Update to UN on Liu Ping & Liu Xizhen – August 6, 2015Comments Off on Update to UN on Liu Ping & Liu Xizhen – August 6, 2015
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 the situation of human rights defenders
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur on the right to health
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) respectfully submits the following updates on behalf of Ms. Liu Ping (刘萍) and Ms. Liu Xizhen (刘喜珍), and responds to the Chinese government’s reply to the joint communiqué on Liu Ping’s case sent by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and UN Special Rapporteurs on October 30, 2014. Upon seeing the government’s reply in the Communications Report of Special Procedures issued on February 19, 2015, CHRD informed Liu Ping’s family of its content and has received updates about Liu that refute the government’s claims.
In Liu Xizhen’s case, CHRD provides new information about government retaliation against her activism, which includes torture during her enforced disappearance. (We are sharing the update even though the government did not respond to the joint communiqué sent by the Working Group and Special Rapporteurs.)
Liu Ping: Procedural Violations & Ongoing Deprivation of Medical Treatment
Following an urgent appeal that CHRD sent on behalf of Liu Ping in December 2013, a joint communiqué from the Working Group, and Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Assembly and Association, Health, Human Rights Defenders, and Torture, was sent in October 2014 to the Chinese government, which replied in December 2014. CHRD provides the following rebuttals to the two principal points made in the government reply.
1. Rebuttal to the government’s claim that Liu Ping’s case was processed “strictly in accordance with the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Law of the country” and that “The peoples’ courts have fully guaranteed Liu’s legitimate rights.”
Legal and procedural violations have occurred throughout Liu Ping’s pre-trial and post-trial detentions. After six months of prolonged pre-trial detention, Liu Ping was brought before a judge in October 2013, but she and her lawyers strongly protested myriad procedural violations, which resulted in a suspension of her trial. Several weeks prior, her lawyers had filed a lawsuit seeking accountability for Liu’s pre-trial detention extending beyond the three-month limit allowed by Chinese law (Article 202(1) of the Criminal Procedure Law, CPL). When the trial resumed in December 2013, the proceedings were held behind closed doors, a clear violation of the CPL, which stipulates that first-instance trials shall be heard in public (Articles 11 and 152 of the 1996 CPL; Article 183 of the 2013 CPL). In addition, her lawyer raised the issue in court of torture against Liu at the detention center, but the court refused to dismiss evidence of a confession that may have been extracted by torture. The court also refused to file a case to investigate the allegation of torture. All of this lack of action violates China’s Constitution and laws, which stipulate procuratorial authorities must investigate alleged use of torture to extract confessions or collect evidence.
In addition, local authorities have consistently violated Liu Ping’s right to a fair and open trial. They have put under soft detention some of Liu’s family members and activists in the area who wished to attend proceedings, including her colleague, Liu Xizhen (刘喜珍), who was to serve as a witness in Liu Ping’s case. Liu Xizhen was taken away by police two days before Liu Ping’s trial in October 2013, and put under administrative detention for 10 days. She was then put under house arrest during the time of the resumed trial in December, so Liu Xizhen was consequently never able to testify. (See more below on Liu’s case.)
Obstruction of a fair hearing and dismissal of torture allegations violate legal provisions released jointly in July 2010 by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice. Under Article 3 of “Several Provisions on Intensifying the Legal Supervision of Judicial Functionaries’ Dereliction of Duty in Litigation Activities,” the procuratorate shall investigate and verify whether judicial functionaries, in the course of litigation activities, extracted confessions from criminal suspects or defendants through torture, obtained witness testimony through the use of violence, or resorted to violence or threats to prevent witnesses from testifying.
It took another six months before a verdict was issued in Liu’s case, in June 2014. The elapsed time before the verdict’s release violates Article 202 of the CPL, which stipulates that a court must issue a decision no later than three months after accepting a case from a procuratorate. On June 19, 2014, Liu was sentenced to six years and six months in prison, having been convicted on trumped-up charges of “creating a disturbance,” “using a cult to undermine implementation of law,” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place.”
2. Rebuttal to the government’s claim that “Ever since her imprisonment, Liu’s overall health condition has been sound and she has never asked for seeking a treatment due to an instance of bad health.”
Since Liu Ping’s initial detention, due to torture and other forms of mistreatment, including being deprived of effective medical treatment while being held in near-solitary confinement, her health has declined rapidly and she has lost a tremendous amount of weight. When she was initially detained in April 2013, Liu’s health was already in a fragile state: she was still recovering from surgery for an inflamed gallbladder and gallstones that was performed just weeks before her detention. Liu Ping has not been provided medical treatment for severe diarrhea that she suspected was caused by unsanitary conditions at the detention facility, and the illness has developed into a chronic condition. Liu also reportedly suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Liu’s lawyer reported in July 2013 that she had become very weak, having lost a great deal of weight while needing to force herself to eat and suffering daily bouts of severe diarrhea. Lawyers requested bail several times, including in October 2013 and March 2014, but were rejected. At one point, authorities had prevented her from buying medicine at the detention center. Liu’s family filed a compliant against the mistreatment at Xinyu City Detention Center’s prosecutor’s office, but to no avail.
