China Change

Home » Posts tagged 'rule of law'

Tag Archives: rule of law

‘The Ball Is in Your Court!’ Questions for the Hunan Procuratorate Regarding Its ‘Independent Investigation’ into Xie Yang’s Torture

Chen Jiangang, March 22, 2017

 

Chen Jiangang_Fujian

Chen Jiangang

The public didn’t know until yesterday that ambassadors from 11 countries wrote a letter to China’s Minister of Public Security on February 27, 2017, expressing their grave concern over recent reports of torture of human rights lawyers, and China’s use of secret detention known as “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL). In light of our knowledge of this letter, China’s massive smear campaign beginning on March 1 — two days after the letter was received — becomes much more disturbing. China made lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) “confess” on camera that he had made up the reports of Xie Yang’s (谢阳) torture; Jiang was forcibly disappeared on November 21, 2016, and subsequently placed under RSDL, and thus could not have made those statements of his own volition, raising the concern that he has also been tortured. Chinese state media further hinted that Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), Xie Yang’s defense lawyer, worked with Jiang to further the fabrication. Since then, lawyers Chen Jiangang and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清) have been denied several requests to meet their client Xie Yang, and Chen is worried that Xie Yang may be tortured again. Meanwhile, Chen himself has been under significant pressure to keep his mouth shut, and officials from the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau and the Chaoyang District Justice Bureau have frequently warned of trouble, and requested talks. Today they are conducting an “inspection” of his law firm. “If I can only use my mouth for eating but not for speaking,” Chen said, “you may as well ask me to be a pig or a dog.” We are concerned about lawyer Chen Jiangang’s safety and the reprisals that will inevitably befall him. We remain concerned about Jiang Tianyong and Xie Yang’s circumstances and that of the 709 lawyers and activists still in custody in Tianjin. — The Editors

 

On March 3, China Central Television published a story titled “The Truth Behind Lawyer Xie Yang’s Claims of Torture: An Intricate Fabrication” (《律师谢阳“遭遇酷刑”真相调查 酷刑是故事加细节想象出来的》) in which Yang Zhizhong (杨志忠), a prosecutor in charge of internal supervision of criminal enforcement in the Hunan Procuratorate, was quoted saying that no torture of the Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang have taken place during his time in custody.

“The entire mission of our criminal enforcement supervision division is to protect the legal rights of detainees, so we took it upon ourselves to form this eight-person investigation team to conduct an independent investigation,” he said on camera. “Through our investigation, we found that these four claims of ‘torture’ can be said, absolutely, to be false.”

As Xie Yang’s defense counsel who published the transcripts of Xie Yang’s torture, I submit the following points of fact, clarification, and questioning to the Hunan Procuratorate, which I hope it will examine and respond to.

  1. Xie Yang’s Defense Counsel Has Not Seen the Report

The official China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast briefly flashed an image of the Hunan Procuratorate’s report, titled “Investigative Report Regarding Claims by Xie Yang and His Defense Attorney of Torture, Forced Confession, and Abuse During Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location and in Custody at the Detention Center” (《关于谢阳及其辩护人反映谢阳在指定监视居住和看守所羁押期间受到刑讯逼供、虐待等问题的调查报告》, henceforth “the report”). Judging from the title, the Hunan Procuratorate opened an investigation into the reports of torture of Xie Yang as a result of Xie Yang’s complaint and that of his defense counsel. In that case, shouldn’t they contact Xie Yang’s defense counsel, the individuals who made public the transcripts? Shouldn’t the conclusion of the report be communicated to Xie Yang’s defense counsel? Xie Yang’s two lawyers, Chen Jiangang (陈建刚) and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清), have not received either oral or written notification concerning the investigation or been subject to questioning by the Hunan Procuratorate. Neither have they even seen a single complete page of the final report.

The Hunan Procuratorate claims that it produced its report to refute allegations by Xie Yang’s defense lawyers, yet it hides the report from those lawyers. Why? Did you go to all that trouble just to flash half a page for one second on CCTV?  

  1. How Was the Report Independent?

From Xie Yang’s case file that I read, Xie Yang was charged with “opposing the Party and opposing socialism.” The indictment of Xie Yang accuses him of publishing “many speeches attacking and defaming the government, judicial organs, and the state justice system.” That is to say, Xie Yang is the attacker, the criminal suspect, and the Communist Party, government departments, and judicial organs, are the victims. The two stand in an oppositional relationship. Thus, the following questions arise:

i. The Hunan Procuratorate is lead by the Party, is it not?

ii. The individuals who participated in the investigation are Party members, are they not? (If any prosecutor at the Hunan Procuratorate is not a Party member, please come forward and refute me.)

iii. The Hunan Procuratorate is a judicial organ, is it not?

If the answer to any of the above three questions is in the affirmative, then there can be no such thing as an “independent investigation,” because the Hunan Procuratorate and its prosecutors are all parties to a dispute with Xie Yang. You don’t get to be a referee when you are a competing athlete.  

  1. Please Publish the Report

The official broadcast says that Western media began reporting on the prosecution of Xie Yang in October 2016, that Xie Yang’s defense lawyers published two “Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang” on January 19, 2017, and that the Hunan Procuratorate began its own investigation on February 17. But as of today, this investigative report has not been published as far as I know.

Please publish the entire text for public scrutiny. The ball is in your court!

Regarding the Western media reports: in its video, CCTV only showed a few reports by overseas Chinese-language media outlets around October 11, 2016. But mainstream media organizations in the United States, England, France, and Spain only began to report on Xie Yang torture following my transcripts published on January 19, 2017. Perhaps it’s precisely because of the massive international response that the government has gone all out attempting to irrationally and speciously refute it.

 

jiang-tianyong-%e5%9c%a8%e9%95%bf%e6%b2%99%e7%9c%8b%e5%ae%88%e6%89%80%e5%a4%96

Jiang Tianyong, the day he was disappeared after visiting Xie Yang’s wife and children in Changsha on November 21, 2016. 

 

  1. Please Clarify the Legality of ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’

Given that the Hunan Procuratorate has produced an “independent” investigation which exculpated the Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau, please make public your findings of the legal grounds on which the Changsha public security authorities held Xie Yang in the National University of Defense Technology’s (国防科技大学) guesthouse for retired cadres, at 732 Deya Road, Kaifu district, Changsha.

Please also provide the legal basis on which Xie Yang’s family members were not notified during this period of captivity.

Please also provide the legal basis on which Xie Yang was prohibited visitation from his family members, and access to his legal counsel, during this period of captivity.

What’s also interesting, and suspicious, is CCTV’s brief shot of some brand new small plastic stools — the kind elementary school students use — in the supposed room in which Xie Yang was held during the “residential surveillance” period. Was the room featured in the shot the same room in which Xie Yang was held? Were those plastic stools the same ones used in the “dangling chair” torture that Xie Yang described? Xie Yang was never asked anything on camera.

For my rebuttal on this question, please consult item 11 in my article “How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light.” It needn’t be rehashed here.

  1. Please Make Public the Interrogation Video Made During Residential Surveillance

According to Article 19 of “SPC, SPP, MPS, MSS, MoJ, and the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPCSC Regulation on Several Questions Concerning the Implementation of the CPL” (《最高人民法院最高人民检察院公安部国家安全部司法部全国人大常委会法制工作委员会关于实施刑事诉讼法若干问题的规定》), and Article 121 of the “Criminal Procedure Law” (《刑事诉讼法》), as well as Article 203 of the “Public Security Criminal Complaint Regulations” (《公安刑诉规定》), as well as the fact that Xie Yang stood accused of the crime of “subversion of state power,” all interrogations of Xie Yang are required to have been fully recorded. Moreover, this audio and visual recording must be “from beginning to end, with no interruptions or alterations of integrity. It is not permitted to selectively record, or to edit or redact the film.”

As public prosecutors with the Hunan Procuratorate, you are surely aware of these regulations, and surely you know that the most direct way of ascertaining the truth of the matter is to directly consult those interrogation recordings.

Have you watched and listened to the recordings?

If you have not accessed the recordings, why not?

If the public security authorities said that they do not have the recordings, then this would be a serious violation of the law. How do you intend to deal with it?

In your report, did you include discussion of whether or not you have examined the full recordings of the interrogation sessions?

  1. Have You Questioned the Potential Torturers?

I will repeat once more that it seems, judging by the headline of your report, that you began the investigation after reading the transcripts. Thus, please answer this: of the nearly 50 individuals accused of torture — including  Li Feng (李峰), Li Kewei (李克伟), Wang Dehua (王德华), Hu Yunfeng (胡云峰), Wang Tieta (王铁铊), Zhu Heng (朱恒), Ye Yun (叶云), Xie Leshi (谢乐石), Zhou Liang (周浪), Yin Zhuo (尹卓), Qu Ke (屈可), Li Yang (李旸), Zhou Yi (周毅), Zhuang Xiaoliang (庄晓亮), Yuan Jin (袁进) — did you perform any investigation of any of them at all?

You are determined to tell the public that the torture of Xie Yang was fabricated, but to this date you have not provided the text of the report you wrote.

The CCTV report included nothing about the investigation of these individuals, but instead included remarks by his cellmates. Xie Yang was not transferred to the detention center until January 9, 2016. How would his cellmates have knowledge of torture that took place earlier?

 

Chen Jiangang changsha e二看外

Left to write: lawyer Liu Zhengqing, Chen Yixuan and Chen Jiangang outside Changsha 2nd Detention Center, where Xie Yang has been detained, in January 2017. 

 

  1. Would the Procuratorate and its Loyal Journalists Please Consult a Calendar?

The CCTV report notes that Xie Yang “sleeps nine hours a night,” does physical exercise, and that he’s perfectly healthy. The detention center even gives him physicals. The journalist remarks: “Our reporter observed that Xie Yang walks with a steady stride and climbs stairs without difficulty.”

I advise the Hunan Procuratorate and the obedient CCTV journalists to pick up a calendar with one hand and grope around for your conscience with the other.

i. Regarding the time and location

The torture and forced confessions reported by Xie Yang and his legal counsel took place between July 12, 2015 and January 8, 2016. Xie Yang was being held in the retired cadre guesthouse of the National University of Defense Technology. The “investigation” by the Hunan Procuratorate and its journalists took place in the latter half of February 2017 — over a year later. The two locations are also dozens of kilometers apart. Does the fact that Xie Yang was able to “walk with a steady stride and climb stairs without difficulty” in February 2017 somehow prove that a year ago he was not savagely beaten, suffocated with cigarette smoke, forced to sit on a stack of stools with his legs dangling until they swelled up, deprived of sleep through endless questioning, deprived of water, and so on?

ii. The injury to Xie Yang’s legs

During his torture, Xie Yang’s legs suffered severe swelling. But he has been out of that black jail for 13 months now. When the Hunan Procuratorate and the CCTV journalists saw him, he could walk normally. How can that logically result in the conclusion that he was not tortured?

iii. The improvement in Xie Yang’s conditions

The first time lawyer Zhang Zhongshi (张重实) met with Xie Yang at the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center, he heard with his own ears the disciplinary officer Yuan Jin berating and slugging Xie Yang before the meeting. Zhang then lodged a complaint against the detention center and Yuan Jin, and the authorities transferred the officer out. Xie Yang made clear on many occasions that his conditions began to improve once he was allowed access to a lawyer. Even so, he still suffered unjust treatment. For instance, he was limited to spending 600 yuan a month to buy food and daily necessities, a restriction not placed on other detainees.

We are very happy to know that Xie Yang is now allowed to sleep and is in good health. But that does not prove that he was not tortured and beaten in a black jail a year ago.

  1. CCTV Journalists: Please Let Xie Yang Speak

In the CCTV interview, Xie Yang is permitted to say only a few sentences: “I’m wearing a wool sweater,” “I’m in good health,” “I sleep nine hours at night, and the detention center gives us health checkups,” “I called ‘120’ [China’s emergency number] because I was sick,” and so forth. Nowhere does he deny that he was tortured.

Hunan Procuratorate and CCTV journalists, please ask Xie Yang on camera: “Were you tortured to give a confession? Are the transcripts published by your defense lawyers accurate?” These are the two fundamental questions you should actually be investigating.

  1. There is a True Version of Events

CCTV, Phoenix TV, QQ TV, Hunan TV and other media outlets have been running headline reports about “fake news” in the Western press, using Cultural Revolution-style language. Good journalists report truthfully wherever they are. If media purposefully fabricates news, conceals the truth, deceives the public, and dumbs-down the public, then they’re shameless media whose journalists have little dignity or conscience. 

