12/28/2018, 13.37
CHINA
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Closed-door trial for human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang who could get 15 years in prison

by Wang Zhicheng

According to the prosecution, "state secrets" are involved. Wang is accused of collaborating with a Swedish activist, publishing human rights reports on China and defending Falun Gong members. His wife, Li Wenzu, is under house arrest, unable to attend the trial. Foreign correspondents and diplomats have been barred from the courthouse. Xi Jinping’s words appear empty.

Tianjin (AsiaNews) - Wang Quanzhang, a 42-year-old human rights lawyer, is expected to get 15 years in prison. He went on trial on Wednesday at the Tianjin No 2 Intermediate Court.

The trial is being held behind closed doors because it involves "state secrets". The verdict will be made public "on a selected date ".

Wang (picture 2 with his family) is accused of "inciting subversion of state power" based on his "collaboration" with a Swedish activist, receiving overseas funding for legal assistance and training, and publishing human rights violations reports on China. His legal representation of Falun Gong practitioners was also cited as “criminal activities.”

Wang is the last of a group of about 300 human rights lawyers put on trial. Known as the 709, the lawyers were arrested on 9 July 2015. At least 50 per cent are Christian (Protestants and Catholics) who tried to use Chinese law to defend communities, priests and pastors from abuses by local authorities.

Several of them defended communities in Zhejiang during the cross-destruction campaign. Many, after detention, the trial and forced "confessions" of their "crimes" show signs of mental problems resulting from torture and enforced medication.

Wang has been held in isolation in prison without charges for almost three and half years in violation of Chinese law. Wang's wife, Li Wenzu, has been forbidden from visiting her husband. She could not travel to Tianjin for the trial after being placed under house arrest in Beijing.

Before the trial, police placed many activists and lawyers under house arrest. Despite this, dozens of Chinese activists and journalists showed up before the court with placards and slogans demanding Wang’s release, but were taken away by the police (pictured). Even foreign correspondents and diplomats who had come to observe the trial were denied entry.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in August 2018 that the Chinese government’s detention of Wang Quanzhang was arbitrary and demanded his immediate and unconditional release, with state compensation for the harm done to him.

Many activists note that when he came to power, President Xi Jinping pledged that China would be governed by the rule of law. Wang’s trial shows that such a pledge is but “empty words”.

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