Family of Jailed Chinese Rights Lawyer Promised Visit After Long Delays

liwenzu.jpg Li Wenzu, the wife of jailed human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, accosted by unidentified men at the Linyi Prison in the eastern province of Shandong, when she visited with the couple's young son, June 24, 2019.
Li Wenzu

The wife of jailed human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang says she has been informed that he will be allowed a visit from relatives on Friday.

If the meeting goes ahead, it will be Li Wenzu's first with her husband since he was arrested about four years ago.

Li has repeatedly demanded a meeting with authorities at the Linyi Prison in the eastern province of Shandong, and has been regularly shouting her husband's name from outside the prison walls since being told all visits were canceled due to the remodeling of the visitor facility.

She told RFA that she was accosted by unidentified men when she went to shout Wang's name together with the couple's young son on Monday.

After a verbal dispute with the men, some of whom appeared to be sweeping the ground and sprinkling water around her, Li was allowed to enter the prison.

The upshot of the meeting was that prison authorities promised her that she would be able to meet with Wang on Friday, she told RFA later.

"The meeting is for the 28th, and they told me to await notification of the actual time," she said. "They said they usually inform the family of the actual time two or three days beforehand."

The promise came after Wang's sister repeatedly called the prison to request a visit, and was told that it couldn't be arranged before the end of the month.

"The only reason for them to illegally prevent family members from visiting would be that Wang Quanzhang's state of health is such that it doesn't suit them for us to see him," Li said.

"They don't want the rest of the world to know his current state of health, which is why I am particularly concerned about his health," she said.

Li said police questioning of fellow rights attorney Li Heping during his detention in a crackdown on lawyers begun in July 2015 made her believe that the authorities are trying to have Wang diagnosed with a psychiatric condition.

"When Li Heping was in detention, they asked him if Wang Quanzhang's family had any history of mental illness," Li told RFA. "I think they are looking to concoct a story to cover up their own wrongdoing."

"Either that, or they are looking for an excuse."

Repeated calls to Linyi Prison rang unanswered during office hours on Wednesday.

Wang recently began serving a four-and-a-half year jail term handed down on Jan. 28 by the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, which found him guilty of "subversion of state power."

The verdict and sentence followed repeated delays, resulting in Wang being held in pretrial detention for more than three years with no access to a lawyer or family visits.

Rights groups say there are concerns that Wang may have been subjected to torture or other mistreatment in detention, as he was detained incommunicado for such a long period of time, and that this may be the reason behind officials' insistence on secrecy.

During that time, the authorities failed to provide a proper account of Wang’s prolonged detention to the public, including Wang’s family and family-appointed defense lawyers.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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