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Members of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, March 8, 2019
Lu Tingge (卢廷阁) is a lawyer based in Shijiazhuang (石家庄), the capital of Hebei province. He is one of the newer faces in the community of human rights lawyers in China. In February he put forward a proposal to limit the legislative authorities of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and more than a thousand Chinese citizens signed to support the proposal. He has been missing since March 2. — The Editors
We have learned from multiple sources that, on March 2, the Shijiazhuang-based lawyer Lu Tingge was taken away by officials of Shijiazhuang municipal Justice Bureau and his neighborhood police officers, and that his family and colleagues have not been able to get in touch with him for seven days as of today.
Lawyer Lu called his wife once on the evening of March 2, not using his own cell phone, but that of Xing Qiang (邢强), an official of the Bureau. Since then his family has not been able to get in touch with him.
We as lawyers believe this is a serious violation of a citizen’s basic human rights such as freedom of movement and freedom of communication. It is a typical act of enforced disappearance. Those who are involved in disappearing lawyer Lu Tingge have committed the crime of extralegal detention defined by Article 238 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China.
We have reasons to believe that the enforced disappearance of lawyer Lu is probably related to his proposal for amending the Constitution and his gathering signatures of support because several lawyers who signed have been summoned for talks by officials of their local Justice Bureaus.
Lawyer Lu’s disappearance reminds us of a number of human rights defenders whose freedom has been partially restricted for their expressions. We believe that:
First, it is immoral to secretly categorize and identify citizens for their expressions and political orientations; it is immoral to conduct secret and prolonged investigations of lawful citizens who are merely exercising their constitutional rights.
Second, it is illegal to forcibly evict or limit the movement of certain citizens based on such secret categorization and identification when the National People’s Congress (NPC), the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), or the Chinese Communist Party’s national conference convenes, or on dates deemed particularly sensitive. It is a blatant contravention of constitutional rights and in opposition to the government’s claim of governing the country according to the law.
Third, the central requirement of governing the country according to the law is to respect and protect basic human rights and to allow citizens to be free of fear. Enforced disappearances by the government will create permeating fear. Such inappropriate exercise and transgression of power sets a precedent and can easily be multiplied, creating threats to all citizens. The enforced disappearance of lawyer Lu Tingge will inevitably and adversely affect ordinary people.
Fourth, according to article 16 and article 23 of the United Nations’ “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers,” “governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference,” that “lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly,” and that “they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights…”
We call on Shijiazhuang Justice Bureau and neighborhood police to immediately restore lawyer Lu Tingge’s physical freedom and freedom of communication.
We call on the Hebei provincial government’s disciplinary and supervisory entities to investigate the civil servants who have been involved in committing the crime of illegal detention in this case and to eliminate the ill effects it has created.
Members of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group (中国人权律师团)
March 8, 2019
Yaxue Cao, on the second China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day, July 8, 2018, New York
As of today, lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been held incommunicado for 1,095 days. Over the 1,095 days, his toddler has grown into a boy who vows to fight the “Monster” that took his father; his wife has metamorphosed from a timid housewife to one of the most recognizable faces of the 709 resistance. With each day, we worry about Wang Quanzhang’s fate: Is he still alive? Has he been so severely debilitated by torture that they can’t even show him? These dreadful thoughts eat at our hearts when we think about Wang Quanzhang, and we don’t know how not to think about him.
Wang Quanzhang is 42 years old. Like most human rights lawyers in China, he was born and raised in the countryside, and came of age with a deep-rooted sense that Chinese society was unjust and unfair.
He graduated from Shandong University in 2000 with a law degree. While still in college in 1999, the brutal, nationwide suppression against Falun Gong began, and he provided legal assistance to Falun Gong practitioners. That makes him one of the earliest defenders of Falun Gong. As a result, he was threatened and his home was raided by police.
After college, Wang Quanzhang took up volunteer work to teach villagers about Chinese law near Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong. He debated with villagers about whether it was power, or the law, that was supreme in China. The villagers believed that in China, power rules — not the law.
They were right then, and they’re right now.
