[CHRB] Criminal Charges & State Media Smear Campaign Against Versatile Rights Activist (6/26-7/2/2015)

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[CHRB] Criminal Charges & State Media Smear Campaign Against Versatile Rights Activist (6/26-7/2/2015)

China Human Rights Briefing

June 26-July 2, 2015

Arbitrary Detention

  • Three Charges & Smear Campaign in State Media Against Detained Activist Wu Gan

Special Notice

  • CHRD Asks UN Experts to Inquire About 11 Persecuted Human Rights Defenders

Arbitrary Detention

Three Charges & Smear Campaign in State Media Against Detained Activist Wu Gan

Police have recommended the arrest of activist Wu Gan (吴淦), known inside China as “The Butcher” (屠夫), on three criminal charges.

Police have recommended the arrest of activist Wu Gan (吴淦), known inside China as “The Butcher” (屠夫), on three criminal charges.

Police in Fujian Province have recommended state prosecutors formally arrest activist Wu Gan (吴淦), widely known in China as “The Butcher” (屠夫), in a case marked by an escalation of criminal charges and a state media campaign smearing the government critic. Wu has been accused of “libel,” “creating a disturbance,” and “inciting subversion of state power.” In seeking Wu’s arrest on June 27, police added the far more serious “incitement” offense to the two others that were applied when Wu was criminally detained on May 27. Both the official media attack against Wu and the new “inciting subversion” charge point to the aggressive campaign of President Xi Jinping’s administration to stifle China’s civil society, which has seen the detention and imprisonment of hundreds of activists and lawyers in the past two years.

The state media agency Xinhua has tried to vilify the 42-year-old Wu’s unconventional advocacy campaigns, which combine spirited online speech, humor, and street performances. Official media rebuked him for criticizing local officials in Heilongjiang Province, where a policeman shot dead a male petitioner inside a train station in early May. Wu and others have drawn the ire of authorities by expressing doubts online that the government’s investigation of the killing has any credibility.

Police have obstructed visits with him by his lawyers at Yongtai County Detention Center, and Wu has reportedly been subjected to lengthy interrogations for days in a row. When his lawyer, Yan Xin (燕薪), requested to meet with Wu on June 30, police denied the request, citing that Wu’s “inciting subversion” charge falls under “endangering state security” crimes, and that Yan’s meeting him might lead to “leaking state secrets.”

Wu was initially seized on May 20 outside a courthouse in Nanchang City in Jiangxi, where he had staged a performance protest, called “selling my body to raise funds,” to support harassed lawyers working on a death penalty case involving defendants who had been tortured to confess. Police alleged that Wu had cursed at the head of the court and held up protest signs in front of the courthouse, and issued him a 10-day administrative detention, which was changed to a criminal detention on May 27.[1]

Special Notice

CHRD Asks UN Experts to Inquire About 11 Persecuted Human Rights Defenders

Since February, CHRD has sent requests to experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, asking them to investigate alleged rights violations against 11 activists, lawyers, and NGO organizers. In the communications, CHRD raised concerns about the use of arbitrary detention, torture, and obstruction of justice by state agents to retaliate against these individuals for their work promoting human rights and rule of law. The cases, summarized below, are listed in chronological order of submission.

