Popular Beijing rights activist Wang Lihong emerged Tuesday from a three-month jail sentence, weighing much less but reinvigorated by the support for civil rights.
Wang, 56, a doctor-turned-activist, was ordered jailed nine months on Sept. 9 for "creating a disturbance" by a court in Beijing, but she had been in detention six months prior to the sentence.
Her detention was linked to her support for petitioners and fight against "unjustified" trials of netizens.
“While in jail I lost about 10 kilogram (22 pounds),” Wang said in an interview from her home in Beijing. “Many thanks for the support from the public, which I have felt is quite warm. This is not about me, Wang Lihong.”
“The support demonstrates the awakening of civil consciousness in China and that people as citizens want the right to publicize their own opinion,” she said.
“My supporters might be among the first in China who raised civil consciousness,” Wang said.
Early morning release
Wang was released at 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and her son spread the news on the Internet.
"From either a prison or a detention center, usually an inmate should be released in the late morning," Wang's lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said.
"But a released activist’s supporters are often waiting outside the prison to receive him or her on the day, so the authorities sometimes release them very late to avoid the welcoming scene," he said.
“Wang Lihong was released extremely early, and this was obviously out of such a concern,” Liu said.
The authorities’ worry can hardly be denied. Wang Lihong’s two trials in August and September attracted hundreds of supporters to the courthouse.
On Tuesday, two netizens, You Jingyou and Zhu Chengzhi, were stopped by police on trains bound for Beijing. They were on the way to receive Wang from prison.
In Beijing, another activist Zhao Lianhai Tuesday said police talked to him about his plan to welcome Wang from the prison.
“I wish the police would think more wisely on the people’s rights defending activities. I also hope more citizens act in defending our rights,” Zhao added.
Reported by Xin Yu in Hong Kong for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and Written in English by Ping Chen.