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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Co-Chair McGovern on the Conviction of Four Chinese Human Rights Activists

Aug 9, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) responded today to the convictions of four Chinese human rights activists.

“Last week, four courageous Chinese human rights activists, including a prominent lawyer, were convicted by a Chinese court of ‘subversion of state power’ for exercising their legal rights and defending those of others.

“Zhou Shifeng, director of the Fengrui Law Firm, and activists Hu Shigen, Zhai Yanmin and Gou Hongguo, all with ties to the law firm, were subjected to trials that were wholly lacking in due process and lasted only a few hours each. Beforehand, the four were held incommunicado for over a year. No credible evidence was made available to the public, and authorities did not notify the defendants’ family members or lawyers, nor allow them to attend or represent the accused. When the wife of one of the activists went to court to seek information about the trial, she was detained and then confined to her home.

“These convictions follow the strange public ‘confession’ of Wang Yu, another renowned human rights lawyer, in which she supposedly admitted to being ‘used’ by foreign organizations to ‘smear China.’ The Chinese government says both Wang Yu and her husband, Bao Longjun, have been granted bail, but no one has seen them. Their teenage son is under house arrest. Human rights groups report that China may put as many as 13 more arrested lawyers and human rights advocates on trial in the coming months.

“We are constantly being told that the Chinese government believes in the rule of law. But that is false. Rule of law is about restraining the state’s arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to established law. Chinese authorities do the opposite: they use ‘law’ to enforce their power against anyone they cannot otherwise control, including their own citizens as they seek to exercise their most fundamental human rights. The law should protect rights, not legalize human rights abuses.

“I call on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Zhou Shifeng, Hu Shigen, Zhai Yanmin, Gou Hongguo, and all the other human rights lawyers and activists still being held due to their support or association with the Fengrui Law Firm. Wang Yu and Bao Longjun must be allowed to speak freely with their lawyers, diplomats and the media. Enough with words: China must act.

"And while I applaud the State Department’s strong statement condemning these latest judicial abuses, I strongly urge the U.S. government to find more effective ways to leverage our bilateral relationship in support of human rights. It’s time to recognize that China’s treatment of its human rights activists puts everyone in the country at risk, and to behave accordingly.”

114th Congress