Home » Posts tagged '709 crackdown'
Tag Archives: 709 crackdown
Approaching the ‘International Day in Support of Victims of Torture,’ a Request to OHCHR and IBA to Address the Torture of Chinese Human Rights Lawyers in the 709 Crackdown
China Human Rights Lawyers Group, June 23, 2017
This year, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is partnering with the International Bar Association (IBA) to mark the annual “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture” on June 26. Through storytelling, social media campaigns, and a panel discussion, they hope to advance their “shared ambition for the absolute prohibition of torture.” This year and the year before, we have begun to learn, with horror, about the torture of Chinese human rights lawyers during the 709 Crackdown. Below is a letter from the China Human Rights Lawyers Group addressed and delivered to OHCHR and IBA. — The Editors
To the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the International Bar Association:
In the early morning of July 9, 2015, Chinese police began a campaign of mass arrests, interrogations, and warnings against human rights lawyers and rights defenders. Dozens of rights lawyers and other activists were detained; hundreds of lawyers, scholars, and citizens were called in for “chats” and warnings by the police; dozens of lawyers and citizens were prevented from leaving the country.
Whether they were charged with the crime of “subversion of state power,” “inciting subversion of state power,” or the more pedestrian “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” all were subjected to the coercive criminal penal measure known as “residential surveillance at a designated place,” based on the claim that they were a threat to national security.
Residential surveillance at a designated place is a compulsory criminal procedure that was specified, codified, and integrated into China’s “Criminal Procedure Law,” modified in 2012 and implemented in 2013. In the implementation of this procedure, Chinese police have been abusing the relevant clauses, using it to put subjects under completely secret control, torturing them, and acting without accountability and restraint.
The torture that 709 lawyers have been subjected to during residential surveillance at a designated place has been made clear in the transcripts of interviews of lawyer Xie Yang provided by his defense counsel Chen Jiangang. One can also listen to the accounts by Li Heping’s family and friends who visited him after he was given a suspended sentence. One can infer it from the psychological breakdown suffered by Li’s brother, Li Chunfu, after he was released on probation. One can observe it from the articles published by lawyer Li Shuyun and legal assistant Zhao Wei. One can can get a sense of it from the few choice descriptive phrases used by lawyer Xie Yanyi after he was released on probation.
Wang Quanzhang, another lawyer arrested in the 709 Crackdown, has been in detention for nearly two years now, and not a single piece of news has emerged about his condition. Even whether he’s dead or alive is unclear — and those who care for him are extremely concerned that he has been put through, or is now being put through, extreme torture. Lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who worked hard to try to gain the release of his colleagues and rights defenders detained in the 709 arrests, has been denied access to legal representation for over seven months now. Reports that he is being tortured emerge periodically. In late May 2017 a statement bearing Jiang’s signature stated that Jiang had dismissed his defense counsel, causing grave concern that Jiang had been, and was now being, subjected to torture.
Chinese police have never actually established that these human rights lawyers and rights defenders are guilty of any crime whatsoever. The authorities have force-fed them medication, tortured them physically, devastated them psychologically, and gone after their loved ones, solely for the purpose of breaking their will, making them confess guilt on national television, accepting the judgement against them, and thus completely driving them away from the rights defense field in China.
The human rights lawyers and rights defense activists targeted in the 709 Crackdown should be protected by all the safeguards afforded by the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The plight of rights defenders in China, in particular human rights lawyers, has become more and more grim in recent years. With a series of new laws being rolled out — including the State Security Law, the Foreign NGO Law, the Charity Law, the Criminal Law Amendment (No. 9), and the Anti-Espionage Law — they have been completely hemmed in and trapped. Now, they could lose their freedom at a moment’s notice, be spirited away to a secret detention facility, and put through brutal torture.
No individual, nor any country in the world, is an island unto itself. Concern for others is the same as concern for oneself. Protection of human rights, opposition to torture, and concern for victims of torture, should be extended across ethnic and racial boundaries. These were precisely the founding principles behind the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture.
As Chinese human rights lawyers, we respectfully request that you convey concern for the Chinese human rights defenders who have not yet been detained and tortured; that you monitor and speak out about China’s violations of the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture; and that you follow the news of regular violations of human rights in China, and help the human rights lawyers and other rights defenders who have been put in danger.
China Human Rights Lawyers Group (中国人权律师团)
June 23, 2017
Chang Boyang (常伯阳) 18837183338
Liu Shihui (刘士辉) 18516638964
Lin Qilei (蔺其磊) 18639228639
Tang Jitian (唐吉田) 13161302848
Yu Wensheng (余文生) 13910033651
Attached: A brief introduction to the China Human Rights Lawyers Group
The China Human Rights Lawyers Group was established on September 13, 2013 as an open platform for lawyers to connect and work together. Since its founding, the China Human Rights Lawyers Group has used joint public statements, involvement in specific human rights cases, and a range of other means to protect human rights and promote the rule of law. Chinese lawyers who support the ideals of human rights and are willing to safeguard the basic rights of Chinese citizens can join the group through an existing member by making a statement affirming these commitments. Promoting the rule of law and safeguarding human rights are the tireless pursuit of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group. We look forward to working together with you.
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (1) – Arrest, Questions About Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (2) – Sleep Deprivation
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (3) – Dangling Chair, Beating, Threatening Lives of Loved Ones, and Framing Others
Wang Qiaoling, May 26, 2017
This interview was conducted on May 5, 2017, three days before lawyer Li Heping returned home. – The Editors
Host: Hello everyone and welcome to “Surveying China,” (放眼大陆); I’m Huang Juan (黄娟). From July 9, 2015, for the next two months, about 300 lawyers, rights defenders, and dissidents were subject to mass disappearances; they were summoned by police, detained, and some have eventually been sentenced and jailed. This became the “709 Crackdown” that shocked the world. It’s been almost two years. Some victims have been imprisoned, others have been released on probation, still others have been given suspended sentences. It would seem that what family members want most is for the victims to be released, no matter what the circumstances. However, almost everyone who was released has fallen off the radar — they weren’t in fact truly freed. How can this be?
