China: Lawyer faces charges for reporting torture
Chang Weiping is a human rights lawyer in Baoji City, Shaanxi, 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 Administration 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 law licence.
Chang Weiping was taken away by the authorities on 22 October 2020. As he was living alone at the time, 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. All their requests – including for legal documentation, access to Chang and an application for bail – were rejected. Since then, Chang’s lawyers submitted multiple applications to visit Chang, all of which were rejected.
The authorities allowed Chang’s father only once to see him for 10 minutes on 25 November 2020. During the short visit, Chang seemed to be unusually discreet about his condition. He told his family not to speak up about his case and expressed his wish that they would take care of each other. According to his father, it sounded like he was saying farewell to them. His family are very worried that Chang might have once again been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
Prior to being formally arrested, Chang Weiping was held under “residential surveillance in a designated location” (RSDL). He had been previously 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. Ding Jiaxi, another human rights lawyer who also attended the Xiamen meeting, has been detained since 26 December 2019.
Chang Weiping was taken into custody six days after releasing a video clip on YouTube in which he shared details of how he had been subjected 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 that he was interrogated 16 times. He also reported being subjected to heavy surveillance after his release.