Mr. Guo is a practicing lawyer with the Tianyi Law Firm in Shanghai. He has acted as a defense attorney for many well-known dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners and is generally recognized as one of the few lawyers in China’s legal community who has the courage to face political pressure from Chinese authorities on these delicate legal matters. On February 23, 2005, the Bureau of Justice in Shanghai searched Mr. Guo’s office, confiscated his legal license, and took his computer. We further understand that authorities have banned him from his legal practice for one year. On March 4, 2005, the Bureau of Justice of Shanghai held a hearing regarding Mr. Guo’s punishment and will deliver an official verdict in two weeks. Allegedly, Mr. Guo indicated that Shanghai authorities told him the reason for this treatment was because he was acting as a defense counsel for two Falun Gong practitioners. Consequently, we at Friends of Falun Gong USA are extremely concerned for Mr. Guo’s immediate safety and well-being.
Falun Gong is an ancient Chinese spiritual meditation practice that consists of five gentle exercises and postures, along with a self-improvement component of teachings. The teachings are summarized as Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance. Many liken Falun Gong’s technique to the ancient practices of tai chi or yoga. The discipline was made public in May 1992 by its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi. Today, Falun Gong is practiced in over 60 countries.
According to Chinese government census estimates taken in the mid 1990’s, as many as 100 million people were identified as practicing Falun Gong, including high-ranking officials within the Communist Party. In turn, former head of state Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999. One theory for the persecution is that Jiang may have perceived a threat to his own power over the masses after seeing so many of his people voluntarily following the ideas and teachings of a practice independent of communist doctrine. Unable to crush the millions who experienced improved health and positive life changes from practicing Falun Gong, Jiang and the communist regime intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing, and even murdering those who practice it. Currently, over 1,400 confirmed deaths have been reported, and hundreds of thousands are feared to be tortured in labor camps and prisons throughout China.
From a purely legal point of view, the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong is groundless and even violates articles in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China that guarantee freedom of belief, speech, association, and assembly. No actual law has been passed in China forbidding Falun Gong. Rather, two “announcements” were issued. The first was issued by the Ministry of Public Security. It forbids Falun Gong from hanging banners with Falun Gong references, assembling in public, or to appeal for Falun Gong. The second was issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and it banned the continuation of the Falun Dafa Research Association. Ironically, according to the Chinese Constitution, any departmentally issued regulations that contradict the constitution are technically deemed invalid. Yet, this clause within the Chinese constitution continues to be trampled on by the Communist Party. The tragic result is that this behavior creates an environment where any verbal “order” or whim by Party leaders, such as not allowing lawyers to provide a fair and legitimate defense for Falun Gong practitioners, automatically overrules law.
Mr. Guo has historically demonstrated a great sense of justice and ethical courage for the plight of human rights in China, and has even published articles on the Internet in China when legal and constitutional protocols have been compromised. In his article entitled “Chinese lawyers are useless,” Mr. Guo expressed indignation that his client Qu Yanlai, a Falun Gong practitioner, had to go on a hunger strike for 780 days without food and water, “the longest and the greatest in human history,” in order obtain a genuine lawyer for his defense while on trial. Even after such suffering, Mr. Guo, serving as the defense lawyer, was refused access to his client four times. Mr. Guo stated that, “according to Chinese law, a lawyer has the right to meet his client even if his client is in prison, and the prison must arrange for the meeting within 48 hours. In Qu Yanlai’s case, however, 103,680 hours had passed. I requested to meet him four times, yet the prison openly violated the law and refused to arrange any meeting for him to see his lawyer!” It is very likely Mr. Guo’s articles will be used as “evidence of crimes” by Chinese authorities to begin their persecution and abuse of him.
We consider Mr. Guo’s exceptional courage to be something worth protecting and advocating for. We would like to request your assistance in this matter by asking you to express your concerns for Mr. Guo’s situation to the Bureau of Justice in Shanghai, and the congress of China. In particular, we would like the Bureau of Justice to immediately stop their unconstitutional persecution of Mr. Guo, return his license, and ensure that Mr. Guo can carry out his legal practice in an unhampered environment.