Sichuan Democracy Activist Liu Xianbin Criminally Detained for “Inciting Subversion of State Power”

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(Chinese Human Rights Defenders- June 29, 2010) Little more than a year after he was released following a decade in prison, convicted of “subversion of state power” in 1999, Sichuan democracy activist Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌) has once again been criminally detained, this time for “inciting subversion of state power.” On June 28, police in Suining City, Sichuan Province detained Liu after raiding his home, and the next day officers summoned, harassed, and threatened his wife and 13-year old daughter.

“Unbowed by a lengthy sentence, Liu has returned to promoting human rights and democracy since his release and become a major figure in the community of activists in Sichuan. By detaining him for ‘inciting subversion,’ the government is signaling a growing nervousness over the situation in the province, a hotspot for rights activism in recent years,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director.

Approximately 14 National Security (guobao) officers from the Suining City Public Security Bureau (PSB) arrived at Liu’s home on the afternoon of June 28. While some of the officers took Liu to the PSB station for questioning, others remained to search his residence, confiscating two computer hard drives, two removable drives, Liu’s bank card, and records of payments received by Liu for articles published on pro-democracy websites hosted overseas. Liu was criminally detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” at seven o’clock that evening, and is currently being held at the Suining City Detention Center, according to the formal detention notice provided to his wife, Chen Mingxian (陈明先).

The next morning, National Security officers summoned Chen and questioned her for approximately three hours about her husband’s activities. Police officers also conducted an investigation at the school attended by Liu and Chen’s 13-year old daughter, threatening her and leaving her shaken and in tears.

Based on comments made by police that Liu has been too “arrogant,” some believe that his detention comes as punishment for his dedication to democracy activism and human rights defense following his release from prison in November 2008. Though Liu is currently subject to three years’ deprivation of his political rights as part of his 1999 sentence, he has been involved with a number of high-profile rights-related activities in the past year and a half, beginning with his support for Charter 08 as a member of the original group of 303 signatories in December 2008. Liu has also continued to publish articles on human rights and democracy since his release, and joined citizen efforts in support of persecuted activists, including Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) and Chen Yunfei (陈云飞), actions which have led police to summon and harass him on numerous occasions.

CHRD calls for the immediate release of Liu Xianbin and the return of his confiscated property. We believe that the authorities in Suining City are punishing Liu for the nonviolent expression of his opinions and for his activities to promote democracy and human rights.

As Liu’s detention is clearly related to the exercise of his rights of freedom of expression and peaceful association, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (specifically, Articles 19 and 20), CHRD believes that Liu’s detention is arbitrary under the standards set forth by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

CHRD urges the European Union to raise the case of Liu Xianbin with the Chinese government during this week’s EU-China Human Rights Dialogue in Madrid, demanding his release and the release of all other prisoners of conscience.


Liu Xianbin, born October 2, 1968, in Suining City, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in 1992 for his participation in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Following his release, he dedicated himself to democracy and human rights activism, and in 1998 was a founding member of the Sichuan branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP). In August 1999, Liu was convicted of “subversion of state power” and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for his involvement with the CDP. Liu’s sentence also included an additional three years’ deprivation of political rights upon his release. Liu was released on November 6, 2008. At the time of his most recent detention, Liu was living at Number 2, 5th Floor, Unit 2, House B, Baicheng Jiayuan, Yanshi Street, Suining City, Sichuan Province.

Media Contacts:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286

David Smalls, Researcher (English), +1 347 448 5285

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