Submission to UN on Human Rights Lawyers Wang Quanzhang, Jiang Tianyong and Li Yuhan – December 5, 2017

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Submission to: 

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers 

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 

Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

I. IDENTITY 

A) Wang Quanzhang (王全璋

1. Family name: Wang

2. First name: Quanzhang

3. Sex: Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): February 15, 1976

5. Nationality/Nationalities: China

6. (a) Identity document (if any): Passport No.

(b) Issued by: Shandong China

(c) On (date): September 30, 2013

(d) No.:

7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):
Human rights lawyer

8. Address of usual residence: N/A

B) Jiang Tianyong (江天勇

1. Family name: Jiang (江)

2. First name: Tianyong (天勇)

3. Sex: Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): May 19, 1971

5. Nationality/Nationalities: China

6. (a) Identity document (if any): ID Card

(b) Issued by: N/A

(c) On (date): N/A

(d) No.:

7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):
Human rights lawyer

8. Address of usual residence: Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China

C) Li Yuhan (李昱函

1. Family name: Li

2. First name: Yuhan

3. Sex: Female

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): October 9, 1957

5. Nationality/Nationalities: China

6. (a) Identity document (if any): ID Card

(b) Issued by: N/A

(c) On (date): N/A

(d) No.:

7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):
Human rights lawyer

8. Address of usual residence: Shenyang, China

II. Arrest

       A)   Wang Quanzhang

  1. Date of arrest: August 3, 2015
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): N/A
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out:  Police from Tianjin Public Security Bureau, according to Wang’s lawyer, Li Zhongwei (李仲伟), confirmed on August 10, 2015.
  4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? N/A
  5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: Beijing Public Security Bureau
  6. Reasons for the arrest imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “Inciting subversion of state power”
  7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known): Criminal Law, Article 293 Criminal Law, Article 105(2)

B)   Jiang Tianyong

  1. Date of arrest: November 21, 2016
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): He was arrested at the Changsha South Train Station in Hunan Province, where he was meant to board a train to Beijing.
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Changsha Public Security Bureau
  4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? N/A
  5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: N/A
  6. Reasons for the arrest imputed by the authorities: “Fraudulent use of another person’s ID”
  7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Law of the People’s Republic of China on Penalties for Administration of Public Security, Article 52:

“A person who commits one of the following acts shall be detained for not less than 10 days but not more than 15 days and may, in addition, be fined not more than 1,000 yuan; and if the circumstances are relatively minor, he shall be detained for not less than 5 days but not more than 10 days and may, in addition, be fined not more than 500 yuan: (1) forging, altering, buying or selling official documents, certificates, testimonial papers or seals of a government department, people’s organization, enterprise, institution or other organization; (2) buying, selling or using forged or altered official documents, certificates or testimonial papers of a government department, people’s organization, enterprise, institution or other organization; (3) forging, altering, reselling train or bus tickets, ship tickets, air tickets, admission tickets for theatrical performances or sports competitions, or other negotiable bills or vouchers; or 4) forging or altering a certificate of vessel registration, buying, selling or using a forged or altered certificate of vessel registration, or altering the number of a vessel engine.”

C)   Li Yuhan

  1. Date of arrest: October 9, 2017
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Shenyang City, Liaoning Province
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Police from the Heping Sub-division of the Shenyang City Public Security Bureau, according to a text message that Li sent to her brother on October 9, just before Li went out of contact
  4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? No
  5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: N/A
  6. Reasons for the arrest imputed by the authorities: “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”
  7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Criminal Law, Article 293: “Whoever undermines public order with anyone of the following provocative and disturbing behaviors is to be sentenced to not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, or control: (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are bad;
(2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are bad; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.”

III. Detention 

A)   Wang Quanzhang

1. Date of detention: January 8, 2016

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Wang Quanzhang has been detained since January 8, 2016

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Hexi District Public Security Bureau in Tianjin Municipality

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention):

Wang was initially held at the District Detention Center in Tianjin Municipality on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “inciting subversion,” but then moved into “residential surveillance at a designated location” by the Hexi District Public Security Bureau. After six months of incommunicado detention, Wang was arrested for “subversion of state power” on January 8, 2016, and transferred to Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center.

