China must protect the rights of detained human rights defenders Huang Xueqin and Wang JianbingComments Off on China must protect the rights of detained human rights defenders Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing
CHRD and a coalition of 24 human rights NGOs urge for the release of Chinese investigative journalist Huang Xueqin, and labor rights advocate Wang Jianbing, who was taken away by police exactly one year ago for allegedly ‘inciting subversion of state power’.
The open letter urging their release is below, in English and Chinese:
China must protect the rights of detained human rights defenders Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing
Today, 19 September 2022, marks one year in detention for two young Chinese human rights defenders: Huang Xueqin, an independent journalist and key actor in China’s #MeToo movement, and Wang Jianbing, a labour rights advocate.
We, the undersigned civil society groups, call on Chinese authorities to respect and protect their rights in detention, including access to legal counsel, unfettered communication with family members, their right to health and their right to bodily autonomy. We emphasise that their detention is arbitrary, and we call for their release and for authorities to allow them to carry out their work and make important contributions to social justice.
Who are they ?
In the 2010s, Huang Xueqin worked as a journalist for mainstream media in China. During that time, she covered stories on public interest matters, women’s rights, corruption scandals, industrial pollution, and issues faced by socially-marginalized groups. She later supported victims and survivors of sexual harassment and gender-based violence who spoke out as part of the #MeToo movement in China. On 17 October 2019, she was stopped by police in Guangzhou and criminally detained in RSDL for three months – for posting online an article about Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement.
Wang Jianbing followed a different path, but his story – like Huang’s – demonstrates the commitment of young people in China to giving back to their communities. He worked in the non-profit sector for more than 16 years, on issues ranging from education to disability to youth to labour. Since 2018, he has supported victims of occupational disease to increase their visibility and to access social services and legal aid.
Arbitrary and incommunicado detention
On 19 September 2021, the two human rights defenders were taken by Guangzhou police; after 37 days, they were formally arrested on charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Using COVID-19 prevention measures as an excuse, they were held for five months in solitary confinement, and subject to secret interrogation, in conditions similar to those of ‘residential surveillance in a designated location’, or RSDL. After months of delays and no due process guarantees, their case was transferred to court for the first time in early August 2022.
We strongly condemn the lengthy detentions of Huang and Wang. In a Communication sent to the Chinese government in February 2022, six UN independent experts – including the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Working Group on arbitrary detention (WGAD) – raised serious concerns about Wang’s disappearance and deprivation of liberty. They asserted that Wang’s activities were protected and legal, and that Chinese authorities used a broad definition of ‘endangering national security’ that runs counter to international human rights law.
In May 2022, the WGAD went one step further, formally declaring Wang’s detention to be ‘arbitrary’ and urging authorities to ensure his immediate release and access to remedy. Noting other, similar Chinese cases, the WGAD also requested Chinese authorities to undertake a comprehensive independent investigation into the case, taking measures to hold those responsible for rights violations accountable.
We echo their call: Chinese authorities should respect this UN finding, and immediately release Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing.
Risks of torture and poor health
In addition to the lack of legal grounds for their detention, we are also worried about conditions of detention for Wang and Huang. Using ‘COVID-19 isolation’ as an excuse, Wang was held incommunicado, during which he was subject to physical and mental violence and abuse. His physical health deteriorated, in part due to an irregular diet and inadequate nutrition, while he also suffered physical and mental torment and depression. UN and legal experts have found similar risks, possibly amounting to torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, in other Chinese detention practices – including RSDL. According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the ‘Mandela Rules’), prolonged solitary confinement – solitary confinement lasting more than 15 days – should be prohibited as it may constitute torture or ill-treatment.
Even more concerning are detention conditions for Huang Xueqin, because during the year she has been deprived of her liberty – again, without formal access to a lawyer or communication with her family – no one, including a legal counsel of her choosing, has received formal notification of her situation. We are deeply worried about her physical and mental health, and reiterate that incommunicado detention is a grave violation of international law.
