Submission to UN on Yao Lifa – September 15, 2011

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CHRD Communiqué on Yao, Lifa, Citizen of P.R. China, Human Rights Defender, and Victim of Alleged Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, Arbitrary Detention, Torture, and Persecution of Human Rights Defender

 

1. Identity of the disappeared person:
(a) Family name (*):  Yao (姚)

(b) First name (*):  Lifa (立法)

(c) Sex:  Male

(d) Date of birth:   November 20, 1958

(e) Identity document:      I.D. Card

Date of issue: N/A     Place of issue: Qianjiang Municipal Public Security Bureau

(f) Address of usual residence:  Qianjiang City, Hubei Province, China

 

2. Date on which the disappearance occurred (at least as to the month and year) (*):

Date of disappearance: Initially on June 20, 2011, and on two occasions more recently after reappearances, on August 6, 2011, and September 5, 2011, following dozens of episodes over the past two years. (See “Additional Information” below)

3. Place of arrest or abduction, or where the disappeared person was last seen (*):

Location (if possible street, city, province or other relevant indications):

Mr. Yao originally went missing from an unknown location in Qianjiang City, Hubei Province, and has been under 24-hour monitoring—including overnight at his home in Qianjiang—since September 5, 2011.

(For information about arbitrary detention and torture, to which Yao was subjected to, see “Additonal Information” below.)

 

4. Forces (State or State-supported) believed to be responsible for the disappearance (*):
(a) If the perpetrators are believed to be State agents, please specify (military, police, persons in uniform or civilian clothes, agents of security services, unit to which they belong, rank and functions, etc.) and indicate why they are believed to be responsible; be as precise as possible:

Several perpetrators are believed to be responsible for Yao’s disappearance and continued close monitoring. Their identities and involvement are described below:

 

Security and administrative personnel from the experimental elementary school where Yao works initially abducted him on June 20, including the vice-principal, Wang Qian (汪潜), and security guards charged with monitoring him since Yao was placed under residential surveillance on February 20, 2011. On July 13, 2011, while two school personnel, Tang Rongwei (唐荣威) and Yang Long (扬龙), carried out an unlawful search of Yao’s home, Mr. Wang told Yao’s wife, Feng Ling (冯玲), that Yao had been taken to “study” during the school’s summer vacation. On July 4, 2011, Yao had escaped from incommunicado detention, and on August 3, 2011, Wang contacted Ms. Feng and indicated that he hoped Yao would return and continue his “studies,” which suggested to Feng that Yao would again be placed under detention if he returned home.

 

On August 6, 2011, national security officers from the Qianjiang Public Security Bureau (PSB), along with Beijing police and personnel from the Qianjiang Liaison Office in Beijing, took Yao from a friend’s home in Beijing, where he had fled after his escape. The Qianjiang PSB admitted to Feng that their officers had taken Yao into custody, but claimed they did so under the pretext that his wife had filed a “missing-person” report in July after Yao had disappeared.

 

After the officers forcibly returned Yao to Qianjiang, Yao was turned over to authorities at his school, including Wang Qian and Tang Rongwei, who are directly responsible for heading a group of 22 staff or officials from around Qianjiang who have been assigned by the Qianjiang City Bureau of Education to monitor Yao. On September 5, 2011, these authorities forcibly took Yao from his home and have subjected him to 24-hour monitoring.

(b) If identification as State agents is not possible, why do you believe that Government authorities, or persons linked to them, are responsible for the incident?

(c) If there are witnesses to the incident, indicate their names. If they wish to remain anonymous, indicate if they are relatives, by-passers, etc.; if there is evidence, please specify:

Yao’s wife, Feng Ling, has witnessed the close monitoring around their home since September 5.  Unidentified friends of Yao and Feng witnessed the abduction from the Beijing location on August 6, 2011.

5. Action taken by the relatives or others to locate the person (inquiries with police, jail, human rights commission, habeas corpus petition etc.) (*):

(a) Indicate if complaints have been filed, when, by whom, and before which organ.

Yao’s wife, Feng Ling, has inquired about his whereabouts numerous times since her husband’s initial abduction on June 20, 2011. Dates, relevant organs, and results include:

 

June 27: Feng went to the Qianjiang City Letters and Visits Bureau and the Qianjiang PSB, and was told to go talk to the school where Yao works for information, and she was threatened with “consequences” for creating a disturbance.

