Dharamsala, August 13 – Chinese writer and environmental activist, Tan Zuoren, was tried yesterday in the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu, Sichuan Province but the court did not reach any decision.
Tan is accused of “incitement to subvert state power.” Well known artist Ai Weiwei had travelled from Beijing to Chengdu to attend the trial as a witness for Tan but beaten by Chengdu police and detained in his hotel room for 11 hours, according to the New York based Human Rights in China.
Tan’s wife, Wang Qinghua, who attended the trial, told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that the court did not allow Tan to make the final statement to which he was entitled and did not allow any defense witnesses to attend the trial; and that the judge repeatedly interrupted the defense lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang.
The court only allowed Wang and her older daughter into the courtroom. The court barred her younger daughter, as well as Tan’s brother and nephew, who had come from the United States to attend the trial, from entering the court. According to Pu, about 100 policemen filled the seats in the courtroom. Wang said that more than 100 people, including family members of Sichuan earthquake victims, staged a protest outside the court, questioning, “If even his own daughter can’t enter the court, what kind of public trial is this?”
Tan Zuoren is a writer and environmental activist based in Sichuan Province. He was the editor-in-chief of “Wenhua Ren” magazine. After the Sichuan earthquake, he and Xie Yihui conducted a nearly three-month investigation by interviewing families who lost their children in the collapsed schools. They published their findings in an online report titled “Independent Investigative Report By Citizens,” in which they criticized the government for not conducting a thorough investigation into the causes of the collapse of the schools and for under-reporting the number of victims. Tan was detained on March 28, 2009, three days after the publication of the report.
Ai Weiwei was a design consultant for the “Bird’s Nest,” the Beijing Olympics stadium. After the Sichuan earthquake, he initiated the “May 12” Investigation of the Student Earthquake Victims. Ai told HRIC that he arrived in Chengdu on the evening of August 11.
At midnight, about 30 policemen came to his hotel room, Ai told HRIC, adding that a policeman punched him in the chin when he asked them for their identification. Ai said that he had no doubt that the police action was timed to prevent him from attending the trial.