Submission to UN on Feng Zhenghu – March 22, 2013Comments Off on Submission to UN on Feng Zhenghu – March 22, 2013
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 Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur on the right to health
on behalf of Feng Zhenghu, citizen of the People’s Republic of China
1. Family name: FENG (冯)
2. First name: Zhenghu (正虎)
3. Sex: Male
4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): July 1, 1954
5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
6. Identity document (if any): ID Card No.310108195407012452
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention): Scholar and rights activist who has promoted Constitutionalism in China through his writings and by distributing publications chronicling local courts’ wrongful decisions and official corruption
8. Address of usual residence: Rm. 302, No. 3, Lane 240, Zhengtong Road, Shanghai Municipality, People’s Republic of China
1. Date of arrest: February 27, 2012 (placed under extralegal house arrest)
2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Home (see address above)
3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Plainclothes police officers from the Yangpu District Branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau (“Yangpu PSB”)
4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? No
1. Date of detention: February 27, 2012 (placed under extralegal house arrest)
2. Duration of detention: From February 27, 2012 to November 20, 2012, when house arrest was apparently lifted, but still being subjected to ongoing restrictions of movement
3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Plainclothes police officers from the Yangpu District Branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau (“Yangpu PSB”)
4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Home (see address above)
5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Shanghai Public Security Bureau
6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: By“the leadership (lingdao)’s order,” as provided by the police officers conducting the house arrest
7. Relevant legislation applied (if known): None
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
Feng Zhenghu, a Shanghai human rights activist and scholar, was held under oppressive illegal house arrest for 268 days, from February 27 to November 20, 2012. During his lengthy house arrest, Mr. Feng’s home was turned into a veritable “black jail”; a surveillance camera was set up, and police monitored the entrance to his residence around-the-clock. He could only leave his residence accompanied by police officers, who also prevented anyone from visiting him. Restrictions on Feng tightened in June of 2012, when police tore down posters that he had placed in his window and cut branches in front of his residence to make monitoring easier. At the same time, police began to prevent his supporters from even coming close to Feng’s residential building.
Though the tightest restrictions on Mr. Feng have mostly been lifted since late November, Feng’s freedoms at times continued to be limited. Police have summoned him to local police stations, including two times in January 2013, as a tactic to restrict his movement. From December 7 to 9, 2012, police brought him to a station each morning for questioning and held him for more than 10 hours each day. In addition, during major legislative meetings in Beijing, held in early March, police did not allow him to leave his home and frequently checked his computer activity. Since the meetings closed recently, Feng is freer to go out and meet with others.
Authorities who had kept Mr. Feng a virtual prisoner inside his home, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau and the Yangpu PSB, produced neither any formal notice nor stated an official reason for his lengthy house arrest. However, it is believed that authorities’ treatment of Feng is retaliation for his longtime activism to promote human rights and Constitutionalism in China. Feng has aided petitioners seeking justice from higher authorities in Shanghai for grievances against local officials, and also written articles that have criticized wrongdoing by local government officials and highlighted forced evictions, a particularly serious problem in Shanghai. (See more on Feng’s activism and retaliation taken against him in Background below.)
Under the Working Group’s criteria for determining when a deprivation of liberty is arbitrary, the circumstances of Mr. Feng’s house arrest satisfy 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)).
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 December 2, 2012, Mr. Feng sent accusations against police officers of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, the Yangpu District Branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, and the Wujiaochang Police Station for their illegal conduct in detaining him for 268 days to the Shanghai Municipal People’s Procuratorate, as well as its No.1 Branch Procuratorate and the Yangpu District People’s Procuratorate. The procuratorates have merely asked Feng to wait for the result of their deliberations, and suggested he send such accusations to other governmental departments.
Due to the above judicial institutions’ inaction, Mr. Feng posted express-mail letters to top Chinese leaders on December 7, 2012, accusing Shanghai police of illegal behavior and appealing for the procuratorates’ investigation of his case. The letters were sent to: the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping (习近平), the Vice Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang (李克强), the Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Wang Qishan (王岐山), the Secretary of Central Politics and Law Commission Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱), and leaders of Shanghai Municipality.
On January 29, 2013, Mr. Feng’s attorney, Mo Shaoping (莫少平) issued a letter to the Shanghai People’s Procuratorate, urging it to file Feng’s case as one of illegal detention, and submitted relevant documents and evidence.
Background and additional information relating to previous arbitrary detentions as well as violation of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression:
During the period of house arrest, police insulted and beat Mr. Feng and subjected him to numerous other abuses. Feng was rendered physically ill by police attacks, and has suffered extreme psychological torment. When he went out to get air one day, officers assaulted him and his leg was severely injured in the altercation, but Feng was not able to obtain timely medical attention, preventing the injury from healing properly. He was unable to receive adequate nutrition, and at one point had to use a rope to pull up food and household supplies (being brought by supporters) to the balcony of his third-story residence. To isolate and intimidate Feng, police tapped his phone, cut off his Internet connection, and conducted several searches, confiscating his cell phone, several computers, letters, and other items.
From December 7 to 9, 2012, police took Mr. Feng away each morning for lengthy questioning after he had submitted allegations of police misconduct related to his case. During those days, Feng was unable to receive planned medical treatment on his injured leg due to being arbitrarily held. Moreover, while Feng was being questioned, police searched his residence and confiscated property, but without providing any reason for summoning him, searching his house, or confiscating items.
From November 4, 2009, Mr. Feng spent more than 90 days living in Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan after being denied permission eight times by the Chinese authorities to return to Shanghai after visiting Japan. He was eventually allowed to return home on February 12, 2010. However, from that time and until the extralegal house arrest beginning in February 2012, he was subjected to surveillance, sporadic detentions, raids on his apartment, and confiscation of personal belongings.
Mr. Feng previously was given a three-year prison sentence, served from November 13, 2000 to November 12, 2003, and fined 400,000 yuan (nearly US$ 64,000) on a charge of “illegal business activity.” According to the verdict, the sentence was related to his release (without official permission) of an e-book about Japanese companies doing business in China. However, the punishment it is believed to have been retaliation by authorities for Feng’s criticism of the Chinese government in suppressing democratization in China. The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate Court handed down the sentence, and Feng served his imprisonment in Tilanqiao Prison in Shanghai.
Reprisals against family members and supporters
Before Mr. Feng was placed under house arrest in February 2012, his wife was summoned with him to a local police station, and her personal belongings were also confiscated. The police also threatened to put her under custody. In the two years after Mr. Feng returned Shanghai from Japan in 2010, his family members, including his wife and brother, and many friends were investigated and monitored by the police.
While holding Mr. Feng under house arrest, officers dragged away many petitioners and activists who tried to visit Feng and bring him food and daily necessities. Police further harassed and intimidated some of these supporters.