Lack of fair trial guarantees
Given the circumstances, many brave Chinese lawyers may have stepped up to defend Huang Xueqin. But we are alarmed that Huang has been prevented from appointing a lawyer of her choice. In March 2022, her family stepped in, appointing a lawyer on her behalf; she was not allowed to meet her client or see the case file. Nonetheless, that lawyer was dismissed – according to authorities, with Huang’s approval – after just two weeks. The right to legal counsel of one’s choosing is not only a core international human rights standard, but a right guaranteed by the Criminal Law of the PRC.
Chilling effect on rights defence
As is too often the case in China, the authorities’ ‘investigation’ into Huang’s and Wang’s case has had concrete impacts on civil society writ large. Around 70 friends and acquaintances of the two defenders, from across the country, have been summoned by the Guangzhou police and/or local authorities. Many of them were interrogated for up to 24 hours – some for several times – and forced to turn over their electronic devices. The police also coerced and threatened some individuals to sign false statements admitting that they had participated in training activities that had the intention of ‘subverting state power’ and that simple social gatherings were in fact political events to encourage criticism of the government. The Chinese government has been repeatedly warned by UN experts that the introduction of evidence stemming from forced or coerced confessions is a violation of international law and that officials engaged in this practice must be sanctioned.
A call for action
One year on, we call on the Chinese authorities to respect human rights standards, and uphold their international obligations, in the cases of Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing. Until Chinese authorities implement UN recommendations and Huang and Wang are released, the relevant officials should:
● Ensure that Huang and Wang can freely access legal counsel of their own choosing, and protect the rights of lawyers to defend their clients.
● Remove all barriers to free communication between Huang and Wang and their families and friends, whether in writing or over telephone.
● Provide comprehensive physical and mental health services to Huang and Wang, including consensual examinations by an independent medical professional, and share the findings with lawyers and family members, or others on request.
● Guarantee that Huang and Wang are not subjected to solitary confinement or other forms of torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and that the conditions of their detention comply with international human rights standards.
● Cease actions that aim to intimidate and silence members of civil society from engaging in advocacy for the protection of rights, and ensure that no evidence from coerced confessions is permissible in Huang’s and Wang’s – or anyone else’s – court proceedings.
Center for Reproductive Rights
Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University
China Against the Death Penalty
China Labour Bulletin
CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
