On Aug 5, a closed hearing was held in Chengdu Wuhou District Court on the case of Sichuan rights activist and founder of Tianwang Human Rights Center (天网人权) Huang Qi (黄琦), who was suspected of "illegal possession of state secrets". Huang Qi was arrested by authorities after actively participating in Sichuan earthquake relief activities and helping parents who had lost their children seek justice. Huang Qi’s lawyers, Mo Shaoping (莫少平) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) appeared in court to enter a not guilty plea on his behalf. The court said the verdict will be pronounced at another time.
Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Pu Fei (浦飞), a volunteer for Tianwang Human Rights Center who was taken away by unidentified people along with Huang Qi last June, was prepared to appear in court to testify in support of Huang Qi. On August 3, however, after speaking on the telephone with Huang Qi’s wife, Zeng Li (曾丽), Pu Fei was kidnapped in Chengdu by four police officers, brought to Nantong and prevented from appearing in court. When he protested, the police threatened him, saying, “Our public security offices are doing this to prevent you from continuing to commit crimes.” Pu Fei was detained by the police for two days, and was only released after the conclusion of Huang Qi’s hearing.
“Authorities who violate the law by abducting witnesses in broad daylight cause serious doubt that justice will be served in Huang Qi’s trial", said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “This case, which is already tainted by suspicious politicization of the legal process, demonstrates that it is, as rights defender Teng Biao (滕彪) noted recently, the rule of law that is on trial in China. The Chinese authorities need to take immediate and public steps to assure domestic and international confidence in the fairness and openness of the trial.”
Zeng Li said that her son, Huang Qi’s parents, and 40 or 50 other supporters of Huang Qi were blocked from entering the court by a human wall of about a dozen policemen in the entryway of the courthouse. Zeng Li said that when four or five policemen pushed and pulled a handcuffed Huang Qi into the court, she “saw through the thick glass that Huang Qi made a ‘V’ for victory sign with his fingers at us.” The supporters that came were farmers who had lost land, evicted petitioners, and other rights defenders that Huang Qi had helped in the past.
Zeng Li told HRIC that she had delivered two applications to the court, one requesting to be present at the hearing and another requesting that Huang Qi be allowed to see his seriously ill father. Before the start of the hearing, the director of the court designated a judge to speak with her and inform her that her application had been denied. Zeng Li said, “I patiently explained to him that Huang Qi’s father is in the late stages of lung cancer and his condition is very serious. But this judge persisted to tell me that it was not allowed and also refused to tell me his name.”
Zeng Li said that Huang Qi’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, entered a not guilty plea, pointing out that the prosecutor’s evidence was insufficient, the legal documents not properly prepared, and a lot of the accusations did not hold up.
Zeng Li said that if Huang Qi was found guilty, the family will appeal to higher courts.
After the hearing ended, Huang Qi was led out of the court. Zeng Li said that at the time, “My son was shouting ‘Dad, Dad’ very loudly. The other people were also shouting, ‘Huang Qi, your mom is calling for you to go home to eat.’” Zeng Li said, “By the time we helped Huang Qi’s father to stand up, Huang Qi was out of sight.”
Huang Qi disappeared suddenly on June 10, 2008, two months before the Beijing Olympics, because of his reports of the situation in earthquake-affected areas. It has been over a year since he was arrested by the authorities on the charge of “illegal possession of state secrets.”
Huang Qi established the Chengdu Tianwang Missing Persons Inquiry Service Center in October 1998 and the Tianwang Missing Persons website on June 4, 1999. This website was widely recognized by the media for its work on helping to find many missing people and unite family members. On June 3, 2000, Huang Qi was arrested by the Chengdu police for “voicing grievances about June Fourth, crying out for the democracy movement,” and other charges. After being detained for three years, Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Huang Qi to five years’ imprisonment on May 9, 2003 for the crime of inciting subversion of state power. During his detention, Huang Qi contracted hydrocephalus, encephalatrophy, rheumatic heart disease, and other illnesses due to long periods of brutal beatings and torture.
After he was released from prison in 2005, Huang Qi launched a website called June Fourth Tianwang to continue domestic rights activities, publish rights protection information, and provide assistance to vulnerable groups. On December 31, 2006, the website June Fourth Tianwang was renamed the Tianwang Human Rights Center.
For more information on Huang Qi, see:
- "Authorities Denied Bail and Medicines for Detained Activist Huang Qi" July 28, 2008
- "Detained Rights Activist Huang Qi Formally Arrested" July 18, 2008
- "Huang Qi Denied Access to Counsel" June 24, 2008
- "Rights Activist Huang Qi Detained on Suspicion of Holding State Secrets" June 16, 2008
- "Human Rights in China Condemns the Detention of Huang Qi by Police in Chengdu" June 14, 2008
For more information on state secrets, see: