Families of Detained Rights Lawyers Speak Out
More than 200 rights lawyers, law firm staff, and activists were detained or questioned last year in a nationwide crackdown known as the “Black Friday” round-up. While the majority of those in custody have now been released, a number of individuals were formally charged with several paraded on state television making alleged confessions. Little information is available on those who remain in detention, many of whom are prohibited from contacting family members.
At CNN, James Griffiths reports that the wives of three detained lawyers–Li Heping, Xie Yanyi and Wang Quanzhang–have called for their husbands’ release despite orders from government officials to remain silent.
“We’re not allowed to speak out.”
But they are. The wives of three detained Chinese human rights lawyers have released a defiant video demanding the release of their husbands and calling on the U.S. and other countries to pressure Beijing.
“After the authorities locked up our loved ones illegally, they told us to follow their rules,” says Wang Qialing, the wife of Li Heping, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer who was arrested — along with hundreds of other activists and lawyers — in July 2015.
Those rules included not hiring their own lawyers, not communicating with the relatives of other detainees, not talking to the media, and not speaking out online.
“Facing these illegal and groundless requirements from the government, we as family members didn’t give in,” Wang says. [Source]
The husband of Zhao Wei, the 25-year-old legal assistant to lawyer Li Heping who was detained on charges of subversion, has expressed concern about her safety as rumors surfaced that she might have been subjected to abuse while in custody. From Xin Lin and Qiao Long at RFA:
Lawyer Ren Quanping, who has been hired by Zhao’s family but has been denied official recognition as her attorney, told RFA he had only heard unconfirmed reports about his client’s treatment.
“I have been hearing reports from different sources that the detention center guards were heard boasting about how many female inmates they had ‘fun’ with,” Ren told RFA. “Zhao Wei’s name was mentioned.”
[…H]e added: “I have heard that detention centers are pretty messed up, and this sort of thing happens a lot … to varying degrees. It’s very widespread.”
Zhao’s husband You Minglei said he believes she has been mistreated to some degree while in detention, but he doesn’t know the circumstances.
“She has definitely suffered some form of physical humiliation, because she’s been in there for nearly a year now,” You said. “It’s hard to figure out when this happened, though.” [Source]
Elsewhere, RFA’s Hai Nan reports that authorities in Tianjin have confirmed the continued detainment of Xing Qingxian and Tang Zhishun, friends of arrested rights lawyer Wang Yu who were taken into custody last year after a failed attempt to help Wang’s son, Bao Zhuoxuan, flee to the U.S. via Myanmar.
Rights activist Tang Zhishun is being held in the Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center on suspicion of “organizing the smuggling of persons across a national boundary,” his lawyer Tan Chenshou told RFA onFriday.
The family of fellow activist Xing Qingxian received official notification of his criminal detention on identical charges at the same facility earlier this week.
Tang and Xing were detained more than seven months ago in northern Myanmar, as they posed as tourists to escort Bao Zhuoxuan, the 16-year-old son of detained rights lawyers Wang Yu and Bao Longjun, across the border. [Source]
Meanwhile, South China Morning Post’s Nectar Gan writes that lawyer Tang Jingling’s five-year jail term is expected to be upheld by the Guangdong Higher People’s Court despite an inclusion in the appeal hearing. Tang was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” in January, together with two other activists.