Property firm cuts off power to home of recently evicted China rights lawyer, family

Wang Quanzhang's family has been left traumatized and separated by round-the-clock surveillance and harassment.
By Chen Zifei for RFA Mandarin and RFA Cantonese
2023.06.20
Property firm cuts off power to home of recently evicted China rights lawyer, family Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang seen on a laptop screen in Beijing as he speaks via video link from his home in Jinan, in China’s eastern Shandong province, April 23, 2020.
Leo Ramirez/AFP

Authorities in Beijing have stepped up their harassment of rights attorney Wang Quanzhang and his family, cutting off power to their new apartment and forcing his wife and child to leave.

Forced to leave their old apartment in the middle of the academic year and find somewhere else to live, the family thought they had finally found a new home in a Beijing suburb, but instead the harassment escalated.

The family has been watched and harassed by a group of unidentified men since they relocated to the northern Beijing suburb of Changping after being forced to leave their previous apartment, according to video clips posted to Wang's Twitter account.

"Are you telling me what to do?" says one, when Wang opens the front door to find them outside. "Yes of course, because this is our front door," Wang replies.

"So is this your private property? You are violating my right to privacy," the man retorts.

Overseas activists have called on the authorities to stop, saying it is a continuation of an operation targeting rights lawyers and public interest law firms that began in 2015.

Wang's wife Li Wenzu said via her Twitter account that the power to the apartment was cut off on Sunday, and that the power company had refused to reconnect it.

"I called the power supply bureau at 1800 on June 19, 2023, to file a request for repairs," Li wrote on Monday. "At 1830, a member of staff from the Changping supply station called me back and promised to deal with it immediately."

"But when I called them back at 1900, they told me the property management company had said this was an internal matter ... I told them this should be their responsibility." she wrote.

24-hour siege

Li told Radio Free Asia that she has now left the apartment and has sent the couple's child to stay with friends for the time being.

"They've cut off our power again, and the door of the meter box has been sealed with a big lock," she said. "There are many unidentified men in front of the building every day."

"We are under 24-hour siege, and couriers can't get through to deliver anything -- they are constantly escalating their harassment of us, using different methods to stop us from living a normal life," she said.

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Li Wenzu, Wang Quanzhang’s wife, told RFA that the meter box for their apartment has been locked [shown]. Credit: 709liwenzu Twitter

Li said the constant stress and fear has taken a toll on their son, Wang Guangwei.

"We kept moving around during the month when we were forced to relocate, and there have been frequent incidents of violence and intimidation such as the police coming to our door in the middle of the night, which left the kid severely frightened, and he became ill during that time," she said.

"I felt desperate and powerless with all of that happening every day, I could even live the most basic normal existence, and our son couldn't attend school," she said. "And now he has to be separated from us."

Li said she expects the water and gas to be cut off next.

An overseas-based rights group called on the authorities to end the official harassment of Wang Quanzhang and fellow rights attorney Li Heping and their families.

"The authorities are requested to implement and guarantee the implementation of the Civil Code and ... immediately stop all inappropriate and illegal acts that smear and trample on the law," the China Human Rights Lawyers Group said in a statement dated June 19.

Petition to end harassment

It called for an investigation into officials and police officers who had entered the lawyers' homes illegally.

Luo Shengchun, wife of jailed rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi, said she had signed a petition calling for an end to the harassment of rights lawyers and their families.

"They have forced Li Wenzu and [Li Heping's wife] Wang Qiaoling to leave their homes, and my anger is indescribable," Luo said. "Government agencies in China have degenerated to the point where they just hire a group of thugs to do this stuff -- it's crazy. They don't treat ordinary people as human beings, and it's getting worse."

U.S.-based rights activist and legal scholar Teng Biao said the persecution dates back to a 2015 police operation that targeted hundreds of rights lawyers, fellow activists and their families, during which many were jailed for subversion, with Wang Quanzhang "disappearing" for around three years.

"A lot of lawyers got their licenses revoked during the July 2015 crackdown, and many were sentenced," Teng said. "Now they want to totally silence any defenders of human rights, and so they are using these thuggish methods."

"China has now upgraded to a high-tech totalitarian system with total disregard for the rule of law and the most basic standards of human rights," he said.


Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Paul Eckert.

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