CHRD Communiqé Alleging Arbitrary Detention of four PR China Citizens in Connection with 30th Anniversary of Tiananmen Crackdown

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Submission to:

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

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

Communiqué on Behalf of DENG Chuanbin, LIU Jinxing, SHEN Liangqing, and ZHANG Baocheng, Citizens of the People’s Republic of China, Alleging Arbitrary Detention, Deprivation of Rights to Expression, Assembly, and Association, and Torture and Reprisal against Human Rights Defenders

I. Identities

A. DENG Chuanbin

  1. Family name: Deng (邓)
  2. First name: Chuanbin (传彬)
  3. Sex: Male
  4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): December 22, 1975
  5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
  6. Identity document (if any): National ID Card:
  7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Deng Chuanbin (aka Huang Huang, 晃晃), an independent filmmaker and activist, has collaborated with a variety of human rights defenders in his work, which has often touched on human rights concerns. Prior to his current detention, Deng had faced intimidation from Chinese authorities, including in 2015, when he was prevented from travelling to Geneva to attend a human rights seminar, an act of state reprisal against his efforts to engage with UN human rights bodies.

8. Address of usual residence: Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China

B. LIU Jinxing

  1. Family name: Liu (刘)
  2. First name: Jinxing (进兴)
  3. Sex: Male
  4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): August 4, 1972
  5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
  6. Identity document (if any): National ID Card:
  7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Liu Jinxing, a Hubei Province-born artist who has worked under the name Zhui Hun (追魂), had been active in advocating for the rights of detained activists, including by using proceeds from his art sales to benefit prisoners of conscience. Previously, Liu had been detained on several occasions for his exercise of free expression. He was detained in 2011 for the “politically sensitive” nature of his art, and in 2012 after he had taken part in a demonstration against “re-education through labor,” a system of administrative punishment that the government eventually banned in 2013. He also was detained in October 2014 for supporting pro-democracy demonstrations going on in Hong Kong, and only released in July 2015 after being cleared of criminal charges. Liu has lived in the Songzhuang art colony in Songzhuang Town of Tongzhou District in Beijing, the most famous and largest artist community in the municipality.

8. Address of usual residence: Beijing Municipality, People’s Republic of China

C. SHEN Liangqing

  1. Family name: Shen (沈)
  2. First name: Liangqing (良庆)
  3. Sex: Male
  4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): October 6, 1962
  5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
  6. Identity document (if any): National ID Card:
  7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Shen is a writer, netizen, and activist who had frequently used social media to comment on human rights issues in China. He had been involved in pro-democracy advocacy since 1984, including in China’s pro-democracy movement in 1989, during which he organized student demonstrators in Hefei City, Anhui Province. Shen served as a procuratorate official in Anhui Province from 1984 until 1992, when he was issued an 18-month prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” as a form of government retaliation for his activities tied to his 1989 advocacy. Shen was also detained for nine days in 2015, for allegedly spreading “false information” online about a deadly chemical factory explosion in Tianjin Municipality that resulted in mass casualties and injuries.

8. Address of usual residence: Hefei City, Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China

D. ZHANG Baocheng

  1. Family name: Zhang (张)
  2. First name: Baocheng (宝成)
  3. Sex: Male
  4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): June 19, 1959
  5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
  6. Identity document (if any): National ID Card:
  7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Zhang Baocheng had been a prominent anti-corruption and pro-democracy activist prior to his current detention, having participated in the New Citizens’ Movement, a loose network of Chinese activists that demanded that the government implement social justice and legal reforms, and which authorities heavily suppressed beginning in 2013. Zhang was detained in March 2013 and charged with “unlawful assembly” after taking part in a demonstration in Beijing in which he and other activists unfurled a banner calling on officials to publicly disclose their financial assets; he was subsequently convicted of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” and sentenced to two years in prison, and released in March 2015. Zhang, who began his rights advocacy activities in 2006, was previously a businessman. Besides his current detention and past prison sentence, Zhang has been detained at other times, including in 2016 during the crackdown around the 27th anniversary of June Fourth. He has also been placed under tight police surveillance, and frequently harassed by authorities in retaliation for his advocacy.

