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Rights group urges release of Chinese activist


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Rights group urges release of Chinese activist

2011-08-13 13:57:09 GMT+7 (ICT)

LONDON (BNO NEWS) -- Amnesty International on Friday urged Chinese authorities to release a human rights activist detained for organizing a demonstration in support of bloggers as her trial took place on Friday in Beijing.

Wang Lihong was arrested on March 21 on charges of "assembling a crowd to block traffic or undermine traffic order" amid a government crackdown on dissent which is likely to stem from fears among China's leaders that the country could empathize with democracy protests carried out recently in the Middle East and North Africa.

The 56-year old activist pleaded not guilty to the charges which relate to her participation in a peaceful protest in April 2010 in support of three internet activists from Fujian province who were charged with defamation for posting questions online about an alleged police cover-up in the death of a young woman.

Wang Lihong's lawyers said they had limited access to her case documents, in violation of legal provisions on lawyers' rights, and that during the trial, which only lasted a few hours, they did not have enough time to present a proper defense as they were interrupted by the judge repeatedly.

The court verdict is expected within a month but if convicted, Wang Lihong could face up to five years in prison. "Wang Lihong is one of many Chinese activists locked up in recent months on spurious charges, simply for exercising their right to peaceful freedom of expression," said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International. "Her trial is a farce and she should be released immediately.â€

Amnesty International also warned about Lihong's health condition which has deteriorated after several months in detention. "The Chinese authorities must ensure Wang Lihong has access to the legal representation of her choice, and that she is not tortured or ill-treated in custody," Catherine Baber said.

Wang Lihong is a widely known human rights activist who has often provided help and support to fellow activists and their families. Many activists across the country have been campaigning for Wang Lihong's release and, on Friday, they gathered outside the court room in Beijing to express their support.


-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-13

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