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“By the code of law, [the dissidents] should win every time. They present very strong cases,” Mr. Browde said. “But they lose every time.”

Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong said the rule of law requires all parties — government agencies, social organizations and individuals — to “conduct business within the framework of the Chinese Constitution and relevant laws.”

 “Long gone are the days of rule by man, when a particular human being’s will would determine the destiny of the whole nation and its people,” Mr. Wang said in an e-mail. “China now stresses democratic and scientific decision-making on issues that will affect the daily life of the citizens and their personal interests, with more say and input from the average people.

 “There’s of course room for improvement, and there’s the phenomenon of failure to observe the law and miscarriages of justice,” he said, “but China’s determination to push forward the process of Chinese characterized democracy and rule of law is unswerving.”

Mr. Yang said the movement has had many setbacks, the biggest being that the dissidents have won only two cases.

“People may gradually lose their hope and become skeptical of how far this movement can go,” he said.

Mr. Yang said instances of lost cases are rampant. In Fujian, for example, three people have been tried for attempting to reveal the details of a rape case, which was indirectly tied to the police.

According to Mr. Yang, the second ruling had just come down a few days ago: For “seriously affecting the interests of the state,” the three have been sentenced to one to three years in prison.

International media also have followed the fates of several Chinese lawyers who took up individual human rights cases, including Gao Zhisheng and Feng Zhenghu. They have been alternately arrested and harassed for their work.

Mr. Feng is under house arrest in Shanghai after returning to China, and Mr. Gao has been missing since April.

“Each who protests runs some kind of risk. We can’t say, ‘They’ll be OK tomorrow,’” Mr. Yang said.

Mr. Yang added that the setbacks and disappointments are accompanied by a breakthrough every day, citing several persistent protesters as examples.

“I’m telling [the leaders] that they need to pay attention to people, and they can’t abuse us,” said Hu Yan, one of three Chinese citizens who came to the U.S. in April to petition the United Nations every day after being forcibly evicted from their homes.

Forced evictions are a well known in China, most recently demonstrated in the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, in which 18,000 families were evicted from their homes, according to Mr. Yang.

The three activists said they hope their petitions will get attention and inspire people to address the issue of human rights and law in China so that they can attain a fair outcome.

Story Continues →