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中國人權律師「709大抓捕」五週年:他們的聲音 應該被聽到

週四(7月9日)是「709大抓捕」五週年,美國律師協會基金會的研究教授特倫斯• C • 哈立德(Terence Halliday) ,倫敦國王學院法學教授艾華(Eva Pils )聯合撰文。

2015年7月9號剛一開始的幾個小時裡,中國公安部門發起了一場空前絕後的針對執業律師的鎮壓。一群不明身份的黑衣蒙面者對女律師王宇的強迫失踪標誌著一場在全國范圍內對超過三百名律師的拘留和關押、被失踪和酷刑、起訴和審判運動的開始。人們不禁要問,他們所犯何“罪”?接手極富挑戰性的刑事辯護和人權案件,並且要求一個使弱勢群體可以獲得公平正義的法律系統而已。這一放眼全球、無出其右的打壓不僅殘暴,而且精心設計,其目標不僅限於在中國陷於危境中的律師,而且在於摧毀自主的司法倡導及真正的法治這樣的概念本身。

然而,時至2020年的7月9日,打壓依舊,抗爭亦依舊。銘記他們的苦難,以及那些無懼牢獄挺身為受難同仁進行辯護的律師所遭遇的打壓,而今顯得至關重要。

在這一場經年累月的打壓中,中國人權律師遭受了殘忍、非人道的對待。電視認罪的公然羞辱,攝像頭前強迫裸體隱私全無,極端禁閉下的心理摧殘,強行灌注精神類藥物,還有諸如老虎凳、工字鎖、極度痛苦的四肢扭曲等酷刑,不一而足。如上種種均已有了很好記錄,其中一些受害者獲釋後還親自向我們兩人中的一人做了描述。中國當局將這些酷刑強加於這些律師身上,而在一個遵循法治的社會,這些律師會因為熱烈倡導以及和平捍衛這些普世理想而受到讚譽。

時至2020年,那些2015年時被關押、後已釋放的律師並未獲得我們在正常社會所理解的釋放。資深中國專家孔杰榮教授將此稱為“未釋放之釋放”。曾在北京執業的律師被驅逐到了遙遠省份。家里和電話被監控。門道24小時被保安把守。門前和樓道口的監控攝像頭記錄著所有的出入活動,包括那些躲過街上守衛得以趁隙進入家裡的親友的行踪。購物之行被人盯梢,有他們在,連與在途中相遇的街坊鄰里說句話都難以進行。在一些重要全國性活動日,如江天勇律師近期所遭遇的那樣,至少20名保安環伺左右,搭建帳篷駐守,緊密觀察他的一舉一動。監禁中的隔絕演變成一種將其與朋友、親戚、律師同仁和信仰者相疏離的更廣泛的社會隔絕。一名飽經摧殘的人權律師說,這些律師只是從一個監獄被釋放,又被關進另一個監獄。

對中國知名刑辯律師和人權律師的懲罰無休無止,直至剝奪他們的生計。司法局的非法年檢,向律所合夥人施壓以及藉由律所合夥人向人權律師本人施壓, 使用各種流氓手段阻撓律師正常工作,暫停執業或吊銷執照。凡此種種,不僅要砍斷律師的收入,也意欲使其喪失築於專業地位之上的體面。

但是,儘管如此,勇氣不滅,希望尚存。勇氣見於余文生。他曾分別向我們兩人形像地描述了他在2014年被抓捕的時候,如何被酷刑得像野獸一樣尖叫,然而他卻堅持為709事件中被抓捕的律師同仁辯護;他呼籲改革這個囚禁他們的體制, 並正在為此付出被拘捕、被秘密審判、多年牢獄的慘烈代價。勇氣見於王宇決定披露她如何被迫公開“懺悔”其“錯誤行為”。堅毅見於王全璋,他在709事件中失踪時間最長並無疑受到了最嚴酷的監禁,但當他再次現身時,卻堅決要對法庭的有罪判決提出申訴。

如果709律師可以全然自由的向全世界發聲,我們數年以來對他們的研究使我們堅信:他們定能讓公眾和政策制定者確知,他們希望未滅,他們堅韌不改,他們的理想不只是他們自己的理想,也是任何地方對基本自由和權利倡導者們所共有的。

