Beijing Forbids Freed Chinese Human Rights Lawyer From Returning to His Family

April 22, 2020 Updated: April 22, 2020

The Chinese regime has continued to bar Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang from reuniting with his wife and son, more than two weeks after his release from prison.

Now, the United States government is calling on Beijing to stop restricting his movements.

“#WangQuanzhang still cannot rejoin his family in #Beijing,” stated the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in a tweet on April 21.

The Commission added: “The Chairs renew their call for an end to his arbitrary detention & urges the @UN_SPExperts to investigate the #Chinese govt’s practice of subjecting political prisoners to exile/house arrest after completing prison terms.”

Wang has defended local activists, victims of government land grabs, and adherents of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that is severely persecuted by the Chinese regime.

He was arrested in July 2015 as part of a nationwide crackdown on hundreds of activists and lawyers. In January 2019, he was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment for subversion of state power—a catch-all charge Beijing often uses against dissidents.

After completing his sentence, including the time he spent in pre-trial detention, Wang was released on April 5. However, he was not allowed to return to his family living in the capital Beijing. Instead, he was taken to his hometown in Jinan city in eastern China’s Shandong Province, for quarantine for 14 days.

On April 17, Netherlands-based NGO Lawyers for Lawyers issued a statement with 36 signatories, calling on Chinese authorities to respect Wang’s personal freedom and stop using the current pandemic to extend his imprisonment.

The next day, human rights group Amnesty International expressed the same concern about Beijing utilizing the pandemic “as an excuse to curb his freedom.”

On April 20, Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, tweeted that local police had finally given back Wang’s phone to him.

Li, who has been in touch with her husband, added that he was able to take calls from friends and journalists, while also meeting with fellow rights lawyer Xie Yang in Jinan.

On April 22 afternoon local time, Li tweeted out a letter addressed to the U.S. government, thanking the State Department for its public statement two days earlier.

“The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to allow human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s freedom of movement, including the ability to join his family in Beijing, now that he has been released after five years of unjust detention,” the State Department stated.

In the letter, Li said she became more encouraged and confident after seeing the public statement, and called on the U.S. government to continue monitoring Wang’s situation. She added that Wang was still not allowed to be reunited with his family in Beijing.

Hong Kong Cable Television recently spoke to Wang, during which the lawyer said that he never confessed to wrongdoing during his detention and imprisonment. Dissidents are often pressured by authorities to confess to their alleged crimes on camera, as part of the Chinese regime’s propaganda efforts.

Wang added that, after his release, he was told by officials that he would be stripped of his political rights and he would not be allowed to go to Beijing.

He added that what he wanted most at the moment was seeing his wife and son.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer