Clive Ansley's open letter to help Guo Guoting
(Mar. 24, 2005)
Re: Guo Guoting
Guo Guoting is a 46 year old Chinese lawyer practising in Shanghai. He is the founding partner of the Tianyi Law Firm in Shanghai and one of the most widely acclaimed lawyers in the country. He is particularly distinguished in the field of Maritime Law, but practises in several other corporate/commercial areas as well. He is a part time Professor of Law and is the author of several legal textbooks and is an arbitrator with both the Maritime Arbitration Committee and also the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Committee. These are major bodies which handle virtually all the international arbitrations which take place in China.
It is unfortunately impossible for anyone who has not lived in China (and for many who have) to fully appreciate the incredible courage of this man. It almost defies description.
In China, almost no one is willing to risk career, family, freedom, and sometimes life itself by openly defying the fiats of the Chinese Communist Party. At present, the Government of China (which is reality identical to the Communist Party) is engaged in a campaign of genocide against adherents of the Falungong movement. The Chinese government is not killing all members of the movement, but it has made a political decision to completely destroy the movement, by whatever means necessary and remove it entirely from Chinese society. This, in my opinion, meets the Convention definition of genocide. The government has committed almost 1,600 documented murders of Falungong practitioners in detention to the present time. Hundreds of thousands more are incarcerated in slave labour camps and are undergoing some of the most diabolical tortures ever conceived by human minds. Many go insane, or finally " confess and repent" , volunteering to testify on Chinese television and in the print media about the “evils” of Falungong and why the government is right to wipe out the belief.
Of central concern to lawyers should be the way in which the Chinese “legal” system and “judiciary” have been prostituted to the whims of the political leadership and the restraints which have been imposed on lawyers.
The Chinese Government has formally forbidden all lawyers to take on the defence of any Falungong practitioners who are charged (or more commonly just sentenced to prison, without charge), usually on the basis of having “used an evil cult to obstruct the working of the law”. Moreover, the courts have been formally instructed that under no account are they to accept any lawsuits on behalf of Falungong members. In addition, the courts are instructed that with respect to any matter relating to the Falungong, the courts shall accept the instructions of the “610 Office”, a completely extrajudicial body established by the government which lacks any constitutional authority to whatever to usurp the authority of the “courts”.
The Chinese government has also instructed police, prison guards, and prosecutors to use “all necessary means” to deal with Falungong practitioners. These are code words meaning “You may kill or torture with impunity”. In fact, there have been specific directives to these officials and functionaries stating that if Falungong practitioners should die under questioning, the interrogators will not be held be responsible, the deaths should be listed as suicides, and the bodies cremated as quickly as possible.
In this context, is almost beyond comprehension that a Chinese lawyer would step forward to take on the legal defence of a Falungong practitioner and defy the Party/Government/Courts/Police in a state which is today the world' s most serious violator of human rights. But that is what Guo Guoting has done.
A short time ago, Gou defended a fellow lawyer, Zheng Enchong. Zheng had the temerity to take on a class action lawsuit on behalf of a large number of Shanghai citizens who had been forcibly removed from their homes by a wealthy developer operating in collusion with officials in the Shanghai Municipal Government. The result was that Zheng is now serving a three year prison sentence. Guo Guoting suffered tremendous pressure and harassment both before and after his defence of Zheng.
But taking on the case of an imprisoned Falungong practitioner was the most dangerous thing he could ever have done.
Justice Department officials in Shanghai have broken into his law office and removed his computer with all his files covering over twenty years of legal practice; police guards stand outside his home; his home telephone is answered by a machine; the “Justice” Bureau of Shanghai has confiscated his law licence; and his family and friends have been unable to contact him since March 10th last.
According to media report, he is under house arrest and criminal investigation.
I practised Maritime Law, amongst other things, in Shanghai for fourteen years and feel a kinship for Guo Guoting for that reason, but that is obviously not a significant issue. I am convinced that the legal profession, worldwide, simply cannot tolerate the outrages the Chinese Government is daily perpetrating on Chinese lawyers, and brazen mockery of the principle of “rule of law”, all the while earning the accolades of the Canadian Bar Association, CIDA, and the Government of Canada.
I append a much fuller bio of Guo Guoting and urge you to write directly to the attached parties.
Suggested addresses to write letters to:
1. President of China
President of China
Beijing, P.R. China
Mr. Gao Changli
Minister of Justice
10 South Chao Yang Gate Road
the People's Republic of China
Mr. MIU, Xiaobao
Director of Shanghai Judicial Bureau (also translated as Justice Department of ShangHai )
225 Wuxing Road
Shanghai, P.R. China
4. copy to Mr. Guo Guoting please
Tian-yee Law Firm
Suite 1025-1027, Dongfang Mansion, 1500 Century Avenue,
Shanghai 200122, China
Tel: (8621)6876-0077, Fax: (8621)6875-3789
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