In 2008 Wang Quanzhang moved to Beijing and worked at a string of NGOs. In 2009 he and friends co-founded the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group NGO (中国维权紧急援助组), to expand access to legal assistance for victims, organize trainings for fellow lawyers, and teach victims to become citizen lawyers using China’s civil and administrative laws.
After 2013, he focused on his legal practice and defended persecuted individuals in court, especially Falun Gong practitioners.
Wang Quanzhang was a lawyer with the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm when he was swept up along with scores of other lawyers and activists in July 2015. Among the rights lawyers, he was known for being beaten up a lot, inside and outside the court.
Oh yes, court bailiffs do beat lawyers sometimes, though China has yet to apply for World Cultural Heritage status for this practice.
In February, 2017, Wang Quanzhang was indicted for “subversion of state power.” No one has yet seen a copy of the indictment. We don’t know how the Communist Party built its case against him, but we do know that they have been eager to have him admit guilt, without success.
Foreseeing what was to come, Wang Quanzhang left a letter for his parents in July 2015:
No matter how despicable and ridiculous we appear to be in the portrayal by the manipulated media, Mother, Father, please believe your son, and please believe your son’s friends.
My taking up the work—and walking down the path—of defending human rights wasn’t just a sudden impulse. Instead, it came from a hidden part of my nature, a calling that has intensified over the years—and has always been slowly reaching up like ivy.
This path is doomed to be thorny, tortuous, and rocky.
Dear Father and Mother, please feel proud of me. Also, no matter how horrible the situation is, you must hang on and live, and wait for the day when the clouds disperse and the sun shines through.
I’m immensely grateful for this note of hope, a note of hope from someone who seems to have the least reason to embrace hope.
So what choice do we have but to remain strong, and forge ahead? We have a monster to slay, or our dignity, our freedoms, and indeed, our humanity, will be in peril.
Yaxue Cao edits this website. Follow her on Twitter @YaxueCao
709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘I Stayed Because I Want to Change It’, Jiang Tianyong, July 3, 2018.
709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘If This Country Can’t Even Tolerate Lawyers’, a 8-minute video, Wen Donghai, July 4, 2018.
709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘You’re Guilty of Whatever Crime They Say You Are’, a 7-minute video, Sui Muqing, July 5, 2018.
709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘We Don’t Accept the Communist Party’s Attempt to Instill Terror in Us’, a 9-minute video, Xie Yang, July 6, 2018.
709 Crackdown Three Years on: ‘The Most Painful Part of It all Was the Squandering of Life’, Xie Yanyi, July 8, 2018.
China Citizens Movement Outstanding Citizenship Award Selection Committee, December 10, 2017
Introducing Li Wenzu
Li Wenzu (李文足) was born in Badong, Hubei, on April 5, 1985. She is the wife of Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), a human rights lawyer who was arrested during the 709 crackdown. She worked as a tour guide and did business. After losing contact with her husband in July, 2015, she became a housewife, taking care of her son and working to rescue Wang as well as other lawyers and activists arrested in the 709 Incident.
During the two years since Wang’s disappearance, Li and other 709 families have stood by each other in the face of harassment, threats, detentions, and even physical violence. They persevered even as their children were forced out of school and their relatives pressured to return to their hometowns. They have spared no efforts, be it appeal, protest, or legal action, to rescue the victims of the 709 crackdown.
In the wake of the 709 incident, Li Wenzu stood up to represent all those affected. She did not retreat in the face of her husband’s arrest, but demonstrated the courage to defend his legal rights. In addition to actively networking with other relatives of those affected by the 709 incident, she proactively connected with the broader civil society.
There is a kind of love that yearns for joy and happiness, yet is tempered by suffering and adversity. It is validated by tears and bitterness. This is a love that comes from genuine humanity and is strengthened by freedom and justice. This kind of love manifests courage, dignity, and nobleness.
There is a woman who had a normal married life taking care of her child, parents, and husband. She could go out and spend time with her girlfriends. But when confronted with her husband’s sudden arrest and disappearance, she wiped her tears and went out in search of him. For the sake of love, she stood up to harassment, threats, detention, and even beating.
