Chinese Rights Lawyers Incommunicado After Filing Torture Complaint

2021-03-09
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Chinese Rights Lawyers Incommunicado After Filing Torture Complaint Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu and husband Bao Longjun, in undated photo.
Bao Longjun

Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu, who was honored by the U.S. as an International Woman of Courage (IWOC) on Monday, remained incommunicado on Tuesday after failing to attend an online award ceremony, amid fears that she and her husband Bao Longjun are being held by state security police.

Repeated calls to Wang's cell phone and to that of her husband and fellow rights lawyer Bao Longjun rang unanswered.

A friend of Wang's who asked to remain anonymous said her "disappearance" was likely linked to her involvement in a legal case in the southern province of Guangdong.

"She is working on a case, and the state security police asked her to postpone working on it for a couple of days so they could take her to Wuhan on [enforced] 'vacation'," the friend said, adding that the couple haven't been in contact with family or friends since noon on Sunday.

"I'm a bit worried that the state security police will take advantage of this opportunity, and that they will remain incommunicado even after the sensitive dates have passed," the friend said.

Wang and Bao had been assisting in the case of Niu Tengyu, who is currently serving a 14-year jail term for allegedly posting a photo of Xi Mingze, daughter of ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping, to meme site Zhina Wiki, an act that was later blamed by police on Niu's Vulgar Wiki.

The lawyers' "disappearance" comes after they spoke to RFA about detailed allegations of torture made by Niu, relating to his interrogation at the hands of police starting in December 2019.

Complaint in Guangzhou

Bao told RFA's Cantonese Service on March 5 that the lawyers were filing a complaint with the authorities in Guangzhou about Niu's treatment.

"According to [Niu], while he was being held in Foshan city in late 2019 and January 2020, he was hung up and stripped and insulted by a man named Chen," Bao said. "[Chen] also used a lighter to burn his private parts."

"He also took photos of him as a joke, calling him Vulgar Niu Tengyu," he said.

Bao said he had filed complaints on March 2 and 3, but that he had run into delays and obfuscation on the part of the authorities.

After months in detention, Niu Tengyu was handed a 14-year jail term on Dec. 30, 2020 by the Maonan District People's Court in Guangdong's Maoming city, which found him guilty of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," "violating others' privacy" and "running an illegal business."

Niu's mother told RFA she was shocked at the new reports of her son's humiliation at the hands of police.

"It's inconceivable that they would do this to a youth of 20," she said. "This is a miscarriage of justice ... it's totally shameless."

Wu Lebao, who is currently studying in Australia, said Niu's torture was directly linked to the involvement of a close family member of Xi Jinping.

'Persecuted, tortured, and sentenced'

He said there were reports that 23 young people detained around the same time in connection with the Vulgar Wiki case had also been tortured and mistreated in detention.

"These young people were persecuted, tortured, and sentenced because of the doxxing of Xi Mingze," Wu said.

"As the daughter of the supreme leader, Xi Mingze can go through normal legal channels if her rights have been violated," he said.

An overseas-based editor of Zhina Wiki, who gave only a nickname, Mr. L, has already admitted that he was responsible for posting Xi Mingze's photo.

"The Maoming police never caught anyone who actually committed a crime: they just rounded up a bunch of random people linked to Vulgar Wiki," Mr. L told RFA on March 5.

"Whichever way you look at it, this has been a huge miscarriage of justice."

Wang Yu's lawyer's license was revoked on Nov. 30, 2020. She said at the time that the move was likely linked to her support for fellow rights attorney Yu Wensheng, who is currently serving a prison sentence for "incitement to subvert state power."

"She was already very courageous even before the July 2015 crackdown [on rights attorneys and activists]," Yu's wife Xu Yan told RFA on Tuesday. "After she was sent back home from detention, she carried on taking [rights] cases."

"She has carried on with that work, even though her license was revoked," Xu said.

Reported by Xue Xiaoshan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Yitong Wu and Chingman for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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