On 28 April 2021, I sent a joint communication to the Government of China, which was signed by seven other UN experts, on the arbitrary detention of 17 human rights defenders. All defenders mentioned in the letter were sentenced, are under investigation or are on trial for crimes that carry sentences of 10 years or more.
In the communication the experts and I expressed concern about the misuse of criminal legislation to impose lengthy prison sentences against individuals that promote human rights. Human rights defenders received sentences of ten years or more typically on charges of national security such as subversion of State power (or inciting subversion), espionage, terrorism, separatism or for other charges such as extorting, racketeering, picking quarrels and provoking trouble, or fraud.
We also expressed deep concern with regard to allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other human rights violations allegedly faced by a number of the human rights defenders. We furthermore reiterated our concerns over the lack of due process, lack of access to legal counsel and a dearth of information on the physical integrity of many of the human rights defenders mentioned in the communication.
These are the cases we raised, according to the information received from sources. This is a shorter version than the original communication.
Eleven human rights defenders sentenced of 10 years up to life in prison in connection to the defence of human rights and/or exercise of public freedoms
Huang Qi is a journalist and human rights defender. He was the head of the human rights organization Tianwang Human Rights Service and founder of the human rights website 64tianwang, which disseminated reports about alleged cases of enforced disappearances and trafficking in persons.
Mr. Huang has been deprived of his liberty since 28 November 2016.
On 29 July 2019, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison by Mianyang City Intermediate People’s Court. He was handed a combined sentenced for the charges of “intentionally leaking State secrets” (article 398 of the Criminal Code of the People’s Republic of China, hereafter ‘the Criminal Code’) and for “illegally providing State secrets to foreign entities (article 111 of the Criminal Code). He was also imposed a fine of 20,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately 2,900 USD). While in detention, he was reportedly tortured and ill-treated by the authorities to extract a confession on the offences he had had been accused of.
His current deprivation of liberty is allegedly connected to his reporting on human rights issues, including the publication in the Tianwang Human Rights Centre of a police document issued by the Sichuan Province Public Security Department allegedly ordering the suppression Mr. Huang’s journalistic activity and the reporting by the Tianwang Human Rights Center.
Huang Qi is currently serving his sentence at Bazhong Prison, Bazhong city, Sichuan province.
Mr. Huang suffers from high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney condition and hydrocephalus. Reportedly, Mr. Huang has not had adequate access to health care in prison, and his health conditions have deteriorated during imprisonment. His life-threatening health problems would allegedly qualify him for release on medical grounds, according to “Measures for Carrying Out Medical Parole for Prisoners” (issued by China’s Ministry of Justice).
Guo Hongwei was a human rights defender exposing alleged corruption by government officials and advocating for democracy in Hong Kong.
Mr. Guo had been deprived of his liberty since 9 March 2015. On 22 April 2016, at the age of 52, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “extorting the government and racketeering” (article 390 of the Criminal Code) and for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (article 293 of the Criminal Code) by the Siping intermediate municipal court in Jilin Province.
Mr. Guo had been previously convicted to five years in prison in 2005. Reportedly, in both instances, his detention and convictions were connected to his reporting on government officials’ alleged implication in the embezzlement of public funds and on his pro-democracy activism.
He had access to a lawyer for the first time on 27 May 2015, nearly 3 months after his initial detention.
Reportedly, Mr. Guo has been subjected to physical assault by Court bailiffs and has been beaten by cellmates, who reportedly acted under the orders of detention center authorities.
He suffers from serious health conditions, including high blood pressure and heart disease, which have deteriorated over time due to a lack of adequate medical treatment while in prison.
In May 2020, Mr. Guo was reportedly put in solitary confinement. Reportedly, a prison guard poured disinfectant into the room while he was locked up inside. His family complained about this incident and the general poor living conditions (lack of food and exposure to the cold). In December 2020, the prison gave the guard a warning and transferred the guard to another prison.
