On 20th May, Li Wenzu was shown a worrying video of her husband, human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, by officials from Linyi prison in Shandong Province. In the video, Wang struggled to communicate and process his thoughts, and his eyes couldn’t focus. Li spent the rest of that week tirelessly attempting to meet him to no avail.

Li Wenzu has been campaigning to see her husband since he was detained in August 2015. In a closed door hearing on the 28th January, 2019 Wang was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Since being detained in August 2015 during the ‘709’ crackdown, he has been held incommunicado, with no access to a lawyer or contact with his wife and family.

There are serious fears that Wang has been subjected to ill-treatment and torture. His lawyer said that he was planning to appeal his conviction, but in March his case could not be found on the Tianjin Higher People’s Court computer system. His sister was later notified by the prison that Wang had lodged an appeal and that the original judgement had been upheld by the Tianjin court. The lawyer appointed by his family was not allowed to participate in the appeal or given access to his client.

Read more about the efforts of Li Wenzu and other ‘709’ wives to obtain justice for their husbands. See below:

Accidental Activists: The Resistance of the ‘709’ Wives

Written on 18th April 2019.

Author: Nicola Macbean, Director, The Rights Practice

Featured in Made in China: Smashing the Bell Jar January–March 2019

Three women brandishing red buckets made for a striking image. The picture spoke of determination, confidence, and solidarity. In other photographs they wore red dresses or were depicted with the names of their detained husbands painted in red on their summer clothes. There was no intended message in the choice of colour or decision to carry buckets. Red was a ‘happy colour’ and the buckets would ‘come in useful afterwards’. Probably it was just a coincidence, but the photographs of the women carried echoes of the white headscarves worn by Argentina’s mothers of the disappeared.

The women in red are wives of lawyers detained in the ‘709’ crackdown of 2015. Named after the date of the first detentions (9 July), this attack saw hundreds of lawyers and legal activists called in by the police or official lawyers’ associations for questioning…

See full article: Accidental Activists: The Resistance of the ‘709’ Wives