Submission to UN on Wang Lihong – July 5, 2011 (updated: December 2011)Comments Off on Submission to UN on Wang Lihong – July 5, 2011 (updated: December 2011)
Communiqué on behalf of Wang Lihong, citizen of People’s Republic of China, Alleging Arbitrary Arrest or Detention and Persecution of Human Rights Defenders and Violation of Right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly
1. Family name: WANG (王)
2. First name: Lihong (荔蕻)
3. Sex: Female
4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): October 28, 1955
5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China (Han)
6. Identity document (if any): Passport
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention): After the pro-democracy protests in Beijing in 1989, Ms. Wang, a former doctor, became a dedicated democracy activist and human rights defender. She has worked on causes such as relief efforts for the “Tiananmen homeless” and advocated on behalf of three imprisoned Fujian netizens and citizens fighting land seizures in Beihai City, Guangxi Province.
8. Address of usual residence: Chaoyang District, Beijing Municipality
1. Date of arrest: March 21, 2011
2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Wang was seized at her home in Beijing’s Chaoyang District.
3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Police from the Chaoyang District branch of the Beijing Public Security Bureau.
4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? When police arrived at her home, they displayed a notice summoning Wang for questioning as well as a warrant to search her home.
1. Date of detention: Wang was taken away by police who searched her home on March 21, 2011. She was placed under criminal detention on suspicion of “creating a disturbance” at some point before March 26, and was formally arrested on April 21 on a different charge–“gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic order.”
2. Duration of detention: From March 21, 2011 through December 20, 2011 (released).
3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Chaoyang District Public Security Bureau.
4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Chaoyang District Detention Center, Beijing.
5. Authorities that ordered the detention: The Chaoyang District Public Security Bureau detained Wang on March 21, 2011. On September 9, 2011, the Chaoyang District People’s Court sentenced Wang to nine months’ imprisonment, including time served.
6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: The Chaoyang District Public Security Bureau initially detained Wang on suspicion of “creating a disturbance,” but the change later changed to “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic order.” The charge later changed back to “creating a disturbance” when she was indicted by the Chaoyang District People’s Procuratorate and subsequently tried by the Chaoyang District People’s Court.
7. Relevant legislation applied (if known): Article 293 of the Criminal Law of the PRC:
“Whoever commits any of the following acts of creating disturbances, thus disrupting public order, shall be sentenced to fixed- term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention or public surveillance: (1) beating another person at will and to a flagrant extent; (2) chasing, intercepting or hurling insults to another person to a flagrant extent; (3) forcibly taking or demanding, willfully damaging, destroying or occupying public or private money or property to a serious extent; or (4) creating disturbances in a public place, thus causing serious disorder in such place.”
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 March 21, Chaoyang District police arrived at Wang’s home, searched her residence and took her away for questioning. She never returned home, and at some point before March 26 the Chaoyang District Public Security Bureau placed her under criminal detention for “creating a disturbance.” Wang was formally arrested on April 21, but the crime she was accused of having committed had been changed to “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic order.”
Wang met with her lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, on April 26, and reported that her health, which was poor to begin with, was rapidly worsening in detention. Wang suffers from severe back pain and has had difficulty sleeping.
On August 12, the Chaoyang District People’s Court tried Wang on the charge of “creating a disturbance,” the original charge on which Wang had been criminally detained. The trial, which lasted just two-and-a-half hours, was fraught with procedural flaws.
On September 9, the Chaoyang District People’s Court announced that Wang had been convicted of “creating a disturbance” and sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, including time served.
CHRD believes that Wang’s detention is arbitrary based on the stipulations of Category II (set forth in paragraph B above). Her 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, which was used by officials as a pretext to target many longtime activists and dissidents. We believe that the authorities’ decision to arrest and detain Wang was undertaken as retaliation for her outspoken human rights activism and efforts to exercise her rights, including her rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
The crime of “creating a disturbance” (as well as “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic order”) is often used to prosecute activists who seek to exercise their right to freedom of assembly. In Wang’s case, the charge of “creating a disturbance” is believed to be tied to her support for the “Fujian Three” netizens who were convicted of slander last year; and in particular to her participation in a gathering of thousands of activists and netizens outside their sentencing on April 16, 2010, to show their support.
Ms. Wang was released on December 20, but found to be in poor health; during her detention, she had lost 12 kilograms and was suffering from heart and blood pressure problems and pain in the lumbar area. Before she was released, Wang staged a 3-day hunger strike to protest the use of torture in the Chaoyang District Detention Center. Wang said detainees at the center are required to sit motionless in an awkward position for five hours every day, which causes pain in the waist for those who are detained there for long periods of time.
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.
On May 13, Liu Xiaoyuan Wang’s lawyer, applied for Wang’s release on bail to await trial. On May 19, Liu was informed by the Chaoyang Public Security Bureau that the request had been rejected because Wang “does not suffer from serious illnesses.”