“Inciting Subversion of State Power”: A Legal Tool for Prosecuting Free Speech in ChinaComments Off on “Inciting Subversion of State Power”: A Legal Tool for Prosecuting Free Speech in China
Olympics & Human Rights Special Series
A report of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
January 8, 2008
“Inciting Subversion of State Power”:
A Legal Tool for Prosecuting Free Speech in China
“To keep its Olympics promises, China must reform its Criminal Law.”
On December 27, 2007, Hu Jia, a Beijing-based human rights activist, was detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” Having lived mostly under house arrest or residential surveillance in the two years leading up to the detention, Hu has emerged as an outspoken critic who has openly challenged the Chinese government for its failure to honor its promise to promote human rights when it bid to host the Olympic Games.
Yang Chunlin, an unemployed worker turned rights activist, languishes in a detention cell in Heilongjiang Province. Yang is also facing prosecution for “inciting subversion of state power.” Yang was arrested for collecting signatures for an open letter, “We Want Human Rights, not the Olympics.”
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) today releases its report focusing on the use of Article 105(2) of the Chinese Criminal Code by Chinese authorities to persecute individuals for exercising basic human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression. Article 105(2) stipulates the crime of “inciting subversion of state power.” CHRD has documented 41 cases in which Article 105(2) has been used to detain, imprison or send individuals to Re-education through Labor (RTL) camp solely for exercising their rights.
This report is one of the CHRD “Olympics & Human Rights Special Series” reports. In this series, CHRD will issue in-depth studies as part of its campaign to push for human rights improvement, raising international attention to rights abuses related to official preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Some of these rights violations were enumerated in the seven proposals to uphold Olympic principles in the open letter, “‘One World, One Dream’ and Universal Human Rights,” issued by prominent Chinese citizens in August 2007.1 The current report is linked to one of those proposed changes – lifting restrictions on press freedom and allowing both foreign and Chinese journalists to conduct interviews and report without prior approval from authorities.
CHRD calls on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) to interpret Article 105(2) in such a way that the law clearly and strictly defines key terms and articulates the necessary restrictions on its use, so as to prevent its use to persecute individuals for exercising their right to freedom of expression.