8. Address of usual residence: Beijing Municipality, People’s Republic of China

II. Arrests

A. Deng Chuanbin

  1. Date of arrest: May 16, 2019 (May 17, 2019, criminal detention)
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): His residence in Yibin City, Sichuan Province
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Yibin City Public Security Bureau
  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 trouble”
  7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

B. Liu Jinxing

  1. Date of arrest: May 28, 2019
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Xuanwu District Public Security Sub-bureau (Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province)
  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 trouble”
  7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

C. Shen Liangqing

  1. Date of arrest: May 15, 2019 (May 16, 2019, criminal detention)
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Near his residence in Hefei City, Anhui Province
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Officers from Baohe District Public Security Sub-bureau (Hefei City, Anhui Province)
  4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? Yes
  5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: Baohe District Public Security Sub-bureau(Hefei City, Anhui Province)
  6. Reasons for the arrest imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble”
  7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

D. Zhang Baocheng

  1. Date of arrest: May 28, 2019 (criminal detention)
  2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): His residence in Beijing Municipality
  3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Officers fromFengtai District Public Security Sub-bureau (Beijing Municipality)
  4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? Yes
  5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: Fengtai District Public Security Sub-bureau(Beijing Municipality)
  6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “promoting terrorism, extremism, inciting execution of terrorist activities”
  7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

Article 120 (Section 3) of China’s Criminal Law (“promoting terrorism, extremism, inciting execution of terrorist activities”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights, and a fine to whoever provides funds to any terrorist organization or individual who engages in terrorism; if the circumstances are serious, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years, and he shall also be fined or his property shall be confiscated.

III. Detentions

A. Deng Chuanbin

  1. Date of detention: July 19, 2019
  2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Deng Chuanbin has been continually detained since May 16, 2019.
  3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Yibin City Public Security Bureau
  4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Nanxi District Detention Center (Yibin City, Sichuan Province)
  5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Yibin City Public Security Bureau
  6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble”
  7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known): Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

B. Liu Jinxing

  1. Date of detention: July 5, 2019 (formal arrest)
  2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Liu Jinxing has been continually detained since May 28, 2019.
  3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Nanjing City Public Security Bureau
  4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Nanjing City No. 3 Detention Center
  5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Nanjing City Public Security Bureau
  6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble”
  7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

C. Shen Liangqing

  1. Date of detention: June 20, 2019 (formal arrest)
  2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Shen Liangqing has been continually detained since May 15, 2019.
  3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Baohe District Public Security Sub-bureau (Hefei City, Anhui Province)
  4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Hefei City Detention Center
  5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Baohe District Public Security Sub-bureau (Hefei City,Anhui Province)
  6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble”
  7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

D. Zhang Baocheng

  1. Date of detention: July 4, 2019 (formal arrest)
  2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Zhang has been continually detained since May 28, 2019.
  3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Fengtai District Public Security Sub-bureau(Beijing Municipality)
  4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Fengtai District Detention Center (Beijing Municipality)
  5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Fengtai District People’s Procuratorate
  6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “promoting terrorism, extremism, inciting execution of terrorist activities”
  7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known):

Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law (“picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of up to five years to those who (1) willfully attacking another person and the circumstances are serious; (2) chasing, intercepting, or cursing another person, and the circumstances are serious; (3) forcibly taking away, demanding, or willfully damaging or seizing public or private property; and the circumstances are serious; or (4) creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder.

Article 120 (Section 3) of China’s Criminal Law (“promoting terrorism, extremism, inciting execution of terrorist activities”) stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights, and a fine to whoever provides funds to any terrorist organization or individual who engages in terrorism; if the circumstances are serious, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years, and he shall also be fined or his property shall be confiscated.

IV.      Describe the circumstances of the arrests

On May 16, 2019, Sichuan police took Deng Chuanbin from his home in the evening. Deng was criminally detained on May 17, 2019, and police returned to his home on May 20 and confiscated electronic items, including three mobile phones, a computer, laptop, iPad, memory cards, and a camera.

On May 28, 2019, Liu Jinxing was disappeared and detained along with five other artists in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, where they had gone to sell their artwork. Police officers searched Liu’s home in Beijing on May 29, confiscating works of art and printed materials.