Today, we’re interviewing Ms. Wang Qiaoling (王峭嶺). Wang Qiaoling’s husband Li Heping (李和平) was disappeared about two years ago. On April 25, the Tianjin Second Intermediate People’s Court suddenly staged a secret trial of Li; they announced the verdict on April 28: Li Heping had been found guilty of subversion of state power and sentenced to three years imprisonment, suspended for four years, with deprivation of political rights for four years. From the verdict to May 5, eight days have passed, yet Li hasn’t been set free and allowed to return home. Lawyers hired by the family have gone to the court and the detention center, but Li was nowhere to be found. Wang Qiaoling, what was your reaction to the sentence?
Wang Qiaoling: First of all, I never expected they would carry out the trial in secret, and I never expected that the charges against my husband would be upheld. I heard from the secret police, the security police (国保), that he’d been sentenced. Then they told me that this was “the best news.” “A suspended sentence means he can return home.” But when I heard it, I was enraged.
As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t any sort of good news! I know exactly what sort of man my husband is. If one were concerned with enduring humiliation to save one’s skin, then of course it’s a good thing that he can come home. But he’s not merely an innocent man. He’s someone who goes out of his way to help others, to help those who are even more innocent, and tries to secure justice for them. It’s as though, if he went out and helped up an elderly person who’d fallen in the street, and for that was falsely accused of subverting state power — would you say his being sentenced in that case shouldn’t make me mad?
So I was really furious about it. With the entire 709 case from its inception to today, we’ve personally experienced China’s rule of law. It’s as worthless as a rag. There’s no rule of law. So we’re working as hard as possible to expose the truth. Myself and the other wives of 709 lawyers dearly hope that our husbands will be declared innocent and come home free. But the secret police tell me that he’s been convicted of the crime, given a suspended sentence, and then try to say it’s good news. They’ve used so many perverse, twisted methods to torment my husband, force-feeding him drugs, and all sorts of other cruelties. For 22 months his lawyers have been unable to see him. There’s been no news. So their declaring my husband a criminal makes me really mad.
Host: International observers were also rather astonished about this: Why was Li Heping put on trial without his family even knowing about it?
Wang Qiaoling: Exactly. It’s not only the trial we didn’t know about. We hadn’t even received the bill of indictment beforehand; and afterwards they didn’t show us the judgement. It was conducted in total secrecy. In other words, 22 months after my husband was arrested, we know nothing, and then at the end they tell us he’s a criminal.
Host: Though we did see the official news that they had designated Wen Zhisheng (温志胜), of the Tianjin branch of the Beijing Zhonglun Law Firm (北京中伦律师事务所), as Li Heping’s lawyer. But he didn’t inform the family of Li Heping’s trial or what was going on. Have you met this Wen Zhisheng?
Wang Qiaoling: The first time I met this lawyer named Wen Zhisheng was on April 28, the day that my husband was found guilty. Wen Zhisheng, though he was Li Heping’s defense lawyer, wasn’t with his client in the courtroom when the sentence was read, but was instead with the secret police waiting outside my apartment building, waiting for me to come downstairs. They didn’t dare come up, because they knew I wouldn’t let them in. So they just waited for me to come down, then stopped me, surrounded me, and prevented me from leaving. At this point Wen Zhisheng told me: “I’m your husband’s lawyer.” I said, “So you’re Wen Zhisheng? I call you and you don’t answer; I sue you and you don’t dare show your face.” He closed in on me and said: “I have a handwritten note from your husband to you.” I said: “You people have fabricated so many things, including letters to family members from prison.” We’ve been through too much over these 22 months. They’ve fabricated letters, signatures, and video recordings. They even came and told us family members not to appeal on behalf of our husbands, because they’ve already confessed. But when the victims emerged they said that they had never made those video recordings.
So when Wen Zhisheng gave me the letter, I simply didn’t believe him. I’ve never acknowledged that Wen Zhisheng actually represents my husband. We can pay for a lawyer ourselves, and we can get the best in China. I myself notified the court that I’ll be acting as Li Heping’s defense counsel. Li Heping and I studied law together at university, in the same class, so I’m entirely qualified to serve in that capacity. But my husband has been deprived of any news from outside, and the authorities forcibly assigned this lawyer to him. So when I saw this Wen Zhisheng, I told him: “I don’t believe you, and I don’t accept you as my husband’s lawyer.” I didn’t look at the letter he gave me. Then he went over and snatched the phone from another 709 wife, because she was taking photos of the encounter.
Host: What did it matter that someone was taking photos of him? Did he want to hide the fact that he had been assigned to be Li Heping’s lawyer?
Wang Qiaoling: I think he tried to seize her phone because he was terrified of being exposed. From when I learned that he was made my husband’s lawyer, I had tried to see him, but he never took my calls. So I sued him; the day before yesterday I received a response from the Tianjin Higher People’s Court, ruling that they would not accept my case. So I gave Wen Zhisheng a nickname: “The running dog of the Zhao family Wen Zhisheng,” “the Zhao family’s running dog.” He’s a disgrace to the term lawyer. Even though I don’t acknowledge his role, as the officially-appointed lawyer to Li Heping, how could he not be in Tianjin on the day that Li Heping is being sentenced? Amazingly, at 11:00 a.m. when I go out, he’s there outside my door. He must have had to get up early, at least, and spend three hours traveling from Tianjin to my home in Beijing. So from that you know just how he goes about acquitting himself as a lawyer.
Host: It’s quite strange. Given that he’s the officially-assigned lawyer, why not just follow the procedures and be in the court when the verdict is delivered?
Wang Qiaoling: He came to my house with the police to do one thing: fool me into going with them back to Tianjin to meet my husband. That way, they could put us both under house arrest. I would have lost contact with everyone, and there would have been no opportunity for the truth to be exposed. From the beginning of 2016, of everyone who has been released on probation — including those who were given suspended sentences in August, as well as those even later released on probation — there’s not a single one who has been truly free. This is the “709 Model.”
Host: You mean to say that everyone who has been released, to this day, has not really been free to speak?
Wang Qiaoling: That’s exactly what I mean.
Host: Has anyone gone to meet with them?
