Scuffles took place outside Beijing’s Second Intermediate People’s Court on Monday as the trial of prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang began in the Chinese capital.

Foreign diplomats and journalists were among those shoved away by police outside the courthouse, as they attempted to make statements and to cover the trial of the outspoken rights advocate and former defence lawyer to dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

BBC reporter manhandled outside Pu Zhiqiang trialOur BBC team was pushed away by security officials outside the trial of prominent Chinese human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang.Full story:

Posted by BBC News on 2015年12月13日

U.S. diplomat Dan Biers tries to deliver a statement outside the trial of rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, and is roughly shoved by Chinese police. This was 100 meters from the gate, on the sidewalk, out of the way.

Posted by Emily Rauhala on 2015年12月13日

Having already spent nearly 19 months in detention, Pu, 50, now faces up to eight years in prison if convicted on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “incitement to racial hatred.”

The charges against Pu, are based upon seven messages he posted to micoblogging platform Weibo between 2012 and 2014. In one, Pu asks, “Besides cheating […] what secrets does the Party have to hold on to power?” In others, he criticises the Communist Party’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans in the wake of the 2014 knife attack at Kunming railway station, which left 29 people dead.

Whilst Pu condemned the attackers, he also criticised the Party’s policies in far-western Xinjiang, which he said governed the restive, Muslim-majority region as though it were “a colony” and “treated [Uyghurs] as enemies.”

During the same two years, Pu posted some 20,000 messages to the website, using twelve different accounts to evade censorship controls.

Pu’s closed trial concluded by midday with no verdict announced, his family told reporters. Although he admitted posting the messages, Pu pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Pu’s lawyer Mo Shaoping said that prosecutors had not demonstrated that any of Pu’s posts had provoked troubles or incited ethnic tensions.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch’s Sophie Richardson said that “nothing Pu Zhiqiang has written has violated any law, but the authorities’ treatment of him certainly has. A guilty verdict will be an indictment of the Chinese government, its law, and its legal system – not of Pu.”

天快亮了!律師浦志強是一個頂天立地的中國公民。今天上午九點,他將被帶到北京第二中級人民法院受審。法官應該知道,全世界的華人都在等候這早上九點,等著看:在偉大的「中國夢」裡,國家這個機器將如何處置寫了六百多字的浦志強。是的,北京,請做給我們看。我們需要知道「中國夢」裡文明的進度究竟走到了哪裏。 龍應台(晨3:10)

Posted by 龍應台 – Lung Yingtai on 2015年12月13日

Taiwanese writer Lung Ying-tai, formerly the country’s cultural minister and one-time resident of Hong Kong, was also among the politicians and human rights advocates to express solidarity with Pu. “We want to know just how civilised this ‘Chinese Dream’ of yours is,” she wrote online, mocking President Xi Jinping’s prized catchphrase.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China also condemned police obstruction outside the courthouse, writing that “this effort to deter news coverage is a gross violation of Chinese government rules governing foreign correspondents, which expressly permit them to interview anybody who consents to be interviewed.”

Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others