On May 15, 2019, Anhui police seized Shen Liangqing near his residence in the evening while he was walking his dog. Shen later told his lawyer that unknown men grabbed him and put a black hood over his head, making him believe he was being forcibly disappeared, before police officers showed identification. Police confiscated Shen’s cellphone and computer “to preserve evidence for investigation.”

On May 28, 2019, Beijing police took into custody and criminally detained activist Zhang Baocheng and searched his home.

V. Indicate reasons why you consider the arrests and/or detentions to be arbitrary

The detentions of Mr. Deng, Mr. Liu, Mr. Shen, and Mr. Zhang constitute state retaliation against the men’s human rights advocacy and peaceful exercise of their right to free expression. Specifically, these cases of deprived liberty came amid the annual suppression by Chinese authorities surrounding the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, which took place on June 4, 1989. This time period was especially “politically sensitive” in 2019 because it was the 30th anniversary of the June Fourth massacre. All of the detainees have previously been subjected to state persecution, including arbitrary detention and harassment, in relation for exercising their human rights.

Deng Chuanbin was detained shortly after he had tweeted (and subsequently removed) an image of a wine bottle produced in 2016 whose label read “Remember 8964,” an allusion to the Tiananmen Massacre from June 4, 1989. The label, which played on the similarity in Mandarin Chinese between the characters for “white liquor” (baijiu) and “89” (“ba jiu”), was meant to memorialize the government’s crushing of the pro-democracy movement, an event of great politically sensitivity in China. Four activists who had been involved in the “June Fourth wine bottle” case were detained in 2016 and convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in 2019. (For more on the “wine bottle” cases, see: https://www.nchrd.org/2018/05/chen-bing-fu-hailu-luo-fuyu-zhang-junyong/.)

In Shen Liangqing’s case, prosecutors indicated to his family that his detention is based on 18 posts on his Twitter account expressing his opinions. Hefei police officers examined and damaged electronics belonging to Shen while he was in custody. In mid-July 2019, two months after Shen had initially been taken into custody, police notified his family to come to a police station to pick up his laptop computer; his family was not in the area at the time and was only able to go to the station on August 5, when they found that the laptop had been damaged and was unusable. The police also returned to the family two other computers that officers had confiscated as part of their investigation of Shen, but they also had been damaged.

It is believed that Liu Jinxing was detained prior to the June Fourth anniversary as part of “stability maintenance” measures, as he was known for using money from art sales to help provide funds to individuals detained for their political expression. He and five other artists seized at the same time were reportedly holding a “conscience movement” exhibition when they were taken into custody. (While Liu has remained in custody, the other five artists were subsequently released on bail.)

Police initially called Zhang Baocheng’s family on May 28, 2019, and said he had been taken away on suspicion of “possessing a gun,” an accusation, according to his wife, that was completely fabricated. She believes that police detained him because of a Twitter post he wrote alluding to the upcoming June Fourth anniversary.

Deng Chuanbin’s family, claiming that Deng has suffered psychological damage due to a past traffic accident, had applied for an examination of Deng’s mental condition. There had been no suspicion prior to this detention that Deng had any mental health issues. According to Chinese law, a psychological evaluation should be completed before any further developments can take place in Deng’s criminal case. Authorities conducted the examination and made a determination that Deng has no mental health issues and subsequently formally arrested him. Deng alleged that officers used the situation to forcibly inject him with drugs and beat him with an electronic batons.

The above circumstances of the detentions constitute violations of the rights of Mr. Deng, Mr. Lui, Mr. Shen, and Mr. Zhang to peacefully exercise free expression, including those guaranteed under Category II of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (i.e., when the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights under Articles 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, and 26), and freedoms guaranteed by Articles 18, 19, and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mr. Deng, Mr. Liu, Mr. Shen, and Mr. Zhang have been deprived of legal and procedural rights since they were initially detained, including in the lack of provision of police documentation on their detentions; deprived access to legal counsel of their own or their family’s choosing; and prolonged incommunicado detention that exposes them to risk of torture and other forms of mistreatment.