On 9 April 2021, Mr. Guo died in a hospital in Jilin province, after unsuccessful brain surgery to treat cerebral hemorrhage.
Chen Xi is a writer, human rights defender and a member of the NGO Guizhou Human Rights Forum.
Mr. Chen was arrested in November 2011 by Guiyang police and has been deprived of his liberty since then. On 5 December 2011, the Ghizhou Human Rights Forum was declared illegal.
On 26 December 2011, at the age of 57 years old, Mr. Chen was sentenced to 10 years in prisonand 3 years of deprivation of political rights by the Guiyang Intermediate People’s Court for the offence of “instigating subversion of the political power of the State” (article 105 (2) 55 para 1, Article 56 para 1) of the Criminal Code).
In 1990, he had been convicted to three years’ imprisonment for “counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation” (art. 102 of the 1979 Criminal Code, which was removed in 1997 amendments Law) in connection to his participation in student movements. In 1996, he was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment “for organizing and leading counter-revolutionary group” (article 98 of the 1979 Criminal Code that was removed in 1997, amendments to the said Code).
It is alleged that Mr. Chen’s human rights advocacy work is linked to his current and previous two convictions. In his lifetime, Mr. Chen has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.
It is reported that Mr. Chen has been subjected to ill-treatment and possibly torture, including through harassment by cellmates and solitary confinement. He has developed chronic enteritis which causes diarrhoea, dehydration and fever. Each winter he has contracted severe frostbite on his hands, ears, and abdominal area.
His release from prison is expected on 28 November 2021, at the age of 67.
Ilham Tohti is an ethnic Uyghur of Chinese nationality, a university professor of economics and a defender of the human rights of the Uyghur minority. A significant portion of Mr. Ilham’s academic work delved into the high level of unemployment of young Uyghurs.
On 15 January 2014 Mr. Ilham was held incommunicado for ten days, and detained without being informed of the charges against him and without access to a lawyer of his choice.
On 26 January 2014, Mr. Ilham was officially charged for separatism under article 103.1 of the Criminal Code.
On 26 June 2014, he had access to his lawyer for the first time, and three months later, on 23 September 2014, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the aforementioned charges of separatism. His appeal to Xinjiang Higher People’s Court was rejected and the original sentence was upheld.
Reportedly, during his incarceration, Mr. Ilham has been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including solitary confinement, deprivation of food and intimidation. He suffers from a number of medical conditions regarding his liver, a heart disease, pharyngitis (an inflammation of the pharynx), and prostatitis (infection of the prostate). His current health status is unknown. As a result, it is unclear whether he is receiving adequate medical care. He also faces limitations of family visits, and his communications are reportedly intercepted.
Zhang Haitao has actively written and posted opinions online, critical with Chinese government policies, particularly regarding restrictions on freedom of religion for Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
On 26 June 2015, Mr. Zhang was arrested by officers of Urumqi City Public Security Bureau under suspicion of “inciting ethnic hatred” under article 249 of the Criminal Law.
On 31 July 2015, he was formally arrested on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (article 293 Criminal Code).
On 25 December 2015, he was indicted, and on 15 January 2016 convicted for “inciting subversion of State power” under article 105 (2) of the Criminal Law and for “providing intelligence overseas” under article 111 of the Criminal Law. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the aforementioned crimes.
Reportedly, the verdict referred to 274 online posts from 2010 to 2015 that “resisted, attacked and smeared” the Communist Party and its policies, “damag[ing] ethnic minority unity and national unity.” He was also found guilty of having “colluded” with “hostile foreign forces” by accepting interviews from foreign media and for “providing intelligence overseas,” by sending articles, emails, and interviews to overseas websites.
Mr. Zhang appealed the sentence arguing, among other things, having been tortured in order to extract a confession. Xinjiang Higher People’s Court should have heard the appeal on 19 April 2016, but the hearing only took place on 28 November 2016. Thirty minutes after the start of the hearing, the court issued a decision upholding the original sentence.
