The charges against Li Yuhan are a form of political retaliation for her rights work, a fellow lawyer says.
After four years in detention, human rights lawyer Li Yuhan stood trial in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning on Wednesday for “fraud,” and “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge often used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Li, 60, who had previously defended high-profile rights attorney Wang Yu amid a nationwide crackdown on rights lawyers, stood trial at the Heping District People’s Court in Shenyang, where an ambulance was parked, amid concerns over Li’s poor health.
Wang, who showed up to support Li with fellow rights lawyer Xie Yang, said police had denied access to diplomats from six countries, who asked to observe the proceedings.
“There were diplomats from six countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, and Switzerland,” Wang told RFA from the scene. “Some were diplomats from consulates in Shenyang, and some were diplomats from Beijing.”
“They asked to observe, but the court said there were no available seats, so there weren’t allowed in.”
She added: “They are very concerned about this case. I also think that … the abuse of lawyer Li Yuhan has been inhumane.”
Wang said guards had thrown a security cordon some 50 meters from the front gates, and didn’t allow her or Xie Yang to pass.
“We saw a lot of lawyers and litigants from other cases trying to get through to submit materials or meet with a judge, but they weren’t allowed in either,” she said. “Court business was totally suspended.”
“We took a few photos from outside the security cordon, then we got driven away by the security guards, state security police and court police,” she said.
Earlier this year, the European Bar Association wrote to CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, expressing concerns over Li Yuhan’s poor health and situation in detention.
Wang said the charges against Li are retaliatory.