Human Rights in China has learned that Hangzhou-based writer Lü Gengsong was tried this morning on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” Lü and his lawyers maintain his innocence; no verdict has yet been announced. Numerous activists attempted to attend the trial despite warnings not to do so from Hangzhou state security officials. Two activists, Mao Qingxiang and Zou Wei, were reportedly detained for attempting to attend the trial.
Lü Gengsong’s wife, Wang Xue’e, told Human Rights in China that Lü’s trial began at 8:30 a.m. at Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court, Zhejiang Province. While the court had initially arranged for only two seats for members of Lü’s family and for friends to attend, two additional people, activists Wu Yuanming and Wei Zhenling, were allowed in due to the large number of people waiting outside.
The hearing ended at approximately 11:40 a.m. According to those who attended the trial, Lü’s lawyers, Mo Shaoping and Ding Xikui, made a number of arguments in Lü’s defence, including the fact that out of the more than one million words Lü wrote in his articles, the procurator pointed to just 470 as evidence of “inciting subversion of state power.” Lü also professed three arguments in his own defence in a written statement (appended to the Chinese version of this press release): first, that the 226 articles he wrote are not criminal because they fall within his right to freedom of speech as protected in the Constitution; second, that the prosecution’s claims that his articles attack and slander the government have no legal basis; and third, that the political power of the Communist Party and the power of the state are two separate concepts and they should not be equated with one another. Lü also argued that because the Communist Party is not an elected authority, it cannot represent national public opinion.
Human Rights in China also learned from other sources in China that Hangzhou state security officials had warned several dissidents not to attend Lü’s trial, saying that there may be consequences. Those warned include China Democracy Party activists Gao Haibing, Mao Qingxiang, Wang Fuhua, Wang Rongqing, and rights defender Zou Wei. Mao Qingxiang and Zou Wei attempted to attend the trial despite the warnings, and were reportedly detained by police early this morning. Their whereabouts are not clear at time of press.
Wang Xue’e told Human Rights in China that between 50 and 60 people were waiting outside the court when the session ended at noon, and that dozens of uniformed and plainclothes police monitored the crowd. Notice of the next court session will be provided by the court at a later date.
Lü Gengsong, indicted on January 10, taught at a special training school for public security officers, but was dismissed in 1993 because of his activities in support of democratic reform in China. In recent years he has been supporting himself as a freelance writer. He published a book, “Corruption in the Communist Party of China,” in 2000, as well as a number of articles on corruption, organized crime and related topics. He has also been involved in rights defense activities such as reporting on the sentencing of Hangzhou eviction protester Yang Yunbiao.
“In less than 200 days, Beijing will hold the Olympic Games; time for keeping its promise for a ‘Free and Open Olympics’ is running out,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. “The Chinese authorities must seize this opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to respecting free expression, and stop the persecution of Lü Gengsong, those who support him, and the many others who peacefully express their opinions but are harassed or detained.”
For more information on Lü Gengsong, see:
To promote freedom of expression in China, see Human Rights in China’s Take Action Olympics Campaign: http://www.ir2008.org