Pro-democracy groups and rights activists gathered outside the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s representative office in Hong Kong on Tuesday in protest at the continued ‘disappearance’ of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang.
The protest came as police in Beijing prevented Wang’s wife Li Wenzu from finishing her planned 120 kilometer (60-mile) trek from the capital to neighboring Tianjin to highlight his disappearance.
Several dozen protesters gathered outside Beijing’s central liaison office in Hong Kong, holding banners and chanting slogans calling for Wang’s immediate release.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki told the crowd that Wang has now been missing for more than 1,000 days, with no official announcement on his status and no access to a lawyer or family visits.
Li Wenzu, who was forced by dozens of police officers to return to Beijing on the sixth day of her march, and who has now been prevented from leaving home to complete it, says she fears Wang may have died in custody, in the absence of any official information.
“The most outrageous thing the Communist Party does is to bully women and children, which is truly shameless,” Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki told journalists on Tuesday.
“She was unarmed and only doing it for her own family, but they were desperate enough to send in dozens … of state security police to detain them,” Kwok said.
Civil Human Rights Front activist and ousted lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung said there are fears that Li may now be treated similarly to Liu Xia, widow of late Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has been under house arrest since her husband’s award was announced in October 2010.
He said the protest was a bid to make more international noise around Wang and Li’s situation, in the hope of influencing the authorities in Beijing.
“Of course, we can’t expect to end all persecution by the Communist Party … its oppressive policies will always be there,” Leung said.
“But the breadth and intensity of that oppression has a direct [and inverse] relationship to the level of solidarity shown by the outside world,” he said.
Police in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin on Monday briefly detained Li as she marched with friends and fellow rights activists from Beijing, en route to the Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center, where she believes Wang may be being held.
Li said she was taken away on the day that she had planned to visit the Tianjin courts and the No. 2 Detention Center in the hope of finding out any information at all about his whereabouts or status.
“If they hadn’t forced me to come back here, I definitely wouldn’t have cooperated with them,” Li told RFA on Tuesday. “I would never just have come home of my own accord.”
“They grabbed, shoved and tugged at me, so I had no choice but to go with them,” she said. “They brought me straight home, and a state security police officer escorted me all the way upstairs.”
Li said her home is now under surveillance by state security police.
“I looked down from the window and saw more than a dozen of them sitting in the pavilion there,” she said. “There are state security police and some people from the neighborhood committee.”
Li said the authorities should have had nothing to fear from her march.
“Actually I think it’s pretty silly, ridiculous,” she said. “We were just a group of women walking along a road.”
Reported by Lam Kwok-lap for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.