Internet Activist Wang Lihong Tried in Beijing

Wang Lihong went on trial on Friday, accused of creating a disturbance at a protest outside a Fuzhou courthouse last year. The Guardian’s Tania Branigan described the scene outside Wang’s own trial:

Representatives from several embassies and the EU were allowed into the building, but were not permitted to observe the case. Supporters – outnumbered by the many uniformed and plainclothes police officers – chanted “Wang Lihong, come home” and “Wang Lihong, not guilty” ….

Outside the court, security officials tried to drag away Zhao Lianhai, who was jailed for campaigning over a tainted milk scandal after his baby became ill, but stopped when others intervened.

“After I was put in jail, sister Wang cared about me and went to visit my wife and children … without her, I wouldn’t have freedom today,” Zhao said. “Maybe we can’t change anything by coming here, but we want to express our beliefs.”

He added: “She didn’t break the law – she was helping citizens according to the law … [China's] laws only help privileged people to pursue their power.”

Others said they did not know Wang personally but felt they had a duty to attend because she had helped so many people.

The incident in Fuzhou is described in an account of Wang’s life and activism posted by a campaign group, Free Wang Lihong:

In June 2009, a Fujian civil reporter Fan Yanqiong wrote a post and put it online for a woman petitioner Lin Xiuying who believed her daughter Yan Xiaoling had been murdered after being raped by eight men at a police-backed brothel in Minqing, Fujian Province. Fan’s post drew huge attention among Chinese netizens and she was arrested by police immediately. Upon reading Fan’s post, You Jingyou initiated a videotaping on Lin Xiuying’s narration and what Wu Huaying witnessed during the process. The end result was that all three of them were put in jail for libel. There was widespread discussion and reporting of their controversial detention in Chinese media. Wang Lihong wrote 23 letters to Party Secretary Sun Chunlan in Fujian, all in her capacity as a concerned citizen. She urged Sun to listen to public opinion and protect citizens’ rights. On March 19 and April 16, 2010, the three netizens’ case went to court in Fujian. Wang Lihong, along with other netizens from around China, held a demonstration outside the courthouse in support of the three defendants. On April 16, when the traffic was sealed off in front of the courthouse, Wang Lihong and others staged a protest in the non-restricted area. They sang the Internationale song. You Jingyou and Wu Huaying were sentenced to one year in jail, while Fan Yanqiong received a two-year sentence.

Wang’s lawyers have claimed that the trial was beset by procedural irregularities including repeated interruptions of the defence and other obstructions. From Human Rights in China:

Wang’s defense lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he and co-counsel Han Yicun (韩一村) presented a not-guilty defense. Liu said that, from a legal point of view, the evidence presented by the government has failed to establish the crime with which Wang is charged. Han argued that organizing a protest is a fundamental right of a citizen which is protected under the Chinese constitution. According to Liu, the judge did not allow Han to finish his defense statement and also interrupted Wang’s final statement.

Han told HRIC that there were many procedural flaws in the case. During the police investigation period, Wang was only allowed two meetings with her lawyers; and when the prosecution was preparing the case, the lawyers were not allowed to photocopy case documents or present their arguments before the indictment, contrary to provisions in the law.

Han said that Wang did not have a fair trial. During the hearing, Han said, the prosecution did not present evidence piece by piece, but in a lump sum, making it impossible for the defense lawyers to examine each item. According to Han, he and Liu had requested a large courtroom in anticipation of a large group of supporters—and several hundred supporters did gather outside the court on the morning of the trial. However, the lawyers found out that the courtroom could only accommodate five observers. At the end, Wang’s son Qi Jianxian (齐健翔) was the only one allowed to observe the trial.

Han was quoted by the BBC as saying that a verdict is expected in a matter of weeks, but that he is not optimistic about the outcome.

Sources:

Chinese internet activist Wang Lihong goes on trial | World news – guardian.co.uk
释放王荔蕻, 让她自由: Biography of Wang Lihong – Free Wang Lihong
Lawyers Report Procedural Irregularities at Trial of Rights Activist Wang Lihong – Human Rights in China 中国人权