Wife of Chinese human rights lawyer stopped from delivering court petition
- About 30 police officers block Li Wenzu at Beijing court building as she tries to file petition over treatment of her husband
- Wang Quanzhang was tried for subversion of state power in a closed hearing in Tianjin on Wednesday
Police on Friday prevented the wife of prominent Chinese rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang from petitioning the Supreme People’s Court against the treatment of her husband, who was put on trial earlier for allegedly “subverting state power”.
About 30 police officers stopped Li Wenzu and about a dozen supporters from entering the petition office of the court building in south Beijing.
Li’s petition accuses the court handling her husband’s case of a severe violation of judicial regulations.
Wang was tried for subversion of state power in a closed hearing in Tianjin on Wednesday after being held without access to his lawyers or family for more than three years. The court has yet to announce a verdict.
“This is so laughable,” Li said as she was jostled by a circle of police. “You see all these signs on the streets proclaiming ‘rule of law’ … how ironic.
“Under these circumstances they wouldn’t let us in … course they wouldn’t let us in because we have never been able to enter in our last 30 attempts,” Li told journalists, adding that she would make another attempt next week.
Wang is among more than 200 lawyers and legal activists who were detained during a nationwide crackdown in 2015. He was a member of the Fengrui law firm, among the most recognised in the field broadly known in China as “rights defending”. He worked on land rights cases on behalf of poor villagers and represented members of the banned Falun Gong meditation sect.
No lawyer hired by Wang’s family has been permitted to see him, Li said. Instead, he was given a government-appointed lawyer, Liu Weiguo. Liu sent Li a message on Wednesday afternoon saying that Wang fired him at the start of the trial and that he had no further information about the trial.
While observers have characterised Liu’s dismissal as an act of defiance from Wang, Li said it could not be confirmed because neither she nor any of Wang’s relatives and supporters were allowed to attend the proceedings.
The Tianjin court said in a statement on its website on Wednesday that it “lawfully decided not to make public” the trial hearings because the case involved state secrets.
On Friday, German human rights commissioner Barbel Kofler issued a statement saying Berlin continued to “take an active interest” in Wang’s case.
“I am very concerned that throughout the proceedings Wang Quanzhang has not been allowed access to lawyers of his own choosing and that the trial has been held in camera. Under these circumstances, a fair trial is impossible,” the statement said.
“I call upon the Chinese authorities to conduct the proceedings in accordance with due process of law, to adhere to relevant UN conventions and to enforce the Chinese leadership’s stated objective of strengthening the rule of law,” it added.
Wang’s wife Li met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May – a rare opportunity as world leaders often avoid making public statements about human rights when they visit China.