A Quiet Crackdown, Yet Likely the Harshest in Recent Years : Five Confirmed Criminally Detained in China

(Chinese Human RightsDefenders, February 25, 2011)Only a few days after police began targeting humanrights defenders across thecountry in response to anonymous calls for “JasmineRevolution” protests, signsare emerging to indicate that the current crackdownmay be one of the mostsevere actions taken by the government against Chineseactivists in recentyears. CHRD has now confirmed five reports ofindividuals being criminallydetained on “endangering state security” charges,including “subversion of statepower” and “inciting subversion of state power,” aswell as one report of anindividual being administratively detained. CHRD has now confirmedthe criminal detentions ofRan Yunfei (冉云飞)and Ding Mao (丁矛),of Sichuan Province; Hua Chunhui (华春晖),of Jiangsu Province; and Liang Haiyi (梁海怡),of Guangdong Province. Together with CHRD’s earlierreport of Sichuan activistChen Wei (陈卫),a total of five activists have been criminallydetained in relation to theonline call for protests. Additionally, one lawyer wasbrutally beaten andeight individuals have had their residences raided andproperty confiscated bypolice. More than one hundred have been subjected topolice summons,interrogation, soft detention, involuntarydisappearance, or some other formsof restrictions on their movements. “The numbers point toa bad situation that is onlygetting worse,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s InternationalDirector. “In the matterof a few days, we have seen more cases of prominentlawyers subjected toprolonged disappearances, more criminal charges thatmay carry lengthy prisonsentences for activists, more home raids, and aheavier reliance on extralegalmeasures than we saw during the duration of similarrecent actions, like thoseafter the release of Charter 08 or prior tothe 2010 Nobel Peace PrizeCeremony.”The ongoing crackdownis not limited to rightsactivists and dissidents. Police are also casting awide net in pursuit ofnetizens who they suspect to have posted or relayedmessages online about thecall for “Jasmine Revolution” protests. Yuan Feng (袁峰), a young migrantworker from HenanProvince living in Shantou City, Guangdong Province,was given 10 days ofadministrative detention by police on February 22.Police accused Yuan of"using a false ID to surf the internet" and postinginformation aboutthe "Jasmine Revolution" on QQ. Yuan is currentlybeing held in theShantou City Detention House.Most worrying,however, is the fact that at leastfive individuals have been criminally detained onsuspicion of “incitingsubversion of state power” or “subversion of statepower” in the past fivedays, charges that have been used to impose jailsentences of up to a decade orlonger in recent years. With more reports (which CHRDare yet to independentlyverify) on Twitter and other online media of humanrights defenders being takeninto police custody, disappeared, or put under softdetention, it appears asthough the number of activists targeted may be thelargest of any such sweep inthe past five years. Below is some briefinformation regarding the fivedetained individuals whose cases have been confirmedby CHRD:

  • Ran Yunfei (冉云飞), 46, a writer, blogger, and activist, was criminally detained for "subversion of state power" on February 24, according to a formal detention notice received by his wife. Ran, a member of the ethnic Tu minority who studied Chinese literature at Sichuan University, is an employee of the magazine Sichuan Literature and a resident of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province. He is a prolific writer of social and political commentary. He blogs at <http://www.bullogger.com/blogs/ranyunfei/> and his Twitter account, @ranyunfei, has more than 44,000 followers.  Ran has been in police detention since the morning of February 20, when he was summoned to "tea." Officers later searched his home and confiscated his computer.
  • Hua Chunhui (华春晖), 47, is a Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province-based netizen, activist, and mid-level manager at an insurance company. He was seized by police on February 21 and criminally detained on suspicion of “endangering state security,”[i] according to a notice issued by police at the Tanduqiao station in Wuxi's Nanchang District. Hua, using the Twitter account @wxhch64, has tweeted messages about the “Jasmine Revolution.” Hua and his fiancée Wang Yi (王译) have been active in civil society initiatives in recent years; for example, the couple organized a forum in Beijing in May 2010 to discuss the demonstrations outside of the Fuzhou City trial of three activists for posting information online. Wang Yi (whose given name is Cheng Jianping) was sent to one year of Re-education through Labor in November 2010 for a tweet she posted during violent anti-Japan demonstrations in October 2010.
  • Liang Haiyi (梁海怡, penname "Miaoxiao [渺小]), originally from Guangdong Province, was taken in for questioning on February 19 by police in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, along with her ex-husband. Her ex-husband was later released, but Liang remained in police custody. According to Liang Xiaojun (梁小军), a lawyer retained by her family, Liang Haiyi was criminally detained on suspicion of "subversion of state power" on February 21. Police accused Liang Haiyi of "posting information from foreign websites regarding 'Jasmine Revolution' actions on domestic websites" such as QQ, the popular Chinese social networking site. She is being held at the Harbin City Number Two Detention Center.
  • Ding Mao (丁矛), 45, was seized from his home on February 19 and then criminally detained on the same day by police in Mianyang City, Sichuan Province, on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” As a philosophy student at Lanzhou University in the late 1980s, Ding became a student leader during the 1989 pro-democracy protests. He was twice imprisoned for his activism, first in 1989 and again in 1992 when he was arrested for organizing the Social Democratic Party. He spent a total of 10 years in jail. He is currently the general manager of an investment company in Mianyang.
  • Chen Wei (陈卫), 42, a rights activist based in Suining City, Sichuan Province, has been criminally detained for "inciting subversion of state power," according to a formal detention notice released by the Suining City Public Security Bureau on the evening of February 21. Chen had been missing since police called him for “tea” on the morning of February 20. Officers and security guards later searched his home, confiscating a computer, two hard drives and a USB drive. He is currently being held at the Suining City Detention Center. Chen was a 1989 Tiananmen student protester when he was studying at the Beijing Institute of Technology, majoring in mechanical engineering. He was imprisoned in Qincheng prison and released in January 1991.  In May 1992, Chen was again arrested for commemorating June 4 and organizing a political party, and was sentenced to five years in prison. In the past several years, Chen has emerged as a leader in organizing human rights actions in Sichuan.

