Submission to UN on Zhao Changqing – February 20, 2014

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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 situation of human rights defenders

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment


Communique on Behalf of Zhao Changqing, Citizen of the People’s Republic of China,

Alleging Arbitrary Detention, Torture,

Violation of Freedom of Expression, Assembly and Association,

and Reprisals against Human Rights Defenders


1. Family name: Zhao (赵)

2. First name: Changqing (常青)

3. Sex:  Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention):  April 27, 1969

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

6. (a) Identity document (if any):  ID Card

8. Professions and/or activities of the detainees (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention): Zhao Changqing has taken part in the “New Citizens’ Movement,” a loose group of activists that since 2011 has been advocating social justice and political and legal reforms, and has called for disclosure of top Chinese officials’ financial assets. Mr. Zhao has been active in pro-democracy and human rights campaigns since he was a student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen protests, a role for which he was imprisoned. He was later jailed two more times for his democracy activities (in 1997 and 2002) on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” for three and five years, respectively. Since his release in 2007, he has devoted himself to promoting civic activism, organizing citizen campaigns on diverse issues — from equal rights to education to anti-corruption efforts — and using the Internet as a platform of action, especially the eJournal and blog “Charter 08.”

II. Arrest

1. Date of arrest: April 17, 2013

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Zhao was taken away from his home in Shijingshan District, Beijing Municipality.

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (“Beijing PSB”)

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? (Yes)       (No)

5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: No warrant is known to have been issued.

6. Relevant legislation applied (if known):  Since no warrant is known to have been issued, it is unclear what relevant legislation that police used to issue the arrests.

III. Detention

1. Date of detention: Zhao was criminally detained on April 18, 2013 and formally arrested on May 24, 2013.

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): From April 18, 2013 2013 through the present (i.e., his detention is ongoing)

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody:  Beijing PSB

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Beijing No. 3 Detention Center

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate Branch No. 1

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities:  “Gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” through holding banners calling for disclosure of Chinese officials’ financial assets.

7. Relevant legislation applied (if known):

For the crime of “gathering a crowd to disrupt the order of a public place,” Article 291 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention or public surveillance to those who are gathered to disturb order at railway stations or bus terminals, wharves, civil airports, marketplaces, parks, theaters, cinemas, exhibition halls, sports grounds or other public places, or to block traffic or undermine traffic order, or resist or obstruct public security administrators of the State from carrying out their duties according to law, if the circumstances are serious.

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 the evening of April 17, 2014, several police stormed into Zhao Changqing’s residence and searched his apartment for hours. Mr. Zhao was forcibly taken away and criminally detained the next day.

The Haidian District People’s Court in Beijing tried Zhao on January 23, 2014. Zhao’s wife, Liu Xiaodong (刘晓东), was allowed to attend the trial, though authorities denied her request to bring their child (so that Zhao could see the child). Police blocked from the courthouse many citizens who wanted to attend the trial, and reportedly dragged away at least one supporter. These circumstances made the proceedings tantamount to a closed trial. This constitutes a clear violation of the CPL, which stipulates that first-instance trials shall be heard in public (Articles 11 and 152 of the 1996 CPL; Article 183 of the 2013 CPL).

During the trial, presiding judges repeatedly prevented Zhao from speaking in his own defense. According to his lawyer, Zhang Xuezhong (张雪忠), Zhao protested against the unfair legal proceedings and requested the court send the indictment back to prosecutors. The trial was subsequently suspended after two hours of proceedings, and it has not resumed to date. After the trial was suspended, Zhao announced that he would release his defense counsel and instead authorize other lawyers to represent him—a decision that Zhao made in order to delay proceedings, according to one of Zhao’s lawyers.

Besides the arbitrary and politicized nature of his detention, Zhao was held in solitary confinement in a tiny room in a Beijing detention center, and deprived of food before a pre-trial hearing on January 20, which he attended in handcuffs that were only removed after demands from his lawyers.

Mr. Zhao has been detained and tried solely on the basis of the peaceful exercise of his rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Specifically, under the Working Group’s criteria for determining when a deprivation of liberty is arbitrary, the circumstances of their detentions 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 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

Zhao’s wife Liu Xiaodong has written letters disclosing the injustice of her husband’s case and appealing for his release. Lawyers have also released joint statements disclosing and protesting officials’ illegal conduct related to the case. Rights activists nationwide have showed much support for Zhao and protested against authorities in various ways as well, including by: taking to the streets to hold banners, writing joint appeals, and asking to observe trial proceedings. In retaliation, authorities have detained or harassed many of these supporters.


Date submitted: February 20, 2014


Related Documentation:

Chinese government response to case of Zhao Changqing, August 20, 2014

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