In each case, Chinese public security officials failed to produce official notices for their families when initially seizing and criminally detaining the men, in violation of China’s Criminal Procedure Law, which stipulates a public security bureau must produce an official notice when placing an individual under detention (CPL, Article 85). Anhui police seized Shen Liangqing on May 15, 2019, and placed him under criminal detention the next day, but only informed his family of his detention status on May 22, 2019. The family of Zhang Baocheng did not receive a detention notice until May 31, which listed the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and Zhang’s place of detention. After Deng Chuanbin was formally arrested, police officers briefly showed the arrest warrant to his parents. After police detained Liu Jinxing, authorities notified his wife orally the next day but did not produce official documentation regarding his detention; at the time of this communication, his family has received neither a criminal detention notice nor a notice of formal arrest.

During their detentions, the men have been either partially or entirely deprived of access to lawyers. Deprivation of legal counsel violates their rights to legal counsel of their own or their families’ choosing, according to both China’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL Article 33), and their right to access to a lawyer within 48 hours of a request (CPL, Article 39). Deng Chuanbin and Shen Liangqing have each received one visit in detention from their respective lawyers. A lawyer met with Shen on May 28, 2019. Deng’s lawyer met with him on May 24, 2019; however, that lawyer was subsequently denied a visit on June 10, and authorities had also tried to pressure Deng’s family not to hire a defense attorney.

On September 23, 2019, Liu Jinxing was allowed his first lawyer visit, after authorities had denied his lawyer visitation ever since June 27, when he first requested a meeting. Authorities had denied Liang’s previous requests to meet with Liu on the pretext that it would “endanger state security,” although authorities did not provide any documentation regarding this determination, and Liu has not been accused of a crime related to “state security” concerns. Following the visit on September 23, 2019, lawyer Liang indicated that Liu had already been formally arrested on a charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” and that police had sent his case to the Xuanwu District People’s Procuratorate on September 4 to be reviewed for potential prosecution. On October 18, 2019, the procuratorate sent Liu’s case back to the Xuanwu District Public Security Sub-bureau for further police investigation, which is often an indication that a case lacks evidence to be criminally prosecuted.

In the case of Shen Liangqing, Anhui police have attempted to pressure him to dismiss his lawyer and to accept legal representation by a lawyer who would be approved by state officials, an illegal tactic that has become common in cases where Chinese human rights defenders have been detained on criminal charges.

Zhang Baocheng has not been granted a single meeting with his lawyer. Authorities have charged Zhang with an unusually harsh criminal offense involving “terrorism,” thus allowing them to take advantage of a Chinese legal provision which allows authorities to deprive detainee access to a lawyer beyond 48 hours, which is the legal limit set for such access for virtually all other criminal charges (CPL, Article 39).

Following investigation by officers with Fengtai District Sub-bureau in Beijing, Zhang Baocheng’s case was sent on September 2, 2019, to Beijing Municipality People’s Procuratorate No. 2 for procuratorial investigation, with the purpose of determining if he will be criminally prosecuted. However, authorities have interfered in the work of Zhang’s lawyers and their preparation of his defense; they blocked access by his lawyers to case materials until September 23, partly by not producing electronic files, which would have made remote review of the materials possible.

The deprived or limited visitation by legal counsel has put the detainees at high risk of torture or other forms of mistreatment, which has been reported in two of the cases. During a detention center visit with a lawyer on May 28, 2019, Shen Liangqing alleged that guards had denied him food and water and use of a toilet for 24 hours, and subjected him to grueling interrogations (which constitute torture) about June Fourth and whether he had done interviews with overseas media. In the case of Zhang Baocheng, authorities at Fengtai District Detention Center have refused to allow Zhang’s family to provide him with warm clothing in detention; as a supposed basis for this prohibition, authorities are apparently enforcing a new practice that limits Zhang’s family from bringing clothes only once between September 2019 and April 15, 2020.

The above circumstances constitute violations of Mr. Deng, Mr. Liu, Mr. Shen, and Mr. Zhang’s rights guaranteed under Category III of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 9).

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.

Human rights organizations both inside and outside of China have called for the release of the men, who nonetheless remain in custody.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights told Reuters News Agency on June 4, 2019 that it had received reports alleging that a number of Chinese citizens had been detained or threatened ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Date of Submission: 31 October 2019

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