Leading Chinese Human Rights Lawyer on Trial for Social Media Posts

Respected Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. (Image: Channel 4 News  via Screenshot/YouTube)
Respected Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. (Image: Channel 4 News via Screenshot/YouTube)

“Why wouldn’t China work without the Communist Party?” was part of a Weibo micro-blog post that apparently got respected Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang arrested and detained for 18 months.

That question above was a part of one of the three Pu posts that the ruling communist authorities said was “creating a disturbance.”

Another four posts, authorities say, were “inciting ethnic hatred.” Here is one of them in full, as published by Quartz: “Temples in the Tibet region are required to follow ‘Nine Have.’ They should hang up the portraits of [former Party leaders] Mao, Deng, Jiang, and Hu. Yining forbids Muslims to wear beards and veils. This series of actions is the so-called dilution of religious consciousness. Is it people of Han ethnics gone crazy or their leaders gone crazy?”

The authorities have used those seven posts to detain the 50-year-old since May 2014, and finally on Monday they took Pu to trial, but a verdict has yet to be given.

The social media posts could result in Pu being imprisoned for eight years.

The trial gained its fair share of international attention, perhaps too much from the Party’s point of view, and RFA reported an eyewitness seeing 18 people (presumably Pu supporters) being detained outside the courthouse.

For more on what occurred outside Pu’s trial on Monday, when Chinese police harassed Pu’s supporters, journalists, and diplomats, see this BBC News report:

According to Quartz, Pu had used a dozen social media accounts to circumvent censorship rules in China. Between 2011 and 2014, Quartz said he posted some 20,000 tweets, most of which were critical of policies made by the Communist Party.

But Perry Link, a U.S. academic who knows Pu, told The Guardian that the allegations made by the authorities are just a pretext to warrant Pu’s politically motivated incarceration.

“The real reason is that ever since ‘89 and Tiananmen, he has been a symbol for free speaking,” Link said.

“He is tall, he is articulate, he is charismatic, he is smart, he is well-informed, and he has gone around China and built a reputation of being heroic and speaking the truth — especially on the issue of freedom of expression,” he added.

“He does threaten the regime with poking a hole in [its] web of lies.”

Pu is one of over 250 human rights lawyers who have been arrested by communist authorities over the past two years.

For more about Pu’s trial and what he stands for, see this news report by Channel 4 News:

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