Wang Quanzhang strives to achieve better protection of human rights in China. Mr Wang provides legal defense in individual cases and engages in public interest litigation for basic human rights protection.
Wang Quanzhang has pioneered the use of social media in his approach to human rights defense, using public advocacy in tandem with legal representation. He promotes the idea that in China reliance on the law itself is insufficient to protect basic human rights and presses for change. He is actively training and working together with other rights defense lawyers, locally-based ‘barefoot’ lawyers, and victims, to develop a social movement. Wang Quanzhang is the founder of a system of legal aid stations, which at one point spanned 10 provinces, where key “barefoot” lawyers offered pro-bono legal aid to victims in their home communities. Through this program, over 1,000 public interest lawsuits were filed, including province-level changes to law and procedure. Besides these initiatives, Wang has developed the Urgent Action program, setting up and providing an infrastructure for lawyers and Human Right Defenders who seek financial support for the cases they work on, as well as providing direct financial assistance to HRDs at risk or to their families. In this way he institutionalizes support for the larger community.
Wang Quanzhang’s fight for the protection of basic human rights has not gone unnoticed. The government of China has flagged him as a threat to national security and he disappeared on August 3, 2015. As of today, he still remains in incommunicado pretrial detention. His fate hangs in the balance, as the government seems intent on convicting him for crimes against national security. His ongoing secret detention and the severity of his treatment is likely in reprisal to his refusal to issue a forced confession, or to denounce his work or partners, as has been common for many of the other lawyers detained under the “709 Crackdown.”
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Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.