The Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) on Tuesday urged the release of Chinese rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who has been detained for over three years awaiting trial.

Wang was detained in August 2015 amid the “709 crackdown” – a wide-reaching clampdown on Chinese lawyers and activists which began in July that year. Wang was charged with inciting subversion of state power last February, but he was not heard from again until July this year.

The lawyer representing Wang withdrew from the case in October, as he said he lost three teeth in a fall during his morning exercise routine.

Wang Quanzhang. Photo: RFA.

The HKBA, comprised of Hong Kong’s top lawyers, said in a statement that Wang has been “held incommunicado for over three years without any form of due process,” and there were concerns about his health while in detention.

The HKBA said it had previously issued two statements in July 2015 and March 2017 respectively, calling upon the mainland to conform to due process and respect the established fundamental human rights of China’s legal professionals and citizens.

“The HKBA trusts that the relevant Mainland authorities, prosecutors and judges responsible for the conduct of the trial are fully aware of such established entitlements and calls upon them to ensure their full and proper implementation,” the statement read. “Given the length of detention of Mr Wang, the HKBA urges that Mr Wang be released as soon as possible pending trial.”

Wang’s case sparked international attention. Last week, the Human Rights Commission of the Geneva Bar Association initiated an open petition letter, supported by some national lawyers organisations across the world, calling for Wang’s immediate release.

Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, has also been campaigning for his release. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt met with her in May and July respectively.

On Monday, Li and three supporters shaved their heads in protest of her husband’s detention, and attempted to submit a petition to a Beijing court.

Liu Weiguo, Wang’s lawyer before he resigned in October, was the only one who said he had seen Wang during his detention. Liu confirmed in July that Wang was still alive.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.