China's Justice Bureaus Get More Involved in the Persecution of Falun Gong by Abusing Their Right to Regulate Lawyers
(Minghui.org) China's justice system has five major components: law enforcement, procuratorates, courts, justice bureaus, and national security organs. The first three components have played a significant role in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, with the police making the arrests, the prosecutorate filing indictments, and the court handing out prison sentences.
Justice bureaus are now increasing their involvement in the persecution. The highest justice bureau in China is the Ministry of Justice, which oversees numerous lower-level justice bureaus. One of the main responsibilities of justice bureaus is to regulate the legal profession. In China, all lawyers are subject to an annual renewal system for their law licenses. Justice bureaus, not bar associations, are tasked with determining whether a person meets the requirements to be licensed as a lawyer or to have their license renewed.
Under the direction of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), an extra-judicial agency given power to override the justice system in the persecution of Falun Gong, many justice bureaus have threatened to revoke or not to renew the licenses of human rights lawyers who dare to defend Falun Gong practitioners or openly discuss Falun Gong cases on various platforms, including social media.
Lawyers who refuse to quit representing Falun Gong practitioners find their rights violated. Some of them had justice bureau officials show up at their homes to threaten them and their family members. Bureau officials sometimes call judges, requesting them to stop the lawyers from pleading not guilty on behalf of their clients. Some officials even attended court hearings to watch the lawyers and threatened to permanently revoke their licenses.
When lawyer Wang Yonghang defended Falun Gong practitioners and pleaded not guilty on their behalf, the Liaoning Province Justice Bureau investigated him and confiscated his license in May 2008. The deputy director of the Dalian Justice Bureau also met with Wang, criticizing him and threatening to arrest him. Officers from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, then arrested Wang in July 2009 for his refusal to stop representing Falun Gong practitioners.
Such cases are not isolated. Before another lawyer defended a Falun Gong practitioner, 14 family members of the practitioner also wanted to enter the courtroom to observe the trial. As court officials denied their request without an explanation, the lawyer said, “If they are not allowed to go in, I will not enter either.” A police officer threatened the lawyer, “If you look for trouble here, I will report you to the justice bureau and get you arrested.”
The involvement of justice bureaus in the persecution of Falun Gong goes beyond interfering with lawyers. After Ms. Gao Rongrong, a Falun Gong practitioner in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province was disfigured by electric shock torture and taken to a hospital, several practitioners managed to help her escape on October 5, 2004. Shenyang Justice Bureau then sent a “notice for sssistance in an investigation” to nearby cities and communities to locate Ms. Gao. The notice failed to mention the mistreatment and disfigurement of Ms. Gao, who was eventually arrested again and died in custody on June 16, 2005.