Shan Lihua 单利华

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Shan Lihua 单利华

Shan Lihua 单利华


*Previously under medical watch

Crime: Picking quarrels and provoking trouble

Length of Punishment: 27 months

Court: Nantong City Gangzha District People’s Court, Jiangsu Province

Trial Date: June 28, 2016

Sentencing Date: September 29, 2016

Dates of Detention/Arrest: November 20, 2015 (criminally detained); December 1, 2015 (formally arrested); February 19, 2018 (released)

Verdict: Jiangsu Province Nantong City Gangzha District People’s Court Criminal Verdict (Chinese)

Defense Statement(s): Lawyer Chang Boyang Defence Statement: Shan Lihua is Innocent (Chinese); Shan Lihua: My Statement – If My Behavior is Criminal Then Who is Really Humiliated? (Chinese)


Date of Birth: February 14, 1970

Medical Condition(s): Asthma, bronchial spasms, arrhythmia

Place of Incarceration: Nantong City Detention Center

Background Information

Women’s rights activist Shan Lihua received a lengthy prison sentence in reprisal for taking part in advocacy campaigns on human rights issues around the country. Jiangsu police detained her in late November 2015 without a warrant, and formally arrested her two weeks later. Authorities blocked Shan from meeting her lawyer until 45 days into her detention, on February 1, 2016. That day, Shan told her lawyers that police interrogations had focused on five advocacy campaigns, and that officers tried to get her to disclose who organized each one, but Shan had insisted she decided on her own to take part. Prior to this meeting, her lawyers, Chang Boyang (常伯阳) and Li Haixia (李海霞), had submitted three requests to meet her, but authorities turned down all the applications on the grounds a visit would “endanger national security.” They were only granted a meeting after filing a complaint with the procuratorate. Her lawyers also unsuccessfully applied for bail.

Shan initially went on trial on June 15, 2016, but the court suspended the hearing when she collapsed. Proceedings re-opened again on June 28, when police barred supporters from observing. The court convicted and sentenced Shan in September 2016, with the verdict claiming she “stirred up trouble” in public places in Hainan, Guangxi, Shandong, Shenzhen, and Nantong, starting in 2013. Shan maintained her innocence throughout the trial, and declared in a statement released by her lawyer, “If my behavior is classified as criminal, then I think it’s not me who is humiliated, but your general-secretary Xi Jinping’s “ruling the country according to the law” slogan.” Her sentence expires on February 19, 2018. During the September hearing, bailiffs removed Shan’s brother, Shan Ronghua (单荣华), from the courtroom and also beat him, when he tried to speak to her. He was briefly detained on suspicion of “disturbing court order.” She was released in February 2018 at the end of her sentence.

Among the cases cited in the verdict was the rape case in Hainan from 2013, when a school principal and government official had been convicted of raping six girls, aged 11-14. The verdict also cited an advocacy campaign Shan Lihua and fellow female activist Ye Haiyan (叶海燕) conducted in Guangxi. Ye Haiyan was also involved in the Hainan campaign, and is the subject of a documentary on the case which features Shan Lihua and lawyer Wang Yu (王宇).

Shan Lihua has faced both illness and torture, along with other forms of mistreatment, in police custody. Shan suffers from severe asthma, which has flared up repeatedly due to lack of treatment, as she does not have access to the specific medication required to treat it. After first being seized, Shan requested medical treatment for asthma but police ignored her. She was given a routine physical exam upon arrival at the detention center, including a blood test, chest X-ray, and electrocardiogram test, but Shan was never allowed to see the results. She was also stripped naked during an exam. Shan went on a hunger strike April 6, 2016, two days after a pre-trial meeting, in protest of her treatment, until April 12. She was forcibly fed, which caused stomach bleeding and required her to be hospitalized. When her trial initially opened in early June 2016, Shan collapsed due to the effects of ill-treatment and physical weakness, and the hearing was suspended. Her family met her on April 12, 2017, and reported she has been moved to the area in the prison for elderly, sick and disabled inmates, but she was still not receiving appropriate medication. In prison, she has also been forced to work for 10 hours a day, despite her medical conditions, and is extremely weak.

Shan Lihua, born in 1970, started out as a petitioner after her home was forcibly demolished, and she received no compensation because her hukou  (household registration) was attached to the home of her husband’s parents. She then went on to help other housing victims defend their rights. In 2011, while Shan was petitioning in Beijing, a local Gangzha District official from the letters and visits office broke her wrist while trying to stop her. Shan Lihua has also exposed official corruption online and joined in campaigns to support the rights of women and children.

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

Further Information

[CHRB] Women’s Rights Activist Sentenced, New Cases of Disappearance & Torture (10/4-6, 2016), CHRD

[CHRB] Activists Detained or Facing Trial for Exercising Free Expression (6/22-30, 2016), CHRD

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