Wang Qiaoling: There have been meetings. People have definitely gone to visit them in secret, but no one dares take photos, or if photos were taken, no one would dare publish them. It’s got to that point. They were subjected to unimaginable torture inside. After they’re released they’ve not dared to speak to their own family members or society at large. When the police came on April 28, if they had succeeded in taking me away they would have brought me to my husband in Tianjin, and then used coercive measures to completely cut us off from any contact with the world. Without a phone, I wouldn’t be able to go online, and I’d have lost contact with the world. This is the 709 model. Every family has been dealt with in this manner. Look at the case of Wang Yu (王宇). No one has seen her.
Host: I haven’t heard any news.
Wang Qiaoling: Zhao Wei [赵威, Li Heping’s legal assistant] is the same; no one I know has seen her. Another assistant of my husband’s, Gao Li (高丽), has not been seen either. Over these last two years we’ve seen just too many family members who’ve been tricked when going in to visit. The relatives think that after they see the detainee, they’ll all be able to go home together. That’s what the police tell them. But then they go, and the result is that all contact is lost.
Host: You mean family members also get put under house arrest?
Wang Qiaoling: When we can contact them, the most we dare do is just ask how they’re getting on. They say “alright,” and don’t dare say more than that. When they get entrapped like this we really have no idea what has befallen them. Consider the entire 709 Crackdown — how many victims have really dared to come out and speak the truth? This leads me to Li Heping’s current circumstances. According to Chinese law, Li Heping has been given a suspended sentence. On that very day he should have been released to come back home. Why, at this point, have we heard nothing? Today Li Heping’s former defense attorney Ma Lianshun (马连顺) was commissioned by me to go to the Tianjin Procuratorate, the court, the detention center, and the Guajiasi (挂甲寺) police station to ask them: “Where is Li Heping?” They all say: “We don’t know. He’s gone.” So now you see what sort of situation Li Heping is in. He’s been disappeared. A new round of disappearance.
Host: Goodness — he’s been given a suspended sentence and they still won’t let him go.
Wang Qiaoling: Right. This is the 709 model.
Host: It’s been eight days now. What are they playing at? In the case of Li Heping, whether he’s given a suspended sentence as in this case, or if he was released on probation, if the authorities were determined to keep him detained, why bother going through the trial?
Wang Qiaoling: If they simply kept him detained indefinitely, it would set the Chinese government against the democratic countries around the world that cherish universal values and liberty. This is why, under intense international scrutiny and pressure, they have no choice but to release some people, let them out on probation, or give suspended sentences — as though these were really light punishments. It’s a show for the world, because the pressure was getting too much. It’s as if someone was abusing his children and wife. In front of other people, he’d say: “Look, I’m not hitting them anymore!” But now they’ve switched their methods of tormenting those they’ve detained. Just look at those who’ve been released on probation and are home now, or those given suspended sentences — who dares speak freely? This is to say that imprisonment has now become house arrest, so you can’t speak, can’t have any contact with the world, and it puts the victims under intense psychological pressure. That pressure falls not only on them, but the entire family. By giving Li Heping a suspended sentence, their goal is to use house arrest to stop him from helping those victims around him who need help. He’s also lost his license to practice law, because he’s been convicted. And now for the next four years, any move he makes will be scrutinized, and if the authorities think that he’s trying to “subvert state power,” they’ll haul him in and make him serve three years in jail.
Host: This method actually seems to closely resemble what they’ve done to Gao Zhisheng (高智晟).
Wang Qiaoling: Yes, it’s very like the approach they used before on Gao. In wrapping up the 709 cases, the Chinese authorities, on the surface, have adopted a lenient approach — but in actual fact they’ve used more underhanded, devious tactics to harm these lawyers and activists. None of the 709 victims dares to speak freely about what they went through. This itself is a huge psychological torment. On top of that, almost every day they’re going around frightening this lawyer and that — arresting someone while they’re on vacation, grabbing others when they’re in the middle of a meal. They’re continuing to foster an atmosphere of terror among human rights lawyers.
Host: I assume you’re referring to the recent detention of Chen Jiangang (陈建刚) in Yunnan, and the arrest of a number of human rights lawyers in the middle of a meal in Chengdu?
Wang Qiaoling: Right. And actually if you think back to Jiangang’s involvement in Xie Yang’s (谢阳) 709 case, all he did was his duty as a lawyer. If your client has been subjected to savage torture and you pretend like nothing happened, are you doing your job as a lawyer? In that case the authorities should simply scrap the entire legal profession and be done with it. If you’re a lawyer, then you have to defend the rights of your client — you expose the facts of the torture that your client was put through; this is one’s professional duty. If the authorities have the nerve to carry out this sort of torture, then they shouldn’t complain when it’s exposed. If they’ve got the nerve to act like scoundrels, then they should at least dare to proclaim themselves as scoundrels. You can’t act like a thug and simultaneously pretend like you’re a good person. I’m holding back on speaking too harshly in order to spare their feelings a bit.
Host: In these 709 mass arrests, there was another lawyer who received a lot of attention, Xie Yanyi (谢燕益). He was released a little while ago, but I don’t know what his circumstances are like now. It seems difficult to get any information about him.
Wang Qiaoling: Right — this is the “709 model” that I was talking about. Lawyer Xie was released on probation around the same time as Li Chunfu (李春富, Li Chunfu’s younger brother). Their families are really happy that they were allowed home. But they found that even after they came back home, they were unable to enjoy life in any normal fashion. Once home they made some announcements like “We need to rest,” etc. But have you heard anything about what they went through? No. What you’ve heard privately, or heard from so-and-so’s wife, hasn’t been verified by the person themselves, so you can only say that privately the news is that this or that happened. This is the 709 model. The authorities changed up their tactics, continuing to keep detained those they’ve “released.” If they dare to speak publicly about what happened to them in prison, the security police will appear once more and begin harassing and disturbing the family. So they can’t really live free lives.
Host: You just mentioned Li Chunfu, Li Heping’s younger brother. The news seemed to be that soon after he was released, his family found that he was mentally disturbed, but I haven’t heard the details of the situation now.
