January 26, 2017
Chinese New Year is meant to be a time for family reunions and celebration, but for Wang Qiaoling and Li Wenzhu, Jan. 28 will be just another lonely day without their husbands.
“This is going to be our second new year without him,” Ms. Li says. “Our son is always asking when will Daddy come back.”
Ms. Wang’s husband, Li Heping, and Ms. Li’s husband, Wang Quanzhang, both Beijing-based lawyers, were taken away by police amid an unprecedented, mass crackdown on human rights lawyers in July 2015. They have been held in detention ever since and have not been allowed to see their lawyers or wives. After six months held incommunicado, they were charged with “subversion of state power.” Their cases have still not been tried in court.
About 300 lawyers and rights activists were interrogated, detained and harassed by police in that 2015 crackdown. Most have since been released, but four have been sentenced to jail after being held for more than a year.
On Jan. 23, Ms. Wang and Ms. Li learned from a reliable source that their husbands had been tortured in different ways while in police detention, including receiving electric shocks that left them unconscious.