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Poet Wang Zang and Wife Accused of “Inciting Subversion”; Four Young Children Under Virtual House Arrest

September 21, 2020

Human Rights in China has learned that poet Wang Zang (王藏) and his wife Wang Li (王丽), of Chuxiong City, Yunnan Province, have been arrested for "inciting subversion of state power." Police authorities have referred their cases in mid-September to the procuratorate to seek indictments. According to reports, the charge against Wang Zang is based on his poetry, essays, interviews, and performance art since his release from prison in 2015.

Wang Zang was taken away from his home on May 30, 2020 by dozens of policemen. Officers pinned Wang Li, the couple’s four young children (ages 11, eight, and four (twins)), as well as Wang Zang’s elderly mother to the ground, and then took the entire family to the police station. Wang Li was interrogated for more than ten hours before being allowed to return home. Afterwards, police agents stayed at Wang’s home for two days, ostensibly to “take care of the children." Since then, officers have been stationed outside of the building of the family’s residence and at the entrance to their complex to monitor the family’s every move.

Following her husband’s arrest, Wang Li (real name Wang Liqin) appealed for the public’s attention to his case through social media and interviews with overseas media, exposing Yunnan police’s persecution of the rest of the family, including suspending their bank cards, confiscating packages delivered to their home, prohibiting them from going out, and depriving them of food, after forcing the children to witness the arrest of their father. Then on June 27, Wang Li herself was detained.

According to the official arrest notices received by the family in September, Wang Zang and Wang Li were formally arrested by the Chuxiong Prefecture Public Security Bureau on July 3 and July 24, respectively, for "inciting subversion of state power." Wang Zang is currently detained in the Chuxiong City Detention Center while Wang Li is being held in the Chuxiong Prefecture Detention Center.

After the arrest of the couple, their four children have been taken care of by their grandmother. But all of them have been essentially cut off from the outside world: relatives have been warned not to visit, and no one has had any information about their condition. Of particular concern is Wang Li’s mental state. Previously, under extreme stress on another occasion, she had attempted suicide.

On the morning of September 17, lawyer Lu Siwei from Sichuan and lawyer Zhang Lei from Beijing met with Wang Zang at the Chuxiong Detention Center. They reported that though Wang was in relatively good condition and grateful for the solidarity expressed by his supporters, he was extremely concerned about his wife and the wellbeing of their four children.

Wang Zang (real name Wang Yuwen) began publishing poetry and other writings online in late 2003 under the pen name "Little Prince." He was placed under residential surveillance twice, for a total of  more than eight months, for publishing articles on overseas websites criticizing totalitarian culture and participating in multiple rights defense activities. In May 2009, he began using the pen name "Wang Zang" (“zang” is the Chinese word for “Tibet”) to express his desire to “be a Tibetan in the next life." In October 2014, after he posted online a photo of himself holding an umbrella to voice his support for Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, he was taken away by the Songzhuang District police in Beijing and his home was raided. Following his detention on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” he was formally arrested on November 6 by the Beijing Municipal authorities on the same charge. Wang was released on bail on July 9, 2015. After his release, Wang was forced to move at least nine times and was threatened by the police that if he continued to engage in rights defense activities, he would risk “destruction of his family." In 2019, Wang was arrested for "picking quarrels and provoking troubles" for reposting information on Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protests and on June Fourth, as well as a video of a statement made by the Hong Kong singer Denise Ho at the UN Human Rights Council.