Dozens of activists and petitioners showed support for rights activist Wang Lihong yesterday as she stood trial for 'provoking quarrels and making trouble' in a small court on the outskirts of Beijing. Family and lawyers said after the trial that they regretted the hearing had been behind closed doors. Supporters, wearing yellow ribbons, occasionally chanted, 'Release Wang Lihong', but mostly just stood peacefully outside a police cordon in front of the Wenyuhe court. Some had previously received assistance from Wang, while others came after hearing about her efforts. Several high-profile activists also showed up despite their own precarious situations - including Zhao Lianhai , who helped fellow victims of the scandal over baby formula adulterated with the industrial chemical melamine. 'This is obvious political persecution,' Zhao said. 'When our basic rights are stripped from us, we cannot tolerate this, even if it means we might face more persecution.' Zhao was convicted of the same crime in November and sentenced to 21/2 years in jail, but released on medical parole. He said he had to leave home at 4am to get past security officers assigned to watch him. More activists wanted to show up, but were prevented from doing so. Several supporters were seen being put into police cars near the court. Representative from the US, Canadian and several European embassies were also kept from the hearing. Wang, who is in her fifties, became active online around 2008, after she retired, and has been credited for drawing wide attention to several high-profile social cases through her writing and videos online. In 2009 she was shocked when three internet users in Fujian were arrested for defamation after they posted a video of an interview with the mother of a 25-year-old girl who had died suddenly. Her family thought the girl had died after she was gang-raped by police officers, but authorities insisted she died from natural causes. Wang thought it unfair that the three internet users were punished for circulating what the mother had said, and started petitioning for the three last year. She protested twice in front of courts in Fujian. Her second protest led to her trial yesterday. The Beijing court said it had the right to hear the case because the banners and signs Wang used had been made in Beijing. The hearing finished in less than three hours, but the court did not say when it would hand down judgment. Lawyer Han Yicun said the hearing was 'abnormal' and against the country's Criminal Procedure Law for several reasons. In particular, there were only five spectators' seats: in one was Wang's son, two were taken up by bailiffs and two by unknown plain-clothes men. Wang's son Qi Jianxiang said the testimony of witnesses was weak.