Saturday, June 11, 2011

Li Zhuang Returns Home; Fang Hong's Family Disappeared

After serving one and a half years in a Chongqing prison, former lawyer Li Zhuang returned home to Beijing earlier today.  His son, Li Yatong, posted on his micro-blog a photo of the family sitting in the airplane. I'm always happy to see a family reunion.

A little more than a month ago, Chongqing police had tried, but failed, to extend Li Zhuang's sentence with new charges. (For those of you who are not familiar with Li Zhuang's case, search keyword "Li Zhuang" on my blog and you'll find detailed posts, such as this one, following the trial last year.)

Li Yatong (middle), now in his third year of law school, has been firmly supportive of his father through the whole ordeal. His blog post "宣判" ("sentencing") was widely circulated on the Chinese internet last year.

While Li Zhuang is finally home, a Chongqing citizen, Fang Hong, was sent to labor reform for mocking Bo Xilai's handling of Li Zhuang. Fang also has a supportive and filial son, Fang Di, who hired a renowned lawyer, Yuan Yulai, for his father.  Yuan Yulai is reputed to be most interested in cases of "citizens suing officials." A couple of days ago Yuan wrote on his micro-blog that Fang Di and other family members have disappeared after being summoned by police to talk.

Fang Hong's arrest shocked me more than Li Zhuang's trial, for even the appearance of legal procedure is abandoned. It is a stark naked case of "speech crime." If I had had any illusions about Bo Xilai before, like the first time when I saw his handling of Chongqing's taxi strike in 2008, Fang Hong's arrest was the last straw to convince me Bo is a ruthless politician believing in Mao style iron-handed rule, and a political gambler who stakes all on a single throw.  I just don't know, 35 years after the Cultural Revolution ended, how far Bo can go in today's China.

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