另一方面,在引發倡導型律師與黨國發生衝突的事由仍然沒有解決的同時,數百萬中國公民在國內遭受的危害不僅在持續,而且與日俱增。環境污染、強徵土地、農民工的苦難、對西藏和維吾爾人的文化滅絕,對藏傳佛教徒、西北省份的穆斯林、全國范圍的新教徒和地下羅馬天主教基督徒的打壓、不受控制的腐敗——這些要求彌補傷害、減輕痛苦的壓力是巨大的,仍然存在。在新疆維吾爾自治區,人權侵犯已經到了顯然是大規模反人類罪以及(至少)文化滅絕的地步。

在習近平的“新時代”到來之前,在很多情況下,為弱勢群體說話的是律師們,他們尋求通過法律途徑解決這些弱勢群體遭遇的不公。鎮壓使得律師們在建制中的位置被邊緣化,也讓人權律師在解決諸如發生在新疆的此類最惡劣的系統性侵犯人權的事件中無法扮演一個角色。在這種情況下,國際社會的作用也得到削弱,只能從外部對中國進行批評,因為他們無法真正與中國國內的人權捍衛者協同工作,後者將人權問題納入公眾視野的工作至關重要。知名教授賀衛方在其《因正義之名》的著作中寫道:“如果一個社會的真實一面,尤其是負面狀況被隱藏,是一件非常危險的事情,這就像把一個國家置於火山之上。”(第176頁)

中國的人權律師和所有那些理想和追求目前受到壓制的法律學者、獨立執業律師、法官和其他人繼續珍藏著對一個不同中國的願景。這個願景是什麼呢?對於2020年3月被捕的許志永,這個願景首先是習近平辭職。他在網上發表的一封公開信中作出了這一呼籲。對於張雪忠,一個和許一樣參與了新公民運動的人,一個前法律教授和被除牌律師,同樣也是709大抓捕的受害者,這個願景是真正的憲政以及一部將“不可侵犯的人類尊嚴”寫入第一條的新憲法。對李和平和江天勇,這個願景是通過獨立的法律、律師和司法機關來限制行政權力,削弱黨的嚴酷控制。對所有活動家,一個民主中國將遵守言論自由和其他人權和自由,這些對保持富有活力的公民社會和充滿生機的公共場域至關重要。對每一個真正的辯護律師和人權律師,這一願景要求切實遵守如下這些普世權利:最基本的律師執業權;廢除以酷刑逼取口供;讓每個人都有自己授權的律師為之辯護;在法庭上保證質證程序;法官不受政治、警察、或黨的干預,根據案情公平判案。

在我們看來,709精神就是《世界人權宣言》和其他反映國際法治原則的聯合國文書中所表達的國際人權原則,儘管我們必須承認,一些人權律師因聯合國機構未能(正如他們看到的那樣)幫助中國社會克服目前的獨裁而對聯合國機構表達了失望和懷疑。這一精神在諸如台灣、韓國、日本、印度在內的其他東方國度的法律自由民主和法治中得到彰顯,如同它在諸如澳大利亞和新西蘭、加拿大、德國等在內的許多所謂西方法律自由憲政民主國家中得到彰顯那樣。

然而709所代表的並不僅僅是一場正在中國進行的運動,它也是一場全球鬥爭的標誌。 709律師向世界發出了挑戰。他們在追尋基本法律自由、一個公民社會、以及一個溫和國家的努力中已經犧牲了太多,而這些在其它國家已大體實現。但他們如果想在中國實現自己的夢想,其他地方久已確立的自由、法治理想亦需要捍衛和改進。從一個國家到另一個國家,從東方到西方,民主倒退都伴隨我們視為當然的普世法律和政治價值長久以來的滑坡。在中國,709仍然活著,並將作為一種抵抗和希冀繼續活著。 709律師會希望我們肩並肩,團結一致,與一個他們從未擁有但我們擁有卻乏於捍衛、如今在很多國家的民主倒退中危在旦夕的美好政治社會理想站在一起。與709律師站在一起,就是支持在歐洲、美洲、亞洲和全世界實現這些理想。為此目的,我們需要時時警醒,勇敢捍衛,心懷我們那些中國同胞所秉持的勇氣、堅毅和希望。

