The wives of Chinese human rights lawyers imprisoned and tortured by the government in China detailed their husbands’ experiences and told members of Congress Thursday that families are also being persecuted by the Chinese government.
Speaking during a House subcommittee hearing, Wang Yanfang, the wife of imprisoned rights lawyer Tang Jingling, explained that as many as 709 case lawyers are currently suffering from torture at the hands of the government in China.
She explained that her husband, a pro-democracy activist who was the initiator and key advocate of the civil disobedience movement, started being monitored by national security police in 1995. And after he published an article on China’s democratization in Guangzhou, the government forced the human rights law firm he worked for to fire him in 1999.
After working on several human rights initiatives and cases, he was stripped him of his lawyer’s license in 2005. Wang explained that her husband’s activism later got him sent to what she referred to as “black jail” in February 2011, where he was tortured and faced sleep deprivation for 10 days straight.
During that time in 2011 when her husband was detained, Wang said that she was brought to Conghua and detained for months.
“They took my phone, bruised my arms, and didn’t allow me to notify my family and lawyer, which caused my severe depression and poor health,” Wang said, via her translator. “Then, the police tricked my mother to go to Guangdong to take care of me and I was put under house surveillance for a long time.”
“I was not allowed to meet with my family and friends. I was not even allowed to leave my home. More than 20 people took turns watching me. I was completely isolated from the outside world for almost five months. When my husband was released, my physical and mental health had been severely damaged.”
Wang also said that when her husband was detained in 2014, his mother passed away and authorities wouldn’t allow him to go to his mother’s funeral, even though the bail had been met. She added that the authorities didn’t even notify him of his mother’s death until over a month had passed.
“The authorities forbade his lawyers to meet with him for six months while his case was being transferred to the procuratorate. During the two years in the detention center, all communication was banned. There was no way to guarantee his rights,” Wang said.
In January, Tang was sentenced to five years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.”
Since his arrest, Wang said that she has been on 24-hour surveillance. After she got in touch with families of detained human rights lawyers who were arrested in the July 2015 crackdown and went to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate with them, she said she was told she couldn’t leave home.
“Today, other 709 case lawyers are still suffering from such torture,” she said. “Many prisoners of conscience are still unable to meet with their lawyers and families. Christian churches [are] still being shut down. Christians are still being detained and sentenced.”
Chen Guiqiu, the wife of imprisoned Christian lawyer Xie Yang who was arrested in July 2015, recently received the help of U.S. Embassy workers to flee with her kids to the United States after receiving threats from the Chinese government.
SOURCE: SAMUEL SMITH