[CHRB] Torture & Ill-treatment of Detainees & Political Charges Returning Under Xi (1/8-15/2015)Comments Off on [CHRB] Torture & Ill-treatment of Detainees & Political Charges Returning Under Xi (1/8-15/2015)
China Human Rights Briefing
January 8-15, 2015
Special Coverage on Torture
- Torture & Ill-treatment in Detention of 2 Supporters of Hong Kong Protests
- “Political Crimes” Making a Comeback Under Xi Jinping
Special Coverage on Torture
Torture & Ill-treatment in Detention of 2 Supporters of Hong Kong Protests
Police at two detention centers in Beijing have tortured and mistreated two activists who were arrested during the crackdown on supporters of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, according to their lawyer. Lawyer Li Zhongwei (李仲伟) met with detainees Song Ze (宋泽, real name Song Guangqiang, 宋光强) at Daxing District Detention Center and Xu Chongyang (徐崇阳) at Fengtai District Detention Center on January 9. Beijing police arrested the two men on suspicion of “creating a disturbance” in November after criminally detaining them in early October.
Song Ze told lawyer Li that other inmates have physically abused him, apparently on the order of guards. When Song tried to defend himself during an assault on January 2, guards punished him by tightly shackling his legs, while the inmate who assaulted him was not disciplined. Guards also barred Song, whose eyesight is severely impaired, from wearing his eyeglasses, which he depends on for daily functions. When his lawyer protested, guards cited regulations banning detainees from wearing glasses, but were unable to produce a document regarding such a rule.
Xu told his lawyer that since his detention began, police have tortured him to force him to confess. During his first month of detention, police subjected him to daily interrogations lasting as long as 20 hours. Xu also was beaten in the detention center corridors and bathrooms, slapped in the face, and kicked in the genitalia. Xu was actually taken into custody in October just as he was filing a complaint to authorities about torture he suffered during a past detention.
“Political Crimes” Making a Comeback Under Xi Jinping
CHRD sources have confirmed at least 22 cases of human rights defenders (HRDs) charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and “subversion of state power” since May 2014. This is a sign that these overtly political crimes as applied to dissidents, activists, and rights lawyers may be making a comeback under President Xi Jinping. Going back more than a decade, these crimes were more heavily used in politically “sensitive” cases. However, from 2012 to early 2014, authorities tended to more frequently charge HRDs with less politically-tinted crimes, such as those involving “disrupting” public and social order, perhaps to try to avoid both domestic and international criticism of clear political suppression. In fact, some Chinese detainees originally charged with “inciting subversion” or “subversion” in early 2013 were later charged with less serious offenses.
A resurgence in political charges against HRDs has been observed especially with the crackdowns around the 25th June Fourth anniversary and on mainland supporters of the Hong Kong protests. Crimes like “inciting subversion” and “subversion” carry a heavier maximum sentence than offenses related to public and social order. As such, applying political charges suggests that authorities may be looking to punish “troublesome” members of civil society more harshly.
An apparent uptick in the use of “inciting subversion” occurred in mid-2014, when police arrested seven individuals during the suppression around June Fourth on the charge, and criminally detained another six. The increase has affected a significant number of HRDs in Guangdong, where civil society advocacy has often been more tolerated than in other parts of China. In that southern province, disbarred lawyer Tang Jingling (唐荆陵), who was taken into custody last May, may soon face trial on the charge. Toward the end of 2014, Guangdong police arrested six other individuals and criminally detained another on suspicion of “inciting subversion”: Chen Qitang (陈启棠, aka Tian Li, 天理), Ms. Su Changlan (苏昌兰), Sun Feng (孙峰), Wang Mo (王默), Xie Wenfei (谢文飞), Ye Xiaozheng (叶晓峥, who uses the screen name “Humian Yidan” 湖面一丹), Zhang Shengyu (张圣雨, real name Zhang Rongping, 张荣平) (see report for more details on some of these cases).
In addition, Hangzhou police have been holding two individuals affiliated with the banned China Democracy Party—Chen Shuqing (陈树庆) and Lü Gengsong (吕耿松)—on charges of “subversion of state power” since September 2014 (see report). Also, the outspoken human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), who has been detained since May 2014, is facing a concocted charge of “inciting separatism,” another serious political offense, among four total charges.
Victor Clemens, Research Coordinator (English), +1 209 643 0539, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 “Lawyer Meets With Activist Song Ze, Who Was Shackled and Forbidden From Wearing Eyeglasses” (律师会见维权宋泽 称其被上脚镣禁带眼镜), January 12, 2015, Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch (CRLW); “Lawyer Li Zhongwei: Notes From Meeting With Xu Chongyang” (李仲伟律师：徐崇阳会见记), January 10, 2015, Rights Defense Network (RDN).