A Beijing court, on Sept. 9, sentenced Chinese rights activist Wang Lihong to nine months in prison for creating a disturbance outside of a courthouse in Fuzhou, in the southern province of Fujian, in April of 2010 where three Internet activists were on trial.
Wang said she would appeal her sentence.
Nearly 200 people, including many foreign journalists and five EU attachés, gathered outside of the Wenyuhe courthouse early on Sept. 9, as Wang’s case has drawn both international and domestic attention. The court set up a cordon early in the morning to prevent people and reporters from entering the courthouse.
Wang’s son, Qi Jianxiang, told The Epoch Times that the verdict was originally scheduled to be read at 9 a.m., but was moved to 8:30 a.m. Five people, including family members and attorneys, appeared in court to hear the judge read the verdict.
The judge said that during a trial in Fuzhou City in mid-April 2010, 56-year-old Wang Lihong organized people via phone and the Internet, and made banners and signs, which impeded traffic and “caused chaos.” The court found her guilty of “creating a disturbance,” and she was formally arrested on April 21, 2011.
Wang’s son said to Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio: “We believe my mother is innocent, and we support her appeal. None of their accusations hold water.”
Wang’s attorney, Han Yicun, is a renowned criminal defense lawyer. He told SOH that under public pressure the court handed down a relatively light sentence. But “it’s still not a fair sentence,” he said. “We encourage Wang Lihong to appeal.”
Han said they will appeal on two grounds: the facts, and the law. The court holds that Wang made trouble at the Fuzhou courthouse, but “in fact she held a lawful protest and demanded justice for human rights activists,” the lawyer said. The court also applied the wrong law to the case, he said. The court is citing criminal law, but “we don’t believe there was a crime; we see it is a proper constitutional action that should be protected,” he said.
Wang’s son said the entire court proceeding was over in about 10 minutes. The authorities took extra measures to keep people away from the short-lived session.
China Human Rights Defender reported that many dissidents, bloggers, and petitioners who support Wang were forced to stay home on Sept. 9 after police warned them not to go out or paid them a visit to make sure they stayed home. Some people were intercepted by police on their way to the Wenyuhe courthouse. In addition, buses did not stop at the bus stops near the courthouse before or after the hearing.
The case of the three Internet activists in Fujian involved the death of a 25-year-old woman named Yang Xiaoling in Fujian Province in February 2008. The coroner determined that the cause of death was a ruptured tubal ectopic pregnancy and rapid loss of blood. But Yan’s mother believed the cause of her daughter’s death was a gang rape involving police officers.
Fan Yanqiong, You Jingyou, and Wu Huaying posted an article and video testimony from Yang’s mother to the Internet. Consequently, they were arrested and accused of “making a false accusation.” The case drew human rights activists, including Wang, from across China to support them.
Wang is a longtime human rights activist who has supported victims of tainted milk. She also supported Deng Yujiao, the waitress made famous for killing a Party official in 2009 in self-defense as he attempted to rape her.
Wang’s lawyer Han Yicun describes Wang as “someone who has a strong pursuit of justice in society.” She has won the respect of many people over her years of defending human rights.When the news of her indictment broke, dozens of petitioners protested in front of the Hangzhou municipal government, 223 Shanghai residents signed a petition supporting her, and well-known dissidents including lawyer Teng Biao, Hu Jia and Ai Weiwei have voiced their support on the Internet