While detained, Liu Ping also has suffered severe physical assaults and mistreatment that constitute torture. Police beat and choked her in the days after they took her into custody in 2013. Later, when Liu was interrogated at the detention center, police repeatedly shoved her head against metal bars, trying to strangle her, and twisted her arms, all while she was shackled. Before she was transferred to prison in August 2014, Liu was only allowed cold water to shower for several months beginning that April, and cellmates were ordered not to speak to her.
Since Liu Ping was transferred to Nanchang City Women’s Prison in Jiangxi Province in August 2014, her health has deteriorated and she has lost more weight, but prison authorities have continued to refuse her treatment to improve her condition. At a prison visit in February 2015, Liu’s family learned that the activist had been given some pills, but she continued to suffer from chronic diarrhea, and authorities refused to provide her eyeglasses even though her eyesight was worsening. During a visit in April 2015, Liu Ping told her daughter she was given medicine after seeing a doctor, but it was not effective; after taking the medication, she still suffered from several bouts of diarrhea in one morning. When her daughter requested that prison authorities provide treatment for her mother’s chronic diarrhea, they denied that Liu suffers from any illness. Liu Ping also told her daughter during the April 2015 visit that she is not allowed to speak freely during meetings, leading her daughter to suspect that her mother is being mistreated. In June and July 2015, Liu Ping did not make the routine once-a-month phone call that was previously allowed (in accordance with Chinese law). When her family visited her on July 27, 2015, Liu’s family noticed she appeared very thin, tired, and sick. Her family fears deeply Liu Ping’s ongoing untreated illnesses will soon cause her health to worsen further, and possibly become life threatening.
In addition to the above effects of torture and mistreatment, Ms. Liu has suffered further emotional distress by being denied correspondence and a Bible that supporters had sent to her. In addition, her daughter reportedly has been treated differently from other visitors to the prison; officers confiscate her phone and are present to monitor every meeting she has with her mother.
Liu Xizhen: Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearance & Physical Assaults
The Chinese government did not reply to the joint communication sent by the Working Group, and Special Rapporteurs on Disappearances, Freedom of Assembly and Association, Human Rights Defenders, and Torture, in October 2014 regarding Liu Xizhen’s enforced disappearance. However, Liu has produced an account of her experience beginning the day she was abducted and subsequently disappeared on October 1, 2014, until her release on November 21, 2014. Below is background on the retaliation that Liu has faced due to her rights activism followed by a summary of torture and other mistreatment that she experienced during her enforced disappearance.
Liu has been a frequent target of retaliation by authorities for her activism and by her former employer, Xinyu Steel Group in Jiangxi Province, which laid her off in December 2012 after she exposed unlawful activities of senior colleagues. Liu Xizhen often voiced support for detained activists, including a close associate and friend, Liu Ping, and in turn she was disappeared and detained by the local police. In one of her past detentions, in October 2013, Liu was detained for publicizing online Liu Ping’s trial date and calling people to attend, according to the detention notice. For lodging petitions against Xinyu Steel Group for unfair treatment, Liu was also held in black jails—makeshift and illegal detention facilities—or beaten and warned not to continue her advocacy efforts. Liu witnessed local authorities collaborating with security guards employed by Xinyu Steel Group when she was subjected to violence and violations of her rights.
Liu was subjected to torture and other forms of mistreatment during her enforced disappearance in 2014. On October 1, 2014, Liu Xizhen was seized from her hotel in Beijing after a photo was posted online of her holding a sign at the Beijing South Railway Station supporting pro-democracy protests occurring in Hong Kong. Two men, surnamed Zhu (朱) and Hu (胡), whom Liu recognized as security guards from Xinyu Steel Group, confiscated all her belongings and forced her onto a train going to Jiangxi Province, with assistance from several officers from the Jiangxi Public Security Bureau. After she was taken off the train the next day, she saw a car waiting with a driver surnamed Lu (卢), whom she also recognized from her workplace, and they took her to a Xinyu Steel Group office building (China Metallurgical Group Corporation). After Liu refused to enter the building, the guards dragged her onto the street and shoved her into one of the rooms inside. Four men guarded her at all times and refused to let her use the toilet alone, watching her as she used the restroom. On the same day, she was taken to a guesthouse (a “black jail’) in the Fairy Lake Scenic Area, where she was detained from October 2 to 23. During this period, Liu was given little food, denied sanitary pads and toilet paper, and was not allowed to open the curtain or window. Liu attempted to escape and asked strangers for help when she heard voices outside, but guards barred the individuals from getting near her room.
On October 23, 2014, Liu Xizhen was sent to Xinyu Yuanhe Police Station and interrogated, and later put under criminal detention for 30 days on suspicion of “creating a disturbance.” Liu was placed in a cell that was roughly 20 square meters that also held about 20 other women. On two occasions, another cellmate assaulted Liu and when she complained to the prison guard, Huang Wanru (黄婉茹), the guard shackled Liu’s feet for over two weeks and forced her to sleep on the floor as punishment. Living conditions while she was detained were inhumane, according to her account. Women detainees were only allowed a very limited amount of cold water to shower in an exposed area, and in one incident, several male workers openly watched female detainees showering. Throughout the detention, Liu did not feel safe or comfortable taking a shower, and consequently she was covered with lice when she was finally released on November 21, 2014.
Date: August 6, 2015