Charter for Compassion

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ai Weiwei Beaten and Restricted from Testifying at This Morning's Court Hearing for Tan Zuoren

This just in: Late into the night, by the cover of darkness, Ai Weiwei (one of the designers of the Bird's Nest Stadium famous as the Olympic Stadium) was roughed up by police. He was medically checked out, and is okay, but he has been restricted from attending the court hearing of Tan Zuoren, which is happening this morning. Ai had traveled to the Sichuan to be a witness at the hearing. With Chen Yunfei, the other witness already held by security, the Chinese state has free rein to get a conviction on Tan Zuoren. It appears that the Chinese government has successfully silenced the witnesses. Tan Zuoren, is an environmental activist on trial for investigating the deaths of school children in the earthquake last year. The following comes from the NY Times via China Digital Times. , a writer and also a prominent rights advocate, faces a potential five-year sentence for and is to go on trial Aug. 12. The charges are broad ones the Chinese government often uses to silence people who publicly challenge the government.

“These trials are not about a reasonable application of the law, but about silencing government critics whose work has considerable public benefit and sympathy,” Sophie Richardson, the Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group based in New York, said in a written statement released Tuesday. “The government is likely seeking to squelch those who cause it embarrassment, but in the process it is undermining domestic and international confidence in its ability to cope in a transparent way with natural disasters.”

The situation continues to develop: Professor Ran Yunfei, and others who intended to attend the trial have now been taken into custody or prevented from attending the trial.

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