After four-and-a-half years in jail, quarantined for a fortnight in a far flung province, but still denied the right to be reunited with his wife and son, Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang said he is drained but still ready to fight to be with his family in Beijing.
Wang was freed earlier this month by authorities in Beijing, after being detained in 2015 as part of a sweeping crackdown on hundreds of lawyers and rights activists.
Following his release, Wang said he was taken to his hometown of Jinan in Shandong province to undergo a 14-day coronavirus quarantine, despite having tested negative five times.
The quarantine ended seven days ago, but Wang said he has not been allowed to leave Jinan to reunite with his wife and seven-year-old son in Beijing.
“I will definitely fight this, I cannot accept it. Reuniting with my family is a matter of course,” Wang, 44, told AFP in a video call.
Wang, the last of the lawyers caught up in the crackdown to be released, was also deprived of political rights – including freedom of assembly and publication – for five years.
“Being deprived of political rights doesn’t mean having your human rights and freedoms limited as well,” he said.
“This time, they used the epidemic as a convenient excuse to limit my freedom.”
Wang said authorities also cited the annual session of the National People’s Congress, which usually takes place in March but was postponed due to the pandemic, as an “excuse”.
Officials usually make activists leave Beijing on a forced “holiday” during major political events.
“I just wanted to reunite with my family,” Wang said. “Why worry so much?”
During his imprisonment, Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, became a high-profile advocate for his freedom, meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2018, and famously shaved her head to bring attention to his plight.
Li fears that she would also end up confined in Jinan if she travels to visit him.
“I think they are scared that their mistreatment of Wang during his prison sentence may be fully revealed,” Li told AFP.
The United States urged China on Monday to give Wang “freedom of movement, including the ability to join his family in Beijing”.
Beijing responded that other countries should not interfere in its internal affairs. (Source: CNA)