特倫斯• 哈立德(Terence Halliday) 是美國律師協會基金會的研究教授,《刑事辯護在中國:律師工作的政治學》一書的合著者;艾華(Eva Pils) 是倫敦國王學院法學教授,《人權在中國:獨裁陰影下的社會實踐》一書作者。

ive years after the ‘709’ crackdown on China’s human rights lawyers, their voices must be heard 

Terence C. Halliday and Eva Pils, July 8, 2020

In the early hours of the morning on 9 July 2015, China’s security apparatus launched the first strike of its worst ever campaign against practicing lawyers in China.  The forced disappearance of woman lawyer Wang Yu by unidentified black-garbed, masked men signaled the beginnings of a nationwide campaign that would detain and incarcerate, many times disappear and torture, numerous times charge and sentence, more than 300 lawyers in the following months. Their “crimes”? Taking on challenging criminal defense and human rights cases, accompanied by calls for a fair and just legal system that respected the rights of even the most vulnerable. It was an attack unsurpassed globally, if not in terms of its brutality, then in terms of its sophistication, that made China’s endangered lawyers targets of a wider campaign to destroy the very idea of autonomous legal advocacy and real rule of law in China.

And yet, on 9 July 2020, the lawyers’ struggle clearly remains alive, even as their suffering continues. It is imperative to remember and memorialize their suffering as well as that of colleagues who came to their defense only to be detained themselves. 

During the years of crackdown China’s rights lawyers suffered brutal and inhumane treatment. Public humiliations of televised confessions, privately humiliating naked prisoners before mounted cameras, the psychological torture of extreme isolation, physical torture through forced chemical ingestion of psychotropic drugs, myriad tortures of the so-called Iron Chair, harsh shackles, excruciating extended distortion of limbs—these are now well-documented sufferings, some of which the survivors discussed in person with one of us following their release.  China’s authorities imposed them on lawyers who, in societies more closely conforming to the rule of law, would be championed as zealous advocates and peaceful defenders of universal ideals. 

In 2020 the supposed release of the rights lawyers detained in 2015 does not mean release as we assume it does in normal societies. Veteran China expert, Jerome A. Cohen, instead prefers the term, ‘non-release release.’ Formerly Beijing-based lawyers are banished to distant provinces. Homes and phones are bugged. Hallways are populated by 24-hour guards. Cameras at the front entrances of apartment buildings record all entrances and exits, including those of family and friends who manage to get past the guards in the street. Shopping trips are accompanied by followers who discourage by their presence neighbors and friends from conversation. And when important national events take place, as Jiang Tianyong recently discovered, up to 20 security persons surge around him, housed in tents and monitoring tightly his every move. The isolation of the prison becomes a wider social isolation as friends, neighbors, fellow lawyers and religious believers are discouraged from close contact. Lawyers are released from one prison, said a veteran of crackdowns, only to be shuttered in another. 

The punishment of China’s notable criminal defense and rights lawyers continues with the loss of their livelihoods. Unlawful annual reviews by the Justice Bureau, pressure on and from law firm partners, gangster tactics to obstruct lawyers’ work, suspending of lawyers’ licenses or disbarring them altogether lead both to loss of income and a loss of the dignity that their professional status endows upon them. 

And yet, despite all this, courage endures and hope remains alive. Courage expressed itself in Yu Wensheng, who had described to both of us vividly screaming like a wild animal during an earlier spell of detention and torture in his 2014 torture, yet persisted in defending colleagues swept up in the first few months of the 709 crackdown, and in calling for reforms of the system that had incarcerated them,  only to pay a grim price that is still unfolding in detention, a secret trial and now years of imprisonment. Courage was displayed by Wang Yu’s decision to disclose how she had been coerced into publicly ‘confessing’ to ‘wrongdoing.’ Resolve shows itself in Wang Quangzhang’s decision, after emerging from the longest and undoubtedly among the most brutal of 709 disappearances and detention and decision, to launch a petition to challenge his conviction. 

If the ‘709’ lawyers were fully free to speak to a global audience, our many years of research on them leave no doubt that they would all assure publics and policy-makers alike that their hopes remain intact, their resilience is assured, and their ideals are not only theirs but those of all champions of fundamental freedoms and rights everywhere. 

