BHRC has published a statement raising serious concern over the continued detention of human rights defenders in China and their inability to access defence lawyers of their choosing, particularly Wang Quanzhang, the longest-detained lawyer of the 709 Crackdown, and Wu Gang, an administrative assistant and human rights advocate whose trial is scheduled to begin today.
Wang Quanzhang was arrested on 9 July 2015 for ‘subversion of State power’ and, like the other 220 lawyers, legal staff, human rights defenders and family members connected with the 709 crackdown, has been charged with various broadly defined national security related criminal sanctions in China. Mr Quanzhang is known for defending journalists and politically controversial cases, including Falum Gong practitoners and advocates for democracy.
His lawyers and family have been denied access to see him, and there are now serious concerns about his current whereabouts. In July of this year Wang Quanzhang’s wife and defence lawyers were informed by officials that Wang Quanzhang had been moved from Tianjin #2 Detention Centre to Tianjin #1 Detention Centre. However, Tianjin #1 Detention Centre asserts that there is no record of Wang Quanzhang being there.
Wu Gan is well known for his online and street advocacy on miscarriages of justice. We understand that he was arrested in May 2015 and again on 3 July as part of the Crackdown; he was then in incommunicado detention until December 2016. He has been unable to access his chosen lawyers since he accused authorities of torture in January. His family has been told that his trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, 14 August but will be held in secret. He is indicted on charges of state subversion.
In its statement, BHRC calls upon Chinese authorites to respect the prohibitions against arbitrary and excessive detention and the rights to due process and a fair trial in China and immediately release Wang Quanzhang and all those detained without proper reason.
BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC said:
“ China must respect the rights of its people, action its promises in international law and cease arbitrary detention, torture and repression of free expression. Wang Quanzhang and Wu Gan should – at the very least -be released on bail. This is long overdue and is a fundamental respect for freedom of a person. Trials must be in open court in order to ensure due process. Secret hearings and use of domestic “law” to punish those with views critical of the State, belong in the past. ”
You can read the full statement here.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- For an interview with our spokesperson, please contact Amanda June Chadwick, Coordinator, on +44 (0)7854 197862
- For more information on the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), visit our website at http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk
- The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales, working to protect the rights of advocates, judges and human rights defenders around the world. The BHRC is concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial. It is independent of the Bar Council.
- For our previous statements relating to the 709 Crackdown in China please see http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/country/China/
- Sources include: China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, and the BBC.