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Hexi District Public Security Bureau (Tianjin Municipality)

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Subversion of state power”

7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Criminal Law, Article 105 (1): “Whoever organizes, plots, or acts to subvert the political power of the state and overthrow the socialist system, the ringleaders or those whose crimes are grave are to be sentenced to life imprisonment, or not less than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment; active participants are to be sentenced from not less than three years to not more than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment; other participants are to be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, control, or deprivation of political rights.”

B)   Jiang Tianyong

1. Date of detention: May 31, 2017

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Jiang has been in police custody since being initially disappeared on November 21, 2016. He was sentenced to two years in prison on November 21, 2017.

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody:
Changsha City Public Security Bureau (Hunan Province)

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): N/A

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Changsha City Intermediate People’s Court

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities:
“Inciting subversion of state power”

7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Criminal Law, Article 105(2): “Whoever instigates the subversion of the political power of the state and overthrow the socialist system through spreading rumors, slandering, or other ways are to be sentenced to not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, control, or deprivation of political rights; the ringleaders and those whose crimes are grave are to be sentenced to not less than five years of fixed-term imprisonment.”

C)   Li Yuhan

1. Date of detention: November 15, 2017

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): N/A

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody:
Heping Sub-division of the Shenyang City Public Security Bureau

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Shenyang City No. 1 Detention Center

5. Authorities that ordered the detention:
Shenyang City Public Security Bureau

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking troubles”

7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Criminal Law, Article 293: “Whoever undermines public order with anyone of the following provocative and disturbing behaviors is to be sentenced to not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, or control: (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are bad;
(2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are bad; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.”

IV. Describe the circumstances of the arrest. Indicate reasons why you consider the arrest and/or detention to be arbitrary. 

A) Wang Quanzhang

Mr. Wang Quanzhang, a lawyer with Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, was taken into police custody on August 3, 2015, after going into hiding when a nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers began on July 9, 2015. Xinhua state media listed him in an article on July 11, 2015, accusing Wang’s law firm of running a “criminal syndicate” and serving as a platform for masterminding serious illegal activities to incite “social disorder” and gain “profits.” On August 4, 2015, Wang was reportedly put under criminal detention on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “inciting subversion of state power.” He was initially held at the Hexi District Detention Center in Tianjin Municipality on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “inciting subversion,” but then moved into “residential surveillance at a designated location” by the Hexi District Public Security Bureau.

Authorities have obstructed the work of lawyers hired by Wang’s family, a violation of his right to legal counsel of his own choosing, and his incommunicado detention dating back to August 2015 has led to serious concerns that he has been subjected to torture or other forms of coercive ill-treatment. In November 2015, Wang’s wife had to hire lawyers Yu Wensheng (余文生) and Wang Qiushi (王秋实) after authorities pressured the original attorneys to drop Wang’s case. The same week that Wang Quanzhang was officially arrested, lawyer Wang Qiushi was detained and put under “residential surveillance at a designated location.” After six months of incommunicado detention, Wang was arrested for “subversion of state power” on January 8, 2016, and transferred to Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center.

On August 8, 2016, officials at Tianjin No. 2 People’s Procuratorate informed Wang’s wife that his case has already been recommended for indictment. The next day, procuratorate officials told lawyer Yu Wensheng that Wang had given police a letter in February 2016 claiming that he did not want to engage a lawyer and wanted to terminate the employment of his family-appointed lawyer. However, officials refused to allow Yu to take a copy of the document, which is his right under Chinese law. With no independent verification of Wang’s treatment in detention and the six-month delay in producing the letter, it is widely suspected that Wang was coerced to sign such a letter. The procuratorate sent Wang’s case back to police for further investigation on December 5, 2016, and Wang was subsequently indicted on February 14, 2017.