She did all this to pursue love, freedom and justice — in her words: “We hope to reunite, yet even more we hope to see justice being honored in this country. Only when justice is upheld are our nation and our citizens blessed. Until justice is done, our reunion will not be complete.”
She was not only defending the rights to which she and her husband are entitled. She was defending the rule of law that her husband, a human rights lawyer, and the other 709 lawyers have defended. She has fought for everyone’s freedom and justice.
In her husband’s time of need, she stood by him. When others came at her with various reasons to pressure her out of supporting him, she said: “I will be there with my husband to the end, even if it means giving up my life.” “When our son grows up, he will see that for whatever hardship his father suffered, his mother also bore a share—this is the best explanation we could give him.” For her, love is not just a honeymoon, it is the unconditional willingness to stay in the same boat, rain or shine.
Today, we are here to respectfully present the “Outstanding Citizenship Award” to Ms. Li Wenzu. We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to her for taking the courage to stand out as an upright and dignified citizen, demonstrating to all the true value of love, freedom, and justice. Her every word and deed has admirably displayed the true meaning of “citizenship.”
We believe that love will bless and envelop Ms. Li Wenzu and her husband Wang Quanzhang. Freedom is waiting for them, and the glory of justice is theirs. We hereby wish her peace and joy, and hope she can reunite with her husband in the near future.
China Citizens Movement Outstanding Citizenship Award Selection Committee
December 10, 2017
Teng Biao, December 7, 2017
This is the Foreword to The People’s Republic of the Disappeared: Stories From Inside China’s System for Enforced Disappearances, a newly published book about China’s “Residential Surveillance at a designated location.”
Those holding unchecked power often seek to hide their cruelty behind euphemisms. In China, classic examples range from “land reform” to the “Cultural Revolution.” You can’t easily see the cruelty from the surface of such words. Expressions like “the three year natural disaster,” used by the Communist Party to describe the Great Leap Forward of 1958 to 1961 in which tens of millions died, or the “6/4 counterrevolutionary riot,” the description of the Tiananmen Democracy movement, are shameless acts of misrepresenting history and reversing right and wrong. Do “Legal Education Centers” really have anything to do with law or education? No. They are Black Jails for arbitrarily detaining and tormenting politically sensitive groups around the country.
“Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location” (RSDL) is the latest euphemism.
Tyranny is not only reflected in murder, evil laws, and crackdowns; it is reflected even more in the minor details. This book is a collection of details, vividly reflecting China’s cruelty.
Much remains unknown about RSDL, and for that reason this book is an invaluable look into the rarely exposed systematic tyranny behind the euphemism of “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location.”
Looking into its legislative history, RSDL was first envisioned in the 1997 Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), which dictated a special form of Residential Surveillance to be applied to those suspects without a fixed residence. However, with police having near unlimited powers, it is little wonder that the regulation has been used for repression.
The most famous democracy advocate in China, the deceased Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, was placed under Residential Surveillance after he was taken in December 2008. His crime had been signing “Charter 08,” a petition calling for democracy and political liberalization in China. Obviously, Liu Xiaobo did not belong to the category of “suspects without fixed residence” and should have been allowed to serve his Residential Surveillance with his family at his home. His lawyer should have been allowed to visit him anytime. Instead, Liu was effectively disappeared during his seven months of Residential Surveillance, before being sentenced in a mockery of a trial to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion of state power. On 13 July 2017, Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer, likely treatable had he not been a prisoner of the state. His wife, Liu Xia, has also been disappeared at times, denied contact with the outside world with no legal basis or justification.
During the 2011 “Jasmine Revolution,”[i] the authorities kidnapped and secretly detained human rights defenders on a large scale, in a gangland act of criminality under the banner of “National Security.” Human rights lawyer Liu Shihui (Chapter 2) reflected on his secret detention. “I was beaten so badly that I needed stitches. My ribs were in extreme pain, which continued to interrupt my sleep for days. I wished that I would be transferred to a detention center.”[ii]
Similarly, [activist] Tang Jingling was not allowed to sleep for upwards of ten days. In the end, he felt “trembling, numbness of hands, and a bad feeling in his heart, that his life was in great danger, and only then did the police just allow him to sleep one or two hours a day.”[iii]
Writer Ye Du was held in a Guangzhou Police Training Center for 96 days, like lawyer Sui Muqing (Chapter 10). Ye recalled, “[I] didn’t see sunlight for over a month. I was subjected to 22 hours of interrogation every day. I was given one hour for eating, one hour for sleeping, until the 7th day when my stomach had massive bleeding.”[iv]
Hua Ze’s book, In the Shadow of the Rising Dragon, published in 2013, records the experiences of 47 activists caught up during the Jasmine Revolution. I was one of them.
