The wife of a detained Chinese lawyer has taken it upon herself to try to find answers about the whereabouts of her husband who has been detained since August 2015.
Li Wenzu has begun a march of more than 100km (62 miles) from Beijing to Tianjin, where she thinks her husband may be being held incommunicado, in an effort to force authorities to explain his arrest.
Lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who handled cases of complaints of police torture and defended practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, went missing during an extensive crackdown on human right activists back in 2015.
On July 9, 2015, authorities launched a coordinated attempt to suppress China’s rights movement, in what is known as the “709” crackdown, after the date.
Most of the detainees are in prison or under house arrest. Many of them made public confessions and were sentenced in trials.
But to Li’s utter disappointment, no word of Wang’s whereabouts has yet been received.
In an interview from 2015, the lawyer recounted being beaten in the basement of a court building for challenging the order of a judge.
Since then, Li has heard little about her husband’s fate, except for the fact authorities told her lawyer he had been detained. Neither Li nor the lawyer has been allowed to see him.
It must be undoubtedly heartbreaking for Li to not even know if her husband is alive, though she did suspect her husband had been tortured.
According to the distraught Li, she has tried all possible legal means to track her husband down but to no vain. So, instead of just sitting around in misery she planned to hit the road in a 12-days long march to Tianjin, over the 1,000-day anniversary of her husband’s disappearance.
"They have abused all of our rights. Arresting an innocent person like this, locking him up for almost 1,000 days, I think this is cruel. It's heartless," said Li.
Li is not alone in pursuit of her lost husband, she is accompanied by Wang Qiaoling, wife of rights lawyer Li Heping, who was given a suspended sentence for subversion last April.
Li’s efforts are praiseworthy, she may not be able to reunite with her husband but she has sent out a clear message to the authorities that they cannot tear families apart without any accountability.
“We are walking to seek an answer from the Chinese legal system. Is China really a country with rule of law?” Li told reporters outside a Supreme People’s Court complaints office.
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