China human rights lawyer freed after video 'confession'

August 02, 2016 15:59
Wang Yu's videotaped confession appears to be the result of coercion by Chinese authorities, human rights activists say. Photo:

A well-known Chinese human rights lawyer has been released on bail in the mainland after she purportedly "confessed" to some wrongdoings.  

Wang Yu (王宇), 45, who was arrested by mainland police in July last year on charges of political subversion, appeared in a video expressing "deep remorse" for her actions.

In the televised confession, Wang is shown delivering a sharp rebuke on her profession and accusing "foreign forces" of using her law firm to smear the Chinese government.

The lawyer also said that she will not recognize, endorse or accept the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize awarded to her in June, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Activists suspect that Wang may have been coerced into making the videotaped confession, as often happens in such cases in China. 

Chan Kit-man, secretary-general of the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, noted that the Wang case is similar to that of another human rights lawyer, Zhao Wei, who was also set free after a videotaped confession.

Chan believes Wang will be kept under close monitoring and supervision by mainland authorities.

The Chinese lawyer has handled several politically sensitive lawsuits, including the case of Cao Shunli, who was detained for months for staging sit-ins at the foreign ministry and later died.

She also defended Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur economist who was handed a life sentence on separatism-related charges.

Wang was taken away on July 9 last year and was charged in January 2016 with subversion of state power and inciting subversion of state power.

She was charged along with her husband Bao Longjun, who was also arrested.

Wang appeared on Phoenix TV on July 31 in an interview apparently conducted at a restaurant in Tianjin.

She said she is physically well after recovering from a mammary gland tumor in February and March this year.

Wang said arrangements had been made for her to undergo surgery. The action made her realize the "human touch and care" of Chinese authorities, she says.

Chan noted that Wang appeared to be reciting from a script and that she does not look well.

He also pointed out that activists were unable to reach any of Wang's family members, including her parents, son Bao Zhuoxuan and parents-in-law.

Mainland authorities appear to be adopting a new practice of using overseas media to release confessions of freed activists, Chan said, adding that the confessions don't seem convincing.

Confession fuels fears of Beijing influence on top HK newspaper (July 26, 2016)

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