After I was kidnapped, I was detained in secret for 70 days. I was told that I was being placed under Residential Surveillance. No one ever told me their name, department, or position. Nobody ever showed me a work permit, search warrant, or any legal documents. I suffered. During this time, I was beaten, deprived of sleep, forced to maintain stress positions, forced to wear handcuffs for 24 hours a day for 36 days, threatened, abused, forced to write a confession, and otherwise ill-treated. Even now, years later, it is hard to put it into words.
RSDL is classified as a non-custodial coercive measure, but in reality it has not only became a system for prolonged, pre-trial detention outside a formal, legal location, but has also become a more severe, more terrible, coercive measure than normal criminal detention. RSDL is not limited by detention center regulations, nor any real supervision at all. The chances of torture are greatly increased; in fact, torture has become rampant under RSDL.
The authorities must find RSDL to be a very convenient and effective way for dealing with rights defenders, judging by its indiscriminate use since the CPL was revised in 2012.
Article 73 of the CPL, stipulates that, “Residential Surveillance shall be enforced in the residence of the suspect or defendant. For those without a fixed residence, it may be enforced in a designated location. When… enforcement in the residence might impede the investigation, it may also be enforced in a designated location upon the approval of the People’s Procuratorate or Public Security organ at the level above.”
The police can decide for themselves if someone is to be placed in RSDL, which means the police decide who is to be disappeared.
It is little wonder that this was one of the most controversial articles during legislative reform, leading many commentators, myself included, to call it the “Jasmine Article.” This is because it appeared to legalize enforced disappearances, which had become more common during the Jasmine Revolution crackdown.
The CPL stipulates that RSDL “must not be enforced in a detention center or special case-handling area;” but in reality, all RSDL is enforced at special case-handling areas run by the Public or State Security Bureaus, or it is carried out at euphemistically named “training centers,” “prevention bases,” “anti-corruption education bases,” or sometimes even hotels that have been specially converted into secret detention facilities known as Black Jails.
The law permits for exceptions where family members don’t even need to be informed, and allows the state to deny access to a lawyer. These exceptions, which have now become the norm, have turned RSDL into a de facto enforced disappearance, exactly what the RSDL system seeks to achieve.
During suppression of the “Jasmine Revolution” in 2011 and the “709 Crackdown” starting in 2015,[v] terrifying enforced disappearances became common experiences within the human rights community. The most serious example is lawyer Wang Quanzhang. While I am writing this, Wang’s fate and whereabouts have remained uncertain for over two years. The cruelty and brutality of RSDL is clearly visible for the world to see.
In 2010, the Chinese government refused to sign the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. This was an irresponsible act but far from surprising. Enforced disappearances are nothing new in China. High-profile examples include the 17 May 1995 disappearance of the then six-year-old Panchen Lama, who had been confirmed by the Dalai Lama, and the widespread disappearance of Uyghurs following the July 2009 Urumqi riots. Still, the legalization of enforced disappearances in the CPL is shameful.
According to the original intention of the law, Residential Surveillance should only be a monitoring location. It is not to be used for interrogation or custodial purposes. However, the facilities used for RSDL have not only become specialized interrogation facilities, they have become even harsher than prisons and detention centers.
These custom-built prisons, spread across China, which are not allowed to be called prisons, have become terrifying torture centers where all manner of abuse is common: long periods of sleep deprivation, beatings, electrocution, forcibly handcuffed and shackled, confined to tiger stools and dangling chairs for long and painful periods, subjected to fumigation of the eyes by smoke, subjected to stress positions, denial of food and water, denied hygiene, extensive and continuous interrogation sessions, threats of violence, or threats to family. Everyone placed in RSDL is kept in solitary confinement.
