Submission to UN on Wang Yonghang – September 20, 2012Comments Off on Submission to UN on Wang Yonghang – September 20, 2012
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
Special Rapporteur on the right to health
1. Family name: WANG (王)
2. First name: Yonghang (永航)
3. Sex: Male
4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): N/A
5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
6. Identity document (if any): (a) N/A
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention): defense lawyer and advocate for Falun Gong practitioners
8. Address of usual residence: Dalian City, Liaoning Province
1. Date of arrest: July 4, 2009
2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Dalian City, Liaoning Province
3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Officers from the National Security unit of the Jinxiu Police Station and the Shahekou subdivision of the Dalian City Public Security Bureau (“Dalian PSB”)
4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? Yes
1. Date of detention: July 4, 2009
2. Duration of detention: From July 4, 2009 through the present (i.e., his detention is ongoing). Mr. Wang was sentenced to a seven-year prison term and is due to be released on July 3, 2016.
3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Officers from the National Security Unit of the Jinxiu Police Station and the Shahekou subdivision of the Dalian PSB seized Mr. Wang on July 4, 2009. He is currently incarcerated at Shenyang No. 1 Prison, in Liaoning Province.
4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Mr. Wang was initially detained at the Dalian Municipal Detention Center. Following the rejection of his appeal, he was transferred to Liaoning Provincial Liaonan New Inmates Prison on April 2, 2010. On April 22, 2010, Wang was transferred to Shenyang No. 1 Prison, where he is currently serving his sentence.
5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Shahekou District People’s Court
6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: using a cult to undermine implementation of the law
7. Relevant legislation applied (if known): Mr. Wang’s seven-year prison sentence for “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law” was ordered pursuant to Article 300 of the PRC Criminal Law, which stipulates “fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than seven years to those who form or use superstitious sects or secret societies or weird religious organizations or uses superstition to undermine the implementation of the laws and administrative rules and regulations of the State.”
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
On July 4, 2009, about 20 plainclothes police officers from the National Security Unit of Shahekou division and the Jinxiu Police Station of the Dalian PSB entered the home of Mr. Wang Yonghang. Without presenting documentation, the officers searched Wang’s home, pinned Wang’s wife, Yu Xiaoyan (于晓艳), down to the floor and restrained Wang’s 80-year-old mother. The policemen briefly waved some form of legal document in front of Ms. Yu and asked her to sign it, but she refused. Wang and Ms. Yu were both taken away, but Ms. Yu was released the next day. When Ms. Yu went to the police station on July 6, police presented her with a criminal detention warrant for her husband. Article 300 of the Criminal Law, which is cited in the warrant, is regularly used by authorities to retaliate against Falun Gong practitioners and their supporters, including lawyers such as Wang, who defend Falun Gong practitioners in criminal cases. On August 11, 2009, Ms. Yu received an arrest notification for her husband, which was issued by the Dalian City People’s Procuratorate the previous day.
While Mr. Wang was held in pre-trial detention, his lawyer, Lan Zhixue (兰志学), said he was never permitted to meet Wang, in violation of Article 33 of the Lawyer’s Law (2007). Police also prevented Wang’s family from meeting with Mr. Lan, claiming that his case involved “state secrets.”
On October 16, 2009, the Shahekou District People’s Court in Dalian tried Wang on the charge of “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law” (Criminal Law, art. 300) in a closed trial, in violation of Articles 11 and 152 of the PRC Criminal Procedure Law. The trial was held without his family or lawyer being notified, and they only learned of the trial a week later. Without his lawyer present, Wang argued for his own innocence.
On November 27, 2009, the court sentenced Wang to seven years’ imprisonment. The court’s decision described the “evidence” against Mr. Wang as including: his interviews with overseas media, posting defense statements from the criminal cases of Falun Gong practitioners on overseas websites, writing and posting an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, and downloading articles with Falun Gong-related content.
Prior to his detention, Mr. Wang had, in fact, published letters online in which he advocated for religious freedom and explained his views on the persecution of Falun Gong members. Such alleged “crimes” were, of course, exercises of his right to freedom of expression and religious belief protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and China’s Constitution (articles 35 and 36).
Accordingly, Mr. Wang’s detention satisfies both Category II (i.e., when the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed by articles 7, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, and 21 of the UDHR) and Category III (i.e., when the total or partial non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial is of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character).
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.
Mr. Wang appealed his conviction and seven-year sentence. After holding a 15-minute hearing, the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court upheld the original verdict on February 4, 2010.
Additional information on the case, including information relating to allegations of arbitrary detention, harassment, torture/mistreatment and the right to health:
Arbitrary detention and harassment
Prior to the detention that is the subject of this submission, Mr. Wang had previously been harassed and subjected to police surveillance for his work defending Falun Gong practitioners. In May 2008, authorities refused to renew his lawyer’s license in retaliation for his human rights work.
In addition, Wang’s wife Yu Xiaoyan was illegally detained in a black jail in the summer of 2010 for 25 days, an episode of harassment and intimidation linked to her husband’s legal advocacy work. During her detention Ms. Yu was held in a “legal education class,” where officials reportedly forced her to listen to speeches that “insulted her religion” and told her repeatedly that she must abandon it.
Torture/mistreatment and the right to health
Mr. Wang has often been subjected to violent, inhumane treatment since being detained by police in the summer of 2009, beginning on the day he was taken into custody. When police seized Wang on July 4, 2009, he was severely beaten, suffering fractures in his right ankle. The injury was not promptly treated (surgery was not performed until August 11), which led to a serious infection and a worsening of the dislocation.
While detained in the Dalian Municipal Detention Center, Wang went on a hunger strike to protest the beating of fellow inmates who were Falun Gong practitioners. A prison doctor forced-fed Wang, which caused respiratory tract bleeding and nearly fatal suffocation. Guards handcuffed Wang and shackled him to a makeshift bed on the floor for about 48 hours as punishment for his hunger strike. After Wang was transferred to Shenyang No. 1 Prison, in October 2010, he was reportedly beaten by other inmates who were acting on instructions from the prison police, and was put in solitary confinement later that month.
Since early 2012, Mr. Wang’s situation in Shengyang No. 1 Prison has grown steadily worse. CHRD learned that he continues to be tortured and his health has seriously declined. His wife learned that her husband is suffering from tuberculosis and pleural and peritoneal effusions, is numb from the waist down — indicative of paralysis — and that he is so weak he can barely talk. Prison authorities, however, have claimed that Wang is doing fine. Ms. Yu, who has been prevented from seeing her husband, told CHRD that police have warned her not to discuss Wang’s health with anyone, and that she is followed and subjected to surveillance whenever she leaves her home.