Reply to Chinese Government Response on Wang Hanfei – December 16, 2013

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To: Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

CHRD reply to the Chinese government’s response to the communiqué submitted on behalf of Mr. Wang Hanfei (王寒非)

The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) hereby respectfully submits this reply to the Government’s response made to the communiqué submitted on behalf of Mr. Wang Hanfei (王寒非), a citizen of the People’s Republic of China. Wang is the former editor of the China Special Watch magazine, which is legally registered within the People’s Republic of China. He is serving a 42-month prison sentence after being convicted in April 2013 of “fraud” and “illegal business activity” for publishing articles that authorities allege were “politically sensitive.”

In preparing this reply, CHRD worked with activists inside China who have contacted Wang’s ex-wife and persons familiar with this case in order to compile the following information on Wang Hanfei’s detention. CHRD maintains that Wang has been subjected to mistreatment during his detention, which CHRD also strongly believes is arbitrary.

1. The mistreatment Wang Hanfei received while in Chenzhou Prison, Chenzhou City, Hunan Province

On May 7, 2013, Wang Hanfei arrived at Chenzhou Prison to begin serving his sentence, and that afternoon he was reportedly beaten. Mr. Wang’s ex-wife Li Xuehong (李雪红) visited him in prison on May 19 and discovered that he had several serious injuries. He required four stitches on his face and he is now deaf in his left ear. Wang told her that he was being beaten daily to due to his inability to finish his assigned work tasks. According to Wang, the prisoners at Chenzhou Prison are hand-making toy products and work 15-hours shifts every day, and he has been frequently beaten because he cannot complete his work.

On May 20, 2013, Li Xuehong and Chenzhou rights activist Peng Xinzhong (彭新忠) went to Chenzhou Prison to investigate the mistreatment of Mr. Wang. Li and Peng spoke to Chenzhou Prison Deputy Director Deng Xu (邓旭). Deng admitted that Wang had been injured, but he attempted to shift the blame onto Wang himself. He said that Wang “might not have adapted to the prison environment,” and that Wang “was unwilling to see reason, wouldn’t cooperate with prison authorities, and would shout out that he was a political prisoner.” According to Deng Xu, on the afternoon of May 7, Wang Hanfei was at the top of a flight of stairs with a fellow prisoner, Xu Feng (许峰), when a conflict broke out and Xu slapped Wang.

Based on information received from informants inside China, CHRD believes that are several inaccuracies in the scenario that Deng Xu described. The first is that a slap would not result in the severe injuries that Mr. Wang sustained. Deng also admitted that the prison authorities disapprove of Wang Hanfei, and that it is conceivable that prison authorities encouraged inmates to “teach Wang a lesson.” Peng Xinzhong and Li Xuehong asked Deng to investigate this case and ensure that the prison does not let this kind of incident happen again. After leaving the prison on May 20, Li and Peng also went to find the prison’s disciplinary inspection unit and the city procuratorate to request that they investigate this incident.

On May 27, 2013, Peng Xinzhong spoke with Deng Xu on the phone to enquire about their investigation into the incident. Deng said: “After Wang Hanfei and Xu Feng got into an altercation, Xu Feng pushed him against the corner edge of a wall, which is how [Wang] damaged his ear.” CHRD maintains that this scenario seems very unlikely, and that the prison authorities and the investigating police have unjustly blamed nearly the entire event on Wang.

Wang Hanfei’s family made three requests to authorities since he was attacked in Chenzhou Prison, namely: 1) that they are able to visit him again and hear Wang Hanfei personally discuss the circumstances under which he was beaten; 2) prison authorities earnestly investigate the case of mistreatment; and 3) prison authorities guarantee that this kind of incident will not happen again.

2. There has been an attempt to obscure the facts of Wang Hanfei’s mistreatment in Chenzhou Prison.

Mr. Wang Hanfei was transferred to Guiyang Prison in early July 2013 to continue serving his sentence, a facility that is located approximately 20 kilometers from Chenzhou Prison. Wang was at Chenzhou Prison when he was beaten and where he was forced to do overly long hours of hard labor. The Chinese government’s response mixed up Chenzhou Prison and Guiyang Prison, which are two different places where Wang has served his sentence. The Chinese government’s response only acknowledgment of the issue of Wang Hanfei’s mistreatment in Chenzhou Prison actually referred to the other prison: “At Guiyang Prison, Wang did not receive any beatings and was not forced to work overly long hours of hard labor.” Indeed, after Wang arrived at Guiyang Prison, he was given odd jobs to do in the prison infirmary, and his burden of work greatly decreased in comparison to his tasks at Chenzhou Prison. Furthermore, Wang has reportedly not been subjected to physical mistreatment at Guiyang Prison. However, this cannot conceal the fact of Wang Hanfei’s previous mistreatment at Chenzhou Prison and the injuries he suffered there. (CHRD questions whether the government deliberately referred in its response to Guiyang Prison instead of Chenzhou Prison, where the physical mistreatment had occurred.)

3. The prison has retaliated against Wang Hanfei’s family for raising the issue of his mistreatment.

Since Li Xuehong visited Mr. Wang on May 20 and then publicly revealed that he had been beaten, she has not been allowed to visit him. Prison authorities said that she was not Wang’s legal family member because they are divorced. (In 2011, Li Xuehong and Wang Hanfei divorced because Wang was afraid of involving her in his rights defense work, and they have not remarried.) However, before Wang began his sentence, the Chenzhou Bureau of Justice did not raise the issue that Wang and Li were not married; indeed, she was allowed into the courtroom when he was sentenced, which is often a “privilege” that police allow to close family members even for hearings that are often (though illegally) closed to the public otherwise. Considering the above information, CHRD strongly believes that prison authorities are deliberately retaliating against Li because she revealed the harsh labor conditions and mistreatment suffered by Wang in prison.

Reportedly, Hunan authorities have held Wang Hanfei’s entire family in a “black jail”—an illegal and temporary detention facility—since prior to the CCP’s Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress, which took place in mid-November 2013. The family members have been unable to communicate with the outside world, and it is unclear when they will be released.

CHRD requests WGAD enter the above reply into the relevant records of the United Nations. Please let us know if you have further questions or comments on the case of Mr. Wang Hanfei.

Submitted on: December 16, 2013

Related Documentation:

Opinion No. 21/2014 (China) on Mr. Wang Hanfei, in Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its seventieth session, 25 to 29 August, 2014, UN Human Rights Council

Chinese government’s response on case of Wang Hanfei, November 1, 2013

CHRD submission to UN on Wang Hanfei – August 29, 2013

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