The Beijing-based human rights defender Wang Lihong (王荔蕻) was sentenced to nine months in prison today on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” (寻衅滋事) by the Chaoyang District People’s Court of Beijing. Wang’s prison term runs from March 21, 2011, to December 20, 2011.
Wang’s son Qi Jianxiang (齐健翔) told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that the court session began at 8:30 a.m. and lasted for less than 10 minutes. “My mother entered the courtroom in handcuffs; her expression was very calm. When the presiding judge pronounced the sentence, my mother said, ‘Presiding judge, jurors, you all know that I am innocent. I am going to appeal.’ As she was leaving, she said to me, ‘Send my best to the Internet!’”
Qi said: “My mother is innocent, she shouldn't be sentenced to even one day, and she should have been released immediately.” He said that his mother’s sentence has again caused China to “seriously lose face” internationally, showing that the Chinese society is one that doesn’t permit people to do good deeds.
Qi also said that, although the authorities took steps all over the country to stop his mother’s supporters from coming to the trial, thirty or forty of them made their way to outside the court today. He said that the activists who were prevented from coming included He Yang (何杨), Zhao Lianhai (赵连海), and You Yujing (游豫璟). It was also reported that other dissidents including Zha Jianguo (查建国), Gao Hongming (高洪明), and He Depu (何德普) were not allowed to leave their homes. Around twenty media outlets were at the scene.
Han Yicun (韩一村), one of Wang’s defense counsel, believes that Wang received a “light sentence.” According to China’s Criminal Law, the maximum sentence for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” is five years. He said: “Although it is not a victory, this outcome did not come easy. It’s the result of two kinds of forces coming together. It proves that there are still people inside the system with a conscience, and of course that the voices outside the system also played an important role. ”
Wang’s trial was held on August 12, 2011. The prosecution’s charge was based on Wang’s role in organizing a protest outside a courthouse in Fujian on April 16, 2010, where the “Three Netizens,” Fan Yanqiong (范燕琼), You Jingyou (游精佑), and Wu Huaying (吴华英) were tried after they helped expose a police cover-up of a rape and a murder. The government alleged that the protest resulted in disorder inside the courtroom and traffic confusion in the area.
After several months of house arrest, Wang was criminally detained on March 21, 2011, on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” (寻衅滋事). She was formally arrested on April 21 on suspicion of “gathering the masses to disturb traffic” (聚众扰乱交通秩序罪).
Wang is an ordinary citizen of Beijing who began her rights defense activities after her retirement. She took on women’s rights and the rights of vulnerable groups. Wang won respect in the rights defense community and is called “Elder sister” by many.
Wang Lihong is one of six activists and rights defenders HRIC will feature in the upcoming issue of the China Rights Forum, due out this fall.
For more information on Wang Lihong, see:
- “Lawyers Report Procedural Irregularities at Trial of Rights Activist Wang Lihong,” August 13, 2011
- Defense Statement for Wang Lihong (in Chinese)
- Wang Lihong’s Criminal Verdict (in Chinese)
- Let the Sun Shine on the Ground, a documentary about Wang Lihong’s case produced by Ai Xiaoming