Submission to UN on Chen Wei – July 6, 2011

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Communiqué on behalf of Chen Wei, citizen of People’s Republic of China, Alleging Arbitrary Arrest or Detention and Prosecution of Human Rights Defenders




1. Family name: CHEN (陈)
2. First name: Wei (卫)
3. Sex: Male
4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): February 21, 1969
5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China ( Han)
6. (a) Identity document (if any): Passport
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention): Mr. Chen is a human rights activist and organizer in Suining City, Sichuan Province.
8. Address of usual residence: Suining City, Sichuan Province, China


II. Arrest


1. Date of arrest: February 20, 2011
2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Suining City, Sichuan Province. Chen was called for “tea” by Chinese National Security officers (i.e., summoned for questioning) and never returned home.
3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: National Security police (guobao), a unit in the Suining City Public Security Bureau
4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? Unknown.


III. Detention


1. Date of detention: The Suining City Public Security Bureau issued a formal notice on February 21, 2011 stating that Chen Wei was being criminally detained for “inciting subversion of state power.” On March 28, it announced that Chen had been formally arrested for the same charge.
2. Duration of detention: From February 20, 2011 through the present (i.e., ongoing).
3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Suining City Public Security Bureau.
4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Suining City Detention Center.
5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Suining City Public Security Bureau
6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Inciting subversion of state power”
7. Relevant legislation applied (if known): Article 105 (2) of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China: “Whoever incites others by spreading rumors or slanders or any other means to subvert the State power or overthrow the socialist system shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights; and the ringleaders and the others who commit major crimes shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years.”


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


According to the WGAD’s methods, deprivation of a person’s liberty is “arbitrary,” if the case falls into at least one or all of three categories:
A) When it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty (as when a person is kept in detention after the completion of his sentence or despite an amnesty law applicable to him) (Category I);
B) When the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed by articles 7, 13, 14, 18, 19, 10 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, insofar as States parties are concerned, by articles 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26 and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Category II); (i.e., rights to free opinion, speech, expression, press, assembly, association, and demonstration, etc.)
C) When the total or partial non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial, spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the relevant international instruments accepted by the States concerned, is of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character (Category III).
On the morning of February 20, 2011, National Security officers in Suining City, Sichuan Province contacted Chen and asked him to meet them “for tea” (a euphemism for questioning outside the proper legal process). Chen left his home and did not return. Officers and security guards later searched his home, confiscating a computer, two hard drives and a USB drive. On February 22, Chen’s family received a formal detention notice stating that Chen had been criminally detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and that he was being held in the Suining City Detention Center. The notice was dated February 21.
We believe that Chen’s detention is arbitrary based on the stipulations of Category II ( set forth in paragraph B above). Chen’s arrest and detention have come in retaliation for his work on local human rights issues, his organizing of rights-defense activities, and his own personal writings on political and human rights-related topics. His arrest took place during the crackdown on civil society launched by the Chinese government following the “Arab Spring” and anonymous online calls for “Jasmine Revolution” protests in China earlier this year. The confiscation of his personal property indicates that police are seeking to find “evidence” in his writings and contacts with fellow activists. Chen’s detention also implicates Category III because, as of this writing, he has not been permitted to meet with his lawyer, Mr. Zheng Jianwei.
Chen participated in the 1989 Tiananmen student protests when he was studying at the Beijing Institute of Technology, majoring in mechanical engineering. He was subsequently imprisoned in Qincheng prison in Beijing and released in January 1991. In May 1992, Chen was again arrested for commemorating June 4 and organizing a political party, and was sentenced to five years in prison. In the past several years, Chen has emerged as a leader in organizing human rights actions in Sichuan. He has been frequently harassed by police, placed under tight surveillance, and has had restrictions placed on his movement at various times, including at least one occasion on which he was prevented from leaving the country.
The charge of “inciting subversion of state power” is frequently used by the Chinese government to prosecute activists and dissidents for the nonviolent expression of their ideas. Neither the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China nor relevant regulations or interpretations define ”subversion,” or what it means to “incite” others to ”subvert” state power.


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.


Chen has been unable to take any internal steps to challenge his detention because he has, to date, been prevented from meeting with his lawyer, Mr. Zheng Jianwei. However, even if Chen were allowed to consult with his lawyer, we do not believe that he would be able to successfully challenge his arrest and detention. Based on past experiences of individuals formally arrested for “inciting subversion of state power,” we believe that Chen will almost certainly face a conviction and prison sentence.


See more UN work on case of Chen Wei:


Opinion No 7-2012 (China) on Mr. Chen Wei, in Opinions Adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its sixty-third session 30 April-4 May 2012


Human Rights Defenders Prevented from Attending Training on UN Mechanisms in Geneva – Chinese Authorities Violate Right to Participate in International Human Rights Activities, September 21, 2009

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