As of 14 January 2021, his family has been able to meet him in prison five times, the last time being on 26 April 2018.
Huang Yunmin is a former soldier and ex-judge, who has exposed alleged corruption within the judiciary and promoted human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since 2008. Mr. Huang has also supported ex-soldiers in seeking medical testing and State compensation for damages suffered in connection to their past work protecting nuclear sites and conducting nuclear tests.
Mr. Huang has been deprived of his liberty since 12 March 2017, when he was arrested from his home by the Public Security Bureau of the Third Division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Brigade, in Xinjiang, for “inciting ethnic hatred and discrimination (article 249 of the Criminal Law).”
On 17 April 2017 he was formally arrested (criminal detention) and on 24 July 2017 indicted on charges of “organising, leading and actively participating in a terrorist organization” under article 120 of the Criminal Law.
In the indictment, the prosecutor referred mainly to Mr. Huang’s online activities between 2009 and 2017, in relation to the “5 July 2009 protest” by Uyghurs in Urümqi, Xinjiang. According to the indictment, Mr. Huang allegedly committed “incitement to violence and terror”, “extremist recordings,” and scaling China’s “firewall” of cyber censorship. In his defence statement, Mr. Huang’s lawyer argued that his online behaviour for which he had been indicted did not constitute crimes tied to terrorism.
In September 2017, Mr. Huang was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “Organizing, leading, and actively participating in a terrorist organization”, under articles 69 and 120 (3) and (6) of the Criminal Law and article 172 of the Criminal Procedural Law.
Zhao Haitong is a human rights defender and Internet writer. He has engaged in advocacy against Internet censorship and corruption, and called for the promotion and protection of the rights of Uyghurs. Mr. Zhao had also supported detained human rights defenders and activists by visiting them, giving financial donations, and attending their trials.
On 10 August 2013 Mr. Zhao was detained. On 12 September 2013 he was formally arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” On 17 June 2014, he met with his lawyers for the first time, and informed them he had been tried and convicted on 14 May 2014, to 14 years in prison for “inciting subversion of State power” in the category of “endangering state security”, under article 105.2 of the Criminal Law.
He is serving his sentence in Wusu Prion in Wusu City in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Reportedly his health has deteriorated in detention.
Qin Yongmin is ahuman rights defender and pro-democracy activist. He was the head of an organization named “Human Rights Watch in China”, also known as the “Rose Team”, which has promoted democracy and the protection of rights.
Mr. Qin was taken into custody on 15 January 2015 and was forcibly disappeared for 70 days.
On 30 March 2015, he was criminally detained and transferred to Wuhan City No. 2 Detention Centre.
On 6 May 2015, he was formally arrested by Wuhan Municipal Public Security Bureau officials on suspicions of “inciting subversion of State power” under article 105 (2) of the Criminal Law
His wife, Ms. Zhao Suli, was forcibly disappeared since early January 2015 for 3 years in unknown locations and was released in 2018. She remains under 24-hour surveillance.
Reportedly, he spent three years in police custody without being brought before a judge. On 17 June 2016 he was indicted. On 10 July 2018, the Wuhan City Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 13 years in prison and deprivation of political rights for 3 years, for “subversion of State power” under article 105 (1) of the criminal Law. Reportedly, Mr. Qin was also accused of promoting engagement with the UN human rights mechanisms (A/HRC/45/36, Annex II para. 22).
He is now serving his prison sentence in Guanghua Prison in Qianijang city, Hubei province.
In the past Mr. Qin had served a twelve-year sentence from 1998 until 2010, also for “subversion of State power” and from 1982 until 1989, he served an eight year sentence for “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement.” Prior to that, in 1993, he served two years in Re-Education Through Labour sentence for “disrupting social order”.
In his lifetime, Mr. Qin has been sentenced to 35 years in prison in connection to his human rights work. On 17 January 2020, Mr. Qin’s family visited him in prison.
