China May Give 'Tortured Rights Lawyer' Life Sentence

Monday, March 29, 2021

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

(Worthy News) - China’s Communist authorities may sentence detained human rights lawyer Chang Weiping to life imprisonment, Christian rights activists warned Monday.

Advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said officials changed charges against Chang from “inciting subversion "to the more serious “subversion” accusation.

While inciting “subversion could carry a sentence of five years,” charges of “subversion carry even heavier punishments up to a life sentence,” CSW explained.

Both charges are frequently used to target human rights defenders in China, according to Christians familiar with the situation.

Chang Weiping has been in detention since October 22 last year after he represented clients in cases related to religious freedom, forced demolition of housing, and sexual discrimination.

Christians say that as a result of torture during a previous period of arbitrary detention, Chang lost the use of two of his fingers, which he has not regained in the ten months since.


His father recently expressed concern about the plight of his 36-year-old son after meeting him at a police station in Baoji, Shaanxi province, in late November.

The retired farmer said he was distressed when he saw his son, who is being held under “residential surveillance” at an unknown location, a form of detention.

“I am worried that my son is being held in isolation, and he is helpless. After I left the room, he shouted out, telling his mother and me to stay alive,” said Chang Shuanming, 70, in reported remarks.

“I was terrified because it felt like my son was using his last breath to say goodbye,” the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper quoted him as saying.

“He has lost a lot of weight, his eyes were red, and he looked tired,” Chang Shuanming wrote on Weibo, China’s version of social networking service Twitter. “He is an eloquent speaker, but he spoke intermittently [when they met].”

Chang Shuanming wrote that his son had told him not to try to raise awareness on social media about him, saying it was “futile,” and to tell his wife not to speak out about his case.


His observations seemed in line with remarks by the lawyer’s wife, Chen Zijuan who tried to meet him.

Last month, Chen described the torture Chang endured allegedly endured during a previous period of detention in January 2020 and the impact on the family, Christians said.

Separately Chang Weiping posted a video on video sharing services YouTube in mid-October alleging he had been tortured during the previous detention in January last year.

“I was cuffed to a ‘tiger bench’ in a room at the Paotai Hotel for 24 hours every day for 10 days,” he reportedly explained in the video. He referred to a method of torture used in China in which a suspect is cuffed to a bench to keep their legs bent for long periods.

Since the beginning of a nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers in July 2015, numerous activists and lawyers have been charged with subversion-related charges, rights activists say.

For example, in December 2019, Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Church was sentenced to nine years in prison following his conviction on charges of ‘inciting to subvert state power’ and ‘illegal business operations, CSW recalled


CSW’s President Mervyn Thomas told Worthy News that his group “resolutely condemns the charges against lawyer Chang Weiping. This is yet another example of the Chinese Communist Party’s arbitrary suppression of a lawyer who has peacefully defended the fundamental human rights of Chinese citizens.”

He said Chang should be “applauded for his tireless efforts to oppose discrimination.” Instead, “he has been arbitrarily detained, and his family are subject to harassment, intimidation, and threats,” Thomas complained.

“We call on the international community to raise this case with the Chinese authorities at every opportunity, and to call for Chang’s immediate and unconditional release.”

Rights activists and Christians say there has been a growing crackdown on dissent under current Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In 2018 the ruling Communist party announced it was eliminating the two-term limit for the presidency, paving the way for Xi to serve indefinitely