Submission to UN on Chen Guangcheng – June 21, 2006

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Communication Alleging Arbitrary Arrest and Detention of Chen Guangcheng, a human rights defender and citizen of the People’s Republic of China

To: Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

 

Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

 

Special Representative of the Secretary General for Human Rights Defenders

 

Updated on June 21, 2006 (updated)

 

I. IDENTITY

 

1. Family name:  Chen  (Chinese name: 陈光诚)

2. Given name: Guangcheng

3. Sex:  Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention):  born 1971

5. Nationality/Nationalities:  People’s Republic of China

6. (a) Identity document (if any):   Personal ID Card

(b) Issued by: Zibo City Public Security Bureau, Shandong Province (山东省淄博市公安局)
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):
human rights activist, “barefoot lawyer”

II. Arrest

 

First arrest:


1. Date of arrest: Sept. 6, 2005

 

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible):

 

Detained in Beijing and taken under guard to home village in Linyi, Shandong Province.

 

In the afternoon of Sept. 6, Chen Guangcheng was detained at the home of a friend in Beijing by six men who said they were public security officers from Shandong. The men shoved Chen into a car.  He was held overnight in a hotel, where he said the head of the Linyi Public Security Bureau and the city’s deputy mayor came to see him in the morning. “The main purpose was to threaten me. [The PSB head] said, ‘You have revealed news information to foreign media and have been suspected of violating Article 111 of Chinese criminal law: illegally providing intelligence to foreign countries, for which the maximum sentence is life in prison. The minimum you can get is 5-10 years.’” Chen was held overnight at a hotel on the way from Beijing to Shandong, and began a hunger strike when he was detained.

 

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out:

 

Public security officials from Shandong Province

 

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority?

 

No

 

Second arrest:

 

1. Date of arrest:

 

Sept. 23, 2005, 2:50 pm, released the following morning into house arrest

 

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible):

 

Arrested at home. Home was searched until 10pm that night.

 

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out:

 

Public security officials

 

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority?  No

 

Third arrest:


  1. Date of arrest: March 11, 2006
  2. Place of arrest:  at his home village, Yinan County, Linyi City, Guangdong Province
  3. Force carried out the arrest: Public security officials
  4. Did they show a warrant: No

III. Detention

 

1. Date of detention:

 

Under house arrest from Aug. 12, 2005 to March 11, 2006, detained incommunicado on March 11, 2006; formally detained on suspicion of “gathering crowds to obstruct traffic” and “destructing property” on June 10, 2006.

 

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration):

 

The maximum time allowed for the measure residential surveillance (监视居住) is six months, which expired.  His formal detention order came on June 10, 2006, after he was taken into custody for 3 months.

 

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody:

 

House arrest is enforced by security guards paid on a daily rate by village and township officials and Yinan County Public Security Bureau (PSB). Yinan PSB statement calls them “militia” but they reportedly do not meet the official criteria for militia members
4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention):

 

Under house arrest at: East Shigu Village, Shuanghou Township, Yinan County, Linyi City, Shandong Province; detained at Yinan County Detention Center.

 

5. Authorities that ordered the detention:

 

According to villagers, Chen’s house arrest was overseen by various local government and Chinese Communist Party officials, including the Shuanghou Township mayor and party secretary, and the Yinan County party school president, party secretary and party office director.  On March 11, he was detained by Yinan County police. On June 10, 2006, the Yinan County police acknowledged he was detained at the Yinan Detention Center.

 

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities:

 

That Mr. Chen “fabricated” information about violence inflicted on rural people around Linyi City to enforce the population control policies and achieve quotas for reducing birth rates in the area. On some occasions, Chen and his family have been told that releasing this information constituted a breach of laws governing protection of state secrets. When he protested beating of a villager by security guards, he was taken into custody, Three months later, on June 10, a formal notice was sent to his wise, alleging he was detained for “deliberate destruction of property” and “gathering a crowd to obstruct traffic.”

 

7. Relevant legislation applied (if known):

 

Mr. Chen is said to be held under “residential surveillance” (监视居住). This is a form of house arrest that can be applied by Public Security, Procuratorates, and Courts under the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL, Art.s 50 and 51), including in cases where authorities have insufficient evidence to charge a person with an offense but are investigating that person for criminal responsibility, or if the penalty for the alleged offense would be minor. The maximum period allowable for such detention is six months (CPL, Art. 58).