Fédération Internationale pour les Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Hong Kong Outlanders
Hong Kong Outlanders in Taiwan
Human Rights in China
Human Rights Now
Index on Censorship
International Service for Human Rights
Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada
Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
Reporters Without Borders
台灣人權促進會 Taiwan Association for Human Rights
Taiwan Labour Front
The Rights Practice
Uyghur Human Rights Project
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
2022 年 9 月 19 日
在 9 月 19 日，独立记者黄雪琴和劳工权利活动家王建兵(以下简称两人为“雪饼”)被捕一周年 之际，我们敦促中国当局尊重并确保两人享有受国际法保护的各项基本权利，包括辩护权、不 受阻碍通信的权利，以及确保他们在被捕期间的身心健康等权利。
黄雪琴曾在中国主流媒体担任调查记者，她关注的议题包括妇女权利、公共利益、官员腐败、 企业污染和边缘群体等。她还参与了大量#MeToo 案件，为遭受性侵和性骚扰的受害者提供支 持和帮助。2019 年 10 月 17 日，她因在香港发表关于反送中运动的文章，被广州警方刑事拘留 3 个月。王建兵在非营利机构工作超过 16 年，他从事的工作涵盖了教育、残疾、青年和劳工等 各种领域。自 2018 年以来，他致力于为患有尘肺病等职业病的工人进行权利倡导和提供各种服 务，比如提供必要的法律支持。
2021 年 9 月 19 日，广州警方以涉嫌“煽动颠覆国家政权罪”强行抓捕了黄雪琴和王建兵两人，并 以“防疫”为由对两人采取了长达五个多月的单独关押和秘密审讯，该情形等同于“指定居所监视 居住(RSDL)”。两人于 2021 年 10 月 27 日被正式批准逮捕，2022 年 3 月 27 日被正式移送检 察院，历经两次退回补充侦查后，该案于 2022 年 8 月12 号首次移送法院。
我们强烈谴责对雪饼两人的长期羁押。在 2022 年 2 月的联合信函中，联合国人权捍卫者特别报 告员和任意拘留问题工作组等对王建兵的强迫失踪和任意拘留表示了严重关切，这 6 名联合国 专家指出:王建兵只是在行使合法的权利，却在危害国家安全的名义下被捕，这违反了国际人 权法。
2022 年 5 月，联合国任意拘留问题工作组更在它的意见书中公开表示，中国当局剥夺王建兵的 自由为任意拘留，要求立即释放他，还应给予他可执行的赔偿和其他补偿的权利。工作组还呼吁对王建兵被任意拘留的情况进行全面和独立的调查，并对侵犯其自由的责任人采取适当措施。
另外，我们对王建兵被当局以“疫情隔离”为由，在法定羁押场所之外的地方单独关押、审讯五 个多月深感震惊。王建兵在单独关押期间遭受数十次的疲劳审讯，以及来自肉体和精神折磨— —这与“指定居所监视居住(RSDL)”的实际关押情形无异。王建兵在被单独关押期间身体状况 极差，饮食非常不规律，身体精神状态非常煎熬，也深受抑郁症困扰。根据国际标准(《纳尔 逊·曼德拉规则》或称作《联合国囚犯待遇最低限度标准规则》)，单独监禁超过 15 天即构成酷 刑或虐待。
我们也十分担忧黄雪琴是否能按照自己的意愿委托律师。2022 年 3 月，在家属委托律师并经过 本人确认的情况下，为她指定了一名律师;但该律师不被允许会见她的委托人或查看案件档 案，短短两周内该律师又被解除委托，根据当局的说法，在这是经由黄雪琴同意的。对此不寻
这个案件不仅严重剥夺了雪饼两人的基本权利，也对整个公民社会产生严重影响。自雪饼被捕 后，广州警方联动全国多地公安部门，持续开始了本地或跨地区传唤或审讯，迄今已有大约 70 位雪饼朋友或家庭聚会参与者被传唤做笔录。广州警察没有出示任何合法手续即对他/她们进行 了多次长达 24 小时的审讯和恐吓，且强行搜查和拷贝电子设备。警方强迫和威胁部分雪饼朋友 签署由警方编造的虚假又供，要求他们指认雪饼两人曾参与过“颠覆国家政权”的所谓培训活 动，以及把建兵家中的正常聚会捏造为批评政府的政治性聚会。过去一年间，警方试图以这样 的方式来编造用于指控雪饼的非法证据。
- 黄雪琴和王建兵与亲友自由通信的权利，包括不受限制地给亲友写信、会面和打亲情电 话等。
- 黄雪琴和王建兵在拘留过程中的身心健康，为他们提供全面的身心检查，并公开他们的 身心健康状况。
- 黄雪琴和王建兵不再遭遇单独关押审讯或者任何其他形式的酷刑，确保他们的拘留条件 符合国际人权标准。
- 停止任何恐吓或骚扰雪饼的朋友和家人的行为，并不得在此案中使用任何通过威胁或其 他非法手段收集得来的证据。
国际特赦 Amnesty International
生育权利中心 Center for Reproductive Rights
妇女全球领导力中心，罗格斯大学 Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University 长沙富能 Changsha Funeng
北京兴善研究所 China Against the Death Penalty
中国劳工通讯 China Labour Bulletin
基督教团结国际协会 CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) 国际人权联合会，在保护人权捍卫者观察组织的框架内 Fédération Internationale pour les Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defend- ers
前线卫士 Frontline Defenders
香港边城青年 Hong Kong Outlanders
台湾香港边城青年 Hong Kong Outlanders in Taiwan
中国人权 Human Rights in China
现今人权 Human Rights Now
查禁目录 Index on Censorship
国际人权服务社 International Service for Human Rights
加拿大律师人权观察 Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada
中国人权捍卫者网络 Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders 无国界记者组织 Reporters Without Borders
保护卫士 Safeguard Defenders
台灣人權促進會 Taiwan Association for Human Rights 台湾劳工阵线 Taiwan Labour Front
权利实践 The Rights Practice
维吾尔人权项目 Uyghur Human Rights Project 世界反酷刑组织，在保护人权捍卫者观察组织的框架内 World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders