Submission to UN on Yu Shiwen – February 19, 2015

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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 torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers


Communiqué on Behalf of Yu Shiwen, 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: Yu (于)
  2. First name: Shiwen (世文)
  3. Sex:  Male
  4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): October 16, 1967
  5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
  6. (a) Identity document (if any): ID Card
  7. Address of usual residence: Guancheng District, Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, P. R. China
  8. Professions and/or activities of the detainees (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):  

Yu Shiwen (于世文) and his wife, Chen Wei (陈卫), had been student leaders in the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Guangdong Province, roles for which they were sent to prison for 18 months. After his release, Yu became a stock trader and later returned to activism 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 that had more than 500 participants, including lawyers, scholars, professors, and business people. In April 2013, the couple 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 a June Fourth memorial event organized by Yu and Chen in 2014 (see below), Yu called for the government to act responsibly toward history and Chinese citizens by confronting the realities and aftermath of June Fourth.


Arrest (1)

  1. Date of arrest: May 23, 2014
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Yu was taken away from his home in Zhengzhou City.
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out:

Police from Zhengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau (“Zhengzhou PSB”)

  1. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority?

 (Yes)      (No)

  1. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: No warrant is known to have been issued.
  2. 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 arrest.

III. Detention (1)

  1. Date of detention: Yu was criminally detained on May 27, 2014 and formally arrested on July 2, 2014.
  2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): From May 27, 2014 through the present (i.e., his detention is ongoing)
  3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Zhengzhou PSB’s Erligang Branch
  4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Zhengzhou City No. 3 Detention Center (Henan Province)
  5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Guancheng Huizu District People’s Procuratorate
  6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Creating a disturbance” through organizing a June Fourth memorial event in February 2014 in Henan Province
  7. Relevant legislation applied (if known):

For the crime of “creating a disturbance,” Article 293 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 disrupt the social order by (1) assaulting any other person at will, with execrable circumstances; or (2) chasing, intercepting, reviling or intimidating any other person, with execrable circumstances; or (3) taking or demanding forcibly or vandalizing or occupying at will public or private property, with serious circumstances; or (4) making trouble in a public place, which causes a serious disorder of the public place.

  1. Describe the circumstances of the arrest and/or the detention and indicate precise reasons why you consider the arrest or detention to be arbitrary

Yu Shiwen and his wife, Chen Wei, were disappeared on May 23, 2014, until May 28, when their family received a police notice saying both of them had been criminally detained on May 27 on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place.” However, police formally arrested them on July 2 on a different charge, of “creating a disturbance.”

Before being taken away, Mr. Yu and Ms. Chen had been held under house arrest since organizing a memorial June Fourth event on February 2, 2014, for former Chinese leaders Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang. Their detentions are believed to have stemmed from this event. Hu and Zhao were high-ranking politicians sympathetic to the students during the 1989 pro-democracy movement; Hu’s death in April of 1989 became a trigger for students to rally in Tiananmen Square, while Zhao was deposed for supporting students during the pro-democracy protests. Yu and Chen are among dozens of human rights defenders detained by police amid a government crackdown around the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre in the spring and summer of 2014.

On September 2, Ms. Chen was released on bail. To date, Mr. Yu has been held for nearly nine months without being brought before a judge. On February 11, 2015, the Guancheng Huizu District People’s Procuratorate in Zhengzhou issued an indictment and sent the case to a court, an indication that Yu’s trial may be held soon.

Mr. Yu reportedly suffers from hypertension and hereditary cardiovascular disease, which led to his father’s death. In July 2014, Yu suffered a stroke in detention after not being provided any medication to manage his illnesses. He was sent to the detention center’s hospital for treatment, but his hands and feet were almost always shackled to his bed, which was unbearable for Yu, who decided in the end to return to his cell instead of dealing with the pain. Ms. Chen has said that the detention center has provided very limited medicine, because most of the drugs Yu needs are expensive. Authorities have repeated rejected requests from Yu’s lawyer and Ms. Chen to release him on medical grounds.

Mr. Yu 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 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).

  1. 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. Yu’s attorney, Zhang Xuezhong (张雪忠), wrote a letter to Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱), deputy secretary of the Committee of Political and Legal Affairs under the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, who reportedly ordered Yu’s detention and arrest, to call for Yu’s release. Another attorney for Mr. Yu, Ma Lianshun (马连顺), also issued a public statement against any indictment and argued for Yu’s innocence.

Many other rights activists, abroad and at home, including their peers in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, also have voiced their support of Mr. Yu online and to the media.

Date submitted: February 19, 2015

Related Documents:

August 21, 2015 – Update to UN on Yu Shiwen

May, 29, 2015 – Chinese government reply on case of Yu Shiwen

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