Submission to UN on Chen Jianfang – September 19, 2013

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Submission to:

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

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

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


Allegation Letter

on behalf of CHEN Jianfang, citizen of the People’s Republic of China

Alleging Reprisal Against a Human Rights Defender & Violation of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Freedom of Expression

A. Essential information

1. Name of alleged victim

CHEN, Jianfang

2. Status of the victim as a human rights defender

Originally a farmer, Chen Jianfang and her family lost land to government-backed developers. She petitioned the Shanghai government and central authorities in Beijing for compensation. Despite the harassment and persecution she faced because of those efforts, she has emerged as a leading voice in protests on land and housing rights, demanding protection of access to justice as well as the rights to free expression and peaceful demonstration. In recent months, she was among hundreds of activists in Shanghai who demonstrated to demand the release of activists detained for their call for top officials to disclose personal wealth, to urge the government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to ask for information disclosure on the government’s claim that civil society had participated in the preparation of the national human rights report for UPR. In an effort to promote advocacy related to the UPR, Shanghai activists, including Chen, publicly handed out copies on June 17, 2013, of the “UPR Recommendations” to China, which were made by other member States of the Human Rights Council during UPR in 2009. After reading the recommendations, some Shanghai residents reportedly expressed hope that more countries could make recommendations to the Chinese government in the upcoming UPR, including on the rights of disadvantaged groups and issues of forced demolition and land expropriation.

B. Useful information

Gender: Female

Age: 44

Nationality: Han Chinese

 Identity: Activist defending the housing rights

3. Alleged violation committed against the victim

Reprisal against a human rights defender by means of deprivation of liberty to prevent her from participation in UN human rights activities, for exercising her right to peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of expression.

Ms. Chen has been repeatedly detained in black jails and was sent to a Re-education through Labor camp in March 2010 for 15 months. On September 13, 2013, Chen was stopped by the authorities from boarding the flight at Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou to attend a training on UN human rights mechanisms in Geneva. Airport security agents took Chen to the side as she was going through security check at the airport. Chen insisted that security agents produce legal documents for barring her from leaving the country, but they refused. Instead, they reportedly said to her: “Shanghai police told [us] to do this” and that “you are barred from traveling abroad for life.” One security officer threatened Chen by saying that they would go so far as resort to “armed violence to handle” her if she tried to force her way past security, and another officer tore her plane tickets to pieces. When she protested the deprivation of her freedom to travel abroad to attend the human rights training, police at the Baiyun International Airport issued her an administrative warning for “disrupting public order” of the airport.

On September 16, as she returned to Shanghai, Ms. Chen was surrounded by 3 or 4 policemen who claimed to be from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. They took her to the PSB’s Pudong Station, where police detained and interrogated her for about 10 hours

4. Perpetrators

Security officers at Guangzhou Baiyun International airport; police from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau’s Pudong Station

5. Action by authorities

Ms. Chen tried to protest her treatment and demanded an explanation at the airport in Guangzhou. She received an administrative warning for “disrupting public order at the airport.”

Action taken by the victim or by human rights organizations

Chinese Human Rights Defenders has reported this serious incident:

Chinese Authorities Block Two Activists From Attending Training on UN Human Rights Mechanisms, Disappear One, CHRD September 17, 2013

6. Link between the violation and human rights work

The harassment of Ms. Chen by Chinese authorities and deprivation of her liberty are reprisals against her human rights work and her efforts as a member of civil society to participate in UN human rights activities. 

Submitted: September 19, 2013

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