Date:                  March 23, 2020


Wuge Jianxiong (left), Cheng Yuan, and Liu Yongze (right)
(Photo: Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch)

(Changsha, Hunan—March 23, 2020) NGO workers imprisoned on false charges have fired their lawyers.

The prisoners, Cheng Yuan, Liu Yongze, and Wuge Jianxiong were all personnel of a Hunan-based non-government organization. Because of their work, they were charged with inciting subversion of state power and jailed last year.

Six attorneys represented the three men, but half of them were let go. According to China’s justice department, Cheng fired his two lawyers via a video recording and appointed two lawyers who have allegiance to the government.

Lawyer Wu, Wuge Jianxiong’s father and attorney, said he never received a notice from the authorities when he was fired. He also doubted his son would voluntarily fire him.

Lawyer Wu said, “Authorities may have pressured them in a very inhumane way. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have fired their attorneys suddenly. They haven’t met with their attorneys. Normally, the officials should notify families after an attorney’s contract is terminated, but they didn’t. What will happen next is the authorities will assign a few lawyers approved by the officials, and the lawyers will cooperate with and act with the officials. The tactic is very simple. The authorities assign their lawyers—legal aid lawyers—and the trial will not be open to the public on the excuse that the case involves state secrets.”

Such methods are common in cases of imprisoned activists and essentially ensure a trial will be ruled in favor of the state. Additionally, the three NGO workers have not been permitted to meet with their attorneys yet, impairing the defense’s ability to form a case.
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