Update to UN on Liu Yuandong – September 30, 2015Comments Off on Update to UN on Liu Yuandong – September 30, 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 torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) hereby respectfully submits updated information on the arbitrary detention of Mr. Liu Yuandong (刘远东). This update follows the urgent appeal on behalf of Mr. Liu that we submitted to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Assembly, Association, and Expression, Torture, and Situation of Human Rights Defenders on February 5, 2014 (see: https://www.nchrd.org/2014/02/submission-to-un-on-liu-yuandong-guo-feixiong-february-5-2014/). Due to the activist’s worsening circumstances, including allegations of ongoing torture, CHRD is submitting an update on Liu’s case at this time.
Liu Yuandong is an activist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur who owns a biotechnology company. A long-time financial supporter of democracy activists, Mr. Liu also has engaged in protests in Guangzhou demanding freedom of expression. He was seized in February 2013 at a protest against North Korea’s third nuclear test. He was initially charged with “unlawful assembly and demonstration,” but in April 2013, he was formally arrested on suspicion of “fraudulent reporting of capital during incorporation of a company” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place.” CHRD strongly believes that these are trumped-up charges in retaliation for Liu’s efforts to financially support other activists, and his participation in a solidarity demonstration against media censorship outside the newspaper Southern Weekly’s headquarters in January 2013. Liu was among the very first members of China’s civil society to be detained in a nationwide crackdown on freedom of assembly, association, and expression that began in earnest in March 2013.
Procedural Violations Continued Through Post-Trial Detention
Since January 2014, when the Tianhe District People’s Court tried his case in what was tantamount to a closed hearing, Liu Yuandong has not received a verdict. The lack of an issued verdict violates China’s Criminal Procedure Law (Article 202), which stipulates that a court has to hand down a decision no later than three months after accepting a case from a procuratorate; the court accepted Liu’s case in December 2013. According to Liu’s lawyer, Liu Zhengqing (刘正清), the Tianhe District People’s Court would need to inform the lawyer and detainee if it decided to delay a ruling, and only after receiving approval from a higher court. A higher court can usually grant an extension of up to three months, but beyond this period would require approval from the Supreme People’s Court. Liu’s lawyer filed a complaint with the Tianhe court on May 25, 2015, but no reply or justification for the prolonged post-trial detention has been given.
Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
According to a recent visit on August 21, 2015, to Tianhe District Detention Center by Liu Yuandong’s lawyer, the activist has suffered inhuman and degrading treatment. Liu informed his lawyer that ever since being transferred to the detention center on March 10, 2013, he has been confined to cell B213 and not allowed to go outside the cell to receive sunshine and fresh air. This is a deprivation that clearly violates the Regulations on Administrative Detention Facilities (April 2012), which stipulates that detainees are entitled to a minimum of two hours of daily activity outside their detention cell. In another violation of the above regulations, letters written by Liu have reportedly never been sent, and he has not received written communication from outside, depriving Liu of his right to correspondence, which includes the barring of inspection or confiscation of correspondence. Also, according to Liu, he is being held in extremely cramped conditions; the size of his cell is less than 40 square meters, and as many as 40 people are often held there, so at such times the available space per person is less than one square meter, including for sleeping.
Starting in 2015, Liu Yuandong’s access to his lawyer has been limited, as lawyer Liu Zhengqing has faced harassment when requesting visitation. Most recently, police abruptly ended a visit by Liu Zhengqing on August 20, 2015, before the lawyer even had a chance to speak to his client. When lawyer Liu was brought into a room to see Liu Yuandong, who was sitting behind a wire screen, the lawyer took out a photo of his client’s wife and child to show him. Immediately, several police officers standing behind Liu Yuandong began harassing the activist and told Liu Zhengqing the meeting had ended. When lawyer Liu objected, an officer with the ID# 029319 replied that he could stop the meeting at any time without explanation. Lawyer Liu had to repeatedly lodge a complaint about this violation with detention center authorities before he was finally granted a meeting the next day.
The conditions of confinement, denial of communication rights, and limited access to legal counsel recently have contributed to Liu Yuandong’s deteriorating physical and psychological health in detention. According to his lawyer, Liu suffers from severe gastrointestinal problems due to the extremely poor food provided at the detention center. Because of unsanitary living conditions, he has developed ongoing skin issues. Liu also frequently experiences insomnia, severe anxiety, and fear, while he has noticed that his memory, attention span, and other cognitive skills have deteriorated in detention. The activist has informed his lawyer that two detainees have died in the detention center during Liu’s confinement, exacerbating his poor psychological state inside the facility.
Date submitted: September 30, 2015