  • Yu Shiwen (于世文) has been detained since May 2014, in a case tied to an event commemorating victims of the Tiananmen Massacre earlier that year that Yu organized with his wife, the activist Chen Wei (陈卫). Yu, who suffers from hypertension and cardiovascular disease, reportedly had a stroke in July 2014, and has been provided limited medication while detained in Henan Province. Yu is awaiting trial after being indicted on a charge of “creating a disturbance” in February.
  • Housing rights Jia Lingmin (贾灵敏) was initially detained in May 2014 as she was trying to assist a victim of a home demolition in Zhengzhou in Henan Province, and arrested on a charge of “creating a disturbance.” Hearings on Jia’s case were suspended twice—in April and May—due to lawyers’ objections to procedural violations in court, and her trial resumed on June 2.
  • In separate incidents in April and May 2015, government officials attacked lawyers Cui Hui (崔慧), Li Yuhan (李昱函), and Xie Yang () while the three were trying to provide legal services to clients. Due to the assaults, Cui suffered soft tissue damage over 40 percent of her body, Li was diagnosed with a concussion and injuries to her back, head, limbs, and abdomen, and Xie’s right leg was broken. (See CHRD’s recent reporting on these and other cases of state violence and interference affecting human rights lawyers).
  • Bian Xiaohui (晓晖), initially detained in March 2014, is serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence in Hebei Province after being convicted of “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law” this past April. Bian, who was working with an NGO before her detention, was force-fed after staging a hunger strike to protest her deprived right to legal counsel. Bian’s incarceration is apparent retaliation for trying to expose mistreatment of her imprisoned father, a Falun Gong practitioner. 
  • The conditions under house arrest of activist Mi Chongbiao (糜崇标) and his wife, Li Kezhen (李克珍), are worsening, CHRD stated in an update to a previous submission made in February 2014. According to their sons, Mi has faced ongoing threats and violence, and both the family and their lawyer fear for the elderly couple’s lives. Mi and Li have been held under house arrest since September 2013.
  • Activist Su Changlan (苏昌兰) was detained in October 2014, during the nationwide clampdown on mainland citizens who had expressed support for the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Held on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” Su was not allowed access to legal counsel for more than six months after police took her into custody in Guangdong Province. She has also been deprived of medical attention despite suffering from heart disease that requires constant monitoring.
  • Two men linked to the independent research group Transition Institute—the founder and former director Guo Yushan (郭玉闪)and administrative director He Zhengjun (何正军)—have been detained since the fall of 2014. Guo and He have at times been denied access to legal counsel in detention, and Guo, who reportedly suffers from a lung disease, appeared unusually thin when one of his lawyers was finally able to visit him in January. They were taken into custody around the time of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, and are among many individuals associated with NGOs who have been targeted due to the Chinese government’s growing hostility towards civil society.


Renee Xia, International Director (Mandarin, English), +1 240 374 8937, reneexia@chrdnet.com, Follow on Twitter: @ReneeXiaCHRD

Victor Clemens, Research Coordinator (English), +1 209 643 0539, victorclemens@chrdnet.com, Follow on Twitter: @VictorClemens

Frances Eve, Researcher (English), +852 6695 4083, franceseve@chrdnet.com, Follow on Twitter: @FrancesEveCHRD

Wendy Lin, Hong Kong Coordinator (Mandarin, Cantonese, English), +852 6932 1274, wendylin@chrdnet.com, Follow on Twitter: @WendyLinCHRD 

Follow CHRD on Twitter: @CHRDnet

[1] “Lawyer Yan Xin: Blocked From Meeting ‘The Butcher’ Today” (燕薪律师:今会见屠夫遭拒), June 30, 2015, Rights Defense Network (RDN); “Arrest Recommended for Renowned Activist ‘The Butcher’ (Wu Gan) on Charges of Creating a Disturbance, Libel, and Inciting Subversion of State Power,” (著名人权捍卫者屠夫(吴淦)被以寻衅滋事罪、诽谤罪、煽动颠覆国家政权三罪报捕), June 28, 2015, (RDN); “Lawyers Wang Yu & Li Fangping’s Complaint Letter on Police Monitoring, Blocking, and Disrupting Visits With Wu Gan at Yongtai County Detention Center” (王宇、李方平律师关于永泰县看守所非法监听、阻挠破坏律师会见吴淦的控告信), June 8, 2015, RDN; “Lawyer Yanxin: Report on My First Visit With ‘The Butcher’” (燕薪律师:本人首次会见屠夫吴淦情况通报),June 8, 2015, RDN; “Well-Known HRD Wu Gan (Screen Name “The Butcher”) Criminally Detained, Xinhua News Again Smears His Name” (著名人权捍卫者吴淦(网名“屠夫”)被刑拘 又遭新华社污名), May 28, 2015, RDN; “HRD ‘The Butcher’ (Wu Gan) Administratively Detained for ‘Creating Disturbance’ for Aiding Rights Defense Lawyer in Front of Jiangxi High People’s Court” (维权人士屠夫(吴淦)因声援江西高院前维权律师被以“寻衅滋事”行政拘留), May 20, 2015, RDN.

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