Submission to UN on Guo Quan – September 26, 2012

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Submission to:


Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders


Communiqué on behalf of GUO Quan, citizen of the People’s Republic of China



1. Family name: GUO (郭)

2. First name: Quan (泉)

3. Sex: Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): May 8, 1968

5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China

6. Identity document (if any): (a) ID Card, No. 320106196805080817

(b) Issued by the Gulou Branch of the Nanjing City Public Security Bureau

 7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention): Professor; engagedinpromoting democracy by writing articles calling for political reforms and establishing the China Xinmin (“New People’s”) Party

8. Address of usual residence: Rm. 1001, No. 2, Apt. 1, Jinxin Gardens, Gulou District, Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, People’s Republic of China


II. Arrest


1. Date of arrest: November 13, 2008

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): On way home after taking his child to school in Gulou District, Nanjing City

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: National security officers from the Gulou District Branch of the Nanjing City Public Security Bureau (“Gulou PSB”)

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? Yes



III. Detention


1. Date of detention: November 13, 2008

2. Duration of detention: From November 13, 2008 through the present (i.e., his detention is ongoing). According to the court’s decision, his 10-year sentence expires on November 12, 2018. 

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: The Gulou PSB held Mr. Guo from the date of his initial detention (November 13, 2008) until his transfer to Pukou Prison, which is run by the Nanjing Prison Management Bureau.

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Mr. Guo was initially detained at the Xuanwu District Detention Center in Nanjing, and then transferred to Pukou Prison in that city following the rejected appeal of his sentence on December 25, 2009. He is currently incarcerated in Pukou Prison.

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Suqian Intermediate People’s Court, Suqian City, Jiangsu Province

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: subversion of state power (through publishing articles online and establishing a political party)

7. Relevant legislation applied (if known): Mr. Guo’s 10-year prison sentence for “subversion of state power” was ordered pursuant to Article 105 (1) of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, which stipulates fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years or life imprisonment to those who organize, plot or carry out the scheme of subverting the state power or overthrowing the socialist system, and to ringleaders and others who commit major crimes.


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

Mr. Guo, a political activist and associate professor at Nanjing Normal University, was taken into custody on November 13, 2008, on suspicion of “subversion of state power.” When seizing Guo, officers from the Gulou District Branch of the Nanjing PSB also searched his home and confiscated a number of items.

In clear violation of Article 33 of the Lawyer’s Law, Nanjing authorities prevented lawyers on numerous occasions from meeting Mr. Guo in detention prior to his trial. Guo Quan’s principal attorney, Guo Lianhui (郭莲辉) of Jiangxi Province (no relation), only met his client for the first time after Guo had been detained for nearly six months. On April 8, 2009, Beijing lawyer Li Heping (李和平) went to the Xuanwu District Detention Center in Nanjing to see Guo, but Li was stopped by detention center officials who told him he must be accompanied by another lawyer before he could visit Guo. When Li and a Nanjing lawyer returned later that day, officials then informed them they would have to go to Suqian City (more than 260 km away) to obtain visitation and prosecution documents regarding Guo. When the two lawyers arrived at the Suqian City People’s Procuratorate on April 9, they were told that the prosecutor was away on business and they could not retrieve the needed documents. Lawyer Guo Lianhui was finally able to visit with Guo Quan a week later, on April 15. When lawyer Li arrived in Nanjing the next day, however, he was once again barred from meeting Guo Quan, as officials from the procuratorate informed Li that Guo’s case had already been returned to the Nanjing PSB for further investigation. In June 2009, Guo Lianhui was again able to meet with Guo Quan, but Li was again blocked from seeing his client.

On August 7, 2009, the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court tried Mr. Guo for “subversion of state power” but did not immediately announce a verdict. The procuratorate’s indictment alleged that Guo had established and recruited members for an “illegal organization” and that he had published a large number of articles online that sought to “overthrow the socialist system.” (Guo reportedly established the China Xinmin Party—the so-called “illegal organization—in December 2007.) Lawyer Guo Lianhui, his assistant, and Guo Quan’s mother attended the trial; however, Guo’s friends who had traveled to attend his trial were barred from entering the courthouse. The court held a de facto closed trial, in violation of the PRC Criminal Procedure Law, which stipulates that first instance trials shall be heard in public (articles 11, 152).

Besides preventing lawyers from meeting Mr. Guo before the trial, authorities also interrogated and harassed all four lawyers who eventually defended Guo Quan. They even forced Guo Lianhui to withdraw from the case. In October 2009, Guo Lianhui informed Guo Quan’s mother that he had been forced to withdraw from Guo Quan’s case because of pressure from the authorities. At the time, Guo Lianhui was one of three lawyers representing Guo Quan—along with Li Heping and Shanghai lawyer Si Weijiang (斯伟江).

On October 16, 2009, the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court issued its verdict and sentenced Guo to 10 years in prison for “subversion.” At both his trial and sentencing hearing, Guo and his attorneys made statements defending his innocence.

From 2007 up to the day of his detention, Guo allegedly wrote and posted a large number of articles online that were critical of China’s one-party rule as well as the local Nanjing government, particularly for its construction of a paraxylene (PX) plant in the city. Taken as a whole, Guo’s articles (including a series titled “The Voice of Democracy”) focused on bringing an end to the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party, establishing a democratic political system with multi-party elections, and creating the China Xinmin (“New People’s”) Party, with Guo serving as the party secretary. Although Guo’s alleged actions were exercises of his right to freedom of expression and association that are protected under both international human rights law and by China’s Constitution, Guo was arrested and severely punished with a lengthy sentence for “subversion of state power” based on these writings, as well as his goal to establish and lead a new political party.

Under the Working Group’s criteria for determining when a deprivation of liberty is arbitrary, the circumstances of Mr. Guo’s detention satisfy 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 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (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, spelled out in the UDHR 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).

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. Guo appealed his conviction and sentence handed down on October 16, 2009. On December 25, 2009, the Jiangsu High People’s Court held a closed hearing and upheld Guo’s conviction and sentence.

More than 2,000 Chinese informally appealed for Guo Quan, calling for his freedom through an online signature campaign supported by a broad spectrum of Chinese society, including professors, scholars, university students, scientists, writers, journalists, government personnel, engineers, and ordinary citizens.

Additional information about the case:

Arbitrary detention and harassment

Mr. Guo faced harassment from authorities for years over his democracy promotion activities. For example, between May 17 and 28, 2008, Nanjing police subjected Mr. Guo to administrative detention for “violation of public order” reportedly for discussions with other members of China Xinmin Party regarding how to respond to the devastating earthquake that occurred in Sichuan Province on May 12.


On March 1, 2010, Guo’s mother visited him in Pukou Prison and later reported that Guo looked “emaciated,” and indicated that prison officials had been intercepting letters between the two of them for months. Because their meeting was limited to 30 minutes and conducted with police present, Guo’s mother was not able to learn any specifics about Guo’s incarceration.


Opinions on Guo Quan from Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its sixty-fifth session, 14–23 November 2012 – No. 59/2012 (China) (Englishand Chinese)

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