This year, the Communist Party celebrated Christmas with a traditional ritual: locking people up in the last week of the year, when journalists and politicians around the world are sleeping off their festive excesses. Some previous examples:
- On Christmas Day in 2007, AIDS and environmental activist Hú Jiā 胡佳 was arrested at his home in Beijing. He was later sentenced to three and a half years in jail.
- The late literary critic and dissident Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波 was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment in a Beijing court on December 25, 2009. Liu was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power,” and died of cancer last year while incarcerated.
- A Tianjin court sentenced activist and blogger Wú Gàn 吴淦, also known as “Super Vulgar Butcher,” to eight years behind bars on subversion charges on December 26, 2017.
This year’s main victim is Wáng Quánzhāng 王全璋. Wang was detained in August 2015 during the “709 Crackdown” on human rights lawyers and activists. Born in 1976 in Shandong Province and educated there, he moved to Beijing, where he defended Falun Gong practitioners and took on other human rights cases. Wang faced charges of “subversion” and “stirring up trouble” in a Tianjin court today.
- While others detained in the 709 Crackdown “were released with warnings, put on bail after making rehearsed confessions on television, or tried and sentenced, Mr. Wang remained held in secrecy,” notes the New York Times (porous paywall).
- Wang’s trial “was also swaddled in security to ward off protests.” His wife was not allowed to leave her residence in Beijing to attend the trial.
- Wang fired his state-appointed defense lawyer, according to his wife, Lǐ Wénzú 李文足. This was perhaps the only means of protest available to him.
- Further reporting:
Another victim this year: Qiū Zhànxuān 邱占萱, head of the Peking University Marxist Society, “was grabbed and forced into a black car outside the east gate of Peking University by a group of heavyset men who identified themselves as police,” reports Reuters.
“Qiu was on the way to attend a memorial for the 125th anniversary of Máo Zédōng’s birthday that he organized and had already been warned by a school adviser about the event on Tuesday,” a student told Reuters. Agence France-Presse has also reported on the abduction:
A student eyewitness told AFP that Qiu…was forced into a black car by seven or eight plainclothes officers near the subway station outside the university’s east gate.
Qiu was “screaming and resisting arrest,” the student said, declining to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue. “I heard him say I am Qiu Zhanxuan… I did not break the law. Why are you taking me away? What are you doing?”