A Chinese human rights lawyer was expelled from a law court in Huixian, Henan Province, while defending a Falun Gong practitioner on 17 February. He was then reported to local police who interrogated him at a police station.
Mr Xie Yanyi had been attending court as the personal legal representative of Ms Zhang Suqin, who has been charged with ‘using xie jiao to undermine the implementation of the law’ for distributing Falun Gong materials. During his defence, Mr Xie, whose lawyer’s license has been revoked by the authorities, was interrupted by the presiding judge, who ordered him to leave the court room. He was then summoned by police officers, who had been called in by the judge, to a local police station on suspicion of ‘using xie jiao to disrupt social order’. He was held for several hours before being released later that day.
Mr Xie told CSW on 21 February: ‘What is most appalling is that, in order to obtain a wrongful conviction, a law court would abuse its power and deprive [the accused] of a defence by making a false report to the police.’ He added that such behaviours by judges will lead to ‘the fundamental destruction of the Chinese criminal justice system and the loss of the dignity of the law.’
Mr Xie is one of China’s most outspoken human rights lawyers. In 2015 he was detained for about 18 months on suspicion of ‘inciting subversion’ during the infamous ‘709 crackdown’ on human rights lawyers and defenders. He was released on bail in January 2017.
In May 2018, Mr Xie issued a statement in which he listed China’s ongoing violations including those of freedom of religion or belief as the reason for his decision to end his career as a professional lawyer in the country. He cited the ‘continued persecution and imprisonment of tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners’ as one of the ‘greatest humanitarian disasters since the end of World War II’.
In August 2021, he was denied his right to represent the detained Falun Gong painter Ms Xu Na by a court in Beijing. Ms Xu is currently waiting for the outcome of her appeal against her conviction and eight-year sentence for ‘using xie jiao to undermine law enforcement’.
Ms Zhang’s family members and friends told Mr Xie how they felt both ‘outraged’ and ‘frightened’ by what happened to him on 17 February. However, Mr Xie observed: ‘It’s those who persecute Falun Gong who are really full of fear: they are fearful of defences according to the law and [people who] speak the truth. This crackdown [against Falun Gong] can’t continue for much longer.’
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW stands with Xie Yanyi and all those courageous individuals who defend the right to freedom of religion or belief and human dignity in China. He may have been stripped of his legal licence, but like many others he continues to use his professional expertise to help people who are being unfairly prosecuted for their religion or belief. Brave individuals like Mr Xie should be honoured rather than intimidated and treated like criminals for their work protecting human rights and upholding the rule of law. We urge the Chinese authorities to stop repressing the work of human rights defenders and to respect the rights of Chinese citizens to defence counsel and to represent defendants. We continue to call on China to end its crackdown on Falun Gong and other religion or belief groups.’
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