Yuan Xianchen (袁显臣)

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Yuan Xianchen (袁显臣)

Yuan Xianchen 袁显臣


Recent Detention

Crime:  Inciting subversion of state power

Length of Punishment: 4 years’ imprisonment, 5 years’ additional deprivation of political rights

Court:  Jixi City Intermediate People’s Court

Trial date: January 12, 2009

Sentencing date:  March 4, 2009

Dates of Detention/Arrest:  May 24, 2008 (detained); June 30, 2008 (arrested); May 28, 2012 (released)

Place of Detention: Dongfeng Prison (Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province)

Verdict: Heilongjiang Province Jixi Intermediate People’s Court (Chinese only)

Appeal Sentencing Date: August 2010

Appeal Sentencing Court: Heilongjiang Province High People’s Court

Appeal Ruling: Upheld original ruling


Yuan Xianchen, born on November 2, 1964, is best known for his advocacy efforts since 1998 as a legal advisor to workers at the Didao Mine in Jixi City, Heilongjiang Province, and also worked on behalf of farmers, displaced persons, and other impoverished or exploited citizens.

Yuan was taken into police custody in Beijing in May of 2008 and then formally arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” the next month. According to the Jixi City People’s Procuratorate, Yuan had “incited subversion” due to several activities. He had distributed an article entitled “Save China, Implement Constitutional Democracy” to petitioners and representatives attending the National People’s Congress in Beijing in 2005; given interviews to foreign media; received funds from domestic and overseas human rights organizations; and drafted more than 20 articles “attacking socialism.”

During his trial in 2009, the court allowed evidence that had been extracted by severe torture against Yuan, and refused his lawyers’ request to investigation the torture that Yuan alleged. Although it was not formally mentioned at trial, it is believed that Yuan was also arrested in part for helping Yang Chunlin (杨春林), a Heilongjiang farmers’ representative, collect signatures endorsing an open letter entitled “We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics.” (Yang was sentenced to five years in prison for “inciting subversion” on March 24, 2008.) After Yuan was convicted, the decision was appealed, and the Heilongjiang Provincial Higher People’s Court upheld the original verdict in August of 2010. Yuan was released from prison on May 28, 2012. He suffers from a chronic condition due to the torture he was subjected to while under detention.

Yuan was also detained for 37 days, in 2005, for investigating the death of a petitioner from Inner Mongolia who was killed by a train while fleeing pursuers outside the Beijing South Train Station. 

Further Information

Submission to UN on Yuan Xianchen, August 31, 2009, CHRD

Yuan Xianchen Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for ‘Inciting Subversion of State Power’, March 6, 2009, CHRD

After Torture in Detention, Legal Activist Yuan Xianchen Goes on Trial, January 14, 2009, CHRD

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