Wang Yu (lawyer)

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Wang Yu (Chinese: 王宇; born 1 May 1971) is a Chinese human rights lawyer. She was arrested by Chinese authorities in 2015 when China initiated a crackdown against human rights attorneys, not unlike a 2011 crackdown in China, only four years earlier. Ms. Wang was charged with inciting subversion of state power which is a serious offense in China carrying a life sentence. Wang is a lawyer with the Fengrui law firm in Beijing. That law firm has been targeted by the government in its crackdown, which arrested two lawyers and one intern there in addition to Wang and her husband, Bao Longjun.[1] Late in 2016, Chinese authorities released Wang Yu on bail after she was in all likelihood coerced to give a televised confession in which she denounced her colleagues and suggested that her human rights work was the result of foreign activists out to smear China. “I won’t be used by them anymore,” Ms. Wang said in a video published on a Communist Party news site. Her confession followed a pattern similar to those given to Chinese authorities by other lawyers, publishers and human rights activists. Friends said that although released from detention, Ms. Wang would still remain under surveillance by Chinese authorities for years and would not be free to come and go as she pleases. [2]

Before her conversion to a human rights lawyer, Wang Yu was a commercial lawyer until an incident at a Tianjin train station in 2008. At that time she got into an argument with rail employees because she was denied entry onto a train even though she had a ticket. In a Kafkaesque turn of events, she was charged with "intentional assault" and was imprisoned for more than 2 years. While in prison, she learned how prisoners were mistreated and tortured. When she was released in 2011, her conversion to a human rights lawyer was complete.[3]

Since then, she became part of China's human rights movement. Her clients have included Ilham Tohti, a well-known Uyghur intellectual, the women’s rights group known as the "Feminists Five,"[4] and the banned Falun Gong spiritual group. It was her use of social media to champion her causes that eventually led to her arrest on the subversion charges. In 2015, the government's Xinhua News Agency published a piece designed to tarnish her reputation, saying, "This arrogant woman with a criminal record turned overnight to a lawyer, blabbering about the rule of law, human rights, and justice, and roaming around under the flag of 'rights defense.'"[3]

Wang Yu's human rights work is highlighted in the 2016 documentary directed by Nanfu Wang, Hooligan Sparrow.[5] On 4 June 2016, Wang Yu was awarded the 21st prestigious Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize also called "The award given by lawyers to a lawyer".[6] On August 6, 2016, the American Bar Association awarded its inaugural International Human Rights Award to Wang Yu, in absentia. [7] “In honoring Wang Yu, we pay tribute to her steadfast commitment to doing this essential work in China. We recognize her important work to protect human rights and to advocate that the Chinese government respect the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession and observe fair trial and due process standards—all principles guaranteed under Chinese and international law and critical to sustaining progress toward rule of law,” said ABA President Paulette Brown. [8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Buckley, Chris (13 January 2016). "China Arrests Rights Lawyer and Her Husband on Subversion Charges". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  2. ^ Hernandez, Javier C. (1 Aug 2016). "China Frees Wang Yu, Human Rights Lawyer, After Videotaped Confession". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Fifield, Anna (18 July 2015). "She was a quiet commercial lawyer. Then China turned against her". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  4. ^ Jinyan, Zeng (17 April 2015). "China's feminist five: 'This is the worst crackdown on lawyers, activists and scholars in decades'". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 October 2016. The women – Wei Tingting, Li Tingting (Li Maizi), Wu Rongrong, Wang Man and Zheng Churan (Datu) 
  5. ^ "URGENT ACTION". Hooligan Sparrow. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "XXIst 'Ludovic-Trarieux' Human Rights International Prize 2016". The Ludovic-Trarieux Award. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  7. ^ "Chinese lawyer Wang Yu given ABA International Human Rights Award in absentia". Retrieved 16 April 2017. 
  8. ^ "Chinese lawyer Wang Yu to receive inaugural ABA International Human Rights Award". Retrieved 16 April 2017. 



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