Jail term for China human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang
Wang Quanzhang was jailed by a court in Tianjin, a city near Beijing, four years after he was picked up in a crackdown against lawyers and human rights activists.world Updated: Jan 29, 2019 07:00 IST
China sentenced a prominent human rights lawyer to jail for more than four years for subverting state power, a verdict termed by rights groups as a gross injustice and mockery of the rule of law.
Wang Quanzhang was jailed by a court in Tianjin, a city near Beijing, four years after he was picked up in a crackdown against lawyers and human rights activists. Wang, 42, had taken up several sensitive cases as a lawyer, including those slapped by the government against political activists, alleged victims of land seizures and followers of the banned Falun Gong movement.
Wang’s case was heard at the Tianjin court on December 26, prompting the United Nations to call on authorities to “ensure his due process rights are respected” and raising “serious human rights concerns” about the way his case had been handled. The court announced the verdict in an online statement in Chinese, which said that Wang was “found guilty of subverting state power, sentenced to four years and six months in prison, and deprived of political rights for five years”.
Details of the sentencing were not shared.
“Today’s verdict is a gross injustice. It’s outrageous that Wang Quanzhang is being punished for peacefully standing up for human rights in China. He must be immediately and unconditionally released,” Doriane Lau, China Researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
“In the three years leading up to his sham of a trial, the authorities disappeared Wang Quanzhang into a black hole, where he was likely tortured. Wang’s family, who continue to be harassed by the authorities, didn’t even know if he was alive until recently. His continued imprisonment only prolongs their suffering,” Lu added.
“His trial on 26 December 2018 followed more than three years in pre-trial detention. His wife, Li Wenzu, was blocked by the authorities from leaving her apartment complex ahead of the trial to stop her from attending,” the Amnesty statement said,
The verdict makes a “mockery” of President Xi Jinping’s claims to champion the rule of law, Wang Yaqiu, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
First Published: Jan 28, 2019 22:49 IST