Detained lawyer shares allegations of torture

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Chang Weiping is a human rights lawyer in Baoji City, Shanxi, who is known for his work defending the rights of people facing discrimination based on their health status, sex/gender identity and sexual orientation. Due to his outspokenness and the sensitivity of his work, the Baoji City Judicial Bureau suspended his law licence in October 2018. As a result of continued pressure and interference from the authorities, Chang Weiping was unable to obtain employment at other law firms in 2019. Finally, in January 2020, the authorities officially revoked his lawyer’s licence. 

Chang Weiping was taken away by the authorities on 22 October 2020. As he is now living alone, no one knew about the arrest until the authorities informed Chang’s wife through a phone call later that evening. The authorities have yet to provide any documentation about the details of Chang’s arrest.   

On 26 October, Chang’s father and lawyers Chang’s family had appointed to represent him went together to Gaoxin District Branch of the Baoji City Public Security Bureau to seek information regarding Chang’s arrest toget. All their requests – including for legal documentation, access to Chang and an application for bail – were rejected. 

This is not the first time this year that Chang Weiping has been held under “residential surveillance in a designated location” (RSDL). He was detained for 10 days in January 2020 after attending an informal and private meeting in the city of Xiamen in December 2019 at which human rights activists discussed the situation of civil society and current affairs in China. Another person who attended the Xiamen meeting, human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi, remains in detention after being detained by police on 26 December 2019.

Chang Weiping was arrested six days after releasing a video clip on YouTube in which he shared that he had been subject to torture during his detention in January 2020. Chen Weiping said that police tied him to a restraining device known as a “tiger chair” for 24 hours a day and was interrogated 16 times. He also reported being subjected to heavy surveillance after his release.  

“Residential surveillance in a designated location” is a measure that, under certain circumstances, enables criminal investigators to hold individuals for up to six months outside the formal detention system in what can amount to a form of secret incommunicado detention. When held without access to legal counsel of their choice, their families or others, suspects placed under this form of “residential surveillance” are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. This form of detention has been used to curb the activities of human rights defenders, including lawyers, activists and religious practitioners. Activists and human rights defenders continue to be systematically subjected to monitoring, harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention.

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