Wang Qiaoling: He indeed experience enormous mental suffering, and when he got out his mind seemed muddled and confused. He couldn’t identify his family members, and didn’t know whether he could trust and rely or them or not. He thought that the friends dropping by to visit were police. At the time, this was truly agonizing to behold. He said himself: I remember the day I left the detention center very clearly; the procedural aspect of the case had reached a decision-point: either I was going to sue the court, or else they were going to release me. But on that day the police were adamant to take me out of the police station.” He’s a lawyer; he said to them: “Firstly, you’re not my family; secondly, you’re not my lawyer, and you’re just taking me away like this. The detention center is under surveillance, but you taking me away like this means I can’t be certain of my personal safety.” So he was forcibly removed from the detention center, and even his signature on the probation documents was added later — the police forced him to sign them. There was also a bail bond of 1,000 yuan for the probation. He found it very strange, saying: “I don’t have any money. Who paid this?” The police said that his family paid it, but there was no family there, and no one knows where this money came from. So whether it’s Li Chunfu or anyone else arrested in the 709 crackdown, from their arrest to their release, there has been all manner of trampling on due process, official procedures, and the law. The police themselves say it: “There’s no law. There’s nothing you can do but confess.”
Host: It sounds like all these cases were blackbox operations. Ms. Wang, your husband has been locked up for nearly two years and has been unable to meet his lawyers. As his wife, how have you gotten through this?
Wang Qiaoling: I’m extremely concerned for his safety. Who can bear their husband’s absence, disappearance and separation for so long? Li Heping was vanished on July 10, 2015; when we received the notification of his arrest on January 20, 2016, my first reaction was: He’s alive; thank God that he’s still alive. Over the next grueling year or so, we received not a skerrick of news about him, until a few days ago when the police told me that my husband had been found guilty and was given a suspended sentence. My first reaction was again: He’s still alive. In China, detention centers are at least better than “residential surveillance at a designated place,” basically secret detention, where deaths can happen easily. I was very concerned that his body wouldn’t be able to take it, or that there’d be some sort of accident. My feeling on both these occasions was to thank God that he’s still alive.
How did I get through these last two years? I’m greatly fortunate because I’m a Christian. In the times of greatest trial, I pray. The most difficult times have been when I haven’t heard word about my husband. At these times, I’ve myself received a knock on the door and been taken to the detention center. Last August I accompanied another family as they went to apply to observe their husband’s court case. On the road in the middle of the night I was taken away by about a dozen men who shoved me into their car. No one knew who had taken me. I was locked in a room in the detention center for 24 hours. At this most difficult time, I got through it with prayer. As a Christian, I know that our human lives aren’t in our own hands — but in the hands of God. If one day, as I’m rushing about my business, I die — I believe that this will have been allowed by God. I know that upon death I’ll certainly be going to Heaven. That’s not because I’m so great, but because I have faith — we’re formed by our faith in God. So over these past two years, during the days of greatest torment, I’ve relied on prayer and faith in God to overcome. I know that God is a God of kindness and compassion. The 709 Crackdown over the past two years has pushed many families to the verge of destruction — but I always try to look at these affairs as they must appear in the eyes of God. In the midst of unrighteousness, you can often see love between people emerge and grow, and this love is conferred by God.
I remember some time ago that a foreign friend told me that China’s birth control policies are a horrendous violation of human rights; but because of these birth control policies, many baby girls are abandoned, and he and his wife adopted and raised three Chinese girls. Now he has three great loves in his family. And precisely in the midst of injustice, I found that my husband’s work was precisely about showing compassion toward and helping those around him — especially those at the bottom of society, like peasants, or those who have been wrongly sentenced to death, and so on. After my husband was arrested I met so many strangers who respected him, believed in him, and because of this loved our family. I also saw my children, throughout all this turmoil, go from being jealous of one another to showing concern and love for one another. I also saw that as our family went through these collective trials and tribulations, we not only withstood what was hard to face, but we were also willing to reach out a helping hand and support those around us. I have witnessed all these things over the last two years. When God opened my eyes and let me see all this, I felt that the burden of living became easier to bear.
Host: I remember there was a wife of one of the 709 lawyers — I think it was Li Wenzu (李文足, the wife of Wang Quanzhang)? — who said she cried for a long time, all the way until you reached out with a helping hand, wrote her a letter, and she finally had an ally and no longer felt isolated and helpless.
Wang Qiaoling: That was roughly what happened. In early 2016 when I received the notice of my husband’s arrest, I thought: God, what is it you want me to do? Right then, I said to myself with great clarity: Don’t linger in your own pain; you need to help those around you who are suffering in the same way. So during that Chinese New Year, I gave it a go, driving around to check in on the other family members of 709 victims. What we’re able to do is so feeble, minimal, and limited, but when you’re willing to do that little bit, you’ll find that love is like a seed that, when placed in the soil, can grow and grow. In the nearly two years since the 709 incident we’ve all been supported by one another. This is so precious. I feel that for all families — whether or not they fell victim to this shocking 709 incident — we all need to learn to not just look after ourselves, but look after those around us.
Host: When a lonely individual steps outside themselves, it creates a greater power. Over these last two years, in fact, the model of resistance we’ve seen from 709 families is completely different to the impressions we have and the circumstances of the past. Back years ago in Taiwan it was also like that — the families of those persecuted would display the tragicness of all, and thus gain international sympathy. Of course, this sort of suffering is indeed worthy of sympathy. But the way you went about resisting was original and creative, adopting a lot of new approaches, and this was what drew a lot of attention. I think in the future this will become a model that is worthy of study.
Wang Qiaoling: Someone will actually study this? Hah.
Host: I hope it won’t need to be studied much more!
Wang Qiaoling: For us it camel very natural — it was natural to go about it this way. That people want to study it, I think that’s quite amusing. I suffered clinical depression 17 years ago. I had just given birth to our eldest son and was suffering post-partum depression and was receiving treatment for in hospital. When I began believing in Jesus, and was in an environment where everyone was kind to one another, in a church, I gradually underwent a complete recovery. When I lived out in my own life the teachings of the Bible, I found that they brought benefits both to myself and the people around me. I experienced this as the work of God. You might have found that we’re very optimistic, proactive, and we don’t play the victim or indulge in sadness — this is just our normal manner. We’re just really optimistic people. If it wasn’t for so many years of the church helping me, I wouldn’t be like this.
