Chinese Police "Smash" "Criminal Gang" of "Rights Defense" Lawyers For "Hyping"

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These screenshots were taken on July 12, 2015, and show that Sina Weibo was censoring search results for “Rights Defense Lawyers,” and that Baidu had banned users of its PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) service from establishing a forum on the topic of “Rights Defense Lawyers.”

At 11:09 pm on July 11, 2015, the Ministry of Public Security published the following announcement on its official "Strike the Four Evils, Eliminate the Four Harms" Sina Weibo:
[Ministry of Public Security Uncovers "Rights Defense" Plot] Over the past few days, the Ministry of Public Security has directed law enforcement agencies in Beijing elsewhere in a coordinated action to smash major criminal gang that used the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm as a platform to organize, plot, and hype-up over 40 sensitive incidents and severely disturb social order. A criminal enterprise has been brought to light comprising a large, well-organized, and tightly coordinated group of "rights defense" lawyers, provocateurs, and petitioners.
That post linked to a 4,000+ character article co-authored by Huang Qingchang (黄庆畅) from the People's Daily and Zou Wei (邹伟) from Xinhua entitled "Ministry of Public Security Uncovers "Rights Defense" Plot" (公安部揭开“维权”事件黑幕). Some excerpts:
Why is that at the scenes of a series of recent major public incidents time and again lawyers step in to take the lead in creating disturbances and masses of "petitioners" hold up signs stirring up trouble? Why is it that outside the courthouses in a string of sensitive cases time and again we have seen trial judges and government officials become the targets of slanderous attacks and online vigilanteism? Why is that in a series of cases where people are behind the scenes making mountains out of molehills, there is always a group of people stirring up trouble and hidden hands manipulating the situation?
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Criminal suspects Zhai Yanmin, Wu Gan, and Liu Xing have provided the answers: these are all the work of their "rights defense group."
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"Ever since I joined the group in 2013, as soon as any kind of sensitive domestic event occurred, they would deploy a fixed model and workflow to hype-up the situation," Zhai Yanmin said. "Rights defense" lawyers would typically distribute video and picture of certain sensitive events to their Weixin groups, along with certain polemical and inciting opinions. If the event failed to generate enough interest, the "rights defense" lawyers would go directly to the scene of the event. At that time, certain people would organize "petitioners," who would go to the scene to express "calls for support" under the guise of seeking to learn what really happened, and thereby draw the attention and interest of the general public.
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Where did the funding for these "calls for support" come from? Zhai Yanmin and Liu Xing have confessed: every time there was a campaign to call for support, they would solicit donations online, and sometimes would receive financial support from abroad. Petitioners from all over would receive payments and subsidies if they wanted to go somewhere to call for support. Zhai Yanmin said "During some activities the lawyers group would give us some money, and I would give some of it to the people participating in the call for support, and I would keep some for myself."
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According to police officers involved in the case, whenever a sensitive case happened to pop up, these "die hard faction" lawyers would openly oppose the courts in the courts and online, and would maneuver behind the scenes to direct and incite stirring up trouble and shore up the organization of petitioners outside the courts and online to voice calls for support and stir up trouble, create echo chambers in China and overseas, exploit reciprocal relationships, and become the direct driving forces behind hyping-up sensitive events.
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As for the methods used by agents of the Fengrui Law Firm to hype up cases, many criminal suspects described them as "New, Rare, Special."

New means needing new approaches so that lawyers needed follow legal process as had been the case formerly. Zhou Shifeng once described it to Zhai Yanmin this way: "The law enforcement agencies obey the police, the courts obey the judges, whatever they say goes and no one dares oppose them. That's unacceptable. What's needed is to be somewhat willful, don't just do as they say, and handle things in accordance with our own aspirations.

Rare means being able to get some "rare individuals" like Wu Gan to appear. Make use of the "special aptitude" of these individual who "have the courage and the will to fight," to achieve things that average people couldn't achieve. For example, Wu Gan once put the face of a female cadre onto the body of a naked model, and shared it online with the tag "Sleeping Every Day." He also once set up a "mourning hall" for a senior leader in front of a courthouse gate.

Special means certain special methods, such as making online and offline calls for people to pay attention to the cases they are representing; filing reports and complaints against judges, police, and government officials while calling on Internet users to engage in online vigilantism, all in order to put pressure on them; organizing parties to disputes and their friends and family as well as outsiders to besiege judicial agencies in order to exert pressure on them, and achieve proxy results beyond that which would normally have been through the legal system.

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