 

July 11: Accompanied by an attorney, Feng went to the Qianjiang PSB and requested to see the bureau chief Rao Huajun (饶华军), but was told he was out of the office. She was then advised to go to the Yuanlin Police Station to fill out a missing-person report, but was told by station personnel that Yao’s situation did not fit the criteria.

 

August 8: After Yao was taken back into custody on August 6, Feng went to the Qianjiang PSB to inquire about him but was told that they did not know where he was. Around this same time, friends in Beijing (names unknown) also asked the Qianjiang PSB about Yao, but officers denied knowledge of his whereabouts.

(b) Other steps taken:

CHRD has reported and protested the involuntary disappearance, arbitrary detention, and torture that Mr. Yao has been subjected to by authorities for purposes of obstructing Yao’s human rights work, and to punish him for his peaceful expression and actions to promote the human right for political participation through monitoring local elections to ensure fairness and transparency. CHRD has also assisted the family to hire a lawyer for Mr. Yao.

Additional Information on the case (about arbitrary detention, torture, and persecution of a human rights defender):

Please indicate any other relevant information that has not been answered in the previous questions. If one of the mandatory elements noted (*) in this report could not be answered, please indicate why.

Yao Lifa, a rights campaigner and teacher with a vocational school education, was among China’s first independent candidates in local elections, and began competing for a seat in the local People’s Congress in 1987 and was finally elected in 1998. Since then, he has spoken out against corruption in local governance and the electoral process, and traveled around China to urge others to run for office as independent candidates and to understand their voting rights. Consequently, prior to the more recent harassment, Yao had been disappeared, detained, and mistreated dozens of times over the past two years.

 

China is conducting local People’s Congress elections this year and in 2012. It is widely believed that both public security and school authorities are concerned about the potential effects of his advising of candidates and voters, and thus have subjected him to increased harassment this year through close monitoring—he was placed under residential surveillance on February 20, 2011—and incommunicado detention. While under residential surveillance, Yao was typically taken home after work around 6 p.m. by school personnel assigned to monitor him. Prior to Mr. Yao’s recent disappearance on June 20, 2011, several restrictions were also placed on him at his workplace; for example, beginning on June 16, 2011, he was prohibited from answering his phone, sending text messages, and talking to others in his office.

 

On July 4, 2011, Yao escaped his initial incommunicado detention by jumping out a window of the Maozui Guesthouse in Maozui Town, Xiantao City, Hubei Province. In doing so, he severely injured both of his wrists and damaged vertebrae in his back. These injuries went untreated during his period of escape in Beijing, where he spent most of his time resting in bed at a friend’s home, and up until the near the end of his subsequent incommunicado detention after authorities took him back into custody on August 6, 2011.

 

After being returned to Qianjiang, Yao was first held in incommunicado detention at the Xidayuan Farm and then at the #57 Oil Field State Enterprise’s CPC Party School under the supervision of authorities from his school and other instructors from Qianjiang. From August 7 to 30, 2011, he was held in a room with very unsanitary conditions and a surveillance camera, and was not allowed to watch television or read and was not given adequate nutrition. In the early morning of September 2, Yao felt severe abdominal pain and was rushed to a hospital under a false name to receive treatment. After the pain subsided the next day, he was taken back to the Party school and held until the evening of September 4, when he was taken home. His monitors confiscated all the medical photographs taken at the hospital as well as the medications he was provided. Yao lost more than 10 kilograms during this month-long incommunicado detention.

 

On the morning of September 5, 2011, Yao was taken away again by school instructors and other personnel or officials from Qianjiang as he was preparing to go with his wife to the hospital for a physical examination. Since then, he has been held in an undisclosed location during the daytime and driven back home late at night, with monitors stationed outside his home.

 

Due to Yao’s activism, many of his friends and family members also have been subjected to monitoring, harassment, and other violations of their rights, particularly since he first disappeared on June 20, 2011. Mr. Yao’s elder sister has indicated that all of their relatives and friends have been investigated by police and have had records filed about them. Mr. Yao’s wife, Feng Ling, who is caring for the couple’s two-year-old child, has been under extraordinary stress due to frequent acts of harassment and various rights violations, including constant monitoring, restriction of her freedom of movement, and five reported searches of their home since June 20. Authorities have also installed surveillance cameras inside the residence, and her electricity and water have occasionally been cut off.

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