China’s Hero Lawyers, WSJ editorial, May 22, 2017.
In China, torture is real, and the rule of law is a sham, Washington Post Editorial, January 26, 2017.
‘My Name is Li Heping, and I Love Being a Lawyer,’ interview with Ai Weiwei in 2010.
Transcribed and translated by China Change.
Xu Xiaoshun, father of Wu Gan, May 22, 2017
On May 20, 2015, while supporting lawyers on the “Leping Wrongful Conviction Case” at the Jiangxi Provincial Higher People’s Court, Wu Gan (aka “The Butcher”) was detained by the Nanchang municipal police. Several days later he, a native of Fujian province, was charged by the Fujian police with the crimes of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “defamation,” and jailed in Yongtai County Detention Center. During his detention in Fujian he was able to meet with lawyers several times. But then he was suddenly forbidden meetings, and on February 1, 2016, it was learned he’d been transferred to the custody of Tianjin municipal police as part of the 709 (July 9, 2015) case, or the now infamous crackdown on human rights lawyers, and was detained in Tianjin 2nd Detention Center. On December 9, 2016, 17 months after seeing their client last, attorneys Yan Xin and Ge Yongxi obtained permission to meet with Wu Gan in Tianjin, and learned from him that he’d been brutally tortured, including being deprived of sleep, shackled hand and foot like a death row prisoner with “I-bar” hand irons, hospitalized and administered “excessive and exaggerated” medical treatment, and not allowed outside for more than 200 days. He told the lawyers that those administering his case hoped he would plead guilty, accept a state-appointed lawyer, and make a televised confession. He staunchly refused. On January 3, 2017, Wu Gan was indicted with the crimes of subversion of state power and picking quarrels and provoking trouble. On March 24, 2017, attorney Ge Yongxi again met with Wu Gan. Wu Gan revealed that he’d been seen by a state-delegated female psychologist who advised him to plead guilty. Wu Gan emphasized that he would not commit unprincipled acts, and would not fire his lawyers and accept state-appointed ones. Due to the international attention attracted by the publishing of attorney Chen Jiangang’s “Transcript of My Meeting with Xie Yang,” Wu Gan’s lawyers have been denied meetings with Wu Gan again since March 24. — The Editors
Dear colleagues, Wu Gan’s friends, victims of 709 Crackdown on human rights lawyers, and supporters: I send my regards to you all. My name is Xu Xiaoshun (徐孝顺); I am Wu Gan’s father. Since Wu Gan was illegally imprisoned by the authorities, you have given him a lot of support and concern. I take this opportunity to thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
Wu Gan uses his mother’s surname, but did not inherit his mother’s gentle temperament. He’s just like me, inclined to help victims of injustice. Over the years Wu Gan has helped defend the rights of many people he’d never met before. I don’t have a specific understanding of all the things he did. But I do know his enthusiasm and integrity. I said to him: “What’s the use of your activism? It’s eventually going to land you in jail.” But he has his own ideas. Every time we met we argued, but after each dispute he persisted in his course of action.
I believe that everyone is somewhat familiar with the things Wu Gan has done since 2008. The authorities bitterly hate him, and have repeatedly persecuted him. But they have not succeeded in getting him to surrender. This is how they do things: when they couldn’t subdue him, they targeted his family to blackmail him. So on September 13, 2012, the local government gathered some people and fabricated the excuse of the crime of embezzlement to criminally detain me. According to their statement, I falsified accounts and conspired with others to privately sell an oil company’s crude oil. Of course the contents of the fabricated accounts couldn’t be verified. I was detained until May 23, 2013. When they couldn’t break me, they released me on “bail pending trial.” The year-long bail period expired on May 23, 2014, and in lieu of any evidence they dropped the case. However, on May 19, 2015, when Wu Gan was defending the rights of those sentenced to death in the Leping Wrongful Conviction Case in the Nanchang, Jiangxi Higher People’s Court, he was arrested. In order to make Wu Gan give up, on June 25, 2015 the authorities detained me again using the same charge. Since then, they have put on a show and held three court sessions. On January 19, 2017, they again released me on “bail pending trial.” On April 17 of this year, the Fuqing Municipal Court issued a ruling allowing the procuratorate to withdraw the criminal charges. On May 3, 2017, I received the Fuqing Municipal Procuratorate’s decision not to prosecute. From detention to withdrawal of charges, I was detained for nearly two years.
Discerning eyes can see that I was imprisoned altogether for more than two years because of my son Wu Gan’s human rights defense activities. I’ve suffered hardship, but have never blamed him. What he’s done isn’t wrong—I’m somewhat educated and I understand right and wrong. Some say that I have suffered guilt by association, but I have a different view. Guilt by association was invented by the Warring States Period statesman Shang Yang (商鞅, 390-338 BC), it means that when a person has committed a crime, their relatives share responsibility and must be punished as well. But my son Wu Gan has committed no crime. I was arrested, but only as a hostage to blackmail my son to plead guilty. I believe this interpretation is easier for people to understand.
My health has deteriorated after spending more than two years in the detention center. Old maladies are recurring. My hips and legs don’t move so well. Now that my own “case” has finished, I have to come out and say thank you to everyone! Thank you for more than two years of support and for helping Wu Gan, even though Wu Gan has yet to be “tried” and there are more 709 victims remaining in illegal detention. I think family members of other 709 victims share my sentiment.
I read carefully Wu Gan’s “indictment” cooked up by the authorities. According to the “indictment,” my son Wu Gan was involved in 12 things: supporting three Fujian netizens (福建三网民案), supporting home demolition victims (很多拆迁案), supporting me, supporting the lawyers attacked in Jiansanjiang, at a re-education center in northeastern Heilongjiang Province (建三江案), supporting the Huaihua Huang Family sisters (怀化黄氏姐妹), supporting the Zhengzhou Ten (郑州十君子案), supporting attorney Cheng Hai (程海律师), supporting Yunnan’s Lu Yong for helping 1,000 fellow leukemia patients get access to cheap, life-saving generic drugs from India (陆勇案), supporting Fan Mugen (范木根案), supporting Qing’an’s Xu Chunhe (庆安徐纯合案), and supporting the Jiangxi province “Leping Wrongful Conviction Case” lawyers (江西乐平案). These twelve cases all have specific victims of injustice, and all have real problems that may qualify as crimes. He supported victims of injustice and helped them seek redress, and for this he is charged with the crime of “subverting state power.”