Many fear thatcriminal detention or worse may bethe fate of those currently in police custody. Amongthose at risk are fourhigh-profile rights defenders—lawyers Tang Jitian (唐吉田), Jiang Tianyong (江天勇),Teng Biao (滕彪),and activist Gu Chuan (古川)—whohave been held incommunicado for between five andeight days.  Concern forthe four grows by the day as police refuse to divulgeany information abouttheir whereabouts or formally acknowledge theirdetentions. Past experienceshave shown that the longer such individuals are heldby police without formalacknowledgment, the greater the risks are that theymay be subjected to tortureto extract confessions.  Finally, as CHRDpreviously reported, Liu Shihui (刘士辉),a lawyer in Guangzhou, was brutally beaten andseriously injured on February 20while he waited for a bus to People's Park, one of thelocations designated bythe online posting for the “Jasmine Revolution”protest.The Chinese governmentshould immediately releaseall individuals who have been arbitrarily detained inrelation to the “JasmineRevolution” protests.The Chinese governmentshould hold criminallyaccountable police officers who use extralegalmeasures, such as beatings andenforced disappearance, to intimidate and harassactivists and dissidents.These actions violate Chinese law, the ChineseConstitution, and internationalhuman rights conventions.CHRD continues to urgethe international community,particularly the U.S. government, the E.U., and otherswith diplomatic presencein China, to inquire into these detentions anddisappearances. CHRD calls once againon the U.N. Working Group onEnforced and Involuntary Disappearance, the SpecialRapporteur on the Situationof Human Rights Defenders, and the Working Group onArbitrary Detention to takeurgent action and send communiqués to the Chinesegovernment regarding thesecases. “While the attentionof the world is fixed upon theuprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, theChinese government maybelieve it has been presented a golden opportunity tostrike hard at Chinesepro-democracy and human rights activists.  Theinternational communityshould not let this go on,” said Xia. “PresidentObama, U.N. Secretary GeneralBan-Ki Moon, and E.U. leaders should send the Chinesegovernment a strong andclear message: suppression of free expression andpeaceful protests isunacceptable, whether people are gathering in theMiddle East or in China.”Media ContactsRenee Xia,International Director (English andMandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 240 374 8937Wang Songlian,Research Coordinator (English andMandarin), +852 8191 1660David Smalls,Researcher (English), +1 347 448 5285 For moreinformation, please see:“CHRD CondemnsPreemptive Strike against Protests,”February 21, 2011, http://chrdnet.org/2011/02/21/chrd-condemns-pre-emptive-strike-against-protests/

“Chinese Police MustEnd Enforced Disappearances ofHuman Rights Activists,” February 18, 2011, http://chrdnet.org/2011/02/18/chinese-police-must-end-enforced-disappearances-of-human-rights-activists/

  

 

[i]“Endangeringstate security” is a term used to describe a rangeof crimes stipulated betweenArticles 102 and 113 of China’s Criminal Law. CHRDhas so far been unable toconfirm precisely the article under which Hua isbeing detained.

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