Torture during many disappearances is well documented in a number of high profile cases. The accounts have sometimes been too much for people to bear reading about. Many rights defenders related to the 709 Crackdown, such as Li Heping, Li Chunfu, Xie Yanyi, Li Shuyun, and Gou Hongguo, have explained how they were forcibly fed unidentified medicine, leading to different painful symptoms.
Families of some of the 709 lawyers published an open letter in which they wrote, “Lawyer Li Chunfu, Xie Yanyi, Xie Yang, and Li Heping were all tortured to such a degree that they became different people from who they were before they were taken, some only 40 years old but looking more than 60.”[vi]
Until now, most of what we know about RSDL has come from scattered reports or open letters from family members. This book is the first to present a fuller picture of the suffering imposed under RSDL.
Jiang Xiaoyu, an IT worker, writes in Chapter 8 of being told:
I can make you disappear for years. Even your wife and daughter won’t know where you are.
Another victim, lawyer Chen Zhixiu, details in Chapter 4:
It wasn’t until the third day that they gave me two small steamed buns and a few green vegetables. The size of the two buns together was still smaller than the palm of my hand. I felt that I was going to lose consciousness. I felt dizzy all the time because of lack of food and sleep, but I was still expected to submit to being interrogated. If I started to wobble in the chair they would make horrifying sounds to snap me awake.
I myself had experiences such as these during my detention. I tried to distract myself with memories, talked to myself, outlined literature and found other ways to keep from going crazy, since I was deprived of all forms of communication. Once I accidently saw a Party newspaper. I was very excited. Finally, I could read some text! When they played a propaganda film to brainwash me, I was happy just to hear the background music.
It doesn’t matter if it is physical or mental torture. Both are hard to describe and express in words. However, the most painful thing is not the torture itself. For prisoners of conscience held in secret, I have found, there are two things that lead to even greater suffering:
One is being subjected to forced confession. Several individuals in this book describe with previously undisclosed details the experiences of delivering a forced confession. Those who have stepped onto the road of human rights defense face enormous pressure, living with threats to their family and heavy prison sentences. Many have been forced to confess. The authorities have used these confession videos to broadcast propaganda on state television, to confuse public opinion, to crack down on the will of resistance and dehumanize those who resist, and to turn rights defender against rights defender. It is used to split supporters. This may be the hardest part for China’s many political prisoners.
The authorities don’t always achieve their purpose but they more or less always have an impact. Many people have suffered the pain of misunderstanding and have grown distant from others. Many have quit rights defense because they were ashamed of themselves.
Secondly, those detained in secret have almost all experienced the indescribable suffering of having their families threatened or persecuted. In general, those who have chosen to become rights defenders under this kind of dictatorship are already aware of the risks and are prepared. When we are “invited for tea” [a euphemism used to describe a police summons], placed under house arrest, detained or tortured, nothing can stop our fighting spirit. But for the authorities to achieve the greatest deterrence, all they need to do is apply the threat of pain to our family members. This has become a common tactic used by the authorities, and used with growing expertise. As with my own experience, the hardest thing for activists fighting for freedom is how to balance conflict between family and social responsibilities.
People compromise, yield, fall silent, or give up after their family has been threatened or attacked. The Chinese Communist Party understands this clearly. I have written about the Party’s assault against the family members of rights defenders before.
RSDL goes far beyond normal detention. Serious human rights violations are widespread. It goes against the rule of law. It should be abolished. But under the One Party Dictatorship, the lack of judicial independence or freedom of expression, the state has instead expanded its suppression of the human rights movement and hurriedly broadened the use of RSDL in the name of “stability maintenance.”
The publication of this book has great importance and meaning: to reveal the truth, record the misery, and provide evidence of guilt. It is an indispensable signpost on the road to justice.
