Wang Fang (王芳)Comments Off on Wang Fang (王芳)
Wang Fang 王芳
Crime: Picking quarrels and provoking trouble
Length of Punishment: 3 years
Court: Wuchang District People’s Court, Hubei Province (Wuhan City)
Trial Date: February 10, 2017
Sentencing Date: July 18, 2017
Dates of Detention/Arrest: July 28, 2015 (detained); September 15, 2015 (arrested); June 11, 2018 (released)
Place of Incarceration: Wuhan City No. 1 Detention Center
Hubei activist Wang Fang was detained in connection with the “709 Crackdown” on human rights lawyers and their supporters in July 2015, and eventually sentenced to prison over two years later. Police seized Wang three days after she and other activists, including Yin Xu’an, had publicly shown support for activist Wu Gan (a.k.a. “The Butcher”), who was detained in late May 2015. Wang and the group wore t-shirts with Wu Gan’s image in front of the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan on July 25, 2015, and then posted photos online of this activity. A group of more than 20 national security officers took Wang into custody from the home of a fellow activist during a police raid. Reportedly, the residence contained the t-shirts that the activists had worn. Police initially gave Wang a 15-day administrative detention, but police criminally detained her on August 8. Wang filed a complaint on November 3, 2015, claiming that guards had kept an inmate who suffered from tuberculosis in the same cell as other women, in violation of detention center regulations on infectious diseases.
Indicted on an unknown date, Wang’s trial was set for August 18, 2016, but authorities postponed it two days before the hearing was set to start. According to Wang’s lawyer, Liu Zhengqing (刘正清), her trial date may have been postponed after diplomats from the U.S. and some European countries requested to attend the hearing. Liu met Wang on September 29, 2016, and learned that an official at the Wuchang District Court had put pressure on Wang to confess during a meeting on September 22, but she refused. The official raised the case of activist Zhai Yanmin, saying that he had confessed and had received a suspended sentence. The official reportedly told her, “You and Zhai are part of the same case. He confessed and was released.” On December 5, 2016, her lawyer was informed the trial had been delayed again, as prosecutors had applied to the court to conduct further investigation.
Wang was eventually put on trial on February 10, 2017. The hearing lasted one day and ended without a verdict being announced. Wang repeated that she was innocent and that her right to wear a t-shirt and express support for lawyers was a civil right protected by the Chinese Constitution and laws. Lawyer Liu Zhengqing reported that the judges proposed giving her a lighter sentence if she pled guilty, which she refused to do, and her lawyer was going to mount a “not guilty” defense. Police detained over a dozen supporters outside of the courthouse during her trial. The majority were released, but Hubei activist Bao Naigang (鲍乃刚) received a three-day administrative detention punishment, over which he later filed a lawsuit.
Wang Fang’s sentencing took place in July 2017, after being delayed in late June, and she was given a three-year punishment. Wang’s mother and child were able to attend the proceedings, but there was a large police presence around the courthouse, and officers were monitoring many activists and blocked them from coming to the area. It was reported during her imprisonment that Wang was suffering from cervical cancer, and had grown very weak due to the disease. She was also being forced to work in prison, further depleting her physical condition. Wang was released from prison on June 11, 2018, having refused during her punishment to succumb to coercion from authorities and admit to criminal wrongdoing.
Wang Fang, born on October 6, 1971, once worked for the Wuhan public transportation system. After her home was demolished in 2012, Wang became a petitioner and she eventually got involved in human rights campaigns. In January 2013, police forcibly returned her to Wuhan after she took part in the press freedom protests outside the Southern Weekly headquarters in Guangzhou. She has joined protests in support of several detainees, including activist Liu Ping, Buddhist monk Sheng Guan, and individuals detained in the suppression around the 25th anniversary of June Fourth, as well as the Occupy Hong Kong pro-democracy protests. Police detained her for ten days after she joined protests after a petitioner was shot to death by police in Qing’an, Heilongjiang in May 2015, in one of the “politically sensitive” cases authorities cited as a “subversive” activity in the “709 Crackdown.”