China: Sentencing of Mr. Wang Quanzhang

28/01/2019
Urgent Appeal

New information
CHN 003 / 0917 / OBS 101.1
Sentencing / Arbitrary detention
China
January 28, 2019
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in China.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of Mr. Wang Quanzhang, a prominent human rights lawyer with Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, known to take on sensitive human rights cases, including land rights cases, and represent Falung Gong members.

According to the information received, on January 28, 2019, the Tianjin Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court found Mr. Wang Quanzhang guilty of “subversion of State power” and sentenced him to four and a half years in prison, and to five years of deprivation of political rights.

The Observatory recalls that since Mr. Wang Quanzhang’s arrest by the police in August 2015, Chinese authorities have repeatedly prevented his wife and his lawyers from having access to him. During his incommunicado detention, he was reportedly tortured and suffered ill-treatment (see background information). Mr. Wang was detained in the context of the “709 crackdown” [1] and was the last of the group still awaiting trial.

In August 2018, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion that declared Mr. Wang Quanzhang’s detention arbitrary [2].

On December 26, 2018, Mr. Wang Quanzhang was finally tried behind closed doors, after more than three years in pre-trial detention.

The Observatory strongly condemns the sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Wang Quanzhang, which seems to be merely aimed at punishing him for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

Background information:
 
After he was taken into custody on August 3, 2015, Mr. Wang was held under “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL) for six months, until he was formally arrested on January 8, 2016 for “subversion of State power” and transferred to Tianjin No. 2 Detention Centre. However, neither his wife nor his lawyer was able to meet him after his transfer to Tianjin. It is only in July 2018 that a lawyer informed his family that he was still detained at Tianjin No. 2 Detention Centre.

On February 14, 2017, Mr. Wang was indicted on charges of “inciting subversion of State power” (Article 105 of the Chinese Criminal Law), punishable with prison terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

Moreover, it is strongly believed that Mr. Wang was subjected to various forms of torture, including electric shocks, while in custody. Since his arrest, his relatives have also been subjected to harassment. In particular, his wife, Ms. Li Wenzu, has been constantly monitored, and was arbitrarily detained on several occasions. Their son was also forcibly removed from kindergarten by police order.

Mr. Wang has been practising law since 2003, and has represented a wide array of clients in human rights cases, including Falun Gong practitioners, members of the New Citizens’ Movement, housing rights activist Ni Yulan, and journalist Qi Chonghuai. He also wrote or co-authored many articles on the legal profession and human rights, and led many human rights and legal training sessions for less experienced human rights defenders around China. He has faced constant harassment and suffered retaliation for his work.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the People’s Republic of China to urge them to:
 
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Wang Quanzhang as well as that of all human rights defenders in China;
 
ii. Repeal the guilty verdict and release Mr. Wang Quanzhang immediately and unconditionally, as his detention is arbitrary and it only seems to aim at punishing him for his human rights activities;
 
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Wang Quanzhang and all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance, and put an end to reprisals against family members seeking justice on behalf of detained or disappeared human rights defenders;
 
iv. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2;
 
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by China.

Addresses:

Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 659 611 09 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Email: premier@mail.gov.cn
Mr. Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 63099216, Email: gabzfwz@mps.gov.cn
H.E. Mr. Zhaoxu Ma, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 793 70 14, E-mail: chinamission_gva@mfa.gov.cn
H.E. Mr. QU XING, Ambassador, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32-2-7792895; Email: chinaemb_be@mfa.gov.cn

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of China in your respective countries.
 
***
Geneva-Paris, January 28, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society. 
 
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] The term “709” refers to the start of the crackdown on July 9, 2015. About 300 rights lawyers and ­activists were detained, interrogated or threatened in one of the harshest crackdowns on human rights and civil society in decades.
[2] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/Opinions/Session82/A_HRC_WGAD_2018_62_AEV.pdf

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