The nearly 18-hour trial of rights activists Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), also known as Yang Maodong (杨茂东), and Sun Desheng (孙德胜) ended without verdicts for the defendants. The activists were tried in the Guangzhou Municipal Tianhe District People’s Court (广州市天河区法院 ) for “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public places.” The trial began at 9:00 a.m. on November 28, and ended at 2:50 a.m. November 29, Beijing time, when, according to a weibo post by Guo’s lawyer Zhang Lei (张磊), Guo was giving his final statement.
Human Rights in China is releasing Guo’s self-defense statement in its Chinese original and English translation. See below for the beginning section of that statement. The full English text is available on HRIC’s website.
The charge against Guo stemmed from his involvement in street actions in January 2013 to support the protest by Southern Weekly’s staff against editorial interference by Party officials. In addition, Guo and Sun are accused of planning “raising signs in the street” in eight cities in 2013, including Wuhan, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
Guo’s sister, Yang Maoping (杨茂平), who attended the trial, said that the judge interrupted Guo and his lawyer “several hundred times” when they were speaking, and that court personnel snatched away Guo’s self-defense statement. She also said that the judge did not consider the great amount of evidence Guo’s lawyer Zhang Lei prepared, including photos and videos.
According to Yang, Guo, during his more than 400 days in detention, has been kept in a cell with more than 30 other inmates and was never let outside. Yang said that he has lost a lot of weight, and looked sallow. “This was an evil trial, it was a black court, and this was pure political persecution,” said Yang.
Guo’s wife, Zhang Qing (张青), who came to the United States in 2009 with their two children, said, “In previous trials, Guo was still able to present his defense. And now, he is even deprived of this right to defense. They are blatantly trampling on the law.”
When the trial was taking place, many rights defense activists who came from different parts of China to show their support for Guo were taken away by the police. They included Liu Shaoming (刘少明), Chen Yunfei (陈云飞), Guo Chunping (郭春平), Song Lei (宋雷), Huang Yuzhang (黄雨章), and Ouyang Laobo (欧阳老伯).
Guo was first detained on August 8, 2013, and was held in detention for over three months before he was allowed to see his lawyer. Guo and Sun’s trial was originally scheduled for September 12 of this year, but did not proceed as lawyers for both defendants did not appear in court in protest of alleged procedural violations. HRIC is issuing Guo’s “Self-Defense Statement” in Chinese original and English translation. In the statement, Guo explains the original intent of his activism, his core considerations and approach, and his ultimate aim of contributing to the realization of freedom, democracy, and constitutional government in China.
My Self-Defense Statement
Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong)
November 29, 2014
Abridged from the Chinese original
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
This court is one with special depth. In this court, I will offer my own narrative of the facts regarding my street protests and the political opportunities I availed myself of in support of Southern Weekly, my original intentions, core considerations, operations, and balanced actions. I will also elaborate on the basic reasoning and legal basis for my promotion of “eight-city flash actions,” which aimed to urge the National People’s Congress to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In early January of 2013, Tuo Zhen, propaganda chief of the Guangdong provincial Party committee, censored Southern Weekly’s editorial “Dream of China, Dream of Constitution.” Strong reactions were triggered in China’s online space and civil society by the thought police’s severe infringement on the newspaper’s right to freedom of expression on public affairs. MORE.
Background on Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong)
Guo Feixiong is a writer, activist, and self-taught legal defender, who has written a number of articles and published books on China’s history, leadership, and social issues. He was previously sentenced to five years in prison for supporting the well-known rights defense lawyer Gao Zhisheng and suffered ongoing harassment by the authorities.
Guo was formally arrested in September 2006 on the charge of “illegal business activity” (非法经营) in connection with his 2001 publication of Shenyang Political Earthquake (沈阳政坛地震), a book he edited that discussed a political scandal in Shenyang, Liaoning province. He was convicted in November 2007, sentenced to five years in prison, and fined 40,000 yuan.
After his release in September 2011, Guo remained an active member of the rights defense community. In 2012, he participated in the Wukan village elections; investigations into the suspicious death of rights defender Li Wangyang (李旺阳); and a signature campaign to support Liu Ping (刘萍), an independent candidate in local elections in Xinyu, Jiangxi Province, who was beaten by police when she tried to submit an application for a permit to march.