China: lawyer tried amongst blatant violations, family members and supporters prevented from attending (Update)Event
- Initial Date
- Jul 25, 2022
- Event Description
The case of Chinese human rights lawyer Chang Weiping, who was charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for attending a gathering, was heard in secret on Tuesday. His wife, Dr. Chen Zijuan, and his child were stopped by at least 18 police officers on their way to the court in Feng County, Baoji City, Shaanxi Province, on Monday evening. A number of human rights activists were taken away by police when they attempted to travel to Feng County to join in solidarity with Chang Weiping’s case.
On July 25, Dr. Chen Zijuan, the wife of lawyer Chang Weiping, posted a video on her Twitter account saying that she was going to attend Chang Weiping’s court hearing in Feng County. She was, however, stopped by police officers on the Feng County highway. As seen in the video, several police officers stopped Chen’s car, and one police officer spoke with Chen; the officer refused to show his officer identification card and tried to prevent her from recording the video. 18 public security authorities and police officers, not including those in the car, forcibly stopped Chen and her child at a highway intersection on the grounds of COVID prevention measures. Her car was surrounded by public security and police vehicles, as well as “unknown” vehicles, and people in white hazmat suits knocked on her car window.
She was advised by the police to return, claiming that she was from a medium-risk area of the outbreak, but she was from a low-risk area in Shenzhen, Guangdong. She had already gathered relevant information and undergone COVID testing before her trip and only needed to test two more times within three days upon her arrival. However, the police had set up strict monitoring of her trip in advance and prevented her from entering Feng County under the guise of COVID prevention measures. Feng County is a small and remote, mountainous town where Chang Weiping was detained.
The police in Feng County conducted a selective inspection of Chen Zijuan’s car. Chen said, “In fact, it was to inspect me, because after inspecting me, other vehicles were not checked.” The police blocked her car and refused to let her go to Feng County, and the mother and son were stuck in the car overnight.
“I’m still blocked at the Feng County highway exit; I just want to sit in on my husband’s trial and figure out why he’s accused of subverting state power. Is that a problem? I never thought I would not even be able to enter Feng County!” Chen Zijuan said.
Lin Qilei, a human rights lawyer whose lawyer’s license was revoked, commented, “In order to prevent family members from attending the trial of the case, this police officer blatantly violated the legal rights and interests of citizens; in violation of laws and regulations!”
On the same day, police took away Tian Qiuli from Baoji City by her hair at a hotel in Feng County because she stood in solidarity with Chang. He Jiawei, a pro-democracy activist from Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, planned to go to the court to show solidarity with Chang Weiping but was threatened and kept at home by state security police. Deng Fuquan, a human rights activist in Sichuan, was taken away by the police from the place where he has his household registration. Lawyer Li Dawei traveled to Feng County, Shaanxi Province, to show his support for Chang Weiping’s trial, but was found and taken away overnight by state security officers from his hometown of Tianshui, Gansu Province.
In early December 2019, Chang Weiping participated in a gathering in Xiamen with Dr. Xu Zhiyong, one of the founders of the Chinese civil society movement, lawyer Ding Jiaxi, and others, where they discussed current affairs and the future of China and shared their experiences in promoting civil society.
On December 26 of the same year, the authorities arrested those involved in the gathering. More than 20 dissidents and lawyers were forcibly disappeared, summoned, or detained, and some were even charged on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” (in some cases, subversion of state power) and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Most of them were released on bail, but Dr. Xu Zhiyong and lawyer Ding Jiaxi were formally arrested. Authorities placed Chang Weiping in Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) and tortured him. They officially arrested him in April 2021.
Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, noted on July 9: “Since the so-called 709 crackdown began on 9 July 2015, the profession of human rights lawyer has been effectively criminalized in China.”
Because authorities coerced Chang Weiping’s defense attorney, Zhao, to sign a confidentiality agreement, he was also obstructed in the process of handling the case. He is not at liberty to disclose information about the case, and details of the trial remain unknown. The only thing that is clear is that Chang Weiping’s lawyer denied the prosecution’s accusations, believing himself to be not guilty.
