Submission to UN on Ren Ziyuan – June 13, 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 REN Ziyuan, 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: Ren (任)

2. First name: Ziyuan (自元)

3. Sex:  Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): October 28, 1979

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

6. Identity document (if any): ID Card

7. Address of usual residence: Zoucheng City, Jining, Shandong Province

8. Professions and/or activities of the detainees (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Mr. Ren was formerly a Chinese teacher at No. 10 middle school of Zoucheng City, Shandong Province. He often participated in online discussions about building democracy in China. Prior to being taken into custody, Ren had also prepared to establish an organization called the “Mainland Democracy Frontline.”

II. Arrest

1. Date of arrest: May 10, 2005

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Nantong City, Jiangsu Province (when he was visiting his girlfriend who lived there)

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Jining City Public Security Bureau (“Jining 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: June 16, 2005

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): From June 16, 2005 through the present (i.e., his detention is ongoing). According to the court’s decision, his 10-year sentence expires on May 9, 2015.

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Jining PSB

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Mr. Ren was held in Jining City Detention Center until March 2006, when his sentence was announced. He was then transferred to Shandong Provincial Prison, where he is currently held.

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Jining City Intermediate People’s Court

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Subversion of state power” through “attempting to establish the ‘Mainland Democratic Frontline’….in order to ‘overthrow the reactionary and decadent rule of the Chinese Communist Party.’”

7. Relevant legislation applied (if known): Mr. Ren’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. Ren Ziyuan was criminally detained in May of 2005 and arrested the following month by the Jining City Public Security Bureau in Shandong Province. According to the case indictment, he was detained mainly because of an article called “The Road to Democracy” that he wrote and posted online, and in which he expressed the view that people have the right to overthrow tyranny. On September 30, 2005, the Jining City Intermediate People’s Court tried Ren on a charge of “subversion of state power.” Ren was defended by attorney Zhang Chengmao (张成茂), who maintained Ren’s innocence. On March 17, 2006, the Jining City Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Ren to 10 years’ imprisonment with three years’ subsequent deprivation of political rights. Several rights activists were blocked from attending the announcement of the verdict.

During various periods of his imprisonment, Mr. Ren has been subjected to both physical and psychological torture and mistreatment. He has been beaten, including with steel pipes by guards, and denied medical treatment, causing his health to greatly deteriorate. The severe torture caused fractures to Ren’s vertebra and nose, along with many other injuries. He has been held in solitary confinement and not been permitted to leave the floor where he has been held or go outside of the prison building. He has also not been allowed to speak to fellow prisoners. Officials have confiscated letters and cut off phone conversations to prevent him from contacting the outside world. His family members were last allowed to visit him in March 2010, when his father learned that Ren had contracted tuberculosis but was not getting proper medical treatment and had become very thin. Authorities have rejected Ren’s family’s requests for him to be released on bail on medical grounds.

Beginning in March 2010, his family stopped receiving letters from him, and they suspected that he was under tight surveillance while facing physical and psychological abuse. In 2012, a fellow prisoner (who had been released) confirmed that Ren had been tortured and put into solitary confinement—the most recent information that his family has received about him. On February 18, 2013, Ren’s father, Ren Rusheng (任汝生), passed away, leaving his mother as the lone family advocate.

Mr. Ren 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 his detention satisfies 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

Mr. Ren appealed his sentence to the Shandong Province High People’s Court’s on March 17, 2006, but the court rejected the appeal.

Mr. Ren’s family and friends have also filed complains to the Shandong Province Prison Administrative Bureau, but they have never received any response.

Rights activists have published open letters online to disclose the injustice of Mr. Ren’s case and launched a signature campaign to seek his release and also protest officials’ illegal behavior related to the case. Activists have raised donations nationwide to financially assist Ren’s family, now consisting of only his mother.


Submission Date: June 13, 2014

Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its seventy-first session, 17 – 21 November 2014 No. 55 /201 4 ( China ) concerning Ren Ziyuan    (中文版本)

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