I look forward to the response of the Hunan Procuratorate and of the media organizations that have attempted to blot out the truth.

 

Chen Jiangang
March 5, 2017

 

 


Related:

How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light: Lawyer Chen Jiangang Rebuts China’s Smear Campaign, Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017

Co-opting Trump, Chinese State Propaganda Brands Torture Revelations ‘Fake News’, March 8, 2017  (with English subtitle)

Statement by Lawyers Representing Jiang Tianyong Regarding the Global Times Interview, March 1, 2017

‘In the Event That I Lose My Freedom’: A Statement by Lawyer Chen Jiangang, March 4, 2017

Xie Yang’s Handwritten Statement on January 13, 2017

 

 

 

Co-opting Trump, Chinese State Propaganda Brands Torture Revelations ‘Fake News’

China Change, March 9, 2017

 

On March 1, Chinese state-run print and television media launched a massive campaign to discredit reports that human rights lawyer Xie Yang was severely tortured during his detention, from July 11, 2015 to the present. The propaganda apparatus paraded on camera Jiang Tianyong, another human rights lawyer kidnapped by state security in November 2016, “confessing” that he had fabricated the details of torture to capture the attention of Western media and governments, who are said to be implacably biased against China. Jiang Tianyong is believed to have been tortured to subjection. The next day, the official Weibo account of the Chinese Communist Party’s Youth League trotted out a four minute video that, in addition to repeating the same smears, made cynical deployment of several one-liners from President Donald Trump to add a veneer of legitimacy to the attack. China Change uploaded the video to YouTube for preservation, and added subtitles so viewers can examine Party propaganda in its rawest form. 

 

 

Since last August, the Chinese propaganda apparatus has pumped out a series of similar video productions that have reached tens of millions of viewers on domestic social media platforms. Such videos have charged that the goal of the United States is to incite a color revolution in China to topple the Communist regime. The conspiratorial anti-U.S. narrative used to be dismissed by China watchers as hawkish cries from the Party’s radical fringe, but by now it should be clear that this discourse in fact lies at the core of Party ideology. 

These videos include:

‘A Notice to Foreign Forces: We’ve Captured Jiang Tianyong!’ — Video Denigrates Human Rights Lawyer, December 22, 2016

Another Chinese Propaganda Video Ties Mainland Rights Defense Activism, Protests in Hong Kong, and the Syrian War Into One Anti-U.S. Narrative, December 18, 2016

China Smears Foreign Diplomats in Another 4-Minute Video, As Trials of Rights Lawyers and Activists Continue in Tianjin, August 4, 2016

China Claims Rights Lawyers and Dissidents Are Part of Vast American Conspiracy in 4-Minute Video, August 3, 2016

 


Related:

After Four Detainees of the ‘709 Incident’ Are Indicted, Chinese State Media Name Foreign News Organizations, a US Congressman, & Three Embassies in Beijing as ‘Foreign Anti-China Forces’, China Change, July 15, 2016

 


The torture of Xie Yang: 

How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light: Lawyer Chen Jiangang Rebuts China’s Smear Campaign, Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017

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

Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (4) – Admit Guilt, and Keep Your Mouth Shut, January 22, 2017

 

 


World media reports about the torture of Xie Yang following the publication of the transcripts:

Punches, Kicks and the ‘Dangling Chair’: Detainee Tells of Torture in China, New York Times, January 20, 2017.  

Document of Torture: One Chinese Lawyer’s Story From Jail, WSJ China Real Time, January 20, 2017.

A broken lawyer and a hawkish judge cast deep pall over China’s legal system, Washington Post, January 21, 2017.

Beijing Breaks Lawyers, Wall Street Journal editorial, January 22, 2017.

Abogados chinos se movilizan contra el Gobierno tras conocerse torturas, EFE, January 22, 2017.

‘Your only right is to obey’: lawyer describes torture in China’s secret jails, The Guardian, January 23, 2017.

China must respect lawyers’ human rights, a letter by 29 international lawyers, judges and jurists, The Guardian, January 23, 2017.

Un avocat chinois révèle des tortures subies en détention, Le Monde, January 24, 2017.  

“Te haremos sufrir de la manera que nos apetezca”, El País, January 24, 2017.

