Ge Jueping 戈觉平Comments Off on Ge Jueping 戈觉平
Ge Jueping 戈觉平
*Under medical watch
Crime: Inciting subversion of state power
Length of Punishment: 4.5 years
Court: Suzhou Intermediate Court, Jiangsu Province
Trial Date: May 13, 2019
Sentencing Date: June 24, 2020
Dates of Detention/Arrest: September 8, 2016 (detained); November 4, 2016 (residential surveillance in a designated location); May 4, 2017 (formal arrest)
Date of birth: August 14, 1958
Medical condition(s): Hypertension (high blood pressure), heart palpitations, parotid gland cancer survivor
Place of Incarceration: Suzhou City No. 1 Detention Center, Jiangsu Province
Appeal date: December 29, 2020
Appeal ruling: Upheld original ruling
Appeal court: Jiangsu Province Higher Court
Ge Jueping, a Jiangsu activist who had taken part in an array of advocacy campaigns, was among a group of individuals seized while demonstrating outside the Suzhou City Intermediate People’s Court on September 8, 2016. The activists were protesting what they felt was the court’s mishandling of the case of Fan Mugen (范木根), who had been sentenced to eight years in prison in May 2015 for killing two crew members of a demolition team that destroyed his home. Some of the detainees, including Ge, also had allegedly posted “politically sensitive” messages online in the suppressive period before the G20 Summit, which was held in nearby Hangzhou the first week of September 2016. The detentions in Suzhou were the first cases in months-long police operations that collectively became known as the “908 Mass Detentions.”
Just two days before the courthouse protest, police had loosened Ge and his wife from house arrest, which they had endured since July 2016 in apparent retaliation for expressing support for persecuted rights lawyer Wang Yu (王宇). On September 7, however, police prevented Ge from heading to Beijing, where he reportedly was to seek medical treatment, and forced him back home to restrict his movements again.
Ge, who has used the screen name Benbo (奔博), was placed under “residential surveillance in a designated location” (RSDL) on November 4, 2016, accused of “inciting subversion of state power.” Authorities denied requests by his lawyer at the time, Yu Wensheng (余文生), to release Ge on medical bail, saying that freeing the activist may “endanger society.” Police continued to block lawyer Yu from meeting Ge, claiming that, due to the charges he was facing, a visit may “hinder investigation” or lead to “leaking of state secrets.” On January 25, 2017, police told Yu that Ge had “dismissed” him, though there was no way to independently verify if Ge had made such a decision, or whether it had come about as a result of torture or another form of coercion.
After his RSDL punishment was over, Ge Jueping was formally arrested on May 4, 2017, and transferred to the Suzhou City No. 1 Detention Center. By June, other activists were still being taken into custody in connection to the original “908” detentions, while other detainees from the crackdown had been released after completing RSDL terms. Those freed included Ge’s wife, Lu Guoying (陆国英), who was let out on bail in April. Ge’s mother-in-law, emotionally distraught over the persecution faced by both Ge and her daughter, reportedly committed suicide by jumping off a building on August 14, 2017—Ge’s 59thbirthday.
A local procuratorate indicted Ge on April 16, 2018. However, the activist has stayed in pretrial detention far beyond the standard allowed under Chinese law, which stipulates that his case should have been tried within three months of being indicted. Authorities have claimed a trial cannot occur since Ge has refused to take on a defense lawyer provided by the government, as he has insisted on being represented by a lawyer of his own choosing.
Suzhou Intermediate Court held a pre-trial meeting on March 19, 2019. According to an account by Ge’s wife, the meeting ended after Ge complained of feeling dizzy, vomited, and his blood pressure increased. Police detained around 20 supporters that arrived to watch the meeting. Police eventually let them go after recording their details and warning them to not return, making it increasingly likely the trial will be de facto behind closed-doors.
The trial opened on May 13, 2019 at Suzhou Intermediate Court. The hearing ended without a verdict being pronounced. Bailiffs at the courthouse violently prevented support Shen Aibin (沈爱斌) from attending the trial. As of December 5, 2019, the sentence has still not been pronounced, according to a statement from Ge’s wife. Ge’s family members and lawyers have not received any notice of an extension on the announcement of a verdict from the Supreme People’s Court, as required by law. Authorities reportedly told Ge’s wife in September that he would be released by November 2019, but that has not happened. Ge was convicted in June 2020 and sentenced to 4 years and six months in prison. His appeal was turned down in December 29, 2020. He will be released in August 2021.
Ge Jueping’s health, which was poor prior to his detention, has reportedly worsened in custody, and authorities have consistently rejected applications for his medical release. Ge had been suffering from cancer before being detained and had undergone surgery to remove a tumor on the right side of his face, which also led to the removal of part of his right ear. At visits with his defense lawyer Huang Zhiqiang (黄志强)on November 1, 2018, Ge revealed that he was dealing with serious health problems, including that he needed to take five tablets a day because his blood pressure was very high. Due to the previous cancer surgery, he can only use the left side of his face to eat and his speech was slurred. Ge also reported he was suffering from tinnitus. He said the detention enter used to test his blood pressure every week, but they had not tested it in the past half month.
During another visit on November 23, Ge told his lawyer that the conditions in the detention center were inhumane: guards forced him to sleep near a toilet in a narrow and crowded space where he can’t lie flat, depriving him of sleep. Ge told his lawyer that medical neglect and overall mistreatment had escalated after an officer, Chen Jiebin (陈捷斌), took over as head of discipline management in the detention center.
Ge expressing fear to his lawyer that he may die in detention. He had an accelerated heart rate and high blood pressure, and that these conditions were being monitored less often since officer Chen had assumed his position. Despite prior permission for his family to provide Ge nutritional supplements and medications, guards had been confiscating some of these items with Chen in charge, calling them “forbidden.” Among the medications that Ge has been deprived of is a type of Chinese medicine that he had been taking daily before he was detained in order to aid his cancer recovery. In addition, Ge’s thyroid gland had swollen so much that he was unable to eat most foods, leaving him to try to subsist on rice porridge. In February 2019, it was reported after a physical exam that Ge’s cancer had not returned, but he still had high blood pressure and authorities had refused to evaluate his heart condition.
Three months after Ge Jueping’s May 2019 trial, his lawyer reported on August 27 following a meeting with Ge in the detention center that his health was in serious condition. In the two years Ge had been detained, detention center officials had allowed Ge’s family to send medicine and nutritional supplements but suddenly stopped allowed him to receive nutritional supplements on July 30. Ge began to stop taking his medicine on August 14 to protest the change in policy and authorities relented on August 19. Ge resumed taking his medicine on August 20, but afterwards felt dizzy, extremely weak, and could not walk until August 25.
Born in Suzhou on August 14, 1958, Ge Jueping began his activism by demanding justice for victims of forced home demolitions. Ge was active online, particularly on his Weibo account, and sent out information about home demolitions and civil rights, becoming a commontarget of authorities. In solidarity with other activists, Ge expressed support in 2014 for detained lawyers who had investigated a “black jail” in the city of Jiansanjiang in Shandong Province, and for defense lawyers targeted in the “709 Crackdown.”