BHRC has joined a statement with 31 other organisations calling for the acquittal of Wang Quanzhang, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer arrested during the 709 Crackdown.
On 28 January 2019, Mr Wang was found guilty of “subversion of state power” and sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison and 5-year deprivation of political rights by the Tianjin Municipal No.2 Intermediate People’s Court.
Mr Wang is known for defending journalists and politically controversial cases, including Falum Gong practitioners and advocates for democracy. Since he was taken away by the police on 3 August 2015, he has been denied access to his family and family-appointed defence lawyers. He has been detained incommunicado, during which he was reportedly tortured and suffered ill-treatment. In January 2016, Wang was accused of “subversion of state power” and his case was tried on 26 December 2018. The Court denied Mr Wang’s right to an open trial for the case, “due to the state secrets involved in this case.”
Mr Wang’s prosecution is connected with the 709 Crackdown, a nationwide programme of arrests beginning on 9 July 2015. During the period of a few weeks, nearly 250 Chinese human rights lawyers, their staff and human rights defenders were arrested and detained by police. Some of those arrested were subsequently charged with vague crimes against the State, based on insufficient or non-existent evidence. Many more have had no charges brought against them yet have faced intimidation, detention and administrative sanctions for their work.
In the statement, the organisations raise concern over the closed proceedings, the denial of Mr Wang’s right to defence counsel of his choosing, insufficient evidence of a criminal offence by international law, and his prolonged detention incommunicado. The statement also raised concern for Mr Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu who has been “relentlessly and perpetually fighting for her husband’s rights in the past three years.”
“We reiterate that no verdicts of guilty in Wang’s case shall be accepted in the absence of a fair and open trial, not to mention the 4-year-and-6-month imprisonment. The conviction and sentence on Wang did not go through a just legal procedure, and therefore are unjust in itself.”
The organisations called for the court to:
- Repeal the guilty verdict; acquit and release Wang Quanzhang immediately;
- Offer corresponding and appropriate compensation for the rights violations against lawyer Wang;
- Investigate and hold all law enforcers accountable for committing the irregularities and violations of the criminal procedure during 709 Crackdown;
- Stop any form of suppression against Li Wenzu and their child.