An interview with lawyer Zhang Qingfang about the trial of Xu Zhiyong (1)

When the Leaders say it is a horse, the court dares not to say it is a deer

On January 23, 2014, Professor Ai Xiaoming interviewed Lawyer Zhang Qingfang, the defendant lawyer for Xu Zhiyong whose trial was conducted on January 22, 2014. During the interview, Lawyer Zhang was also answering other media interviews by phone, these answers were also written down by Professor Ai. Questions and answers belonging to the phone interviews are put into brackets for clarification. The complete interview can be read here (in Chinese). (I will try to translate part of the interview in the following days. The following is the first translation)

Ai: What is the situation of yesterday’s trial?

Zhang: The trial is ridiculous. During normal trials, the questioning to the defendant is very important, the prosecutor needs to ask, and the defendant lawyer also needs to ask questions. However if this process of the interactions between the prosecutor and defendant is missing, it will not be a normal trial, it becomes a monologue played by the prosecutors. They were just repeatedly reading the written records already prepared by the police. The witnesses were not allowed to show in the court, since they were afraid that the witnesses would tell the truth then it would prove that there was no violation of the law. It is just a single-party’s play, performance, it is as such.

Even when it is like this, the 195 pieces of evidence listed by the police with all their effort, including witness’s words, and on-site videos, as I already said they wanted to look for evidence to prove Xu Zhiyong was guilty, but did not find anything at all. In Nov 2011, the crime of ‘subverting state power’ was used to charge Xu Zhiyong, since the authority has long been having a hostile attitude towards Xu Zhiyong, and thought he would subvert state power and was not satisfied with the ruling party. However, later the authority found it could not work since they did not find any evidence after one year’s secret investigation with all kinds of measures taken, including following him in stealth. However, since the authority has already indicated this, they have to arrest people anyway. To arrest people need reasons. With regard to Yuan Dong, Ding Jiaxi, the authority used the crime of illegal gathering; saying that they used banners in Xidan, giving public speech, demanding government officials disclose their assets. They used the crime of illegal gathering to arrest these people, however afterwards, they found this crime could not be used to charge Xu Zhiyong. What is illegal gathering? How many people can form illegal gathering? There must be obstacles, and obstructing law-enforcing personnel to constitute illegal gathering. The authority does not have any evidence to prove this. Xu Zhiyong always says, we shall not have any conflict with the police. Therefore to charge him with illegal gathering is impossible. Then, the authority changed him with gathering crowd to disrupt public order. The charge has been changed again and again, which proves that Xu is not violating the law, it is the authority that is working hard to allege that he is guilty. However, the reasons they found so far do not stand for it anyway.

The most important factor with regard to disrupting public order is, when and how he disrupted public order. While it is public order, then it is relating to people. Only when specific people were affected, it can be said that the public order is disrupted. The authority has not found any Beijing resident to prove this after such a long time investigation. What are the evidence found by them? They are all government personnels, police, security of the Ministry of Education, and they said that people said insulting words about their leaders, blocked the gate and cars and made them unable to work properly; and people’s insulting languages affected the image of their leaders and the Ministry of Education. However, they cannot prove it with any evidence.

In fact, the parents, are all well-educated, and with high personal qualities. Plus their aim is very simple, they just want their children not to have to go back to their home towns to take the university entrance exam, since they have worked in Beijing, paid tax in Beijing for years. Their children also think they are Beijingers, they speak Beijing dialect, attend primary schools and middle schools in Beijing. However, they will not be allowed to take the university entrance exam in Beijing since their house registration is not in Beijing, they are Henan people and Shanxi people by then. During the whole process, parents do not want to make the responsible authority feel unhappy, to make them feel unhappy will not solve the problem. However, if you only make your claim in a gentle tone, it also does not work, because there is no pressure. This is why they want to have a certain amount of people to be there to impose some pressure and realize their good will.

The onsite video shows it very clear, it did not cause any chaos. However I also talked with many people, it is like, the prosecutor takes a deer to court and says it is a horse, and asks the court to confirm it is a horse. It is this simple, everyone knows it. Will the court say it is a horse? Possible. If Zhao Gao says it is a horse, the court dares not to say it is a deer.

Everything is so simple, just because he calls for the right to equal education and government officials to disclose their assets, he is going to be charged. Of course the prosecutor always says, it is not because your slogans and your requests, it is because you violate the law, you disrupted residents’ daily lives, and disrupted public order.

It is easy to judge by watching the video. We will make the video public. People will understand once they watch it. To put it another way, is it a deer or a horse? The authority insists to say that it is a horse, this will only become a laughing stalk in the Chinese history.

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