US concerned as Chinese human rights lawyer goes missing

·2-min read
Chinese lawyer Wang Yu
Chinese lawyer Wang Yu

Washington [US], March 11 (ANI): The United States has expressed concerns about the whereabouts of Chinese lawyer Wang Yu, who went missing ahead of the International Women's Day awards ceremony to honour her human rights work.

She was among the recipients of the State Department's "international women of courage" awards for her past work on "politically sensitive" cases advocating for individuals ranging from activists and abused children to scholars and members of religious and ethnic minority groups.

According to South China Morning Express, Wang has expressed her intention to participate in Monday's virtual ceremony, before losing touch with State Department officials, according to US State Secretary Antony Blinken.

"We have not been in regular communication over the past two days," he said during the event.

"We're concerned because we know that she wanted to attend today's ceremony. We'll be following up and, if necessary, speaking out on her case," he added.

A State Department representative did not answer whether the administration believed Wang had been detained by authorities but said the US government was worried about her "safety and security", and disappointed that "she wasn't given the freedom" to attend Monday's event.

Wang, who was rounded up by authorities in China's nationwide "709" crackdown against human rights lawyers in 2015, had recently travelled from Beijing to Guangzhou in southern China with her husband Bao Longjun, according to Chen Jiangang, a US-based friend of Wang's and a fellow "709" human rights lawyer.

Chen told the South China Morning Post neither Wang nor her husband had answered their telephones since Sunday when Bao said he had been contacted by public security officers and told not to leave Guangzhou.

In a separate statement, the State Department said Wang had been "harassed, threatened, searched, and physically assaulted by police since she began to take on rights abuse cases in 2011" and had been prohibited by authorities from leaving China.

In July 2015, Wang was the first lawyer to be caught up in a nationwide crackdown that ultimately saw some 300 rights lawyers and activists rounded up by authorities.

Wang and Bao were later charged with inciting subversion of state power, before she was released in 2016 following a televised and - according to her - coerced confession.

Her case caught the attention of the United Nations, international bar associations, and a number of foreign governments, including the US and European Union.

In 2019, Wang was detained by authorities as she arrived at the US embassy in Beijing to attend a seminar about domestic violence. (ANI)