Meanwhile, the domestic harms experienced by millions of China’s citizens have continued and been multiplied, even as the causes that brought activist lawyers into conflict with the Party-state remain unresolved. Environmental degradation, land takings, the miseries of migrant laborers, the cultural destruction of Tibetans and Uyghurs, the religious clampdown on Tibetan Buddhists, Muslims in the NorthWest provinces, Protestant and underground Roman Catholic Christians across the country, rampant corruption—the underlying  tectonic pressures for relief from harm and misery remain. In the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, human rights violations have reached the level of apparent mass crimes against humanity and (at least) cultural genocide. 

Until the advent of Xi Jinping’s ‘New Era,’ it was in many ways the lawyers who carried the flags for these vulnerable populations, who sought to channel their grievances into lawful channels of redress. The crackdown has marginalized their position in the institutions of the system, and rights lawyers are unable to play a role in addressing the worst of these ongoing systematic human rights violations, such as those occurring in Xinjiang, today. The international community has been reduced to criticizing China from the outside in this context; it cannot really work with domestic human rights defenders, whose work in bringing human rights issues to light is crucial. Yet , as eminent law professor, He Weifang, has noted in his In the Name of Justice ,   ‘[i]f the real side of a society, especially negative situations, is hidden, it is a very dangerous thing, like putting the country on top of a volcano.’ (p. 176)

China’s rights lawyers, and all those legal academics, private practitioners, judges and others whose aspirations are currently suppressed continue to cherish a vision of a different China. What is that vision? For Xu Zhiyong, most recently detained in March 2020, it starts with Xi Jinping’s resignation, for which he had called in an open letter released online.  For Zhang Xuezhong, like Xu a member of the new Citizen Movement, a former law professor and disbarred lawyers who had also been victimised by the 709 Crackdown, it will entail an authentic constitutionalism and a new constitution that should enshrine ‘inviolable human dignity’ in its Article 1. To Li Heping and Jiang Tianyong, it will combine restraint of executive state power with autonomy of law, lawyers and legal institutions, from oppressive Party control. For all activists, a democratic China will enshrine freedom of speech and other human rights and liberties central to a dynamic civil society and an open and vibrant public square. For every genuine defense and rights lawyer, it will demand actual adherence to the most basic universal rights of legal practice, from abolition of confession by torture, to defense of any person by authorized legal counsel, to court procedures that test evidence, to judges that decide cases fairly on their merits without political or police or Party interference. 

In our view, the spirit of 709 is the spirit of the international bill of human rights as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other UN-based documents reflecting the principle of an international rule of law – even though we must acknowledge that some of the human rights lawyers have expressed disappointment and skepticism about the UN institutions that have (as they see it) failed to help Chinese society overcome its current autocracy.  It is a spirit as evident in the legal liberal democratic and rule of law East—in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, India, among others—as it is in the so-called legal liberal constitutional democracies in the West—in Australia and NZ, Canada, Germany, among many others. 

Yet 709 is not only the marker of an alive China movement, it is also emblematic of a global struggle. The 709 lawyers present the world with a challenge. They have sacrificed deeply in their drive to obtain basic legal freedoms, a civil society and moderate state substantially achieved in other countries. But if their ideals are to be obtained in China, long entrenched ideals of freedom, liberty and rule of law need defending and refining elsewhere. In one after another society, in East and West, democratic retrogression has been accompanied by a slippage away from universal legal and political values too long taken for granted. 709 is alive in China and will remain alive as resistance and as aspiration. The 709 lawyers would have us stand shoulder to shoulder in a solidary unity of ideals for a good political society they have never had and that we have endorsed but poorly defended, and that now seems at risk in many countries threatened by democratic retrogression. To stand with the 709 lawyers is to stand for the realization of ideals in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the world over that require constant vigilance, undaunted defense, and the courage, resilience and hope of our Chinese compatriots.  

Terence Halliday is Research Professor, American Bar Foundation, and co-author, Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work.

Eva Pils is Professor of Law, Kings College London, and author of Human rights in China: a social practice in the shadows of authoritarianism

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Berliner Bericht | 2020