Criminal proceedings are scheduled to begin in Guangzhou today against human rights activist and lawyer Yang Maodong (杨茂东), most often known by his nom de plume, Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄).
Yang, a long-time human rights campaigner who was previously jailed in 2007 for the unauthorized publication of a political expose (and released almost exactly three years ago), was arrested in August 2013 and later charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.”
At least some of Yang’s present charges stem from his alleged organization of protests in January 2013 outside the office’s of Guangzhou’s Southern Weekly newspaper.
Yesterday, ahead of today’s trial proceedings, Yang issued a statement circulated on Twitter, Facebook and Chinese social media, in which he accused the court of violating his right to legal defense by preventing access to key case materials.
Our full translation of Yang’s statement follows:
Statement from Prison by Mr. Guo Feixiong
In the process of hearing the case against me for so-called ‘disturbance of public order’ (聚众扰乱公共场所秩序), there have been numerous instances of violations of legal procedure. In particular, there have been violations of Article 38 of the Criminal Procedure Law, namely the preventing of my defense lawyers, Chen Guangwu (陈光武) and Zhang Xuezhong (张雪忠), from copying eight discs of digitized case materials (including video taken at the scene, photographs and other evidence). This already constitutes a serious violation of the legal right of defense of myself and my defense lawyers.
If the court continues tomorrow (September 12, 2014) to proceed according to its original designs, well then, the court and the trial will be improper and illegal, and therefore entirely null and void. Tomorrow, in the midst of this illegal and entirely void trial process, I will maintain silence throughout.
Here I wish only to voice my utmost resistance and condemnation to the tyrannical stability preservation system, which flagrantly violates the law and tramples on its spirit, and which regards the basic interests of the Chinese people — namely, the realization of constitutionalism and democracy — as an abyss that means the end of the world.
If those in power wish, in disguised fashion, to do away with the legal defense system, returning us to the kind of criminal justice system we had in the days before the end of the Cultural Revolution, when [the right to] legal defense did not exist and family members could not attend trial proceedings — well then, let them begin with the cases against me and against Sun Desheng (孙德胜)!
Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), a.k.a. Yang Maodong (杨茂东)
September 11, 2014