B) Jiang Tianyong

On November 21, 2016, Mr. Jiang Tianyong went missing as he was meant to board a train to Beijing from Changsha in Hunan Province, where he had met the wife and lawyers of Mr. Xie Yang, a “709 Crackdown” human rights lawyer who was detained at the time at Changsha City Detention Center. Jiang’s family members and lawyers immediately reported his disappearance to the authorities, but police refused to file a missing person case. On December 16, 2016, Chinese authorities finally confirmed, but only through media reports, that Jiang had been taken into custody by public security officers, and given a nine-day administrative detention for “fraudulent use of another person’s ID.” They also specified that, on December 1, 2016, he was placed under “compulsory criminal measures” for “illegally possessing documents classified as state secrets” (Article 282 of the Criminal Law) and “illegally disseminating state secrets overseas” (Article 111).

On December 23, 2016, Jiang’s family members received notification from the Changsha City Public Security Bureau, informing them that he had been put under “residential surveillance at a [police-] designated location,” a form of de facto enforced disappearance, on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” On December 29, 2016, the Changsha Public Security Bureau rejected the request of his defense lawyer to meet him.

Jiang was held under incommunicado detention and consistently denied access to legal counsel up until the time he was formally arrested, in May 2017. Jiang’s family-hired lawyers were denied visits on the grounds that such contact would “endanger national security,” “hinder investigation,” or “leak state secrets,” even after state-run media had been allowed to meet Jiang. In early March 2017, state-run media reports claimed that Jiang had “fabricated” stories about lawyer Xie Yang’s alleged torture, and broadcasted clips of an interview with Jiang.

Jiang remained held incommunicado until May 31, 2017, when he was formally arrested. In being arrested, Jiang also was charged with a more serious crime, “subversion of state power.” At that time, authorities also claimed that Jiang had “fired” his family-hired lawyers, continuing a trending government tactic of “forced firing” rights defenders’ legal counsel. In June 2017, Changsha police recommended Jiang be indicted on the downgraded charge of “inciting subversion,” and he was indicted by the Changsha procuratorate in July. On July 17, 2017, police rejected a request by lawyer Zhang Lei (张磊), who Jiang’s family had brought on to represent him, to meet with Jiang, asserting that Jiang had already hired lawyers.

Procedural irregularities and violations of basic fair trial rights occurred during Jiang’s trial on August 22, 2017. Despite being partially broadcasted online, the proceedings were held behind closed doors, and Jiang’s supporters and international observers were denied entry into the courthouse. The court only publicly announced the trial on its social media account half-an-hour before the hearing began. Jiang was represented by a government-appointed lawyer after authorities refused to let him meet with the lawyers hired by his family, claiming that Jiang had “dismissed” them. Prosecutors claimed he used postings online and interviews with foreign media to “attack” the government, judicial authorities, and China’s political system, and “incited” others to gather in public places. Jiang confessed that he had attended trainings abroad that encouraged him to reject China’s political system, a “confession” that is widely believed to have been coerced or extracted through torture.

On November 21, 2017, the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court found Jiang Tianyong guilty of “inciting subversion of state power,” and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment and three years of deprivation of political rights. Like at his trial in August 2017, supporters were blocked from attending Jiang’s sentencing. In convicting Jiang, the court largely pointed out the “evidence” presented at his trial, specifically mentioning his advocacy around Zhou Shifeng and other “709 Crackdown” victims, claiming it “severely harmed” national security and social stability. In addition, the court cited his attendance at trainings overseas, applications for funding from so-called “anti-China forces,” and establishing with other lawyers the association “China Safeguard Human Rights Lawyers Service Group” (中国保障人权律师服务团).

C) Li Yuhan

On October 9, 2017, the Heping Sub-division of the Shenyang City Public Security Bureau took Li Yuhan into custody without producing a detention notice and forcibly disappeared her for three weeks, during which time she has alleged that she was tortured. A detention center official only informed Li Yuhan’s family verbally on October 31 that Li was being detained for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” Articles 37 and 83 of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) respectively guarantee, except in the cases of state-security-related crimes (which is not applicable in the case of Li), the rights of a suspect/ defendant to meet and communicate in writing with legal counsel; and the right for the family to be formally notified within 24 hours in case of detention.