[i] Inspired by the so-called Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, and the broader Arab Spring movement, starting 20 February 2011, activists in China began calling for public assemblies in cities across the country to advocate for reform. After initially being met with overwhelming violence and repression, organizers started calling for people to assemble and “take strolls.” Some 35 activists were detained, five of whom were charged with endangering state security. Many human rights defenders detained during this time, including Teng Biao, Tang Jitian, and Liu Shihui, were subjected to lengthy disappearances in which they were tortured. In many ways, the repressive extrajudicial tactics employed during this time can be seen as part of the inspiration for the current RSDL system.
[ii] Wang, Yaqiu. “What You Need to Know About China’s ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Place’.” China Change. 2 August 2015. https://chinachange.org/2015/08/02/what-you-need-to-know-about-chinas-residential-surveillance-at-a-designated-place/.
[v] The 709 Crackdown was a nationwide strike against both individual rights defense lawyers and the larger rights defense movement. Also known as the “war on lawyers.” The name, 709, comes from the date when the first lawyer was detained, Wang Yu, on 9 July 2015. As part of the crackdown, over a period of months, some 300 lawyers were targeted, many of whom were placed in Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location. Some were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, such as rights defender Hu Shigen. In August 2016 he was given more than seven years in prison for subversion of state power; others were released following lengthy periods of incommunicado detention, torture, and forced confessions, such as lawyer Xie Yang. By many accounts, it has been the largest and most brutal crackdown on civil society since the 1989 Pro-Democracy Movement ended in the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
[vi] “Lǐ Wénzú: Zhōnggòng gōng’ān, huán wǒ zhàngfū Wáng Quánzhāng——Wáng Quánzhāng nǎ’er qùle?” 李文足：中共公安，还我丈夫王全璋——王全璋哪儿去了？
(Li Wenzu: CCP Ministry of Public Security give my husband Wang Quanzhang back—Where is Wang Quanzhang?) China Citizens Movement. 16 May 2017. https://xgmyd.com/archives/29811.
Dr Teng Biao (滕彪) is a human rights lawyer, formerly a lecturer at the China University of Politics and Law, and currently a visiting scholar at the US-Asia Law Institute, New York University. He co-founded two human rights NGOs in Beijing—the Open Constitution Initiative and China Against the Death Penalty, in 2003 and 2010 respectively. Because of his human rights work, he was abducted and detained by Chinese secret police in 2008 and 2011.
The Nightmare – An Excerpt of Lawyer Wang Yu’s Account of 709 Detention and Torture, Wang Yu, November 13, 2017
A Record of 709, Xie Yanyi, October 15, 2017.
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (1) – Arrest, Questions About Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, January 19, 2017.
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (2) – Sleep Deprivation, January 20, 2017.
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (3) – Dangling Chair, Beating, Threatening Lives of Loved Ones, and Framing Others, January 21, 2017.
Also by Teng biao:
The Confessions of a Reactionary, Teng Biao, August 27, 2013.
Politics of the Death Penalty in China, Teng Biao, January 16, 2014.
Relatives of Recently Disappeared Lawyers and Activists Write a Letter to China’s Minister of Public Security
On the eve of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (August 30)
Published: August 29, 2015
“Such fear and panic do not beset these lawyers and their families only; they beset the entire Chinese society.”
Honorable Mr. Guo Shengkun (郭声琨),
We don’t know if you will be able to read this letter, but we are writing it regardless in the hope that you may. We do not want to let slip the slightest hope.
Since July 9th, our loved ones have been disappeared, and they include 17 lawyers, their assistants, and law firm staffers, as well as 6 rights defenders. Their disappearances all followed the same pattern: the people who took them away, either in Beijing or Tianjin, claimed that they were “Tianjin police.” They were taken away for allegedly “provoking disturbances” or merely for “committing a crime” without any specifics; and following their forced disappearance we have had a hard time to get them lawyers. Lawyers who expressed desire to represent them were visited by security police who threatened them against any involvement.
Those of us who have been able to hire lawyers for our loved ones have seen that when the lawyers attempted to meet their clients according to procedures, the Tianjin police denied that they had taken away our loved one.
When a terrorist attack is perpetrated, a terrorist group will come out and claim responsibility for it. When the police system of the People’s Republic of China disappears its citizens, shouldn’t it make a statement and say something?
