August 3, 2016
The trials of Beijing Fengrui Law Firm director Zhou Shifeng and activists Hu Shigen, Zhai Yanmin, and Gou Hongguo, which are being held this week at Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, are a miscarriage of justice, Human Rights Watch said today. Chinese authorities should immediately drop all charges against the lawyers, legal assistants, and rights activists detained in connection with the sweep of July 9, 2015. The trials, held between August 2 and 5, have not been open and public as claimed by Chinese authorities.
On August 2 the court tried, convicted, and sentenced Zhai for “subversion” within five hours. The court handed down a term of three years in prison but commuted it to four years’ suspended sentence. On August 3, also within hours, the court convicted Hu for “subversion” and sentenced him to seven and a half years in prison.
On August 1, state media and pro-Beijing press in Hong Kong reported that Tianjin authorities had also released on bail Wang Yu, one of the most prominent Fengrui lawyers, and broadcast a confession by her that appeared coerced. Her whereabouts remain unknown.
“These cases lay bare Chinese authorities’ shameless manipulation of the legal system to silence rule of law advocates and critics,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Authorities have lied about an open trial, and faked Wang Yu’s release. The only hard truth here is China’s appalling backsliding on rights.”