On eve of third anniversary of "709" crackdown, UN human rights body writes letter to Initiatives for China regarding disappearance of Wang Quanzhang
Zhou Hong / Yibao
July 5, 2018
WASHINGTON - On July 5, 2018, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances wrote a letter to Initiatives for China in response to Initiatives for China's Feb. 20 report of regarding the forced disappearance of Wang Quanzhang.
In its letter to Initiatives for China, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said that during its 115th session, held from April 23 to May 2, 2018, the Working Group discussed the case of Wang Quanzhang (case number 10008239), reported by Initiatives for China, and transmitted the case to the Chinese government on May 25, 2018. The Working Group hopes that the Chinese government will properly investigate the case and protect the rights of the affected party. Any response from the Chinese government will be promptly communicated to Initiatives for China. The letter also indicated that the Working Group's 116th session will be held in Geneva from September 10 to 14, 2018. Initiatives for China may provide further information regarding the case and can arrange for family members of the affected party to meet with UN officials to discuss the case in detail.
The third anniversary of the "709" crackdown is approaching. The full-blown crackdown against civil society under the Xi Jinping regime began with the arrest of human rights lawyers on July 9, 2015, and thus is known as the "709" crackdown. In this crackdown, over 300 human rights activists have been directly persecuted. Among them, however, only the whereabouts of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang remain unknown; to date, he has been missing for 1,091 days. On February 20, 2018, Initiatives for China reported the disappearance of Wang Quanzhang to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and requested an investigation. The same day, Initiatives for China founder, Dr. Jianli Yang, delivered a speech at the 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, calling on the international community to pay attention to Wang Quanzhang's case.
In a media interview regarding the UN human rights body's response to Initiatives for China's report, Dr. Jianli Yang said: "I'm very thankful to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances for transmitting the case of Wang Quanzhang's disappearance to the Chinese government and requesting that they undertake an investigation. The Chinese government has the responsibility to make a clear response. Almost without a doubt, the Chinese government will lie when responding, but applying such international pressure to the Chinese government will, ultimately, be conducive to uncovering the truth. It is very possible that Wang Quanzhang is currently being brutally tortured. In fact, we don't even know whether he is still alive. His wife, Li Wenzu, is still being harassed and intimidated by the police. Li Wenzu herself was previously detained for a short period. This married couple has a young son who hasn't seen his father in 1,091 days. This is a true portrayal of the rule-of-law environment under the Xi Jinping regime." Dr. Yang said that in November 2018, China will undergo its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN General Assembly. For this UPR, he is urging governments, NGOs and civic activists to raise the case of Wang Quanzhang as well as other lawyers and human rights activists who have been persecuted in the "709" crackdown, and demand that the Chinese government restore their freedom. Dr. Yang also emphasizes that there is another aspect of this Universal Periodic Review that merits attention: It has been 20 years since China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); China cannot explain why it is postponing ratification of this key UN human rights agreement. Therefore, the Chinese government must be held accountable and the international community should urge China to ratify the ICCPR immediately.