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(Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter From A Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963)
The Human Rights Law Foundation is calling upon Chinese authorities to release Chung Ting-Pang, a Taiwanese citizen and Falun Gong practitioner detained while visiting his family in Mainland China. Chung Ting-Pang is under investigation for violations of vague and expansive state security laws that have been routinely abused by Chinese authorities and used to target marginalized groups in China, such as Falun Gong practitioners.
Chung Ting-Pang has no hope of receiving a fair or just trial in China and faces serious risk of a lengthy prison term, torture, and other crimes against humanity. China possesses no jurisdiction over the alleged acts, the charges against him are vague, and Chung Ting-Pang has not been afforded an attorney or any basic due process protections. By violating Chung Ting-Pang’s most basic rights in this manner, Chinese authorities cannot claim they are dealing with him in accordance with the law. Finally, as a prisoner of conscience detained solely on the basis of his religious beliefs or for his alleged acts of conscience, Chung Ting-Pang should be released forthwith and permitted to return to his home in Taiwan.
Throughout history, and most notably in the 20th and 21st centuries, tyrannical rulers and their ruling elites have engaged in egregious conduct recognized under commonly shared global values as shocking to the collective conscience of the world community. In the most salient historic cases of “atrocity crimes” or “crimes against conscience,” violence, propaganda, and the law have served as potent social mechanisms to facilitate the regime-sponsored abuse. Hitler, the Hutu, and Slobodan Milosevic are prominent historic cases where rulers or ruling elites perpetrated atrocity crimes against targeted populations through their dehumanization and objectification.
Equally salient are the stories of men and women who have risked safety and liberty to speak out and expose the lies and deceit that undergird atrocity crimes, to defend members of marginalized groups, and in exceptional circumstances sidestep their allegiance to the laws of the ruling regime. The Freedom Riders, the Abolitionists, and the supporters of Mahatma Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ang San Suu Kyi serve as examples of those who have deliberately challenged “crimes against conscience” based on higher jus cogens norms that are binding on all nations and persons.
China is no exception. The Chinese Communist Party adopted Stalin’s prescription of violence, deceit, and law as the pillars on which the Party must rely to secure and maintain its power. Propaganda has been recognized as playing an essential role in conditioning Chinese minds and gaining uncritical acceptance of the Party’s statements as the sole authority for values and information. To apply violence, Mao directed that a campaign of killing and terror be executed every five to seven years against a selected group to intimidate China’s citizens into nonresistance. This was accompanied by deceitful propaganda that demonized the victims as subhuman, socially dangerous threats to the security and stability of the Chinese Communist State to promote and permit the violent acts, as well as by the passage of laws created to justify and legitimize the otherwise unlawful arrest of members of selected groups or anyone else who appears to threaten the hegemony of hardline party rulers and their ruling elite.
China and the Asian continent more broadly have also produced men and women willing to sacrifice their liberty, their careers, and their well-being to challenge the perpetuation of atrocity crimes in their native lands, including the “atrocity crime” laws used to enforce and permit the perpetration of these crimes. Such men and women include Gao Zhisheng and other Weiquan movement lawyers and activists in China. Despite the risk of being subjected to unlawful arrest and detention, Gao and his colleagues have exposed the lies and deceit promulgated by hardline members of the Chinese Communist Party, while challenging the Party’s use of legal sanctions to facilitate atrocity crimes, sanctions that rely especially on vague and overbroad state security laws geared to silence and punish anyone whose words or acts appear to challenge the hegemony of the Communist Party state.
Equally noteworthy are the many independent minded journalists, courageous Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners in China, Tibet, and Taiwan who have exposed the lies and deceit that undergird and permit the indiscriminate murder, torture, and rape of persons targeted for persecution or eradication in China. While some have sent information abroad to ensure that foreign government and their leaders understand the unconscionable nature of the crimes and the toll of suffering the Party’s atrocities have inflicted upon them, others have exposed the Party’s lies and deceit to the Chinese people. Some, in an effort to prevent the occurrence of atrocity crimes in China, have even used signal-interrupting devices to broadcast material on the CCP-controlled television system to expose the lies and deceit that undergird atrocity crimes, defend members of marginalized group and, like Ang San Suu Kyi and her counterparts in history, challenge these crimes based on a higher law.
According to recent reports from China, Chung Ting-Pang, a Taiwanese citizen and Falun Gong practitioner who was picked up at the Ganzhou airport while on his way back home to Taiwan after visiting his family in Mainland China, is now under investigation for suspected criminal activities endangering national and public security through his use of signal-interrupting devices. Because the Chinese authorities operate in secret and Chung Ting-Pang has been afforded no due process, it is impossible to know whether the claims against him are based in fact. If the reports are credible, Chung Ting-Pang is among the courageous few who have deliberately challenged the perpetration of “crimes against conscience” in China based on higher jus cogens norms that prohibit atrocity crimes and which are binding on all nations and persons.
Regardless of the credibility of the aforementioned reports, a few facts are clear.
First, China lacks jurisdiction over acts carried out abroad. China might recall its own invocation of sovereign immunity principles to deter foreign courts and countries from investigating or litigating alleged crimes carried out by Chinese authorities.
Second, Chung Ting-Pang’s arrest and detention, based on allegations that he endangered the national security of China, are further examples of how Chinese authorities use vague and overbroad laws to punish members of persecuted groups.
Third, as a member of a persecuted group in China, Chung Ting-Pang will be subjected to a sham trial and a lengthy prison term.
Fourth, as a prisoner of conscience detained solely on the basis of his religious beliefs or for acts of conscience, Chung Ting-Pang should be released forthwith and permitted to return to his home in Taiwan.