“Lawyer Xia Lin: Such Is Our Country, and All We Can Do Now Is Fill Up Our Glasses”
Guo Yushan, September 20, 2016
[HRIC Note: On September 22, 2016, Xia Lin (夏霖), a well-known criminal defense lawyer of the Beijing Huayi Law Firm was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and three years’ deprivation of political rights by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court.
In October 2014, after Guo Yushan (郭玉闪), director of the Transition Institute in Beijing, was detained and accused of taking part in Hong Kong’s Occupy Movement, Xia Lin represented Guo as his defense lawyer. A month later, Xia himself was taken into custody and was later charged with “fraud.” Xia’s trial was held on June 17, 2016, at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court. Xia pleaded not guilty. Ding Xikui (丁锡奎), Xia’s defense lawyer, said: “We believe that all the evidence should be excluded because it was unlawfully obtained. Xia Lin was targeted due to his professional lawyering activities and political views. This case was filed against him just because he represented Guo Yushan. It violated the principle of equal protection under the Constitution.”
Xia Lin was born in 1970. He graduated from the School of Law at Southwest University of Political Science and Law in 1992 and started to practice law full-time in the same year. He went to Beijing in 2001 and worked at the Beijing Yipai Law Firm before joining the Beijing Huayi Law Firm. Xia Lin defended well-known activists and human rights defenders, including Ai Weiwei (艾未未), Ran Yunfei (冉云飞), Tan Zuoren (谭作人), Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), and Guo Yushan (郭玉闪), in their high profile cases. His other high profile cases included those of Cui Yingjie (崔英杰), a Beijing street vendor who killed an urban law enforcement officer named Li Zhiqiang (李志强) (2006), and of Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇), a waitress, accused of stabbing a local official to death (2009).]
Lawyer Xia Lin: Such is Our Country, and All We Can Do Now Is Fill Up Our Glasses
September 20, 2016
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
On September 22, after enduring nearly one year and 11 months of agony, Xia Lin (夏霖), a lawyer and a friend of mine, was finally brought before the court for sentencing. No matter what crimes they have charged him of committing, the whole world knows that he was detained for being my defense lawyer, for which he has greatly suffered to this day.
In May 2014, Xia Lin found himself in the middle of controversy for representing Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强). Around mid-June, Xia Lin, Kaiping (黄凯平), and I were having a painful discussion on Old Pu’s case over drinks at the Beijing Workers’ Stadium. Old Xia abruptly said to me, “If you end up being detained one day, I’ll be your lawyer and will definitely put up a good fight for you in public, however much it would cost me.” I replied, “Absolutely. If I get detained, by all means, knock yourself out and don’t worry a thing about how much it would cost me.” With Kaiping as our witness, we ended this exchange of words with the three of us raising our glasses and finishing our drinks in one gulp.
Who would’ve thought that this day would come so soon? Three months afterwards, I was taken into custody, so was Kaiping, and Xia Lin indeed became my defense lawyer. And in another month, Xia Lin himself was also detained. Soon after that, I was relocated to a different detention facility and then to another, while Xia Lin was kept at the No. 1 Detention Center this whole time. A year later, when I was released on bail and regained my freedom, Xia Lin was kept behind bars because he refused to confess. Another year went by, and the day has finally arrived for him to hear his verdict.
We have all paid the price we had expected to pay—it had been predestined at the very moment in our youth when we made a choice about how to treat our country. In 1989, at the prime of his youth, Xia Lin chose to join those of his generation in Tiananmen Square to give all that they had in the fight for a better country. And when he was a student at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, he vowed publicly to never, in his life, become a lapdog or lackey of injustice.
He has certainly honored his promise. For the last 27 years, he has not once had a change of heart. From Guizhou to Beijing, from representing businesses to defending human rights activists, he has walked an increasingly difficult and frightening path in life. And for the hefty price we would end up paying, Xia Lin and I were mentally prepared. Watching the reaction and cruelty of the current political system, he is far more clearheaded than I am.
As if by fate, our lives have been interwoven ever since we first met in Professor Mao Haijian’s (茅海建) modern Chinese history class at Peking University. In 2004, when my fellow protesters and I were besieged during an assembly on the Jing Yuan Courtyard of Peking University, Xia Lin came to the scene with his lawyer’s license and the power of attorney from us students and then walked in circles around the courtyard, standing by to intervene at any time. In 2008, when he was in Badong County of Hubei Province working on the Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇) case, I traveled hundreds of miles from Beijing to lend him my assistance. In 2012, after I dropped Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) off at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Xia Lin came to my study and combed through and analyzed for me, item by item, all the possible legal means the authorities could take against me for what I did, from the charge of “subversion of state power” to that of “illegal business operations.” Two years later, when I was imprisoned, those discussions proved to be the most valuable experience.
We are both aware of the crosses we are destined to bear for history. Whether it’s Xia Lin, me, or many, many others who have taken up the same cause, we are all fated to serve as the stepping-stones that pave the way toward China’s future. It’s our utmost honor to accept this humble place in history. Whatever the future may have in store for us, we have not forgotten the aspirations that brought us here in the first place, nor will we ever forget them. Come what may, demonization or heavy sentences, nothing coming from this country would surprise us. During my detention, I said repeatedly that once sentenced, I would see no difference between spending one day and one decade in prison. Given Xia Lin’s unyielding pride and tenacity, I’m certain he would feel the same way. On September 22, Xia Lin could be sentenced, say, to 11 years or two years in prison. Whatever the number might be, it has nothing to do with the law. This is our fate, and we shall accept it. Such is our country, and all we can do now is fill up our glasses. On September 22, I will bring wine to wait for the result outside the court. But actually, for Xia Lin, me, Judge Yi Daqing (易大庆), and the No. 101 Special Investigation Team, this is not the end, but a beginning.