A renowned Chinese civil rights lawyer has finally resurfaced, unfortunately in yet another televised “confession” released by state media.
Wang Yu was detained last July along with close to 150 other lawyers and activists in a nationwide crackdown against human rights activism in China. For the past year, she has been held at a detainment facility, unable to contact her family or friends or seek any kind of legal counseling.
In an “exclusive” interview, broadcast by Phoenix TV and Oriental Daily in Hong Kong on Monday, Wang is shown sitting outside on a nice day, wearing a short-sleeved white shirt, talking casually with her interviewers as some soft guitar music plays on in the background. During their conversation, Wang disavows her life’s work and denounces all her contributions to the human rights movement, as well as any involvement or association with a US-based organization, the American Bar Association, which had recently honored Wang as the inaugural recipient of the international human rights award. Wang disavowed the organization and the award.
— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) August 2, 2016
Many who have watched the video say that Wang is obviously being “held at gunpoint” as she solemnly recites her loyalties to the CCP and denounces “foreign forces,” who she claims used her Fengrui law firm to “attack and smear” the Chinese government.
“I won’t be used by them anymore,” Wang says. “I am a Chinese and I only accept the Chinese government’s leadership.”
After watching the “confession,” Wen Donghai, one of Wang’s lawyers, told The New York Times: “She was like a pupil reciting an essay in front of a teacher. Not a single word is missing from the script.”
Watch the video below:
Of course, Wang’s is just the latest in a series of purported “confessions” broadcast over Chinese state television in the past year. Promient Chinese law scholar Jerome Cohen sees them as a rather worrying development, writing that they are “reminiscent of the ‘brainwashing’ era of the 1950s for which the new China became infamous.”
Reportedly, following her “confession,” Wang was released from prison on bail. However, no one has actually managed to get in contact with her. Wang’s husband remains in custody and none of her family, friends or lawyers were informed about Wang’s release ahead of time.
Wang’s “confession” also comes shortly after the South China Morning Post published a particularly strange interview with 24-year-old legal assistant Zhao Wei, who was detained at the same time as Wang. Critics have charged that the SCMP’s interview with Zhao sounded much more like a forced confession and wondered how exactly the paper manged to contact Zhao in the first place. While reportedly also released from prison on bail, her husband has not even been able to get in contact with her. SCMP said that it could not reveal its sources.
Oriental Daily has said the same about its interview with Wang:
Qriental Daily on how they got the interview with Wang Yu: “Was it possible for the US media who covered Watergate to reveal their sources?"
— Zheping Huang (@pingroma) August 3, 2016
By Robin Winship