China Must Free Activist Zhen Jianghua & End Suppression of Human Rights Monitoring GroupsComments Off on China Must Free Activist Zhen Jianghua & End Suppression of Human Rights Monitoring Groups
(Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders—April 2, 2018) – The Chinese government should immediately release activist Zhen Jianghua (甄江华), who had previously been a technical consultant helping to maintain the online platform Human Rights Campaign in China (HRCC). Zhuhai police have formally arrested him on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” according to his lawyer, who received a phone call from police on March 30. Zhen’s arrest is another sign of the relentless suppression of civil society groups and free expression under President Xi Jinping. Now that term limits for the Chinese president have been eliminated through constitutional changes, Xi Jinping could stay in power indefinitely, making the suppression of human rights under his regime a matter of even greater concern. Individuals like Zhen, who have led or been closely tied to human rights groups, have been accused of “endangering national security,” and increasingly deprived of their rights to free expression, assembly, and association.
Zhuhai police initially criminally detained Zhen on September 1, 2017, before moving him into “residential surveillance at a (police) designated location” (RSDL) on an unknown date. Police only informed his lawyer, Ren Quanniu (任全牛), of the change in criminal coercive measures in December. Under RSDL, police can hold suspects in a secret location for up to six months if they are suspected of “endangering national security” (Criminal Procedure Law, Article 73). Since 2015, police across China have increasingly used this measure to target human rights defenders (HRDs). Zhuhai police have denied Zhen all meetings with his lawyers and threatened his family to not speak publicly about his case. Zhen Jianghua’s exact location remains unknown following his arrest, though he is believed to have been moved to a detention center in Zhuhai. Police told lawyer Ren that he must apply to meet Zhen, but there is no guarantee a visit will be approved. Zhen is at significant risk of being tortured or mistreated while in incommunicado detention. In recent years, such torture and mistreatment has been reported in the cases of many other detained human rights defenders.
Zhen’s arrest follows a pattern of suppression of HRDs affiliated with advocacy groups that monitor and report on human rights issues in China or try to assist activists and petitioners. Liu Feiyue (刘飞跃), the founder of “Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch,” faces imminent trial in Hubei following his indictment for “inciting subversion” in December 2017. In another case, authorities postponed the December 2017 trial of longtime activist Qin Yongmin (秦永敏), who was the head of “Human Rights Watch in China” (also known as the “Rose Team”) and is facing charges of “inciting subversion.” Jiangsu authorities criminally detained Qin’s colleague from the Rose Team, Xu Qin (徐秦), in February 2018, before disappearing her into RSDL the next month on suspicion of “inciting subversion.” Sichuan police detained Huang Qi (黄琦) of “64 Tianwang Human Rights Center” in November 2016. Authorities continue to investigate Huang on “leaking state secrets” charges and have not provided him proper treatment for serious health conditions. Two women who reported for “64 Tianwang,” Wang Jing (王晶) and Wang Shurong (王淑蓉), are serving lengthy prison sentences in relation for their rights advocacy work.
Born on November 1, 1985, Zhen Jianghua began his rights advocacy in the mid-2000s, working with charity organizations in Guangdong and Macao. Zhen has been an advisor with Chinese Wikipedia and a project officer for a HIV/AIDS prevention education project in Zhuhai. In the past few years, Zhen had been detained for short periods due to his activism, particularly after getting involved with Human Rights Campaign in China. Zhen had vocally spoken out since 2015 for the release of incarcerated rights defenders held in the “709 Crackdown.”
Watch “More than one way to the Square,” a video about Zhen Jianghua (with English subtitles)
Renee Xia, International Director (Mandarin, English), +1 863 866 1012, reneexia[at]nchrd.org, Follow on Twitter: @ReneeXiaCHRD
Victor Clemens, Researcher (English), +1 209 643 0539, victorclemens[at]nchrd.org, Follow on Twitter: @VictorClemens
Frances Eve, Researcher (English), +852 6695 4083 franceseve[at]nchrd.org, Follow on Twitter: @FrancesEveCHRD