Joint Statement on Criminal Detention of Chen Guangcheng

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For immediate release, June 16, 2006

Joint Statement on Criminal Detention of Chen Guangcheng

On June 11, Yuan Weijing, wife of human rights defender Chen Guangcheng, was notified by the Linyi City Yinan County Public Security Bureau that her husband had been charged with “deliberate destruction of property” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic” on June 10, 2006. Chen is currently under criminal detention at Yinan County Detention Center. We note that this action comes after Chen was held for more than six months under house arrest and illegally detained for 89 days by the Yinan Police with no respect for legal procedure at all. CRD and Gongmin Weiquanwang strongly object to the misconduct of the local police and urge the Supreme People’s Procuratorateto investigate the illegal actions performed by the Yinan Police according to the law and we believe Chen should be immediately released.

Chen Guangcheng, who is registered blind, has been working on disability rights issues for many years. He has recently involved in even wider range of human rights issues. In the spring of 2005 he exposed the issue of violence in the implementation of family planning policies in Linyi, Shandong Province. He played an important role in halting violations of human rights, and defending the rights of many victims. Thanks to the perseverance of Chen and many others, including the victims, the violence in the implementation of family planning policies was disclosed. Domestic and international condemnation of these acts and the pressure subsequently exerted by the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China forced the local government to stop the violations and grudgingly offer some meager compensation to the victims.

However, Chen’s efforts were met with fear and resentment from the local government. In order to conceal the truth, stop the efforts of the victims to gain redress and to avoid the legal consequences of their actions, since August 2005, the local authorities have sought to undermine and intimidate Chen, his family, supporters and sympathizers, through illegal means such as intensive surveillance, threats and house arrest. On September 6, 2005, the Yinan Police kidnapped Chen in Beijing and brought him back to Yinan and from September 7 on, Chen was under illegal house arrest for 186 days. During the house arrest, he was not allowed to communicate with the outside world. He and his family were even beaten up several times by those assigned by officials to guard him.

On March 11, 2006, using the pretext that they had blocked traffic, local police arrested and interrogated Chen Guangcheng and three other villagers, and Chen was held in custody beyond the maximum detention period without any regard for proper criminal procedure. As of June 10, he had been unlawfully detained for 89 days. After his arrest, the police never notified his family of the reason for his detention, nor told them where he was held or his conditions in custody. The police simply ignored all enquiries made by Chen’s family. During Chen’s detention, the police, abusing their power, repeatedly summoned and detained many local rights activists and supporters on various pretexts for questioning. To date, three villagers, Chen Gengguang, Chen Guangdong and Chen Guanghe, remain in custody, and have likewise been charged with “deliberate destruction of property.” Besides, on May 8, 2006, when Chen Guangcheng’s lawyer, appointed by his family, requested to meet him, the police even denied that they were holding Chen in detention, and other lawyers were prevented from meeting the three detained villagers mentioned above.

We believe that the actions of the Yinan police in depriving Chen and others of their freedom in contravention of the law for such a long period are serious violations of the Constitution, related laws and the international human rights standard the Chinese government has committed to observing .

The extent of the Yinan City local government’s disrespect for the law—in using violence to enforce the population control policies and then in suppressing the freedoms of the human rights defenders who have sought redress for these crimes—is both inexplicable and unacceptable. Such blatant violations of the law, despite intensive scrutiny by domestic and overseas bodies, is hard to understand in a country which has committed itself to ruling according to law.

We believe that the central government and the courts and the procuratorate have an inescapable responsibility to address these continuing serious violations of law and rights. We demand that the central government should take seriously its responsibility under the Constitution of respecting and protecting human rights; allow the courts and the procuratorateto enforce the law independently, and investigate the actions of local law enforcement officials in unlawfully detaining Chen Guangcheng, release Chen and the other villagers and prosecute those who have violated the law.

Finally, we again urge all Chinese citizens, international human rights organizations and the human rights bodies of the United Nations to closely monitor the situation of Chen and other villagers and take action to protect their human rights.

Citizens Rights Defense Network

Beijing AIZHIXING Institute

Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders

Min sheng guancha

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