 

At no time has Mr. Chen been shown a warrant ordering him to be put under residential surveillance, nor has he officially been given any reasons for such a measure to be imposed on him. According to the Regulations on Procedures of the Public Security Organs for Dealing with Criminal Cases (below, MPS Regulations, issued by the Ministry of Public Security in 1998), if such a measure is to be applied to a suspect, a residential surveillance decision must be issued by public security organs at county level or above and this document must be shown to the suspect, who must sign or put his mark on it (Art.s 95 and 96).

 

His June 10, 2006, formal detention order came after Chen was held for more than six months under house arrest and illegally detained for more than 90 days by the Yinan Police with no respect for legal procedure at all

 

IV. Describe the circumstances of the arrest and/or the detention and indicate precise reasons why you consider the arrest or detention to be arbitrary

 

We believe that Chen Guangcheng is being detained illegally to retaliate against him for his work in documenting and exposing violence used to enforce population control policies in Linyi City and in seeking to provide legal assistance to villagers who were to bring a lawsuit against local authorities regarding these abuses.

 

Chen, who is a self-taught lawyer, blind since early childhood due to a high fever, has a long history of campaigning for the rights of farmers and the disabled. He assisted villagers in solving drinking water pollution problems when he was attending Nanjing Chinese Medicine University in 2000.  He created and ran the “Rights Defense Project for the Disabled” under the auspices of the Chinese Legal Studies Association between 2000 and 2001.  Since 1996, he has provided free legal consultation to farmers and the disabled in rural areas.  In 2003, he was sponsored by the “International Visitors Project” to visit the US.  In 2004, he ran a “Citizen Awareness and Law for the Disabled Project” supported by the US National Endowment for Democracy and the Monica Fund.

 

Starting in April 2005, Chen and his wife, Yuan Weijing, began to investigate villagers’ claims that Linyi City authorities were employing extensive violence in implementing government birth quotas, and later to put together briefs for lawsuits against officials involved.Their work, and that of activists and lawyers who visited the area to assist in documenting the abuses and in providing legal advice to villagers who wished to take legal action,represented the first-known concerted domestic effort to challenge the use of violence in the enforcement of China’s population policy. The first report on the subject was made public through the Citizens Rights Defense Network (gongmin weiquan wang) on June 10, 2005.

 

It seems clear that the violence in Linyi was part of a concerted campaign to meet the area’s assigned population targets. In July 2004, the Linyi City Party Committee and government had issued a document on strengthening population and fertility control work. Violent measures reportedly began to be used in some districts of Linyi City by the end of that year. In mid-February 2005, Linyi City government reissued the July 2004 document, in a move seen as encouraging the use of force to meet population control targets. According to Linyi residents, in March 2005 local authorities began forcing parents of two children to be sterilized and women pregnant with a third child to undergo abortions. Officials detained family members of those couples who fled, beat them and held them hostage. There has been official confirmation of the abuses in Linyi: on Sept. 19, 2005, an official of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China said that their investigation had found that there had been violations of law and policy in Linyi that had infringed the rights of citizens, and that as a consequence, some officials had been dismissed, while some were in detention and facing investigation for criminal responsibility.

 

Lawsuits filed by four villagers who suffered violent treatment in this campaign, Du Dejiang, Liu Benxia, Han Yandong and Hu Bingmei, were due to be heard on October 10, 11 and 14 in the Yinan County People’s Court. But on October 10, the court announced that the hearings would be postponed. Other villagers who had been planning to bring suit have pulled out after being harassed, threatened, or bribed.  Police also allegedly forced some villagers to testify against Chen Guangcheng, saying that he fabricated the reports of abuses. Chen’s wife has said that local officials had warned her that her husband’s life would be in danger unless he abandoned the lawsuit.

 

As a result of their work on the lawsuit, Chen and Yuan were put under house arrest on August 12. On August 25, Chen evaded police surrounding his village and went to Shanghai and Nanjing, then to Beijing, to seek help from lawyers. In Beijing, friends arranged for him to meet foreign journalists, diplomats, and international legal experts, to discuss the lawsuits.

 

On September6,he was detained in Beijing by police from Shandong Province, who took him back to Linyi and released him into house arrest the following day.  Since then, his house has reportedly been surrounded by up to 30 men and many cars. On Sept. 9, his landline and mobile phone services were cut off, and his computer seized.

 

On October 4, law lecturer Xu Zhiyong and lawyers Li Fangping and Li Subin attempted to visit Chen and negotiate with local officials to have his house arrest lifted. The lawyers were stopped on their way to the house. Chen reportedly managed to leave his house and spoke with them briefly, but was then forcibly taken back. When he resisted, he was beaten up by men surrounding his house. The lawyers tried to go to Chen’s house, but they were stopped and Xu Zhiyong and Li Fangping were beaten up, then all three were taken to Shuanghou Township Police Station where they were interrogated until the following morning.  They were told that the case now involved “state secrets” and escorted back to Beijing.

