02/12/2021, 09.49
CHINA
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Human rights: Martin Ennals award to Chinese lawyer Yu Wensheng

He is in prison for calling for political reforms and defending various human rights activists. Sentenced to four years on charges of "inciting subversion". He was the defender of the well-known dissident Wang Quanzhang. His wife: the award will give courage to those who fight for human rights in China.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Yu Wensheng has been declared the winner of the Martin Ennals international human rights award. The Chinese lawyer has been in prison since January 2018 for publishing a letter calling for political reform. In a closed-door trial held last June, he was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of "inciting subversion".

A jury made up of representatives of 10 human rights organizations - including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - announced the choice of the winner yesterday. The other candidates selected were Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who was released from prison on 10 February, and Turkmen journalist Soltan Achilova.

Yu defended several colleagues who fight for human rights, including the well-known activist Wang Quanzhang, released last spring after years of imprisonment.

Wang was one of the leading figures arrested by the authorities in a security operation called "709" (which began on July 9, 2015), targeting 300 other lawyers - including some Catholic and Protestant Christians.

Many of them were tried and then sentenced; several have "confessed" their guilt on video; others emerged from prison physically and psychologically shattered due to the torture they suffered.

For his defence of dissidents, Yu lost his professional license, a repressive measure that the Chinese regime continues to use against lawyers deemed uncomfortable.

His wife Xu Yan said that the recognition of the Ennals Award is a great honour - an encouragement to all Chinese activists to continue their efforts even in the face of adversity.

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