New Citizens Movement activist Yuan Dong was tried at the Beijing Haidian District People’s Court on January 27, 2014 for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.” He was detained, along with other activists, on April 4, 2013 and later formally arrested after unfurling banners and distributing leaflets calling for disclosure of officials’ assets in Beijing. In his final statement at trial, Yuan Dong said that his and the other defenders’ actions do not constitute a crime, and their prosecution is flagrant suppression of citizens’ rights, which humiliates China and represents a step backwards in history. On January 29, the court found Yuan guilty and sentenced him to one and a half years in prison.
Yuan Dong's Final Statement at Trial
January 27, 2014
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
Presiding Judge, Judges:
None of the charges the public prosecutors levied against me meets the constitutive requirements under Article 291 of the Criminal Law. Our actions do not constitute crimes, and the court should release us and return our freedom to us.
The human society is inhabited by countless individuals living in a single space, and problems and conflicts are ubiquitous in the details of everyday life. Objectively speaking, these problems and conflicts must all be resolved promptly. At the same time, it is impossible for government institutions and officials in positions of power to promptly, accurately, and comprehensively obtain information [about these problems and conflicts]. In light of this, if the people enjoy the right to express themselves peacefully, rationally, and fully within the framework of the law, it enables government institutions and officials to obtain this information promptly, accurately, comprehensively, and at low costs, as well as to formulate relevant laws and take administrative measures to eliminate problems at their initial stages.
The scale and diversity of means of official graft and corruption through abuse of public power, as well as the amount of money involved, in Mainland China have never been greater in several millennia of Chinese history than they are now under the misrule of the current Communist Party. And the punishment for these misdeeds has never been lighter. Official corruption breeds social ills. The decorative “mass line educational practice” cannot address corruption's root causes. First, simply having officials to supervise and investigate their peers is akin to fathers investigating sons and brothers investigating brothers. Both sides belong to the same interest group. Second, what can be done when the investigator is bought by the person being investigated? This is simply misplacement of supervisory powers, purely playing house and fooling around.
In a healthy society, there should be mechanisms for self-correction and self-immunization. The correcting entity should be the general public, rather than government officials themselves. When we raise our voice in a peaceful and rational manner demanding officials, starting with Xi Jinping, disclose their assets and nationality, we are concretely putting society's self-immunization and self-correction mechanisms into operation. It is also our right to do so as citizens of a civilized society. What is criminal about it?
When the authorities put us in the dock, and convict and sentence us, they are blatantly using Party and government power to suppress citizens' rights. This is a shame and regression of Chinese history and must not be tolerated by the entire people of China.
Finally, I want to tell the powers that be in exalted positions: put away your laughable antagonistic way of thinking and stop treating us as enemies. We are your fellow countrymen and we share a common destiny!
Click here for the Chinese original of the statement.