On 4 November 2020, the family-appointed lawyer went to the Guaghua Prison to meet with his client, but he was not granted access. The authorities only agreed to receive the documents, including the letter Mr. Qin needed to sign to appoint the lawyer, a prerequisite to enable the authorities decide whether to grant a meeting between Qin and the lawyer.
Mr. Qin suffers from high blood pressure and it is unknown whether he is receiving adequate medical treatment.
Xia Lin is a human rights lawyer, who has been practicing since 1992. Towards the end of his career he founded a pro-bono legal service firm to take on public interest cases and represent individuals from marginalized groups.
Mr. Xia has been deprived of his liberty since 8 November 2014, when he was arrested on suspicion of committing the crime of “gambling and fraud” under article 266 (3) of the Criminal Code (criminal detention).
On 3 January 2015, he was formally arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by Beijing Municipal No. 2 People’s Procurator’s office for having allegedly defrauded over 10 million RMB (approximately 1.5 million USD).
Mr Xia was held in pre-trial detention for nearly 20 months before being brought to a judge and no access to a lawyer in the first six months of his deprivation of liberty. Reportedly, his arrest, detention and sentencing is connected to his legal defence and the taking of sensitive cases, including those of well-known activists.
On 26 August 2016, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Xia was arbitrary, being in contravention of articles 9, 10 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
On 22 September 2016 Mr. Xia was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud under article 266 (3) of the Criminal Law.
On appeal, on 21 April 2017, the Beijing Higher People’s Court reduced his sentence to 10 years.
Mr. Xia is now placed with convicted violent criminals, and exposed to bullying from them. Since early 2020, the monthly 30-minutes in person visits of his wife were interrupted in the context of the implementation of Covid-19 measures. Mr. Xia is now allowed to speak on the phone with his wife for 5 to 15 minutes once a month.
Liu Xiaobo was a prominent, intellectual, writer andhuman rights defender, the editor of the online journal Democratic China and the former president of the independent Chinese PEN that advocated for human rights and political reform. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
On 25 December 2009, Mr. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison on the charge of “inciting subversion of the State power” (article 105 (2) of the Criminal Code) and to two years’ deprivation of political rights, in connection to publishing articles and collecting signatures on websites outside China to promote democracy and public freedoms.
On 11 February 2010, the Beijing High People’s Court announced publicly its decision to dismiss the appeal and render the initial verdict as final.
In 1989, Mr. Liu had been jailed for 18 months for participating in the student democracy movement and in 1996 and was sent to three years of re-education.
On 13 July 2017, Mr. Liu died shortly after he had been released on medical parole and having served eight and a half years of an 11-year sentence, in connection to his human rights work and for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Li Wangyang was a prominent human and labour rights defender in China.
Mr. Li was arrested on 9 June 1989 in connection to his participation in the events of 4 June 1989 in Tiananmen Square.
On 25 October 1989, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement” (article 102 of the Criminal Code). Reportedly, during his first term in prison, he was subjected to severe physical abuse and torture, in connection to which he reportedly lost his eyesight.
Mr. Li was granted medical parole from July 1996 until March 1997. He was released before the end of his term in June 2000, after having served more than 10 years in prison.
Three months after his release, he was sentenced again to 10 years in prison, this time for “inciting subversion of State power” (article 105 (2) of the Criminal Code). During this second term in detention, he was reportedly subjected to torture. He was reportedly locked inside a cell of less than 1.5 m in height and width for several months, with no basic sanitation. Reportedly, at the moment of his release in May 2011 he was completely blind and almost deaf.
Soon after his release from prison in 2011, Mr. Li was admitted to Daxiang District People’s Hospital in Shaoyang City, Hunan Province, for medical treatment.
In 2012, he was brought under 24-hour police surveillance in the hospital, allegedly in connection to interviews he had given.