On July 18, our loved ones appeared on CCTV’s morning news. We were flabbergasted to find that, while we still hadn’t received any written notice about them, they were already found guilty on TV without a trial. Is this a demonstration of “governing the country according to the law” emphasized by our General Secretary Xi?
Finally, as we searched tirelessly for our loved ones, there were words that a task force was in charge of our loved ones and that Tianjin police don’t know much about it. We managed to find out their alleged crime (or the vagueness of it), and we were told that an official notice would be delivered to us.
But 50 days have passed since the disappearance of our loved ones. So far, only relatives of 5 lawyers, their assistants and 2 rights activists have received notices from the police, and relatives of the rest of the 16 have received nothing. Where have the notices been sent? Even if they were sent to the hometown addresses on their ID cards, they should have long arrived. Those who received detention notice still don’t know where their loved ones are detained, and there is no knowing when they will have access to lawyers. Only one has met with a lawyer once and no more since then.
In short, 23 PRC citizens have been disappeared, some for as long as 50 days by now, and the public security apparatus you head have had no intention to honor our lawful rights to information.
Why? Since China has been flaunting “governing the country according to the law,” we wonder: Is the law the government acts on the same as the promulgated law? Words fail to express our anxiety and helplessness.
We wonder: whether it’s the high ranking public security officials or the rank and file police officers, don’t you have parents, a wife or husband, and children? You don’t know what it is like until the same thing happens to you? Forgive me for making such a connection, but it indeed has happened to members of your system.
Families and friends keep asking for news about our loved ones. And the only thing we can tell them is that we have received nothing from the public security.
Outside the gate of the Preliminary Investigation Squad of Tianjin Hexi Detention Center, the two-year-old son of lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) asked his mother: “Where is Daddy?” Bao Mengmeng (包蒙蒙), teenager son of lawyer Wang Yu (王宇) texted her mother’s colleagues who have not been disappeared: “When can I see my parents?” The five-year-old daughter of lawyer Li Heping (李和平) asked, “Why is daddy still not home?”
Faced with these questions from children, we hope you understand how we feel: “We don’t even know where they are, let alone when they will come back.”
Over the years, Chinese police are known to the world for extracting confessions through torture in the investigation stage. Even though China has long ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, we have little faith that the law will protect the safety of our loved ones when the authorities would not even acknowledge their whereabouts.
We grew up watching TV programming extolling the New China. Now we think about it and we cringe: What is this? To tell you the truth: At home we fear even knocks on the door. People at the door who claim to be checking our water meter, delivering a package, fixing water pipes are least likely robbers (if they are we can at least call 110), and most likely someone who is a disguised secret police of the People’s Republic of China, and a 110 call wouldn’t get you help.
Such fear and panic do not beset these lawyers and their families only; they beset the entire Chinese society.
We look forward to the public security system observing the law when handling cases.
1. Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭), wife of Li Heping (李和平)
2. Zhao Fengxia (赵凤侠), mother of Bao Longjun (包龙军)
3. Wang Quanxiu (王全秀), older sister of Wang Quanzhang (王全璋)
4. Li Wenzu (李文足), wife of Wang Quanzhang (王全璋)
5. Liu Shengxian (刘圣贤), father of Liu Sixin (刘四新)
6. Bi Liping (毕利萍), wife of Li Chunfu (李春富)
7. Xie Yuanfeng (谢远凤), younger sister of Xie Yuandong (谢远东)
8. You Minglei (游明磊), husband of Zhao Wei (赵威)
9. Gao Liang (高亮), younger brother of Gao Yue (高月)
10. Fan Lili (樊丽丽), wife of Ge Ping (戈平)
11. Ai Huixin (艾回新), mother of Wang Fang (王芳)
12. Liu Yinchai (刘银钗), mother of Monk Wangyun (望云和尚林斌）
13. Tong Yanchun (佟彦春), mother of Wang Yu (王宇)
August 29, 2015, on the eve of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (August 30).
List of Lawyers, law staffers, and rights activists who have been disappeared since July 9:
17 lawyers, assistants and law firm staffers:
1. Wang Yu (王宇), Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Taken away at 4:00 am on July 9, 2015. Held incommunicado for over 50 days already. Placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” for allegedly “provoking disturbances” and “inciting subversion of state power.”
