Chinese human rights activist faces trial

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Chinese human rights activist went on trial Friday in Beijing on charges relating to her participation in a protest last year.

Wang Lihong, 56, faces charges of "creating a disturbance" after demonstrating in support of three bloggers accused of slandering Chinese government officials in April 2010. She was arrested in March this year. Wang pleaded not guilty, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail if convicted.

A large group of police watched over supporters and other activists who had gathered outside the court.

The case is the latest in what many believe is a crackdown by the Chinese government on dissenters. The use of online blogging by dissenters, supporters say, concerns the authorities as it allows information to be spread quickly and may lead to public unrest.

Foreign and Chinese journalists were not allowed to enter the courtroom to hear the case.

One of Wang's lawyers, Han Yicun, said it was an unfair trial. "I was interrupted many times, the judge did not allow me to talk, no matter how I tried to explain," he said. He said that the judge’s interruption obstructed the defence.

A source of The Telegraph who was in the courtroom said, “at the beginning, she [Wang] said this is the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution [that Overthrew the Qing Dynasty], as a citizen, we have responsibility to concern about the society.” However, the judge told Wang to only talk about her individual case, the source said.

A verdict is expected in the coming weeks, but Han was not confident of an acquittal.

Wang has previously been vocal in support of Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace prize, after he was jailed for 11 years for writing the Charter 08 pro-democracy petition.