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Trial Suspended as Sichuan Activist Huang Qi Reportedly Dismissed His Lawyer

January 16, 2019

The long awaited trial of the case of veteran Sichuan activist Huang Qi (黄琦) began and ended two days ago, on January 14, with little information available to the outside world about its outcome or what transpired. As has been widely reported, supporters and foreign diplomats seeking to attend the trial were barred. Also absent was Huang’s 85-year-old mother, Pu Wenqing (蒲文清), who had been tireless in publicly petitioning for justice for her son until her disappearance on December 7, 2018 after being assaulted by domestic security police; she is presumably under house arrest.  One of his two lawyers, Liu Zhengqing (刘正清), was unable to represent Huang because his lawyer’s license was revoked recently. Huang’s other lawyer, Li Jinglin (李静林), who did attend the hearing but refused to even say whether the trial ended (See Radio Free Asia reports in English and Chinese).

The only new information about the trial (which HRIC is unable to independently verify) emerged today in the form of a Twitter post, which says:

During the hearing, Huang Qi said he did not accept the legitimacy of the court. He dismissed his lawyer [Li Jinglin] for the sake of the lawyer’s safety.  The dismissal caused the trial to adjourn. Huang Qi at this point no longer has legal representation.  His mother Pu Wenqing has been under house arrest for a month, has lost contact with the outside world, and cannot retain a lawyer [to represent Huang Qi].

HRIC calls on the international community to continue to pay close attention to the case of Huang Qi, who faces the charges of “illegally providing state secrets abroad” and “intentionally leaking state secrets.”

Huang is a veteran rights defender who was active online in China to promote information access by citizens and official accountability. He founded the 64 Tianwang website (64tianwang.com) to help people find missing relatives and to provide rights defense related information and assistance to vulnerable groups. Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, he published an investigative report exposing the “tofu” school buildings that collapsed during the earthquake, which killed thousands.

His current charges stemmed from information he posted on the 64 Tianwang website from a non-classified Mianyang municipal government department document setting out next steps to crackdown on him and another petitioner.

Huang has previously been imprisoned twice, serving eight years in total. As a result of beatings and other abuses he suffered during his previous imprisonment, Huang Qi developed accumulation of fluid in the brain, rheumatic heart disease, and other ailments. In 2010, Huang Qi was also diagnosed with chronic renal failure and other conditions, requiring large quantities of medication daily. His conditions have reportedly worsened over the past few months.

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