In the morning of 6 June 2012, Mr. Li was found dead in his room at the Daxiang District People’s Hospital. Two days earlier, he had allegedly given an interview on the events in Tiananmen Square of 4 June 1989, and the possibility of a system of multi-party democracy in China. He was allegedly found hanged, with a noose, made of cloth, around his neck, and tied to a window bar.
Reportedly, Shaoyang Cityand Daxiang District’s public security authorities carried out on-site and post-event investigations. On 8 June 2012, upon authorities’ request, the independent Forensic Identification Center at Sun Yat-sen University carried out a post mortem examination. On 19 June, the “Forensic Expert Opinion Report” concluded that Mr. Li had committed suicide by hanging.
On 21 June 2012, a team of experts from the Chinese Forensic Association released a ‘Forensic Expert Opinion Report’, concluding that ‘Li Wangyang’s death was caused by self-inflicted hanging.’
For further verification, the Hunan police authority proceeded with the launching of a follow-up examination. The joint investigation team concluded that in line with the conclusion of the Zhongshan University Forensic Identification Center, Mr. Li committed suicide by hanging himself. Reportedly, the investigations launched into his death were characterized by serious deficiencies.
Six human rights defenders detained under suspicion of, formally arrested or indicted under national security charges
Li Qiaochu is a women’s and labour’s rights defender. Since 2017, she has documented and disseminated information to help evicted migrant workers to secure new jobs and find affordable accommodation. She has also supported various #MeToo campaigns and during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, she joined a team of volunteers to provide free masks to sanitation workers and help women experiencing domestic violence during the pandemic.
On 31 January 2021, Ms. Li filed a “freedom of information request” to the Detention Centre where Mr. Xu is held, inquiring about tfood portions for detainees and prices of goods sold to them.
On 2 February 2021, she lodged a complaint before the Shandong Provincial Department of Public Security, alleging that Mr. Xu received reduced food portions to as a form of punishment, in violation of national standards.
On 5 February 2021, she tweeted that a police officer from the Haidian District in Beijing asked to meet her shortly before she was supposed to meet her husband. In her tweet, she posted details of torture and ill treatment suffered by Mr. Xu during his RSDL in 2020.
On 6 February 2021, she was detained on suspicion of “subversion of State power” under article 105 (1) of the Criminal Code and on 15 March she was reportedly formally arrested on the same charge. Initially, she was held at a hospital in Linyi for “quarantine purpose.” It is unclear, whether she is still there or whether she was later on transferred to the Linyi City Detention Center in Shandong province.
Individuals prosecuted for “incitement to subversion of State power” (article 105(2) of the Criminal Law) may be sentenced up to five years in prison. Article 105(1) allows for sentences longer than five years, without specifying an upper limit, if the judiciary deems a defendant to be a “ringleader” or that the “incitement” constitutes a “major crime.”
Previously, on 16 February 2020, Ms. Li was detained and placed under RSDL until her release on bail on 19 June 2020. At that time, her detention was allegedly due to her activism against gender violence and in favour of the release of her partner, Xu Zhiyong. She suffered from harassment after her release, due to her writing on her RSDL experience.
So far, Ms. Li has not managed to have access to a lawyer of her choice.
Xu Zhiyong is a human rights defender and legal activist that has worked since 2003 to promote non-violence, provide legal assistance to the homeless and individuals facing the death penalty and advocate for legal reform in China. He founded the “Open Constitution Initiative”, which later gave rise to the “New Citizen’s Movement”, a network of human rights defenders, academics, lawyers and other activists to discuss human rights, political reform, social justice and democracy.
On 15 February 2020, Mr. Xu was placed in an undisclosed location under RSDL, by Beijing PSB National Security.
On 25 February 2020, the family of Mr. Xu was visited by Keigen national security officers who informed them about his placement in RSDL, and on 30 June 2020, they were officially informed of his arrest. Allegedly, he was held on suspicion of “inciting subversion of State power”, under article 105.2 of the Criminal Law. (See reference above regarding the prison sentences this charge may carry).
