By China Change, published: October 18, 2013
Since his criminal detention on August 8, Chinese dissident and activist Yang Maodong (杨茂东), better known by his pen name Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), has been in custody for over 70 days without being granted meetings with his lawyers and without being formally indicted, raising fears of torture or something worse.
His lawyer Sui Muqing (隋牧青, @suimuqing88), who recently started using Twitter to post information about Guo Feixiong to avoid being censored on Weibo, tweeted his concerns last week. “Based on information I gathered from various sources, I am concerned that the authorities might alter charges against Guo Feixiong, such as inciting subversion, in order to hand him a heavy sentence.” Mr. Sui worried that, because Guo Feixiong’s case had not received as much media attention as that of Xu Zhiyong, the government would have less scruples in dealing with him. In Tianhe detention center in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou where Guo Feixiong has been held, lawyer Sui Muqing was told that Guo’s case was very serious and they couldn’t let the meeting happen without authorization from higher authorities. Mr. Sui told Radio Free Asia that he believed something had to be going on for the police to deny routine meetings between lawyers and their client, and to drag the detention beyond the legally prescribed time limit against strong public opinion.
By now the two lawyers have made at least six attempts to meet their client to no avail. On September 10, lawyers Sui Muqing and lawyer Ling Qilei (蔺其磊), Guo Feixiong’s other lawyer, submitted to Tianhe District Court an administrative complaint against the police and the detention center for violating the lawyers’ right to meet with clients and their client’s right to meet his counsel, but on September 23, they learned that their complaint had been dismissed.
Lawyer Ling Qilei told RFA on Tuesday that, as defense lawyers, he and Mr. Sui had used all the legal means they had but the police in Guangdong still denied them a meeting with their client. As such, they had reasons to fear that Guo Feixiong had in one way or the other been hurt, possibly as a result of torture or a hunger strike.
On Tuesday, October 15, when the two lawyers went to Tianhe District Procuratorate to submit two more complaints against the detention center and the police respectively, they were told that Guo Feixiong had already been formally arrested on September 11.
“Secret detentions and secret arrests such as in this case are characteristics of a police state that totally disregards the law,” Mr. Sui told RFA.
“In China, laws and statutes are clearly written,” said Mr. Ling in the same interview, “but they are fake laws, a mere tool the authorities use to suppress people. Under circumstances such as ours, the judiciary and the law enforcement are breaking the law, but they continue doing what they are doing without having to think twice. The state power’s suppression of the people has become unbridled and reckless. It disguises itself in the form of the law but in fact has no regard for the law whatsoever. This is also an indication that the state power in China no longer has good and effective ways to govern, and they have to resort to suppression.”
On Wednesday, October 16, Guo Feixiong’s sister acknowledged receipt of the notice of his arrest, 35 days after his supposedly formal arrest whereas the law requires such notice being delivered to the family within 24 hours.
Guo Feixiong was one of the seminal figures in the rise of China’s rights movement. In 2005 Mr. Guo provided legal assistance to villagers of Taishi (太石村) in a suburb of Guangzhou who wanted to impeach their village officials for corruption. Guo Feixiong was criminally detained for his involvement and staged a hunger strike in protest.
After that, he was active in many rights struggles, sustaining more detentions and physical abuses. In 2007, he was convicted of “conducting illegal business” for a book he had authored several years before that exposed corruption in Shenyang. He was sentenced to five years in prison. The international community and human rights groups roundly condemned the sentence and the Chinese government’s political persecution through trumped-up non-political charges. Mr. Guo Feixiong was released in 2011. Since then, he has been involved in the Wukan elections and the investigation of Li Wangyang’s death. In March of this year, he was one of the initiators of a signature campaign calling for ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China signed in 1998 to pave the way for its entrance into the WTO but has never ratified.
This is Mr. Guo Feixiong’s fourth arrest in 10 years.
Lawyer Sui Muqing’s Twitter: @suimuqing88
RFA Zhang Min’s Twitter: @ZhMinYH
Prominent Advocate Held in Southern China, New York Times