To be honest, reading the indictment I was very angry. Wu Gan was helping victims of injustice. He hasn’t done anything to rebel, but he has been named a rebel. I may disagree with his tactics, but I feel very proud of him. I may not fully understand why my son does these things, but, as someone born several months before the establishment of this Communist government, I understand the regime that rules the society in which I now live.
After I was released from jail, Wu Gan’s friend showed me a video Wu Gan had recorded. After watching it, I cried. Old as I am, I seldom cry. In 1999, when my village was polluted, I took the lead in defending our rights and was sentenced to prison. I did not cry. But after watching the video of my son, I saw another side to him, and cried. My son is a man, and I cried like a baby.
I don’t use the Internet, but his friends showed me information online and I now know a lot of things that happened after Wu Gan got arrested. I know that a lot of lawyers have been arrested since Wu Gan’s arrest. This is known as the 709 Crackdown. Many 709 Crackdown family members, relatives, and friends have been doing everything they can to free their loved ones. Especially Ms. Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭) and Ms. Li Wenzu (李文足); they are really amazing. And many friends, relatives, and netizens support the 709 victims with bravery and intelligence. As Wu Gan’s father, and as a family member of a 709 Crackdown victim, I want to be part of the struggle and do my share, even though my hips and legs aren’t that nimble.
Before Wu Gan was arrested, he entrusted his affairs to some friends. They are able to go online and get more information, take quick action, and their numbers are quite large. I’m very reassured. I write this letter to express gratitude, and also to issue an appeal: Let’s all work together for the sake of 709 victims, and for the sake of my son Wu Gan. The more people who fight back, the better.
I’m a man with few hobbies, but I like to study fengshui (geomancy). People used to seek my advice on fengshui in choosing cemetery sites. Some may think that this is superstition, but I think it’s a way of giving people spiritual sustenance. A friend of Wu Gan told me that there’s a mother of one of the 709 victims who is a devout Buddhist. Every morning after her meditation, she said: My son is innocent, but they arrested him and won’t let lawyers meet him, leaving me no news of him whatsoever. Buddha, when will they die? I want to tell this mother, and I also say it in my heart every day: My son is innocent, they arrested him, now they won’t let his lawyers meet him. I want to find them a suitable site for their burial!
Thank you all again!
May 14, 2017
Xu Xiaoshun (徐孝顺)
Bill of Indictment Against Rights Activist Wu Gan, January 12, 2017.
Activist Who Rejected TV Confession Invites CCTV Interviewer to Be Witness at His Trial, Wu Gan, March 24, 2017
Wu Gan the Butcher, Yaqiu Wang, July 22, 2015
Chen Guiqiu, May 8, 2017
Over the weekend, ahead of the trial of human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) on Monday, his wife Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋) published an article detailing, for the first time, how she first learned about her husband’s torture during the 6-month “residential surveillance at a designated place” and then in the Changsha 2nd Detention Center. Xie Yang, during the three-hour show trial for subversion and disrupting court order, denied being tortured as part of an apparent deal with the government. He looked gaunt in photographs. He was represented by a government appointed lawyer, and no witnesses were called. A handwritten statement by Xie Yang on January 13, sealed with red wax thumbprints, foretold this unfortunate “denial”: “If, one day in the future, I do confess — whether in writing or on camera or on tape, that will not be the true expression of my own mind. It may be because I’ve been subjected to prolonged torture, or because I’ve been offered the chance to be released on bail to reunite with my family. Right now I am being put under enormous pressure, and my family is being put under enormous pressure, for me ‘confess’ guilt and keep silent about the torture I was subject to.” — The Editors
On March 2, 2017, in a nearly 12 minute segment, CCTV-4 published a report about the torture of Hunan human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳). The report, using numerous strands of evidence, purported to comprehensively prove that “Xie Yang did not suffer torture.” It said that the claim that Xie Yang had been tortured was a “conspiracy,” “engineered” by myself and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇). Included in the report was footage of Jiang Tianyong — under secret detention since November 21 last year — confessing guilt, and a so-called “independent investigation” by the Hunan Procuratorate, as well eyewitness description by the reporter upon visiting Xie Yang in the detention center.
Xie Yang’s defense lawyer, Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), produced an exhaustive, professional, and meticulous transcript of Xie Yang’s descriptions of the torture he suffered during meetings last December and on several successive days in January this year. These were published on January 19, 2017. A mass smear campaign in March also hinted that Chen Jiangang’s torture transcripts were a fabrication. Chen has already provided detailed and potent rebuttals of these ludicrous claims (here and here).
From early March to now, I’ve been silent for over two months. Today, I’m breaking that silence. First of all, I’d like the world to know how I came to gain news of the torture of Xie Yang beginning in August, 2016. With this, as well as Chen Jiangang’s transcripts and Xie Yang’s own handwritten statement, people can decide for themselves whether Xie Yang’s torture is real, and who is lying.
I. In late July, 2016, Hunan security police arranged for lawyer Zhang Zhongshi (张重实) to visit Xie Yang, for the purpose of persuading him to confess. Xie Yang had been in detention for a year by then, six months of which was under residential surveillance. After that he was held in the Changsha 2nd Detention Center. The meeting was extremely short. Xie Yang hurriedly recounted to Zhang some of the torture he suffered. He said that he was tortured to give a confession, and that he had at one point screamed out for help. He also told Zhang that over the past few days the detention center had locked him up in the same cell as a death row prisoner. The latter deliberately provoked him with lit cigarettes, and that after Xie Yang fought back against the bullying, the death row prisoner seized the opportunity to beat Xie Yang with his hand manacles. He sustained head injuries from this.
II. In August 2016, someone called and texted me multiple times at 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., saying that a man was calling for help from the second floor of the retired cadre guesthouse of the National University of Defense Technology on Deya Road in Changsha. The cries for help included my telephone number, name, and work unit. I went to visit this brave caller to verify what he told me. He said that the blood-curdling cries for help were terrifying in the extreme. Later, the interviews of Xie Yang by Chen Jiangang corroborated this incident. Xie Yang was indeed, while suffering an illness and trying to deflect the blows raining down on him, screaming for help out of the window of the cadre guest house.
