Any resemblance between true justice and what happened in China on Tuesday is purely coincidental.
We're referring to the harsh sentences imposed by Chinese courts on two key dissidents accused of master-minding the pro-democracy protests crushed by the army in 1989.In the toughest verdicts so far in connection with the tragedy in Tiananmen Square, Chen Ziming and Wang Juntan were each sentenced to 13 years in prison. Tuesday's sentences brought to 21 the number reported so far, including 15 prison terms.
Rivaling the travesty of the sentences themselves were the unseemly speed and secrecy with which the courts acted. The sentences were disclosed one hour after one judge finished hearing evidence in Wang's case and less than an hour after another judge finished hearing Chen's. Wang made his first and only court appearance Tuesday, while Chen appeared in court Monday.
Outside observers were not allowed to view the trials. So it's easy to believe sources close to the two men's families when they say that the courts refused to let defense attorneys present new information that showed their clients' innocence and repeatedly interrupted Chen and Wang when they tried to defend themselves.
Keep in mind that the protests in Tiananmen Square were peaceful. Keep in mind, too, that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chinese were killed when the army cracked down.
Clearly, the wrong people are being put on trial for the tragedy of June 1989. Clearly, too, Washington will have to wait for new leaders to take over before it can fully restore relations with Beijing.