On 19 November 2020, Shandnong Provincial Prosecutor extended the investigation period to 10 January 2021. This would have been the third time that the authorities have extended the investigation period. Reportedly, this decision was based on Article 159 of the Criminal Procedure Law, that enables extending the investigation period for 2 additional months, if the person may be sentenced for over 10 year prison sentence.
On 21 January 2021, Mr. Xu’s lawyers were allowed to talk to him via a video-link. Mr. Xu is detained in Linshu County Detention Centre. He is said to have received inadequate food both in quantity and quality.
Reportedly, the detention of Mr. Xu is linked to his human rights work, and in particular to the views he expressed on the State response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 7 and 8 December 2020, he participated in an informal gathering of lawyers and human rights defenders in Xiamen, after which he went into hiding, following multiple arrests of other lawyers that had also taken part in the meeting.
Mr. Xu had been previously imprisoned and sentenced to four years in jail for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order” (article 290 of the Criminal Law), along with other members of the New Citizen’s Movement, in connection to his human rights work within the Movement. He was released in July 2017.
Chang Weiping is a human rights defender and lawyer. He has defended cases of human rights defenders, discrimination based on health status, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, and provided pro bono legal services for victims of defective vaccines, as well as for women, LGBTI persons, and persons living with HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B who face discrimination in the workplace. His licence to practice law was suspended on 14 October 2018, and he was disbarred on 13 January 2020 by the Baoji City Judicial Bureau.
Mr. Chang has been forcibly disappeared since 22 October 2020, when he was detained and placed in “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL) by police officers of the Baoji City PSB Gaoxin District Sub-bureau. He was suspected of “inciting subversion of State power” (Art. 105 (2) of the Criminal Law).
On 7 April 2021, Mr. Chang was formally arrested on the charge of “subversion of State power” (Art. 105.(1) of the Criminal Law). At the time of the present communication the whereabouts of Mr. Chang remain unknown.
Six days before his disappearance, on 16 October 2020, Mr. Chang published a video on YouTube where he spoke about his experience of alleged torture during his previous placement in RSDL, from 12 to 21 January 2020. This followed his participation in an informal gathering of lawyers and defenders that took place on 7 and 8 December in Xiamen City, Fujian. On 21 January 2020, he was released from RSDL under bail pending further investigation.
On 3 March 2021, Mr. Chang’s lawyer resigned. Since Mr Chang’s disappearance of 22 October 2020, this is the fourth lawyers who renounces to defend Mr. Chang, reportedly due to pressure from the authorities on the defence lawyers and their families.
On 6 January 2021, Mr. Chang’s wife, Chen Zijuan submitted a complaint to the Baoji Municpal Procuratorate against local public security officials who visited her eight times between 22 October and 23 December 2020 in order to exert pressure on her.
The parents of Mr. Chang have been summoned for interrogation several times and a CCTV camera was installed outside their home after they held a demonstration in front of the Gaoxin branch of the Baoji Municipal Public Security Bureau on 14 December 2020 to protest against their son’s detention. Mr. Chang’s father and brother in law Their mobile phones had their mobiles confiscated and the family is under de facto incommunicado house arrest.
Qin Yongpei is a human rights defender and lawyer from Nanning City in the Guangzi Zhuang Autonomous Region. He has been a vocal critic on social media of alleged Government corruption, human rights violations and abuse of power in China. In his legal work, he has defended other human rights lawyers and acted on behalf of protestors detained in connection with demonstrations against environmental pollution allegedly caused by State-owned mining companies.
Mr. Qin had his license to practise law revoked by the Guangxi Justice Bureau, which also ordered to shut his legal practice.
Mr. Qin has been deprived of his liberty since 31 October 2019. He was detained on 1 November 2020 by Nanning City police officers, suspected of “inciting subversion of State power (article 105 (2) of the Criminal Law).