III. On November 21, 2016, lawyer Zhang Zhongshi was able to formally hold a conference with Xie Yang for the first time as his defense lawyer. He heard Xie Yang, on his way to the meeting room, cry out at being slugged by the disciplinary officer Yuan Jin (袁进), and he touched Xie Yang’s swollen, bloody head. Zhang and I then exposed this incident to the media.
IV. In the year that Xie Yang was held in the detention center, several former detainees personally gave me extremely detailed accounts of the torture and inhumane treatment he was put to. They said he was put in solitary confinement, denied the use of money placed in his account by family, and denied toothpaste and toilet paper. He also described to them the numerous forms of torture applied against him during residential surveillance at a designated place. I have audio recordings of these accounts. I will make them public at an appropriate time.
V. During my contact with the state security police and public security forces, a number of people told me the news that Xie Yang had been tortured in custody. I also made audio recordings of these statements.
VI. These varied sources corroborated each other. I cannot reveal the names because they would be subject to violent reprisal for telling me. They include individuals in the security police and the public security system whose conscience has not been lost, and kind-hearted people who have suffered like me. When the state terrorists behind these acts have fallen from power, I will let you know who these heroes are.
Before Chen Jiangang’s interview transcripts were published, the news about Xie Yang was revealed by myself and his previous defense lawyers, covering two periods of time: when Xie Yang was being held in residential surveillance (July 11, 2015 to January 8, 2016) and after he was placed in the detention center (January 8, 2016 to the present). Every piece of evidence we gathered can be verified.
The torture details we learned from the above channels were verified in their entirety by Chen Jiangang’s transcript.
I know in my bones that in China the public security officials, the public prosecutors, and the courts, are one colluding family, and that the judicial system is unjust and has no transparency. According to Chinese law, during the time that Xie Yang has been detained, a video recording should have been kept 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the torture is fake, the authorities simply need to produce the video evidence to show it. This would constitute the most persuasive, primary evidence. Why have they never produced it? Clearly, all the “evidence” they keep speaking about are all lies.
May 6, 2017
This is an excerpt of Chen Guiqiu’s article, translated by China Change.
Urgent Statement by Chinese Lawyers Concerning Lawyer Chen Jiangang Who Was Detained by Yunnan Police Along With Family and Friends
May 4, 2017
We have learned that, around 1 pm on May 3, 2017, Beijing lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), his wife and two young children, as well as their friends Zhang Baocheng (张宝成) and his wife, were forcibly taken into custody by local police while the company was on a tourist trip in Jinghong, Yunnan province (云南景洪). In doing so, the police did not present any legal warrant. Lawyer Chen Jiangang and the company have now been in custody for over 19 hours, and their belongings have been confiscated. [As of the publication of the translation of this statement, they have been detained for over 30 hours.]
We are acutely aware that lawyer Chen Jiangang has riled the authorities for revealing the torture of his client, the Hunan-based lawyer Xie Yang, and we hope that his detention in Yunnan is not intentional retaliation against lawyer Chen Jiangang by the relevant organs. We’d also like to stress that free movement inside the borders of China is a natural, as well as a legal, right of each and every Chinese citizen.
Based on the international standard that lawyers shall not face reprisal or be persecuted for practicing their profession, and also based on citizens’ natural and legal rights to travel freely in the country, we issue the following urgent statement:
1. Yunnan police must immediately and unconditionally release Chen Jiangang, Zhang Baocheng and others traveling with them;
2. We have been paying close attention to the situation and will continue to do so. We will provide all legal assistance to lawyer Chen Jiangang and others on the same trip who have been controlled by police.
May 4, 2017
Stated by lawyers:
Jiang Yongji, Gansu (蒋永继，甘肃律师)；Wen Donghai, Hunan (文东海，湖南律师)；Cai Ying, Hunan (蔡瑛，湖南律师)；Zhang Jinwu (张金武，山东律师)；Chang Weishan, jiangsu (程为善，江苏律师)；Li Yuzhen, Shandong (李玉真，山东律师)；Zhu Shengwu, Shandong (祝圣武，山东律师)；Huang Hanzhong, Beijing (黄汉中，北京律师); Liu Zhiqiang, Shanxi (刘志强，陕西律师)；Yu Quan, Sichuan (于全，四川律师)；
DingbXikui, Beijing (丁锡奎，北京律师)；Chen Jinxue, Guangdong (陈进学，广东律师)；Qin Yongpei, Guangxi (覃永沛，广西律师)；LAN Zhixue, Beijing (兰志学，北京律师)；Chang Boyang, Henan (常伯阳，河南律师)；Ji Laisong, Henan (姬来松，河南律师)；Hu Linzheng, Hunan (胡林政，湖南律师)；Zhou Yinchang, Shandong (周云昌，山东律师)；Ma Wei, Tianjin (马卫，天津律师)；Liu Shuqing, Shandong (刘书庆，山东律师)；
