Yu Shiwen (于世文)

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Yu Shiwen (于世文)

Yu Shiwen 于世文


*Previously on medical watch

Yu Shiwen于世文

Crime: Creating a disturbance

Length of Punishment: N/A

Court: N/A

Trial Date: N/A

Sentencing Date: N/A

Dates of Detention/Arrest: May 27, 2014 (detained); July 2, 2014 (arrested); August 16, 2016 (released into residential surveillance at home); February 16, 2017 (released on bail)

Date of birth: October 16, 1967

Medical condition(s): Cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression

Place of Incarceration: Zhengzhou City No. 3 Detention Center (2014-August 2016); Home


Yu Shiwen (于世文) and his wife, Chen Wei (陈卫), were disappeared on May 23, 2014, until May 28, when their family received a notice saying both of them had been criminally detained on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place.” The charges apparently stem from their organizing a June Fourth memorial event in February 2014 in the hometown of Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳), a high-ranking politician who was sympathetic to the students during the protest. Yu and Chen were student leaders in Guangzhou during the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Of several dozen people who had gathered for the activity, at least 10 were detained. When the couple was formally arrested in July, the charges against them had been changed. Two months later, Chen Wei was released pending further investigation, but not her husband.

In December 2014, it was reported that Yu’s case had been transferred to the prosecutor’s office, with police recommending indictment for the third time. On February 11, 2015, his case was transferred to Guangcheng Hui District People’s Court in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province. In March 21, 2016, Yu’s lawyer Ma Shunlian filed a complaint against the court for not scheduling a court hearing in over a year. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released an opinion a month later, stating that Yu was being arbitrarily detained and should be released and given compensation. The Chinese government did not respond to the UN’s request.

On August 16, 2016, authorities released Yu Shiwen from Zhengzhou City No. 3 Detention Center into residential surveillance at home. When the six months expired in February 2017, a judge at Guangcheng District People’s Court in Zhengzhou called Yu’s wife to inform them that Yu Shiwen would be released on “bail pending further investigation” for a period of one year. Yu and his wife went to the court house to protest the decision to the judge. They argued that Yu had been arbitrarily detained for years and authorities should either clear him of all charges or put him in prison, instead of extending the pre-trial compulsory criminal measures against him.

Yu Shiwen has suffered from congenital cardiovascular disease and hypertension since his 30s, as well as depression, according to his wife. The cardiovascular disease is hereditary and had led to his father’s death. In 2012, Yu suffered a stroke and was hospitalized again in 2013. He had managed his illnesses with medication, but after police first took him into custody in late May they did not provide any of his necessary medication. In July 2014, Yu Shiwen suffered a stroke and his lower body became severely swollen and he developed urinary problems. He was immediately sent to the detention center’s hospital. The hospital admitted Yu for treatment for several months, but his hands and feet were shackled to his bed. In October 2014, when the detention center’s hospital ended its operation, Yu and other hospitalized detainees were transferred to another hospital. At the new facility, Yu was further restricted in his movements, as detention officials had kept him shackled by his hands and feet to the bed almost all the time. His protest against the mistreatment went unheeded. By mid-November, Yu decided to end his treatment.

After the stroke, according to his wife, the detention center only provided very limited medicine because most of the drugs Yu needed were costly, yet the detention center refused to accept medicine sent by his family. Both his wife and lawyers, Zhang Xuezhong (张雪忠) and Ma Lianshun (马连顺), applied for release on medical bail in early October 2014, but these requests were repeatedly denied or went unanswered. On April 10, 2015, authorities again rejected an application for release on medical bail, saying his conditions were not at the level of seriousness as proscribed under the law.  Yu also suffers from depression and his wife suspected the condition worsened during his detention.

Yu Shiwen, born in 1967 in Zhengzhou, was sent to prison for 18 months along with Chen Wei for their roles in the pro-democracy movement, and they married after their release. Yu was unable to graduate from Zhongshan University due to his activities during the movement and his subsequent prison term. After his release, Yu became a successful stock trader and later returned to civic activism starting in 2003, when he submitted articles to overseas websites, which drew threats from national security officers. In his hometown, he started to meet many intellectuals and activists, including other 1989 student leaders. In late 2011, he and his wife organized a large-scale seminar hat had over 500 participants, including lawyers, scholars, professors, and business people. Then, in April 2013, they tried to organize a public event commemorating victims of the Tiananmen Massacre, but police disrupted it, and many of the participants, including Yu, were summoned or detained. At the memorial event organized by Yu and Chen in 2014, Yu called for the government to act responsibly toward history and its people by confronting the realities and aftermath of June Fourth.

*CHRD’s Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention

Further Information

Opinion No. 11/2016 concerning Yu Shiwen, in Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its seventy-fifth session, 18-27 April 2016, UN Human Rights Council (English)

Opinion No. 11/2016 concerning Yu Shiwen, in Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its seventy-fifth session, 18-27 April 2016, UN Human Rights Council (Chinese)

Update to UN on Yu Shiwen, August 21, 2015, CHRD

Submission to UN on Yu Shiwen, February 19, 2015, CHRD

CHRD Letter to UN Legal Expert Regarding Deprivation of Detainees’ Right to Legal Counsel, August 18, 2014, CHRD

Individuals Affected by Government Crackdown Around 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre, May 29, 2014, CHRD

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