Friends have been unable to contact the wives of two detained in China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists. Wang Qiaoling, the wife of lawyer Li Heping, sent a message on Sunday evening saying that she and Liu Ermin, the wife of activist Zhai Yanmin, had been taken by police. They haven’t been heard from since.

The trials for four human rights lawyers and activists, Zhai Yanmin among them, are rumoured to start on Monday.

Patrick Poon, Amnesty International researcher, told HKFP that Wang and Liu may have been taken away because “the authorities might want to stop them from going to the trial… six other activists, including Hu Shigen’s two brothers, were also taken away when they went to the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court this morning.” Hu Shigen is a human rights activist who was also charged with subverting state power and may face trial Monday.

Li Wenzu, Liu Ermin, and Wang Qiaoling outside Tianjin court last Friday. Photo: alicedreamss via Twitter.

Poon added that it was a common action taken by authorities and said that “the police tried to quash attention as the crackdown and detention of lawyers and activists have been receiving international attention over the past year.”

He said that while it was unclear if the trial has started, if it was a secret trial, “it would once again show how the Chinese authorities have run against claims of promoting the rule of law, by depriving the detained lawyers and activists any chance to have a fair trial.”

Wang and Liu, along with Fan Lili and Li Wenzu, the wives of two others detained in the crackdown, went to a Tianjin court to inquire about a trial date last Friday and were taken to a police station where the police asked to speak with Fan and Liu.

Fan and Li were outside the Tianjin Second Intermediate People’s Court, where the trial was supposed to take place. They were holding signs which called for the release of Wang and Liu. Fan was reportedly pushed over by somebody as she called for the release of Wang and Liu.


Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.