[CHRB] 27 Members of Ethnic Miao Minority Sentenced for Protesting Death in Detention of Leader (2/6-12/2015)Comments Off on [CHRB] 27 Members of Ethnic Miao Minority Sentenced for Protesting Death in Detention of Leader (2/6-12/2015)
China Human Rights Briefing
February 6 – 12, 2015
Special Coverage on Torture
Son-in-law of Whistleblowing Ethnic Miao Leader Sentenced to 15 Years
A Hunan court handed down lengthy prison terms on February 9 to relatives and supporters of Long Baorong (龙保荣), a popular ethnic Miao leader and former party official imprisoned for exposing government corruption, who died right after his medical release in 2012. His son-in-law, Long Xianyuan (龙贤员), received 15 years in prison while Long Xianjiang (龙贤江), the brother of Long Xianyuan, received 25 years. They were convicted of “triad-related” crimes in Jishou City, Hunan Province, with charges apparently stemming from their support of Long Baorong at his 2011 trial and after his death in 2012. Long Xianyuan was sentenced for “participating in a criminal syndicate,” and his brother was sentenced for “organizing and leading” such a group. The brothers, both ethnic Miao, were convicted of many other charges as well, including “illegal possession of guns,” “fraud in obtaining loans,” “forced trade,” “intentional injury,” “gathering a crowd to provoke fights,” and “drug trafficking.” Twenty-five others tried in the case, mostly ethnic Miao, were given shorter prison sentences after being convicted of some of the same crimes by the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court.
Police first seized the Long brothers and approximately 50 others in August 2012, a month after the death of Long Baorong, the former deputy county executive of Fenghuang County in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture. In July 2010, Long Baorong had publicly raised concerns about corruption in the local government in an article titled “58 Whys?”. A month later, he was placed in shuanggui, a form of extralegal detention used by the Chinese Communist Party to discipline its members. In October 2010, the Xiangxi Prefecture Public Security Bureau formally arrested him, and a local court sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment for “fraud” and “embezzlement” in 2011. Long Baorong died on July 13, 2012, only two days following his sudden release, and after he had been refused medical parole to treat illnesses developed in prison. The brothers, other relatives, and Long’s former colleagues—also mostly of ethnic Miao origin—attended Long Baorong’s trial and protested following his death, after which police classified them as “suspected triad members.”
The trial of the 27 people, which first opened in March 2014, was marred with procedural violations. It was delayed at one point after the court in Xiangxi denied a request to dismiss evidence obtained from torture, which was made by defense lawyers Ma Gangquan (马纲权) and Wang Quanzhang (王全章). Both brothers had told the lawyers that police frequently beat them to extract confessions. Long Xianyuan said that, at the Fenghuang County Detention Center, he was once suspended from the ceiling by his hands for four days, police beat him during interrogation to prevent him from falling asleep or fainting, and that he almost died. Many of the 50 originally detained in connection to the case reportedly also suffered torture. The March trial was suspended after the lawyers protested and filed complaints to the Xiangxi Prefecture People’s Procuratorate, Political and Legal Committee, and People’s Congress, demanding judicial review of the court’s illegal admission of evidence.
The court dismissed the case in June 2014, but the local procuratorate again indicted the brothers on July 2 of last year. Eventually, the same court accepted the lawyers’ request that illegal evidence must not be admitted in court, and the trial reopened on December 12. However, the court proceeded to convict the brothers on concocted charges and sentenced them to unusually long prison terms on the basis of the very evidence that the lawyers had requested the court exclude—evidence obtained through police torture at the detention center in Fenghuang.
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 “27 People Sentenced Today in Xiangxi, Hunan, Longest Sentence Is 25 Years” (湖南湘西案今天判27人，最重被判25年), February 10, 2015, Rights Defense Network (RDN); “Illegal Evidence Ruled Out in Criminal Syndicate Case Against Hunan Ethnic Miao Activists” (湖南苗民维权被控涉黑案启动非法证据排除程序), November 26, 2014, RDN; “Son-in-Law of Activist Fenghuang County, Xiangxi Chief Long Baorong Tortured” (湖南凤凰县维权县长龙保荣的女婿遭酷刑), January 17, 2013, RDN; “50 Ethnic Miao in Xiangxi Seized on Suspicion of Triad Connections After Watching Court Trial” (湘西苗民50余人因围观开庭被以涉黑抓捕), November 30, 2012, RDN; “’Old County Head’ Dies in Detention After Raising Corruption Concerns, Daughter Blocked From Attending Postgraduate Studies, Son-in-Law and Five Others Seized” (“老县长”揭腐被关死，女儿被剥夺读研，女婿全家五人被抓), September 22, 2012, RDN.