Wang Yonghang, winner of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Association’s “Ten Best Human Rights Defense Lawyers Award,” has become paralyzed below the waist as a result of prolonged torture in a Chinese prison, wrote Human Rights Lawyer Tang Jitian in his post on the popular Chinese social media website Weixin on Jan. 14.
“Wang Yonghang, who is now 42 years old, has been persecuted since June 2009 ever since he defended Cong Rixu in court, with the secret order of his persecution coming from Zhou Yongkang, the former head of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee,” Tang wrote. The Political and Legal Affairs Committee is the Party’s umbrella organization Zhou once headed that had authority over all aspects of legal system, including the police, courts, procuratorate, lawyers, prisons, and labor camps.
“Wang was secretly sentenced to seven years in prison in November (2009). Because of cruel persecution, he never fully recovered from his leg wound,” Tang wrote. “For five years, water, blood and pus have continued seeping from the wound. Now, he has symptoms of tuberculosis and paralysis below the waist.”
Wang became a well-known lawyer in China for defending practitioners of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, which the Chinese regime has severely persecuted since 1999. One of several practitioners he defended was Cong Rixu, from Dalian, a major city of Liaoning Province.
Wang is currently being imprisoned at Shenyang No. 1 Prison in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province. He has been held there since April 2010. According to the website Minghui.org, which provides the most up-to-update information on the persecution suffered by Falun Gong practitioners in China, Wang was once deprived of sleep and food for thirteen consecutive days.
Speaking to Chinese magazine Watch Chinese, Tang commented on the sentencing of Wang.
“Looking from the standpoint of laws in China, or the international human rights standard, the sentencing of Wang should never have been allowed,” Tang said.
Wang’s situation also caught the attention of another fellow lawyer, Wang Yu, in Beijing, who said he found out about what happened to Wang on the web, in an interview with Watch Chinese.
“Any government shouldn’t persecute, torture, illegally detain and imprison its own people,” Wang Yu said. This is illegal in any civilized country or society—to strike such a vicious blow against a lawyer. Where is the law? This has definitely crossed the line. You can say it is inhumane.”
Under a one-party system, ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China has seen countless of unjust cases, according to Wang Yu. “From the cases that I have handled, none of them have been prosecuted with fairness and justice. Everything is dealt with covertly, and sentencing is done in secrecy.”
“It is unusual in the history of mankind to see how the CCP-led persecution against Falun Gong practitioners has lasted for so long and in such a wide scale,” Tang wrote. “As a lawyer myself, I am proud of Wang for what he has done.”
The Chinese regime’s persecution against Falun Gong through imprisonment, torture, propaganda and coercive reeducation or brainwashing has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, according to a director of the Washington-based Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD) and former Canadian MP and Secretary of State David Kilgour.
“Wang was able to uphold his belief in human rights and his moral conscience, to defend people whom the regime doesn’t like, to protect their basic rights, in the face of severe injustice,” Tang said.
Wang is one of several lawyers in China facing the wrath of the CCP for defending Falun Gong practitioners. In March 2014, four lawyers—Jiang Tianyong, Tang Jitian, Wang Cheng, and Zhang Junjie—were detained by security officers for their attempt to free Falun Gong practitioners from a brainwashing center.
In a call for help to the international community, Wang Yu called for more awareness of the current human rights situation in China. “Besides Wang Yonghang, there are many other lawyers who are being persecuted, such as Gao Zhisheng, Yu Wensheng, and Tang Jingling.”