Liu Weiguo, Shandong (刘卫国，山东律师)；Zhao Yonglin, Shandong (赵永林，山东律师)；Zhao Hexu, Shandong (赵和绪，山东律师)；Xiao Yunyang, Guizhou (萧云阳，贵州律师)；Shu Xiangxin, Shandong (舒向新，山东律师后)；Ge Wenxiu, Guangdong (葛文秀，广东律师)；Chen Jinhua, Hunan (陈金华，湖南律师)；Wang Qingpeng, Hebei (王清鹏，河北律师)；Yu Wensheng, Beijing (余文生，北京律师)；Lu Siwei, Sichuan (卢思位，四川律师)；
Huang Zhiqiang, Zhejiang (黄志强，浙江律师)；Situ Yiping, Shandong (司徒一平，山东律师)；Li Jinxing, Shandong (李金星，山东律师)；Zheng Xiang, Shandong (郑湘，山东律师)；Luo Lizhi, Hunan (罗立志，湖南律师)；Yang Xuan, Hunan (杨璇，湖南律师)；Chen Yixuan, Hunan (陈以轩，湖南律师)；Zou Lihui, Fujian (邹丽惠，福建律师)；Fan Biaowen, Guangdong (范标文，广东律师)；Lu Fangzhi, Hunan (吕方芝，湖南律师)；
Wang Haijun, Hunan (王海军，湖南律师)；Zhang Junjie, Henan (张俊杰，河南律师)；Wen Yu, Guangdong (闻宇，广东律师)；Wei Shuiping, Guangdong (魏水平，广东律师)；Zhai Yuan, Sichuan (瞿远，四川律师)；Zhao Shaohua, Guangdong (赵绍华，广东律师)；Pang Kun, Shenzhen (庞琨，深圳律师)；Wang Huanan, Shandong (王化南，山东律师)；Fang Yining, Beijing (房一宁，北京律师)；Ma Wannian, Ningxia (马万年，宁夏律师)；
Xu Hongwei, Shandong (徐红卫，山东律师)；Xu Guijuan, Shandong (许桂娟，山东律师)；Chen Nanshi, Hunan (陈南石，湖南律师)；Zhang Zhongshi, Hunan (张重实，湖南律师)；Wang Zhenjiang, Shandong (王振江，山东律师)；Li Yongheng, Shandong (李永恒，山东律师)；Meng Meng, Henan (孟猛，河南律师)；Tang Jitian, Beijing (唐吉田，北京律师后)；Ren Quanniu, Henan (任全牛，河南律师)；Liu Wei, Beijing (刘巍，北京律师后)；
Wen Haibo, Beijing (温海波，北京律师)；Liu Yan, Shandong (刘彦，山东律师)；Ling Qilei, Beijing (蔺其磊，北京律师)；Liu Jianjun, Beijing (刘建军，北京律师)；Li Weida, Hebei (李威达，河北律师)；Li Jinglin, Beijing (李静林，北京律师)；Xie Yanyi, Beijing (谢燕益，北京律师)；Zhang Lei, Beijing (张磊，北京律师)；Sui Muqing, Guangdong (隋牧青，广东律师)；
Tang Jiaji, Guangxi (谭家骥，广西律师)；Zhong Jinhua, Shanghai (钟锦化，上海律师)；Wang Zongyue, Guizhou (王宗跃，贵州律师)；Yang Mingkuai, Yunnan (杨明跨，云南律师)；Ma Lianshun, Henan (马连顺，河南律师)；Ge Wenxiu, Guangdong (葛文秀，广东律师)；Xi Xiangdong, Shandong (袭祥栋，山东律师)；Zeng Yi, Yunnan (曾义，云南律师)；Lu Tingge, Hebei (卢廷阁，河北律师)；
Li Fangping, Beijing (李方平，北京律师)；Liang Xiaojun, Beijing (梁小军，北京律师)；Liu Shihui, Guangdong (刘士辉，广东律师)；Wu Kuiming, Guangdong (吴魁明，广东律师)；Ji Zhongjiu, Zhejiang (纪中久，浙江律师)；Teng Biao, Beijing (滕彪，北京律师)；Zheng Enchong, Shanghai (郑恩宠，上海律师)；Jiang Yuanmin, Guangdong (蒋援民，广东律师)；Luo Qian, Hunan (罗茜，湖南律师)；Liu Lianhe, Tianjin (刘连贺，天津律师)；
Liu Zhengqing, Guangdong (刘正清，广东律师)；Cui Xiaoping, Guangdong (崔小平，广东律师)；Tong Chaoping, Beijing (童朝平，北京律师)；Wang Qiushi, Heilongjiang (王秋实，黑龙江律师)；He Wei, Chongqing (何伟，重庆律师)；Zhang Jinhong, Henan (张锦宏，河南律师)；
Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋), wife of 709 lawyer Xie Yang; Li Wenzu (李文足), wife of 709 lawyer Wang Quanzhang; Jin Bianling (金变玲), wife of 709 lawyer Jiang Tianyong; and Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭), wife of 709 lawyer Li Heping.
We continue to ask more lawyers and other concerned parties to co-sign this statement. Please send your information via WeChat or text to 18093643144, or communicate your intent to any of the above signatories.
China Change, May 3, 2017
(Chen Jianggang’s video statement on March 3: “If I lose my freedom.”)
Lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), on a holiday driving tour with wife, two young children (six and three), and two friends, were detained in a police station in Jinghong, Yunnan (云南景洪) around 1:00 p.m. on May 3. Jinghong is part of Xishuangbanna (西双版纳), a popular tourist destination.
The two friends are Zhang Baocheng (张宝成) and Zhang’s wife Liu Juefan (刘珏帆).
Around 5:00 p.m., all six were taken away in vehicles by a dozen or so armed police, according to a handwritten note by Chen Jiangang, circulating on WeChat. The note said:
1. Before I signed [a list of confiscated belongings], no one showed me any proper warrant.
2. Many more of our personal belongings have been stolen from us.
May 3, 2017
Lawyer Chen Jiangang has been the defense counsel for 709 lawyer Xie Yang since December, 2016, and published the Xie Yang torture transcripts on January 19, 2017. On March 1 and 2, the state media launched a massive campaign alleging that the torture of Xie Yang was a fabrication, involving not only lawyer Jiang Tianyong, but also Chen Jiangang.
Since then Chen Jiangang has been summoned for talks, and his former clients were interviewed by police looking for ways to frame Chen for possible retaliation. Indeed, he’s the most at-risk human rights lawyer since the kidnapping of Jiang Tianyong in November, 2016.
In a statement dated March 3, Chen said, “I have committed no crime. I will never, of my own volition, assent to any illegal interrogation, and nor will I level false charges against or attempt to frame anyone. Any written, oral, or video confession, self-degradation, or accusation against other people will only have been made under the circumstances that I have been deprived of liberty, am under duress, or am being tortured and threatened. Those are the only circumstances under which I could be forced to say such things, and none of them will be true.”
We call on the international media, human rights organizations, and diplomatic missions in Beijing to seek answers about the detention of lawyer Chen Jianggang, his family and friends, and the immediate release of them all.
Immediate action is crucial for his safety and that of his family.