Chen Zijuan, September 19, 2021
Born in 1984, Chang Weiping has been an outstanding member of the younger generation of human rights lawyers in China. Starting in 2014, he has represented human rights defenders in areas of free speech, expression of political dissent, religious freedom, anti-discrimination in the workplace and more. For example, he represented Li Wei, a New Citizen Movement activist charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” for publicly calling for officials to disclose assets; petitioners in Wuxi charged with “picking quarrels;” dissident Wang Jian in Nanjing; and a number of Falun Gong practitioners. His representation of gender discrimination and employment discrimination over the years stands out among lawyers, and his clients included a female chef in Guangdong and a HIV carrier in Guizhou who were denied a chance at employment because of discriminatory policies. Chang Weiping supports gender equality in his work and took part in China’s “MeToo” movement, supporting victims of sexual harassment in their efforts to fight back. He was also active in providing legal services to the LGBT community. The cases he represented and the related legal advocacy are deemed sensitive by the Chinese authorities, and as a result, Chang Weiping has been targeted.
In October 2018, his practice was suspended for three months by Baoji Justice Bureau in Shaanxi province, and the next month, the law firm where he was employed was dissolved. After the three-month suspension, he sought to enter into a contract with other law firms but each attempt was interfered with by the authorities and stopped. Beginning in January 2019, he was unable to practice.
In December of 2019, he participated in an informal gathering of human rights lawyers and citizens in Xiamen, Fujian province. On January 12, 2020, he was taken into custody by Baoji police, and placed under “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location” (RSDL) for “endangering national security.” Ten days later he was released on “bail pending trial.” Following months of restriction of movement and regular police harassment, in October 2020, he publicized the torture he had been subjected to during the RSDL in January in a video posted on YouTube. For the entire 10 days, 24 hours a day, he was locked in a metal interrogation chair in a hotel room, resulting in loss of sensation in his index finger and ring finger.
Five days after he posted this video, on October 22, 2020, Chang Weiping was again detained and placed under RSDL, this time for allegedly “inciting subversion of state power.” On April 7, 2021, he was formally arrested for allegedly “subverting state power.” During this period, Chang Weiping’s lawyers repeatedly requested to meet with him, and they also filed applications for bail, but all of their requests have been denied.
On September 6, 2021, police submitted Chang Weiping’s case to Baoji Municipal People’s Procuratorate on charges of “subversion.”
On September 14, eleven months after Chang Weiping’s detention, his defense lawyers were finally allowed to see him for the first time. Chang Weiping told his lawyers that, during the 5-month RSDL, he again was subjected to torture: he was locked in the interrogation chair for several periods, the longest period was 6 days and nights in a row, until his buttocks became festered, and his fingers completely lost sensation. He was subjected to long interrogations, deprived of sleep, and received mental torments and threats. He was given one mantou (white Chinese bread) for each meal and was only given enough food if he cooperated during the interrogation. He told lawyers that all 40 interrogation transcripts were rehearsed beforehand. He was not allowed to shower without the permission of the Public Security Bureau chief. He took no more than 5 showers during more than 5 months, and was not once was he allowed to clip his finger nails.
He told his lawyers that the goal of the torture was to trample his dignity underfoot and make him as obedient as a dog. For him, with the passing of each day, it’s a victory as long as he’s still alive and still sane. He said, what holds him together is the desire to come out of prison alive to see his wife and son.
It’s been nearly 11 months since his detention, and his health has taken a hit. His bowel movement has blood in it and his mouth is often ulcerous due to a lack of vegetables and fruits. Before his detention, he had a tooth pulled out and needed to have it filled, but the police wouldn’t let him, resulting in the overgrowth of the opposite tooth and difficulty with chewing. I have called the Detention Center many times but they still decline to take Chang Weiping to a hospital. Recently the Detention Center stopped answering my calls altogether.
According to laws in China, after a case is moved to the procuratorate, the defense lawyers can review the case file and such attorney’s rights may not be rejected without special reasons. But during September 13 to 15, Chang Weiping’s defense lawyers made several trips to the prosecutors’ office to request review of the case file, but were sent away each time by staff who said “the file was locked in a cabinet and we can’t get it out.” This is absurd and not a legitimate reason for denying the lawyers’ right to review the case file. I wonder what secrets are in the file that have to be hidden from Chang Weiping’s defense lawyers.
I believe that the public security personnel in Shaanxi province who tortured Chang Weiping are human rights perpetrators and should be sanctioned by the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Dr. Chen Zijuan is the wife of Chang Weiping and a micro-biologist working in Shenzhen.
An Open Letter to the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Public Security and Minister Zhao Kezhi, Chen Zijuan, August 3, 2021.
‘He Committed Ideological Crimes’: Wife Recounts How Chinese Police Suppress the Family, Preventing Them From Speaking Out and Threatening Her Job After Human Rights Lawyer Chang Weiping’s Detention, Chen Zijuan, February 15, 2021.
Mowing Down, Yaxue Cao, December 22, 2020.