Draft Defense Statement for the Trial of Zhang Baocheng
This is the draft defense statement by one of Zhang Baocheng’s former lawyers, prepared for the original trial on January 27, 2014. In that trial, in protest of procedural problems, Zhang dismissed his lawyers and forced an adjournment of the trial. (The new trial took place on April 8, and Zhang was convicted on April 18 of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,” and sentenced to two years in prison.)
In this statement, Chen argues that Zhang does not need to be defended because he is innocent and he has already been convicted even before the verdict’s announcement. Chen slams the trial as being pure political persecution and the judicial system as an instrument of persecution rather than for justice. He argues that Zhang acted in accordance with his constitutional rights when he advocated for asset disclosure, which is a practice common in civilized countries. Chen says the New Citizens Movement activists and those who put them on trial will be judged by history.
Below are excerpts from the statement (English translation by Human Rights in China):
Excerpts from the Draft Defense Statement for the Trial of Zhang Baocheng
By Chen Jiangang
[English translation by Human Rights in China]:
1. Zhang Baocheng’s case does not need a defense:
Whether or not Zhang committed a crime is not in question. Anyone with a conscience knows the answer—there’s no need for a trial or investigation. Even those who, in the end, find him guilty know that he is innocent. The question of whether Zhang Baocheng committed a crime is as simple as asking if we want corrupt or clean officials. There is no need for explanation.
The current situation demonstrates Zhang’s case does not require a trial—he has already been convicted. A lawyer’s defense argument is pointless. When we say a lawyer does not have the ability [to do the defense], it is just modesty. The essence of Zhang’s case is the persecution of unarmed dissident civilians by institutions of public authority that are armed to the teeth. The disparity [in power] between the two sides is like a knife versus a fish. The only thing Zhang Baocheng can do is be slaughtered by the institution of public authority. A lawyer’s defense is also slaughtered in the process. There is no need for explanation.
In summary, this case does not need a defense. Our defense is just the pen of a scholar—it’s a joke in the eyes of a soldier who relies on violence. The script of the Taiwanese film “Monga” is always in my mind: “Guns are a sinister thing brought from the West. It is the weapon of the lower class. One should rely on fists and knives to operate in organized crime.” During the process of this case, I keep feeling that there is someone behind the scenes saying something similar: “Judicial impartiality is a sinister thing brought from the West. One should rely on power and violence to prosecute political criminals.” This case, from start to finish, has excluded the application of law. There is no need for explanation.
6. The case deprives citizens of their right to free speech.
Requiring approval of speech is a unique characteristic of a dictatorship. The suppression of speech is the first taboo in a democratic society. Whether there’s freedom of speech is the main difference between a democracy and a dictatorship. If speaking and expressing your thoughts require approval from the government, then that government is a dictatorship. That kind of country is a prison.
If this system cannot be changed, no one is a constitutionally stipulated citizen or a resident as stated in one’s identity card. We are pigs and dogs. Those who can eat but cannot speak are pigs. Those who can eat, cannot speak, but wag their tails at the authority and beg for pity are dogs. Without the right to speak, we are no different from pigs and dogs. This kind of system makes us all live like pigs and dogs. In the end, in 1949, was China liberated or did it fall into enemy hands?