Chengdu Police and Court Flout Law in “Truly Disgraceful” Trial of Tan Zuoren

Comments Off on Chengdu Police and Court Flout Law in “Truly Disgraceful” Trial of Tan Zuoren

Chengdu Police and Court Flout Law in “Truly Disgraceful” Trial of Tan Zuoren

CHRD Protests Beating and Detention of Witnesses, Abuse of Tan’s Legal Rights

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders- August 12, 2009) As more information about today’s trial of Tan Zuoren (谭作人) for “inciting subversion of state power” becomes available, CHRD is increasingly dismayed at the blatant disregard for rule of law by judicial and law enforcement authorities both inside and outside of the Chengdu courtroom.

CHRD has now learned that Tan Zuoren’s defense team had originally intended to call three witnesses during their defense: architect Ai Weiwei (艾未未), geographer Fan Xiao (范晓), and Ai Nanshan (艾南山) , an environmental expert. However, Ai Weiwei, who arrived in Chengdu from Beijing yesterday, August 11, was awakened at 2 am this morning by police who knocked on the door of his hotel room for an “inspection”. When Ai opened the door a crack, the police forced their way into his room. The officers refused to display any official credentials, and when Ai demanded they produce documents authorizing their actions, one of the police officers responded by striking him. The officers remained in Ai’s room until Tan’s trial had concluded, preventing Ai from attending the trial to provide his testimony. Friends who met with Ai shortly after he was allowed to leave his room reported that his face was swollen from being struck. The other two witnesses identified by Tan’s defense team were likewise prevented from appearing in court by local police.

Lawyers Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) and Xia Lin (夏霖) reported that, during the trial, they were frequently and rudely interrupted by the judge, hindering their ability to prevent an argument on behalf of their client. The two estimated that approximately one-third of their planned defense was arbitrarily ignored or interrupted by the judge, and frequent protests by Pu and Xia were disregarded. A frustrated and disheartened Pu Zhiqiang broke down in tears following the trial. When asked about procedural problems during the court session, Pu told CHRD, “Please ask me whether they [the police and the judge] have done anything according to the standards or the rules during this trial! No part of the trial today followed any judicial regulations!”

Tan’s wife Wang Qinghua (王庆华), who along with her daughter were the only family members allowed to attend the trial, was similarly dismayed. After the trial, Wang said, “How can I not be upset? I used to love Chengdu, and felt proud to call myself a Chengdu citizen. But after Tan’s trial, I am extremely disappointed in this city, and feel that the authorities have disgraced us all. In their rush to frame Tan, they couldn’t even come up with a decent argument! It’s truly disgraceful.”

As previously reported, about five hundred activists, dissidents, victims of the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake, friends and supporters arrived at the court demanding to attend the trial, but were prevented from doing so by an overwhelming police presence. Tan’s brother, who travelled to Chengdu from the United States for the trial, was not only refused entry into the courtroom, but also detained by police until the trial had concluded. Cameras and recording devices were confiscated from individuals hoping to attend the trial by police.

CHRD condemns the travesty of justice at Tan’s show trial and violation of Tan’s right to legal defense and to a fair and open trial. Furthermore, the Chengdu police must be held accountable for intimidating and mistreating witnesses and supporters who had hoped to attend the trial. The concerted and synchronized effort between police, prosecutors, and judicial authorities to persecute Tan for his work to assist victims of the Sichuan earthquake and seek the truth about the collapse of school buildings which took the lives of several thousand children makes a mockery of official rhetoric about the importance of “rule of law”. CHRD continues to call for Tan’s immediate and unconditional release.

For more information, please see:

“Police Bar Public from Attending Trial of Earthquake Investigator Tan Zuoren”, August 12, 2009,

“One Year after Earthquake, Silence Imposed on Schoolchildren Deaths, Activists Harassed,” May 5, 2009,

The unfinished results of the investigation conducted by Tan and his partner, Xie Yihui (谢贻卉), <谭作人等人就地震死难学生的调查报告>, was released in Chinese on April 27, 2009,

“Sichuan Activist Detained before Earthquake Anniversary”, April 1, 2009,

“Human Rights Defender Huang Qi Formally Arrested”, July 18, 2008,

“Human Rights Defender Huang Qi Disappear, Feared Detained by Police”, June 12, 2008,

“A Brief CV of Tan Zuoren” (in Chinese),

Back to Top