Tuesday, December 13, 2005

China's pro bono lawyers make news

This lawyer sounds pretty courageous to me. These are a couple of excerpts from a much more detailed story.
Lawyer takes on China's 'unwinnable' cases By Joseph Kahn The New York TimesMONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2005 One November morning, the Beijing Judicial Bureau convened a hearing on its decree that one of China's best-known law firms must shut down for a year because it failed to file a change of address form when it moved offices. The same morning, Gao Zhisheng, the law firm's founder and star litigator, was 2,900 kilometers, or 1,800 miles, away in the remote western region of Xinjiang. He skipped what he called the "absurd and corrupt" hearing so he could rally members of an underground Christian church to sue China's secret police. "I can't guarantee that you will win the lawsuit. In fact you will almost certainly lose," Gao told one church member who had been detained in a raid. "But I warn you that if you are too timid to confront their barbaric behavior, you will be completely defeated." ********************************************************************* After an early career with notable courtroom victories, he has more recently plunged into cases that he knows are unwinnable. He has done pro bono work for members of the Falun Gong sect, displaced homeowners, underground Christians, fellow lawyers and democracy activists. When the courts reject his filings, as they often do, he uses the Internet to rally public opinion. Goa comes from a peasant family that lived in a mud-walled home dug out of a hillside in the Loess Plateau in Shaanxi, northwestern China. His father died at the age of 40. For years he climbed into bed at dusk because his family could not afford oil for its lamp, he recalled. Nor could they pay for elementary school for Gao and his six siblings


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