Submission to UN on Chen Guangcheng – November 28, 2011

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Update on the situation of Chen Guangcheng, a human rights defender from the People’s Republic of China


To: Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders


November 28, 2011


We are writing to provide an update on the situation of Chen Guangcheng, a human rights defender from the People’s Republic of China. From September 2005 to May 2008, various UN human rights bodies have sent a total of seven communications to the Chinese governmentregarding human rights violations against Chen. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted an opinion (OPINION No. 47/2006) that Chen’s detentions between August 12, 2005, and March 12, 2006, as well as since March 2006, were arbitrary.


In CHRD’s last submission to the UN about Chen dated September 20, 2006, we provided further details about him after March 12, 2006—that he was convicted and given a jail term of four years and three months in seriously flawed proceedings at the Yinan County Court on August 24, 2006.


After serving the whole of his prison sentence, Chen did not leave Linyi Prison a free man: since September 9, 2010, he, his wife Yuan Weijing and their six-year-old daughter, have been confined to their home and are policed by thugs in the pay of the local government. According to CHRD’s research, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and government officials from Linyi City, Yinan County, Shuanghou Town and Dongshigu Village are directly responsible for Chen’s current conditions of detention. Reportedly, officials have hired almost 100 men from outside the village as “security,” some of them employees from government offices, to keep Chen and his family under constant surveillance.


All forms of communication between Chen’s home and the outside world have been cut off. What little information has come out of Dongshigu Village indicates that Chen and his family are enduring a harsh life as prisoners in their own home. Most worryingly, Chen continues to suffer from gastrointestinal problems, and despite passing bloody stools, is prevented from receiving medical care. Leaving their home in order to stock up on basic necessities, such as food, is prohibited. Household supplies are reportedly running very low.


The Chen family members are at the mercy of the security force guarding them, and face constant threats of violence. Chen himself has been beaten at least three times since September 2010:


1)      On the evening of February 8, 2011, National Security officers from Linyi City Public Security Bureau (PSB) and police from Shuanghou Town entered Chen’s home and began beating both him and his wife. According to a reliable source, the beating was “not light,” but neither was it life-threatening. Afterwards, husband and wife were prevented from seeking hospital treatment for their injuries. It is believed that the reason for the beating stemmed from the public release of a videotape by the NGO, ChinaAid, which had been made by Chen and which described their detention under house arrest.


2)   According to an undated letter written by Yuan and made public on June 15, 2011, on February 18 she and her husband were viciously beaten for two hours by a large gang of hired thugs led by the Zhang Jian (张建), Vice Party Secretary of Shuanghou Town, and by officers from the National Security Unit of the Yinan County PSB. This beating was so severe that Chen lost consciousness and some of Yuan’s ribs and her skull may have been cracked by her left eyebrow. Yuan’s vision was so badly affected she was unable to see for six days. The only treatment the couple received for the injuries they sustained was an IV infusion given to Yuan. On the same day, their home was searched and the couple’s computers and video cameras were confiscated. According to Yuan’s letter, thugs broke into their compound on March 3, 6, 7, 8, 17 and 22. Their TV cable was severed and anything that could be confiscated was taken—including Chen’s cane, as well as the couple’s books and papers. On March 8 Yuan was punched in the head by one of the “security” men. Over this period two surveillance cameras were also installed in the family compound.


3)     In July, Chen and Yuan were again attacked in their home by Zhang and his thugs, who beat them for four hours while their daughter was present. Reportedly, a village doctor was later allowed to give Chen some basic treatment. As Yuan described it: “…none of them wore uniforms; there were no legal documents; no receipt for the confiscated items. Before he left, Zhang Jian said, ‘This is what the higher-ups told us to do…’ As he said this, he ordered others to throw us to the ground.”


Chen and Yuan’s daughter, Chen Kesi (陈克斯), six years old, has endured the same confinement as her mother and father. Not only has she witnessed the severity of her parents’ mistreatment, her books and toys have been confiscated by the guards. She has only recently been allowed to resume her education, as a Primary One student, beginning September 16, 2011. However, her movements are strictly controlled: she is escorted to and from school by security men, who station themselves around the school entrance and at other school locations so that her movements can be monitored.


Members of Chen’s extended family, as well as residents of Dongshigu Village and other nearby villages, have also been subjected to threats and put under surveillance. Officials enforcing the couple’s house arrest have ordered villagers not to speak about Chen under any circumstances, as he is a “traitor,” or give directions to Chen’s home to anyone wishing to visit him. Villagers have been ordered to call a dedicated phone number if they come upon people looking for Chen, threatening those who violate these orders with severe punishment, “according to the law.” CHRD has learned that villagers sympathetic to Chen have been detained for helping the activist—some for as long as six months—and some have been forced to flee Dongshigu for their own safety, leaving Chen further isolated.


The deprivation of personal freedom currently imposed Chen and his family has no basis in law and contravenes Article 37 of the PRC Constitution. Even if Chen and his wife had received documentation indicating that they were to be placed under “residential surveillance” (监视 居住), a coercive measure set forth in China’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), immediately upon Chen’s release from prison, this pre-trial non-custodial form of detention should not be applicable when an individual is released from prison after serving their prison term in full.


According to the criteria applied by WGAD, it is clear that Chen Guangcheng’s current house arrest qualifies as arbitrary detention.  This arbitrary denial of liberty is a direct result of his exercising of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which state that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion, expression, assembly and association. The authorities have unlawfully deprived Chen Guangcheng and his family of their personal freedom by retaliating against him for his work to defend human rights and for his criticism of government policy.


CHRD calls on the WGAD, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Special Rapportuer on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to look into the allegations in this update of:


  • arbitrary detention,
  • cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, or torture; and
  • persecution of human rights defender and legal advocate,


and send urgent communications to the Chinese government seeking an explanation for its treatment of Chen Guangcheng and his family, and urging their release from detention. In addition, please call for the officials and their hired thugs to be held legally responsible for human rights violations against the Chen family. If the government responds by claiming “Chen is free” or is “living a normal life,” as it has done in response to international enquiries since Chen was released in September 2010, please further request evidence of Chen’s freedom, including allowing unobstructed visits by UN personnel to verify these claims.


For more information about Chen’s current situation, please see CHRD’s latest report on Chen, available here:


See more UN work on case of Chen Guangcheng:


Update Communique to UN Special Procedures on the case of Chen Guangcheng, September 20, 2006


Updated information on Chen Guangcheng, March 17, 2006

Communication Alleging Arbitrary Arrest and Detention of Chen Guangcheng, a human rights defender and citizen of the People’s Republic of China, June 21, 2006

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