 

On October 24, two other Beijing scholars and friends of Chen Guangcheng went to visit him.  As Chen ran out to greet them, he was stopped and beaten by more than 20 men stationed outside.  The visitors were quickly escorted away.  Authorities did not release Chen even after the UN Special Rapporteur, Manfred Nowak, called his relatives from Beijing during Nowak’s visit in late November 2005.

 

Mr. Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, has also been prevented from leaving the house, and was beaten when she came out to greet visitors on December 27, 2005.

Over the past few months, a number of villagers who have been seeking to help Chen and his family or protesting against his continued detention have been detained, and have clashed with the “militia” imposing his house arrest. Some were subject to criminal detention orders (under which the police may hold a person without charge for up to 15 days) and some remain in detention.

 

On June 20, 2006, when Chen Guangcheng’s mother, who is 72 years old, arrived in Beijing (with his three-year old child) to have a press conference about Chen Guangcheng’s situation, they were abducted by police from Shandong and brought back to Linyi.   The next day, Chen’s mother fell seriously ill, but the men guarding Chen’s house did not permit her to go to the hospital.

 

V. Indicate internal steps, including domestic remedies, taken especially with the legal and administrative authorities, particularly for the purpose of establishing the detention and, as appropriate, their results or the reasons why such steps or remedies were ineffective or why they were not taken

 

After Chen Guangcheng’s abduction in Beijing, Chen’s lawyer Teng Biao called the police to report Chen’s disappearance, but has never received any response to his report. Since Mr. Chen has not been given any document regarding his detention, it is difficult for him to mount any legal challenge to it. Also, he has been prevented from meeting with his lawyers, although the MPS Regulations require that such meetings be permitted for a person under residential surveillance (Art. 97).

 

Several times lawyers representing Chen have attempted to meet him, and to discuss with the authorities the lifting of Chen’s house arrest. On October 4, 2005, law lecturer Xu Zhiyong and lawyers Li Fangping and Li Subin attempted to visit Chen at his home and negotiate with local officials to have his house arrest lifted. The lawyers were stopped on their way to the house: Chen reportedly managed to leave his house and speak with them briefly, but was then forcibly taken back to the house. The lawyers then met briefly with local authorities. After the meeting they tried once more to go to Chen’s house, but they were stopped on the way and reportedly beaten up by a 30-strong group. They were then taken to a police station where they were reportedly interrogated until the next day, and told that the case now involved “state secrets”. The following day they were escorted back to Beijing.

 

On October 30, 2005, Mr. Chen’s lawyer Teng Biao filed a lawsuit on his behalf in the People’s Court of Yinan County, charging two Shuanghou Township officials with intentional injury for their involvement in beating him outside his house on October 24 when friends came to visit Chen and Yuan and their new baby, born in July. The two officials allegedly headed a group of more than 20 militia men who beat Chen with fists and sticks, knocked him down several times and kicked him. Mr. Chen was not able to see a doctor to verify his injuries because the militia surrounding his house rejected his requests to seek medical attention, but there were a number of eye witnesses on the scene. So far the court has ignored Chen’s suit.

 

On June 21, Mr. Chen’s new lawyers, Mr. Li Jinsong, Zhang Lihui, were able to visit Chen Guangcheng at the Yinan Detention Center.  This was the first time in 3 months that Mr. Chen was allowed a visit by lawyers.  His family has not been allowed to visit because his wife is under house arrest.  When the lawyers asked him where he was detained during those three months, prison guards interrupted the discussion, preventing Chen Guangcheng from answering the question.  On June 22, Li Jinsong was taken into police custody for questioning.  Also on June 22, a lawyer for several villagers who have been detained since March 12, 2006 for their activities in support of Chen Guangcheng, was beaten by government personnel — clearly identified by an eyewitness as such because they were driving a car without a license plate. (In China, vehicles without license plates are commonly recognized as belonging to the government.)

 

CRD has sent statements expressing concern about Chen’s case to the Ministry of Justice in Beijing. The most recent statement, sent on February 14, 2006, received the following e-mail response: “According to the current division of labor between government departments, the matter involved in your communication is not within the responsibilities of the Ministry of Justice. We suggest you submit your information to the relevant [government] departments.”

 

More UN work on case of Chen Guangcheng:

Updated information on Chen Guangcheng, March 17, 2006

Update Communique to UN Special Procedures on the case of Chen Guangcheng, September 20, 2006

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