2. Bao Longjun (包龙军), husband of Wang Yu, Beijing. Unreachable since 3:00 am, July 9. Placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” for allegedly “inciting subversion of state power” and “provoking disturbances.” Police denied lawyers of meeting with Bao on August 28 and was told that Bao is “suspected of the crime of harm the national security.”
3. Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), Beijing, Fengrui Law Firm. Unreachable since 13:00, July 10, 2015. Criminally detained for allegedly “provoking disturbances” and “inciting subversion of state power.” Home in Beijing searched by Beijing police on August 5.
4. Liu Sixin (刘四新), administrative assistant at Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Unreachable since 8:45 am, July 10, 2015. Held in Tianjin Hexi Detention Center for allegedly “provoking disturbances.”
5. Xie Yuandong (谢远东), intern lawyer at Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Taken away from home on July 10, 2015, and placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” on the same day.
6. Li Heping (李和平), Beijing. Taken away at 14:00, July 10. Coersive measures used against him.
7. Xie Yanyi (谢燕益), Beijing. Summoned for a talk in the afternoon of July 10, 2015. Taken away in the morning of July 12. Home raided on the same day around noon. Coersive measures used against him.
8. Zhou Shifeng (周世锋), Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Taken away at 7:30 am, July 10. Criminally detained.
9. Huang Liqun (黄力群), Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Taken away at 8:30 am, July 10. Criminally detained.
10. Sui Muqing (隋牧青), Guangzhou, Guangdong. Taken away at 23:40, July 10, 2015. Placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” for allegedly “inciting subversion of state power.”
11. Xie Yang (谢阳), Hunan province. Taken away at 5:40 am, July 11. Placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” for allegedly “disrupting the court” and “inciting subversion of state power.”
12. Professor Chen Taihe (陈泰和), Guangxi Autonomous Zone. Criminally detained on July 13, 2015, at Guilin Third Detention Center for allegedly “provoking disturbances.” Lawyer Tan Yongpei (覃永沛) met with him once on July 16 but has been denied of meeting since.
13. Zhao Wei (赵威), a.k.a. Kaola, Beijing, assistant to lawyer Li Heping. Taken away at 17:00 on July 10, 2015. Criminally detained in Tianjin Hexi Detention Center for allegedly “provoking disturbances.”
14. Gao Yue (高月), Beijing. Assistant to lawyer Li Heping. Placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” for allegedly “provoking disturbances” and “inciting subversion of state power.”
15. Li Shuyun (李姝云), Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Taken away by police at 11:30 on July 10, 2015.
16. Li Chunfu (李春富), Beijing, younger brother of Li Heping. Taken away by Tianjin police around 22:00 on August 1, 2015 and home raided.
17. Wang Fang (王芳), accountant at Beijing Fengrui Law Firm. Unreachable since 8:30, July 10, 2015.
5 Rights Activists:
1. Gou Hongguo (勾洪国), a.k.a. Ge Ping (戈平), Tianjin resident, taken away in Beijing in the morning of July 10, 2015, by Tianjin police. Placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” for allegedly “provoking disturbances.” On August 24, the authorities changed allegation against him to “inciting subversion of state power.”
2. Liu Yongping (刘永平), a.k.a. Lao Mu (老木), Beijing. Detained on July 10, 2015. Placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place” for allegedly “provoking disturbances.”
3. Hu Shigen (胡石根), Beijing. Disappeared on July 10, 2015.
4. Lin Bin (林斌), a.k.a. Monk Wangyun, Fujian. Taken away around noon on July 10 in Chengdu airport. His temple Jiuxian Zen Temple in Fujian was raided on July 9, and on August 16, his mother was evicted from the temple.
5. Jiang Jianjun (姜建军), Dalian, Liaoning. Criminally detained on July 12 for “provoking disturbances” and released after 37 days in custody.
中文原文《13名被强迫失踪人士家属致中华人民共和国公安部部长郭声琨先生的公开信——写在8月30日国际强迫失踪日前夕》, translated by China Change.