GENEVA (18 October 2023) – Chinese authorities can no longer ignore calls for the release of human rights defender Guo Feixiong, whose health has been seriously deteriorating in prison, a UN expert said today.
“Mr. Guo Feixiong is unjustly imprisoned, and he is in a critical state of health,” said Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. “UN human rights experts have sent 10 urgent letters to authorities about his situation since 2006. He must be released immediately on humanitarian grounds,” she said.
Guo Feixiong is the pen name of Chinese human rights defender and writer Yang Maodong. He has spent over 13 years in prison since 2005 on baseless charges. In the most recent of detentions, on 5 December 2021, he was taken into police custody and held for six months without access to his lawyer. Mr. Guo Feixiong was subsequently charged with subversion of State power in June 2022, convicted by the court of first instance in May 2023 and sentenced to eight years in prison. The sentence against the human rights defender was upheld on appeal in June 2023.
“Guo has launched several hunger strikes to protest his arbitrary detention and his situation is now critical,” Lawlor said.
“His weight has dropped dramatically, he is suffering from a number of serious health conditions and is without access to acceptable medical treatment. I am extremely concerned that his life may be in danger,” she said. “I urge the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Guo Feixiong”.
The Special Rapporteur stressed her willingness to continue to engage with Chinese authorities to ensure the rights of Mr. Guo Feixiong and many other human rights defenders in similar situations in China, are upheld.
Ms. Mary Lawlor (Ireland) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders by the Human Rights Council in 2020.
The statement is endorsed by: Ms. Aua Baldé (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Gabriella Citroni (Vice-Chair); Ms. Grażyna Baranowska (Poland), Ms. Ana-Lorena Delgadillo Pérez (México) and Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit (Thailand) – Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health