China lawyers boycott trial of activist
China lawyers boycott trial of activist

[JURIST] The legal defense team representing prominent Chinese human rights activist Guo Feixiong [CHRD profile], decided to boycott the start of Guo’s pending trial over procedural irregularities, which resulted in adjournment of the proceedings at the Guangzhou People’s Court in Southern China. All four lawyers boycotted the trial [Reuters report] because authorities failed to grant the legal staff at least three days advance notice to prepare for the trial and the lawyers were denied access to a laptop computer in the courtroom. Guo was arrested [NYT report] for his role in a protest against media censorship outside the offices of the Southern Weekly newspaper in August 2013. Guo is being tried with another activist on the charge of gathering crowds to disturb public order, and experts believe he is likely to be convicted [WSJ report] which could mark a fortification of the government’s stance against the growing rights movement in China.

China’s human rights record has garnered international attention for the government’s treatment of the growing civil rights movement in the country, led by a number of prominent rights activists and attorneys. In June a Chinese court denied bail [JURIST report] to prominent human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, who is likely to be indicted in the country’s attempt to deter growing legal activism. Pu was detained [JURIST report] last month for “causing a disturbance” after he attended a weekend meeting that urged an investigation into the 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Many believe that the government’s actions against Pu are intended to set an example, in hopes of silencing the growing dissonance and social activism amongst lawyers in China. In May Chinese officials in the western region of Xinjiang held a public rally [JURIST report] at a sports stadium for the mass sentencing of criminals. While three of the 55 sentenced were convicted for crimes including “violent terrorism,” other prisoners’ crimes ranged from separatism to participation in terrorism groups.