On 3 December 2019, the police formally confirmed his arrest under the above-mentioned charges, and on 30 April 2020 he was formally indicted by the Nanning city Procuratorate, under the same article 105 (2) of the Criminal Law.
His indictment allegedly refers to Mr. Qin’s posts and comments on social media platforms (Weibo and WeChat), as well as to interviews he gave to overseas media, where he allegedly “maliciously slandered and spread rumours against State leaders, attacked the State power and the socialist system and incited members of the public, to doubt the State power and socialist system.” The indictment also referred to his plans to conduct “moot court” to openly challenge the State’s judicial public powers.”
There is no information known regarding the trial date. No pre-trial meeting has been held, nor has a hearing date been registered.
In late January 2021, Mr. Qin was transferred from Nanning City No. 1 Detention Centre, to Nanning Municipal No. 2 detention centre.
Mr. Qin was able to meet his lawyer for the first time only on 1 May 2020, six months after his detention. Since then, he was able to meet with the legal counsel only on few other occasions (4 February 2021; 9 December 2020; 7 and 31 August 2020).
Ding Jiaxi is a human rights lawyer who holds a prominent role in the New Citizens’ Movement, a network of human rights defenders and activists who meet to discuss social justice and legal and political reforms. In the past, he has promoted the rights of children of migrants. Currently, he campaigns for fairer governance, greater State transparency and increased equality in the education system.
On 18 April 2014, Mr. Ding was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order” (article 290 of the Criminal Law), after peacefully exercising his right to protest and over his role in small-scale demonstrations associated with the New Citizens Movement.
On the weekend of 7 and 8 December 2020, Mr. Ding participated in a gatherings in Xiamen city with other human rights defenders, activists and lawyers.
On 26 December 2020, he was arrested.
On 7 January 2021, his lawyer was notified he had been placed in RSDL; and few days later, he was informed about the chargers faced by his client. Initially, he was charged with “inciting subversion of the State power” under article 105 (1) of the Criminal Code, and on 20 January 2021, the People Procuratorate of Linyi Shi informed Mr. Ding’s Lawyer that he was charged with “subversion of state power” under article 105.2 of the Criminal Code (See reference above regarding the prison sentences this charge may carry).
On 2 February 2021, Mr. Ding spoke to his lawyer.
Reportedly, Mr. Ding had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during the first six months he was placed under RSDL. He was subjected to severe sleep deprivation and prolonged interrogation, including in a device known as “tiger chair.” In late January 2020, and for ten straight days, he was played a political propaganda film at the highest volume, 24 hours a day. Mr. Ding did not see the sunlight for six months. A fluorescent lamp was turned on in his cell 24 hours a day. He was not allowed to shower or brush his teeth and when he went to the toilet and out to the hallways, a black hood was placed over his head.
On 20 February 2021, the People Procuratorate of Linyi city informed Mr. Ding’s lawyer, that the deadline to decide on whether to prosecute Mr. Ding had been extended 15 days.
Gao Zhisheng is a lawyer and human rights defender who regularly represents victims of human rights violations. Mr. Gao Zhisheng has been the subject of several communications addressed to your Excellency’s Government since 2005.
We thank your Excellency’s Government for the reply of 18 May 2020 to the last communication where information on his previous sentences is repeated, namely that in December 2006 he was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, a suspended sentence of 5 years and that he was stripped of his political rights for 1 year, for instigation of subversion of the political power of the State and that on 6 January 2011, the Beijing Municipal Intermediate People’s Court No. 1 revoked his suspended sentence and assigned him to serve his original sentence. The State reply reiterates that in August 2014 Mr. Gao was released, having served his sentence and clarified that since his release, the public security authorities have not taken any coercive measures against him.
During its 117th session, based on new information provided by the source, the Working Group decided to reopen the case of Mr. Gao, which remains outstanding under its individual case procedure.
Reportedly, Mr. Gao remains disappeared since 13 August 2017 and his family has not received any information about his whereabouts.
This communication was sent jointly by Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls.