Chinese activists shave heads to protest persecution of partners

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Posted

December 17, 2018 22:56:42

The partners of four of China’s most prominent rights lawyers and activists are now bald, in protest over what they call the “persecution” of their husbands by the Government.

Key points:

  • Hundreds of right lawyers and activists sit in detention after a 2015 crackdown
  • The women have not been able to see their partners since 2015
  • Beijing has not commented on the protest

Since taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has overseen a crackdown on dissent, with hundreds of rights lawyers and activists being detained, arrested and jailed.

Four wives of lawyers detained during a July 2015 sweep known as the 709 crackdown gathered in the central park of a sleepy Beijing apartment complex and cut off their hair in front of neighbours and a small group of invited foreign journalists.

The women took turns shaving each other’s heads, placing the hair in see-through plastic boxes alongside pictures of them with their husbands, before heading to China’s Supreme People’s Court to petition over their husbands’ treatment.

Li Wenzu, who says she has been unable to visit her husband, rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, since he went missing in the 2015 crackdown, told reporters that the act was to protest against the way her husband’s case was being handled.

Ms Li said judges in Mr Wang’s trial had unlawfully delayed proceedings and prevented her from appointing a lawyer of her choosing.

Mr Wang is being held in Tianjin on suspicion of subverting state power, but both Ms Li and seven lawyers she has appointed to try and represent Mr Wang have been unable to visit him, she said.

“We can go hairless, but you cannot be lawless,” they announced at the end of the ceremony, a pun in Chinese, as the words for “hair” and “law” sound similar.

Requests for comment faxed to China’s Supreme People’s Court and the Tianjin Number 2 Intermediate People’s Court, where Mr Wang’s case is set to be heard at an unknown date, went unanswered.

Ms Li, Mr Wang and other family members of rights lawyers and activists who have been detained or jailed have in recent years taken up their loved ones’ causes and attempted to keep pressuring the Government into allowing their release.

The authorities have responded using “soft” detention measures, such as house arrest, to keep family members from getting their message out, rights activists have said.

Reuters

Topics:

world-politics,

foreign-aid,

prisons-and-punishment,

china



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