Trial of human rights defender begins in Beijing

 

CHINESE HUMAN rights defender Wang Lihong went on trial yesterday in Beijing on charges of “creating a disturbance”, in a process that many believe is evidence of Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on dissent.

Wang Lihong (56), who has backed jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, pleaded not guilty to the charge, which relates to her role in a demonstration outside a court in Fuzhou city in southern China in April 2010.

The gathering was in support of three bloggers accused of slander after they tried to help an illiterate woman to convince authorities to reinvestigate her daughter’s death.

Dozens of supporters came to the trial outside the Wenyuhe People’s Court in a Beijing suburb, chanting “Wang Lihong come home”.

Ms Wang’s lawyer Han Yicun said the 2½-hour hearing had finished and the verdict would come in the middle of the month.

He said the court procedure was unfair, because Ms Wang had not been allowed to make a statement and the defence had also not been allowed to present a statement.

“I felt pity, the court should protect Wang’s right to make statement and also should protect my right to defend,” he said.

“Wang is okay, spiritually. She realised already that all the process is in this way. I guess there is zero per cent chance she will be declared innocent but I think because of all the publicity and the journalists here, they will not give her a heavy sentence,” said Mr Han. If convicted, she faces up to five years in jail.

Her son Qi Jianxiang (26), said after the court session that his mother was in good spirits, although she was a little weak. He had not seen her for four months, and he wondered why she was on trial in Beijing for something that happened in southern China.

“She is still brave, she encouraged me a lot, and I also encouraged her. I said I felt proud of her, and told her everything was okay at home, including her little dog.

“She knows she has supporters here. And she told me not to be upset if I cannot send her clothes to prison,” said Mr Qi.

Ms Wang was detained by Beijing police in late March during a widespread crackdown on activists as authorities moved to prevent the growth of “Jasmine Revolution”-style protests.

Also in attendance was Zhao Lianhai, an activist previously jailed for protesting a massive tainted milk scandal, who slipped away from security officers at his home to attend the trial.

“We didn’t do anything against the law here, today. What we are doing is to express our personal pursuit for justice. I still believe in justice, and the world should not be a stage of the devil,” said Mr Zhao.