Mar 24, 2023 | News

For Immediate Release from CSW
The wife of Chinese human rights lawyer Chang Weiping accepted the 2021 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on 23 March. Lawyer Chang was a 2021 laureate of the prize, but has not been able to accept due to his continued detention.The prize, which ‘recognises the efforts of all those who work tirelessly every day to advance the causes of human rights and the rule of law’, was presented to Dr Chen Zijuan on behalf of her husband by the French and German ambassadors to the United States.Since 2014, Chang Weiping has represented human rights defenders in areas of free speech, expression of political dissent, freedom of religion or belief, anti-discrimination in the workplace and more. The cases he represented and the related legal advocacy are deemed sensitive by the Chinese authorities, and as a result, he became a target of political repression. Chang has been in detention since 22 October 2020. For the first six months, he was held on suspicion of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ under ‘Residential Surveillance in a Designated Location’, where he was subjected to torture and inhumane ill-treatment.In April 2021, the Chinese authorities formally arrested Chang on suspicion of ‘subversion of state power’, despite UN experts’ public callfor his release. He has been detained at Feng County Detention Centre since then. In July 2022, he was tried behind closed doors at Feng County Court but is yet to receive a verdict.In a speech delivered at the ceremony, Dr Chen said: ‘In the face of human rights abuses in China, Chang Weiping didn’t turn his head away, neither did the Chinese human rights lawyers. They were indignant at these blatant violations, and took actions to defend human rights. For doing their work, many of them have lost freedom, been separated from their loved ones, and lost their livelihood. But the world needs such indignation; it needs principled people. If we are indifferent to wrongdoings, believing it’s all right to make friends with tyrants, then there will not be a bright future on earth.’A friend of Chang, who must remain nameless for security reasons, told CSW: ‘To the world around him, Chang Weiping has a childlike curiosity and a strong sense of justice. This character drives him to step forward in times of crisis where human rights are being violated, without calculating any personal risks.’CSW’s CEO Scot Bower said: ‘Chang Weiping is a brave and deserving recipient of this award, and it is a recognition of the unwavering commitment and courageous work of China’s human rights defenders to protect basic human rights including freedom of religion or belief. CSW continues to call on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Chang Weiping and others who have been detained for defending basic human rights.’

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