In China, torture is real, and the rule of law is a sham, Washington Post editorial, January 27, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Xie Yang’s Handwritten Statement on January 13, 2017

March 7, 2017

On February 28, 2017, and then again on March 6, police in Changsha refused to allow the defense counsel of detained human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) to meet with him. In between, starting March 1, China’s state propaganda apparatus launched a smear campaign telling the world that the widely-reported torture of Xie Yang was a fabrication. Former lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), who had been disappeared on November 21, appeared on state television confessing that he had somehow made up the torture details. The authorities’ specious narrative makes it abundantly clear who is doing the fabricating. The smear campaign clearly aims to rein in the defiant human rights lawyers and to misinform the world. Given this, there is now a credible fear that Xie Yang could be subjected to torture once again, and that the authorities could force him to make false statements about the transcripts. In light of this, one of Xie Yang’s lawyers, Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), who interviewed Xie Yang and made the transcripts public, has released a personal statement of Xie Yang, prepared in January for an occasion such as this. — The Editors

 

Xie Yang statement, Jan 13, 2017

 

I, Xie Yang, hereby state the following today:

Today I once again met with my defense lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), and what I write here is entirely accurate and written without coercion. I hereby state that I am completely innocent of any and all the charges.

During the 18 months since I was taken into custody on July 11, 2015, I’ve suffered abuse and torment, but I have never admitted guilt, because I am not guilty.

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.

I hereby state once again that I, Xie Yang, am entirely innocent.

 

Xie Yang

January 13, 2016

 


Related:

Statement by Lawyers Representing Jiang Tianyong Regarding the Global Times Interview, Chen Jinxue and Qin Chenshou, March 1, 2017

How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light: Lawyer Chen Jiangang Rebuts China’s Smear Campaign, Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017.

 

 

 

Statement by Lawyers Representing Jiang Tianyong Regarding the Global Times Interview

Chen Jinxue, Qin Chenshou, March 1, 2017

 

On March 1, 2017, the Global Times, led by Hu Xijin (胡锡进), published a report claiming that it has interviewed Jiang Tianyong. As Jiang Tianyong’s defense lawyers, we make the following statement:  

1. Defense lawyers have applied no fewer than three times to meet Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) since his disappearance on November 21, 2016, to no avail. The reason given to us is that meeting our client would obstruct the investigation or possibly divulge state secrets — yet apparently unrelated parties, and Global Times journalists, claim to have seen Jiang Tianyong.

Our position has always been: lawyers meeting their clients cannot possibly obstruct the investigation or divulge state secrets, and according to the Criminal Law, when a person has been subjected to coercive measures, his or her lawyers shall meet with the client promptly. This is also an internationally-recognized standard for criminal procedures aimed at transparency. Furthermore, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also repeatedly reiterates this right.

We are concerned about whether there is any legal basis for allowing Global Times journalists, whose credibility and trustworthiness are questionable, to meet Jiang Tianyong while denying lawyers’ access, and we seek to know whether the government is abusing power in doing so. A quick consultation of the law makes clear that there is no law granting a greater priority to so-called journalists or unrelated parties than to lawyers to see their client, and that this is a typical act of the government abusing its power. Global Times is humiliating Jiang Tianyong, and also lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳), by parading them before the media and trying them unlawfully through public opinion.

As Jiang’s defense lawyers, we condemn the Changsha Public Security Bureau and Global Times for these illegal acts, and we will initiate to a series of legal actions immediately, filing complaints and bringing suits.

2. Keeping captives in long-term solitary confinement, and preventing them from seeing their lawyers and family, at the very least violates the provision against “degrading treatment or punishment” as stipulated in the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture. If the solitary confinement extends to three years, or if corporal punishment or a disguised form thereof is employed — such as cruel psychological torture — then it is outright torture. Torture and abusive treatment are often difficult to separate, and abuses often follow closely behind torture. In assessing the length and specific circumstances of their detention, there is every reason to believe that Xie Yang and Jiang Tianyong have been abused in custody, and the lengthy denial of visitation by their lawyers or family members simply adds to reasonable suspicions that the two have in fact been tortured.

