Thu, Dec 27, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China tries human rights lawyer in ‘sham’ case

CHRISTMAS TRIALS:A leading Marxist was detained on his way to a memorial for Mao Zedong, allegedly to minimize clashes between ‘two streams of thought’

Reuters, TIANJIN, China

Protesters tape posters of detained Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang and his wife, Li Wenzhu, to the Chinese Liaison Office’s sign in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: AFP

The subversion trial of Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) in what Amnesty International called a “sham” hearing ended yesterday without a verdict being announced

Wang, who took on sensitive cases such as complaints of police torture and defended followers of Falun Gong, went missing in August 2015 during a sweeping crackdown on rights activists.

Most cases from that summer, known as the “709 crackdown,” have concluded, but Wang was incommunicado for more than 1,000 days.

Investigators said he had “for a long time been influenced by infiltrating anti-China forces” and had been trained by overseas groups and accepted their funding, a copy of the indictment showed.

Police turned non-Chinese journalists and Western diplomats away from the heavily guarded court in Tianjin, and denied entry to Wang’s supporters and family.

The court had decided, in accordance with the law, to hold a closed trial as the case involved state secrets, it said in a statement, adding that the verdict would be released at a later date. It gave no other details.

The indictment said that Wang worked with Peter Dahlin, a Swedish rights worker who was detained in China for three weeks before being deported in 2016, and others to “train hostile forces” and provide reports on China to outsiders.

It also said that Wang had distorted the facts in his online statements about the case of a policeman who killed a man in Heilongjiang in 2014, and of “cults” that he had defended.

Dahlin said on Twitter that they had kept all documentation dating back to 2009 “and will release anything needed to dispel that it constitutes subverting state power.”

Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu (李文足), said that she has been unable to visit Wang since he went missing.

Seven lawyers she appointed to try to represent Wang had also been unable to visit, she added.

Li in a statement said that state security agents had followed her when she left her Beijing home and blocked off the six entrances to her compound.

She decided she would be unable to go to Tianjin after spending more than an hour trying to leave, she said.

China often holds high-profile human rights trials over Christmas, reportedly to minimize international attention.

On Tuesday, the Guangdong Department of Justice disbarred another rights lawyer, Liu Zhengqing (劉正清), on the grounds that his public defense statements had endangered national security, according to Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

Separately yesterday, Chinese police detained a well-known Marxist at Peking University, a witness said, on the sensitive anniversary of the 125th birthday of Mao Zedong (毛澤東).

Qiu Zhanxuan (邱占萱), head of the Peking University Marxist Society, was grabbed and forced into a black car outside the east gate of the university by a group of men who identified themselves as police, a student said.

Qiu was on his way to attend a memorial for the anniversary of Mao’s birthday that he organized and had already been warned about on Tuesday by a school adviser, the student said.

“What’s wrong with remembering Chairman Mao? What law does it break? How can they publicly kidnap a Peking University student?” the student asked.

Song Yangbiao (宋陽標), a neo-Maoist freelance journalist, said that this year “the leftists have gone quiet.”

“I think the backdrop is the atmosphere around the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up,” Song said. “Remembering Chairman Mao will lead to a major clash between the two streams of thought.”

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