Lawyers
I wish to add my voice to those of lawyers and human rights organizations throughout the world in condemning the shocking and unceasing affronts to human rights and the rule of law perpetrated by the Government of China against lawyers of conscience.
China is obligated both by its own laws, which the Government of China routinely ignores, and by international treaties and conventions binding China both as a signatory and also as a member state of the United Nations, to protect lawyers and ensure they are free to carry out their professional duties as advocates for their clients. The Chinese government has made a cynical mockery of all its obligations to lawyers and human rights advocates, in total violation of its obligations under both Chinese and International Law.
The Chinese government today is arguably the worst violator of human rights on this planet, in partnership with western corporations such as Microsoft, Nortel, Yahoo, Cisco and Google. Many western governments, with an eye on their “market share” in China, have obsequiously fawned at the feet of the Chinese dictators and willingly assisted those dictators in promoting their claims that the human rights situation in China has never been better.
The last Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin, shamelessly congratulated the Beijing regime on its alleged progress in promoting human rights and implementing the “rule of law”, in the face of overwhelming and irrefutable evidence that the Beijing dictators are crushing human rights as never before and that they are ruthlessly determined to prevent the rule of law at any cost. Indeed, both Paul Martin and Jean Chretien before him prattled on incessantly about the “great progress” in Chinese human rights under the Beijing dictatorship even as Beijing was implementing a policy of full scale genocide against practitioners of Falun Gong.
The first prominent human rights lawyer in China was Guo Guoting. His unbelievable courage in risking his own life and standing up to the brutal government of China has inspired a number of other honest lawyers throughout China to stand up for the rule of law, for human rights, for freedom of religion and political belief, against the Beijing regime. Today, Gao Zhisheng leads the fight inside China, while Guo Guoting, now resident in Canada, coordinates the international effort of lawyers everywhere to support their beleaguered and persecuted colleagues in China.
Gao Zhisheng, like Guo Guoting, is a man with a level of courage probably beyond the comprehension of anyone not intimately familiar with the brutality and mendacity of the Beijing regime and the Chinese Communist Party. The Beijing regime has prevented him from practising his profession and has recently attempted to kill him. Indeed, were it not for the international attention and support he has received, the Chinese government would have succeeded in murdering him already.
Gao Zhisheng spoke out on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners who are denied by the Chinese government their constitutional right to legal defence. He wrote an open letter to President Hu Jintao, specifically addressing the fact that these practitioners are citizens of China and must therefore have the same right to legal defence as all other Chinese citizens (which in practice is of little assistance to any citizen in any case). Mr. Gao also met in December with the United Nations emissary to China who had been sent to investigate reports of torture and other human rights abuses.
Shortly thereafter, the Chinese authorities confiscated Mr. Gao’s licence to practise law, and closed down his law office, preventing the other ten lawyers in Mr. Gao’s office from practising their profession. The transparently false justification for these actions was that Mr. Gao had failed to report a change of address when renewing the registration of his law office!
Since that time, several other courageous human rights lawyers from all over China have been arrested, incarcerated, harassed, threatened, and in some cases beaten, simply for discharging their professional duties as lawyers. Moreover, a recent attempt was made on Gao Zhisheng’s life, an attempt almost certainly the work of the Chinese police and military.
Mr. Gao has now initiated a protest campaign of rotating hunger strikes by lawyers in several cities of China and Ms Sheng Xue has called on lawyers throughout the world to join this movement.
We support Mr. Gao. We support the world wide hunger strike by lawyers of conscience. We support the demand that the Chinese government be held to at least minimum international standards of decency and civilization. And we call upon the new Government of Canada to reverse the last government’s shameful complicity in the crimes of the Beijing regime. We hope that the new Canadian government will express its support for Gao Zhisheng, for the world wide hunger strike by lawyers of conscience, and for the demand that Beijing recognize the rule of law and respect at least the minimal international norms of human rights and basic decency.