According to Chinese practice on case verdicts, once a suspect has been formally arrested and prosecuted by the procuratorate, the suspect is rarely acquitted by the court; even more so in cases of political nature against pro-democracy activists because the Chinese judiciary does not have any independence. If the court acquits a suspect, doesn’t that mean that the Public Security Bureau and the Procuratorate have arrested the wrong person? The arrogance of power under the CCP system and the bureaucratic system that unites the three departments of the Public Security Bureau, the Procuratorate, and the Law will determine the fate of “political prisoners.” Since the case was wrongfully handled, the case will continue in the wrong direction.
At this time, it is unknown how Feng County’s court will sentence lawyer Chang Weiping.
While the trial of Chang Weiping was in progress, Dr. Chen Zijuan said, “The trial has begun, and my child and I are still blocked at the highway exit.”
Once authorities in Feng County determined that Dr. Chen missed her husband’s trial, the police released her. On the morning of the 26th, Chen gave a moving speech addressed to her husband at a highway intersection in Feng County with a bouquet of flowers in her hand:
“Today is your Good Friday; but at the same time, I think it is also your day of glory. I’m sorry that I could not be there with you in person, despite traveling more than 2,000 kilometers to witness the moment with you. But they wouldn’t allow it and blocked me on the highway for more than 10 hours ...... No matter how they sentence you, it is an unjust trial. Today’s trial wasn’t yours; instead, it was their crime scene. The kids and I will always support you and we will wait for the day you return.”
There were several police cars parked behind her as she delivered her speech. Chen’s speech in the video was widely retweeted on Twitter, with more than 4,000 people liking it in support of her, and it was even transferred to social media inside the Chinese firewall, where it received a lot of solidarity from netizens.
Following the French Embassy, the Swiss Embassy in Beijing issued a statement: “Closely following Human Rights Lawyer # ChangWeiping’s closed-door trial today.”
The German Ambassador in Beijing expressed on Twitter: “A sad day for #humanrights in #China. Today, lawyer #ChangWeiping, last year’s winner of the German-French Human Rights Prize, faces a closed-door trial for ‘subverting state power’……We stand by his wife, family, friends and colleagues in calling on Chinese authorities to set him free.”
In a tweet, the British Embassy in Beijing commented, “#ChangWeiping, arrested in 2020 after raising issues of torture and #humanrights in China (including his own mistreatment) is today scheduled for trial behind closed doors. The UK calls for the release of all those currently detained for promoting fundamental rights and freedoms.”
But the U.S. side has remained unusually quiet.
Lawyer Chang Weiping has long shown concern and put his efforts into rights issues regarding the Chinese house church and those who faced discrimination over HIV and sexual orientation. In 2019, Chang Weiping participated in the “Xiamen Gathering” convened by human rights activists. His attendance led to him being placed under residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) for 12 days by the public security bureau in Baoji City, Shaanxi Province in January 2020. During his enforced disappearance he was tortured. The following year, Chang Weiping self-recorded a video clip, revealing that during the period he lost his freedom, he was subjected to torture; he was locked onto a “tiger chair” 24 hours a day for 10 days.
The tiger chair is a kind of torture that may lead to death: The public authorities tie the suspect to a long bench. The upper body and hands are tied behind the back. The legs are stretched out on the surface of the bench, attached to the wooden frame. Prisoners are tied right above the knees with ropes, and bricks are placed in the seam between the calves and the bench or under the heels. Their feet are lifted upward, causing great pain for the tortured prisoner by pulling the ligaments of the legs’ joints, which can easily lead to muscle tears or bruising.
On October 22, 2020, Chang was placed under residential surveillance on suspicion of “inciting subversion;” On April 7, 2021, he was arrested on suspicion of subversion of state power, and during a meeting with his lawyer, he revealed that he had been severely tortured while under residential surveillance. His case has been postponed several times without any reason. He is currently detained at Feng County Detention Center in Baoji City, Shaanxi Province.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- Administrative Harassment
- Denial Fair Trial
- Intimidation and Threats
- Judicial Harassment
- Restrictions on Movement
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of movement
- Right to fair trial
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to work
- Family of HRD
- Pro-democracy defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 25 July 2022, Dr. Chen Zijuan, wife of detained lawyer Chang Weiping, was prevented from enter the city where his husband was to be tried over COVID-19 containment order, while his lawyer was forced not to disclose anything on the hearing, and fellow defenders He Jiawei, Deng Fuquan, and Li Dawei were threatened not to attend the hearing by the police or taken away in Baoji's Feng County, China.
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