Li’s detention, according to one of her lawyers, Lin Qilei (蔺其磊), appears to be partly in retaliation for her repeated appeals to authorities to locate and support lawyers who had disappeared into police custody in the crackdown against lawyers, including Wang Quanzhang and Wang Yu (王宇), one of the main crackdown targets who Li had represented in 2015-16. Authorities had made clear that they regarded Li’s legal defense of Wang as “sensitive,” warning her family members to “keep their distance” from Li, or else “face severe consequences.”

After Li initially disappeared on October 9, 2017, her family asked about her whereabouts at the Shenyang City Letters and Visits Office. Only three weeks later did a police officer confirm her location and detention status. Lawyer Lin Qilei, along with Li’s brother, visited the detained lawyer on November 9, and reported that she had been tortured in custody. Li revealed that officers had handcuffed and hooded her, and even threatened to kill her if she did not give up her cellphone password. During another visit by Lin one week later, Li was having difficulty walking, and told Lin that she had suffered severe chills after cold water had been poured on her while bathing. When Li had complained about pain and discomfort, the head of discipline management mocked Li and threatened to have her handcuffs tightened. Police eventually took Li to a hospital for an examination, but even there she was exposed to the cold and not given food or water. Upon returning to the detention center, a guard pushed her roughly back into a cell.

There are grave concerns that Li Yuhan, who has several serious health conditions, is not receiving proper medical treatment, and that the mistreatment she is facing is exacerbating her poor health. When taken into custody in October 2017, Li was reportedly suffering from atrial fibrillation arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, hyperthyroidism, diffuse gastritis, and other diseases. The mistreatment that she has reportedly suffered also mirrors abuse that Li has been subjected to by police and other agents in attempts to interfere in her independence as a lawyer. In the most recent incident prior to her current detention, Beijing police kidnapped and assaulted Li in May 2015 after she had reported to authorities the illegal behavior of local officials. While Li was in custody at that time, an officer shoved her head against a toilet and she lost consciousness. After her release, Li was diagnosed with a concussion and injuries to her back, head, limbs, and abdomen, and went on to suffer from headaches, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, and an irregular heartbeat.

Based on the circumstances of their detention, we believe that Wang, Jiang, and Li have all been detained solely due to the peaceful exercise of their rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The circumstances of their detentions satisfy Category II (i.e., when the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights) and freedoms guaranteed by articles 7, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, and 21 of the UDHR.

VI. 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. 

A) Wang Quanzhang

Since being taken into custody in August 2015 until today, Wang has been held under incommunicado detention despite numerous and extensive attempts to access him or appeal for his release, by lawyers, family members, and supporters. Wang’s lawyers have been stonewalled when they requested to meet with their client, with authorities citing national security grounds. The lawyers filed a complaint with the local procuratorate asking for information regarding Wang’s whereabouts, but received no response. They also sought assistance from the All-China Lawyer’s Association, a government body under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, but to no avail.

B) Jiang Tianyong

Jiang Tianyong’s father attempted to sue Legal Daily and Procuratorate Daily, two state-run newspapers, for defamation over their reprinting of the state media report on Jiang’s detention. However, the Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing refused to docket the case, stating that it would “interfere with the law” as his case is still in the investigation phase. The Shanghai Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court also refused to hear the case. The article printed by the newspapers falsely asserted that the family had been notified of Jiang’s detention, and included unsubstantiated police accusations that Jiang had accepted overseas funding for a long time, used the Internet to spread rumors, and “incited” petitioners and family members to confront government institutions.

C) Li Yuhan

After initial attempts to meet Li Yuhan were futile, authorities finally allowed Li’s lawyers to meet her on November 9, 2017, partly owing to pressure applied by Li’s supporters.

VII. Full name, postal and electronic addresses of the person(s) submitting the information (telephone and fax number, if possible).

Date:   December 5, 2017

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