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Pu Zhiqiang

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Defended causes :


Pu Zhiqiang is a Yangshan born in 1965. Particularily engaged in the protection of freedom of speech, and acclaimed by his peers for his eloquence and courage, he is known for defending in 2011 the dissident artist Ai WeiWei who, like him, demonstrated in favor of democracy in the Tan’anmen Place in 1989.

In 1991, Pu Zhiqiang, young graduate from a master degree in law, is already closely tracked by the regime, so much that his activism will earn him to be a banned from working. This leads him in 1995 to take the bar exam and start, in 1997, a career as a lawyer. This will be marked by several major fights in favor of human rights and punctuated by comments berating the Chinese Communist Party. [...]

Among the causes defended by this activist is the abolition of “re-education through labor”, which allowed the authorities to sentence people for minor offenses to a maximum of four years of forced labor, and this without any trial. This system will eventually be abolished at the end of 2013. Another milestone is the denunciation of “shuanggui”, an abusive and unlawful detention system under which Chinese officials are detained and tortured outside any judicial process, in the name of Anti-corruption campaign led by President Xi Jinping. In 2016, the Human Rights Watch association took up the torch of this cause, publishing in early December a 102 pages report on the subject.

Twenty-five years after the Tian’amnen protests, which marked the beginning of Pu Zhinqian’s engagement, a private commemoration is being held in Beijing in May 2014. It is on this occasion and under this pretext that Zhinqian will be arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on 6 May. According to the lawyer Teng Biao, another figure in the civil rights movement in China, Pu Zhiqiang’s arrest marks the beginning of an offensive against Chinese human rights lawyers.

Pu Zhiqiang spends a year and a half in prison before appearing in December 2015 before a Beijing People’s Court for “incitement to racial hatred” and “provocation of disturbance”. The accusations, based on the publication of tweets from 2011 to 2014 condemning the repression of minorities such as the Uyghurs in Xinjiang or Tibetans, are just a pretext, according to Zhiqiang’s lawyer.

On December 22, 2015, Pu Zhiqiang was sentenced to three years in prison. Although he did not return to prison, it remains that behind this apparent clemency, the Chinese courts sentenced a man for the sole reason that he had used his freedom of expression to defend others.

International mobilization:

Under Xi Jinping’s presidency, Beijing has sharply toughened the repression of critical voices from civil society – lawyers, activists and academics – with hundreds of arrests.

The NGO Amnesty International considers the trial against Pu Zhiqiang a “deliberate attempt by the Chinese authorities to obstruct a champion of freedom of expression” and says that several of the people that have expressed their support for the accused before the Beijing court have been arrested.

Twenty protesters who came to support the lawyer on December 14 for his trial have indeed been arrested, and at least four of them have since been formally indicted.

Amnesty International:

ACAT France:

European Union:

Human Right League:

Chinese Human Rights Defenders :