Beijing: Lawyers Defending Falun Gong Facing License Revocation
Chinese lawyers Tang Jitian and Liu Wei are waiting to find out whether they’ll be banned from practicing law for life.
On Thursday, the two human rights lawyers faced a four-hour hearing in Beijing. They’re accused of, “disrupting courtroom order and interfering with the regular litigation process.”
Those charges stemmed from a trial in April 2009. Tang and Liu were defending a Falun Gong practitioner in Luzhou in Sichuan Province. In a statement published by rights group Human Rights in China, they said the presiding judge repeatedly interrupted their defense statements, restricted their examination of the prosecutor’s evidence, and allowed an unidentified man to film the court proceeding—something illegal under Chinese law.
The pair eventually decided to leave the courtroom, and submitted their defense in writing.
On April 12 this year, the two lawyers received a notice from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice. It said it plans to revoke their licenses as punishment for their disruption of courtroom order.
The case appears to be the latest attempt by the Chinese regime to suppress lawyers defending followers of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice persecuted by the regime.
The hearing on Thursday did not result in a decision on whether the lawyers’ licenses will be revoked. Lawyer Liu Wei told the BBC that the Bureau of Justice did not present any evidence to show how they interrupted court order.
Tang says if they’re debarred, it will be part of an escalating campaign against rights lawyers.
[Tang Jitian, Rights Lawyer Facing License Revocation]:
“If they persist in making this illegal decision, it will be a big blow to this profession, no question about it. Because while it’s a punishment to the two of us, it forms part of this illegal suppression of lawyers, something that has continued to escalate.”
Outside the heavily guarded hearing, lawyers and activists gathered in support of Tang and Liu. Tan said that a large number of supporters were taken away by police.
It’s unclear when the two lawyers will find out their fate.