3. The authorities giving access to Jiang Tianyong to Hu Xijin’s media, under the circumstances that his own lawyers cannot even reach him, can only be seen as a way of legitimizing, defending, and attempting to erase the abuse suffered in custody. The intent is malicious and the obvious fawning to state power contemptible. The lawyers of Jiang Tianyong do not approve of the interview having taken place or of its content.

4. A so-called “investigation team” is purportedly investigating Xie Yang’s torture and mistreatment, yet it does not include Xie Yang’s own defense lawyers, members of the lawyers association to which Xie Yang belongs, independent forensic experts, or any other independent third parties. The “report” it produces will not meet the requirements of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) in terms of principle, procedure and personnel. It will have no credibility to speak of and will be nothing but a laughingstock.   

5. We are indignant about the fact that, in dealing with Jiang Tianyong’s case, the public security authorities have more than once brought media, who are unrelated parties, to see our client while repeatedly denying the right of Jiang Tianyong’s lawyers or his family members to see him. On December 16, 2016, public security authorities provided a news release to The Paper (《澎湃》) and other outlets smearing Jiang. In China, the government controls all media while the lawyers and families have no platform to speak to the public about the matter. Such a stark contrast and imbalance hinders the exposure of torture and other inhumane treatment. Nor does it help the investigation and punishment of those responsible.

6. We demand that the Changsha Public Security Bureau immediately arrange lawyers to meet with Jiang Tianyong, stop the inhumane treatment, and brief defense lawyers about his case.

 

To:

All China Lawyers Association 中华全国律师协会
Lawyers Association of Guangzhou 广东省(广州市)律师协会
Lawyers Association of Nanjing  广西区(南宁市)律师协会
Changsha Public Security Bureau 长沙市公安局(直属分局)
Hunan People’s Procuratorate (Changsha People’s Procuratorate) 湖南省检察院(长沙市检察院)
Supreme People’s Procuratorate 最高人民检察院
Ministry of Public Security 公安部

 

Statement by:

Lawyer Chen Jinxue, Guangdong Lucheng Dingbang Law Firm
广东律成定邦律师事务所, 陈进学律师, Tel. 13826002506

Lawyer Qin Chenshou, Guangxi Baijuming Law Firm
广西百举鸣律师事务所, 覃臣寿律师, Tel. 15289649064        

 

March 1, 2017

 


Related:

Letter to World Leaders by ‘709’ Family Members Includes Emerging Details of Horrific Torture, March 1, 2017

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

Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (4) – Admit Guilt, and Keep Your Mouth Shut, January 22, 2017

 

Translated from Chinese by China Change.

《陈进学律师、覃臣寿律师:关于江天勇所谓接受环球时报采访一事的律师意见及声明》  

 

 

 

 

 

Announcement of the Establishment of the China Anti-Torture Alliance

February 16, 2017

 

%e9%85%b7%e5%88%91%e7%94%bb2

A Chinese farmer depicts the torture he was subjected to. Huffington Post has more in-depth reporting on the same story. Photo: New York Times

 

Torture has long been a chronic disease plaguing China’s judicial system. It is not only that nearly every case of judicial injustice in China is attended by torture, but that torture is much more widely applied than merely as a means of extracting a confession during the criminal investigation process. It’s often used as a form of humiliation, a torment of the flesh and the spirit simultaneously, with an array of methods that are unrestrained and completely unscrupulous. The goal is to have the captive or internee surrender their minds to the authorities, and so prisons and extra-judicial detention facilities — like Legal Education Bases (or centers), brainwashing classes, and shuanggui facilities — make widespread use of torture. Torture aimed to humiliate is used in a particularly concentrated way on prisoners of conscience.

In particular since the 709 arrests in July 2015, human rights lawyers and defenders have been held in “residential surveillance at a designated location,” the essence of which is identical to forced disappearances. The ad hoc nature of these internment facilities, on top of denial of access to legal counsel, has led to a rapid increase in reports of torture over the last year. When rights lawyer Li Chunfu (李春富) was released on a form of bail recently, he exhibited clear symptoms of mental breakdown; news has also emerged of cruel electric baton torture applied to Li Heping (李和平) and Wang Quanzhang (王全璋); Wu Gan (吳淦) has also made a criminal complaint, through his lawyers, of torture suffered in custody. The human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳), in particular, has narrated the details of atrocious torture he suffered through transcripts made by his legal counsel. The veracity and detail of the cruelty on display is without question, and has caused outrage inside China and abroad. Law societies and human rights groups in dozens of countries have issued denunciations, and the European Union, as well as diplomats from multiple countries stationed in China, have expressed their concern and demanded that the Chinese government conduct an immediate investigation.

