Wife of ‘vanished’ lawyer marches for answers

BEIJING: The wife of a detained Chinese human rights lawyer who has embarked on a 100-kilometre march to highlight his plight said on Thursday she did not even know if he was still alive.
Attorney Wang Quanzhang, who defended political activists and victims of land seizures, has had no contact with the outside world since he disappeared in a 2015 police sweep aimed at courtroom critics of Communist authorities.
Wang has since been charged with “subversion of state power” but authorities have blocked lawyers from visiting him.
“Maybe something horrible happened to him in jail and that is why authorities don’t want anyone to find out,” his wife Li Wenzu said.
“It’s been 1,000 days. I don’t know if he is alive or dead.”
Li and a small group of supporters set off on Wednesday on a march from Beijing to the “No 2 Detention Centre” in the northeastern city of Tianjin, where officials last said he was being held.
They pressed on even during a freak snowstorm and plan to reach Tianjin by next Friday.
“We want to see the president of the court. We want to see the presiding judge. It would be good if someone came out to tell us what Wang Quanzhang’s case was all about. If he committed no sin, they should release him,” she said.
Li wore a black sweatshirt with the slogan “Free Quanzhang” and a cap embroidered with the words of the last letter Wang sent his parents.
Fearing reprisal, he told them that becoming a human rights lawyer was not a “reckless decision” but a response to a call from within.
For nearly three years, Li has made dozens of freedom of information requests to police — which have been sent back unanswered — and she has visited the complaints office of the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing weekly to no avail.
Instead of answers, she has been put under constant police surveillance. — AFP