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China: Lawyer Li Zhuang Released From Prison

It is seldom that one reads in China of what becomes of those sent to prison in political trials, and even more unlikely that you'll see such a post exclusively featured on Sina‘s main blog portal.

But, following the release this past weekend of Li Zhuang, the Beijing-based lawyer who was given a prison sentence of 1.5 years after he defended a Chongqing mobster in that city's Party secretary Bo Xilai's campaign against corruption, this is what Sina has done, carrying this post [zh] from Li's initial defense lawyer, Chen Youxi, which gives us a bit of an idea of where Li—as well as China's legal profession—is at.

Sina seems to be the only main Chinese blog portal which has given prominence to the post.

Chen writes:

他现在知道,原来外面有这么多人在关心他,并为他付出。原来他并不孤单。失去自由的日子里,他受到了礼遇。他有书看有电视碟片看,但没有新闻、没有信。写了不少古体诗,他背了几首,觉得平仄、对仗、意境都不错。他说感谢重庆,让他有了静心思考、认真养性的机会。

今天中午,辩护顾问团约晤李庄,在清华大学边“大益膳坊”为其接风洗尘。李庄已经从河北老家看望父母回京。[...] 聊了一些昨天、今天、明天的事。李庄脑子和身子都很好,依然健谈并自信。

He knows just how many people were concerned for him on the outside, and the price they paid. That he wasn't ever alone. During the days in which he lost his freedom, he was treated well. He had books to read and movies to watch; although, he wasn't allowed to read the news or receive any letters. He wrote a fair number of classic style poems, even memorized a few, and the tone, antithesis and imagery in them are not bad. He said that he thanks Chongqing, for giving him the chance to think things over and to recuperate.

This afternoon, Li's defense team came to meet with him and hold a welcome back dinner at Tsinghua University. Li has already been home to Hubei to see his parents and since returned to Beijing. [...] We chatted about the events of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Li is sound in both mind and body, and is just as talkative and confident as before.

他向所有这一年半来关心他、理解他、支持他的朋友们表示真诚地感谢。他需要先休息调整一段时间,正在看儿子李亚童为他准备打印好的一人高的关于他案件的报道。他要“恶补”这一年半的信息。里面的时候,有人告诉他,他早已经被这个社会抛弃和遗忘,没有人关心他。这两天他才知道愿来自己已经是中国和世界的闻人。他有点受宠若惊。真是造化弄人。

He expresses his sincere gratitude to everyone who was concerned for him, who understood him, and who supported him throughout this past year and a half. He needs to rest now for a while, and right this moment he's going through the stack of news reports about his case that his son Li Yatong printed out for him which stands as tall as he does. He needs to catch up on all the information from the past year and a half. While he was on the inside, he was told that everyone on the outside had given up on and forgotten about him, that nobody cared about what happened to him. It's only been in these past two days that he discovered that he's actually well-known in China and around the world. He's still a bit overwhelmed by it all. They really did a number on him.

这两天,全国的律师同行们纷纷来电祝福李庄。大量的媒体朋友都想采访李庄。李庄都没有接电话,请家人谢绝了。他先需要安静,需要一点时间休息和调整。但是他知道有太多的人需要感谢。大家问了几个一直纳闷的问题,李庄讲了一些很有趣的故事。

今后,关于他的事,关于他的行动,都可以由他自己说了。我们代言的使命终于完成了。

These past two days, Li's fellow lawyers from across the country have, one-by-one, been phoning Li up to wish him well. Many media also want to interview Li. Li isn't answering his phone, but he thanks everyone all the same. What he needs now is quiet, some time to rest and readjust. He knows that there are just far too many people to thank. One depressing question people keep asking is if Li has any interesting stories to tell.

As of today, the things he's been through and what he did, he'll have to tell us himself. Our task of speaking on his behalf has concluded.

[...]

虽然李庄出来了,至今我心依旧。《南都周刊》发了长篇背景报道《大牌律师转型》,季天琴记者写得很好,沈亚川编审把握、策划得很好,但是这是新闻界对律师业的一种善意鼓励。时间匆忙,有很多值得一书的人没有写进去。新闻界可以这样鼓励我们,但我们当事者自己不要真这样以为。今日中国律师依然偎葸,并没有那张电影海报般的照片那么雄壮。盛名往往是悲剧的开始,朋友离去的开始。古语说“木秀于林,风必摧之”。我是“木曲于林,人必伐之。”敢不诚惶诚恐。

律师界当前需要沉思。要让国人觉得我们长大了,是一个可以托付的群体。(2011。6。13)

Although Li Zhuang has already been released, I remain worried. The Southern Metropolis Weekly reporter Li Tianqin did an excellent job in her lengthy background report [zh] on Li Zhuang's legal team and how the role of big-name lawyers in China is changing. The copy editor, Shen Yachuan, did an equally good job of framing the story, however those of us involved in it do not agree. Lawyers in China today remain stifled, and aren't anywhere as grand as that movie poster of a photo which accompanied the article would have you believe. Making a name for yourself only leads to the onset of tragedy, and friends departed.

The legal world needs to reflect on this. It also needs to show China that, as a group, we have grown and can be trusted.

June 13, 2011

Southern Metropolis Weekly graphic

Southern Metropolis Weekly graphic

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