What happened to our colleagues can happen to any of us, or any Chinese citizen, for that matter, hence our anxiety, grief, and rage. These human rights defenders represent the conscience of China, and yet in the 18 months of their detention, they’ve been subjected to a dozen types of torture by their own countrymen, a team of over 40 special agents who work in rotation — we simply cannot fathom it: what way is this to treat a country’s own citizens? The fact that the inhuman torture has been simply allowed to take place by the police, openly and without compunction or obstruction, begs the question: what kind of system of justice is this? What kind of political system forces humans into this depravity? What kind of political system allows these criminal torturers to act so wantonly, outside of any restriction or law?

In the face of this blatant torture, our conscience does not allow us to remain silent. We must stand up to censure it, to conquer our own fears and cowardice, and defend basic human dignity.

Together we reiterate the following articles from China’s own Constitution:

Article 33 (paragraph 3): “The State respects and preserves human rights.”

Article 35: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.”

Article 41: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any state organ or functionary. Citizens have the right to make to relevant state organs complaints or charges against, or exposures of, any state organ or functionary for violation of the law or dereliction of duty, but fabrication or distortion of facts for purposes of libel or false incrimination is prohibited.”

By implication, the Chinese Constitution prohibits torture. In addition, the National People’s Congress in September 1988 ratified the United NationsConvention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“United Nations’ Convention Against Torture”) and on November 3, 1988, that convention became effective in China.

It is thus clear that preventing and punishing torture is an unshirkable duty of the government, and a responsibility it must assume.

We believe that prohibiting torture is not only for the purpose of preventing cases of judicial injustice — it is also to grant citizens the protection of not fearing for their lives, and to accord basic dignity towards, and integrity of, their own body and minds. If, for whatever reason, torture is tolerated, then everyone in China — including police, prosecutors, judges, and currently serving or former Party and government officials — are themselves also at risk of becoming victims.                            

We believe that the torture of one is the torture of all, and that to strike terror in one is to strike terror in all.

We believe that every individual, including those who have truly committed crimes, should be treated with humanity and not be subject to torture. The prohibition of torture is the fundamental ground of a modern, civilized judiciary, and is a basic dividing line between civilization and barbarism.

For all these reasons, we the undersigned, on the basis of China’s Constitution, the UN Convention Against Torture, and a sense of common justice for Chinese citizens and humanity, hereby establish the “China Anti-Torture Alliance.”

The Alliance will be a community based on the aforementioned shared beliefs, without a formal organizational structure. It is open to all, without respect to nationality or other attachments, and may be joined or withdrawn from at will.

All kind and upstanding citizens inside or outside China, who cherish peace and seek to safeguard human rights, are welcome to join our ranks, and to reject torture wherever it appears. Our goal is to promote and supervise the actual implementation of the United Nation’s Convention Against Torture in China.  

Those who wish to join the Alliance can express their wish to do so to any of the founders of the initiative, or by sending an email to the official electronic mail address of the Alliance. Please include your first and last name, your occupation, location, and other contact information, to facilitate contact.

 

February 7, 2017

 

Founders:

Teng Biao (滕彪), lawyer, United States

Yu Wensheng (余文生), lawyer, Beijing

Liu Shihui, lawyer (刘士辉), Guangdong

Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), legal activist, United States

Hu Jia, (胡佳), citizen, Beijing

Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜), lawyer, Beijing

Yuan Xiaohua (袁小华), citizen, Hunan

Chen Jianxiong (陈剑雄), citizen, Hubei

Sun Desheng (孙德胜), citizen, Hubei

Liang Bo (梁波), reporter, United States

Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), lawyer, Beijing

Wang Zang (王藏), poet, Beijing

 

Alliance email address:
fankuxing@tutanota.com

 

 

Editors’ note: As of now, over 800 Chinese lawyers and human rights defenders have signed to join the Alliance. Check out the signing sheet here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14jjifjhzVdSZ1IhqYTvXjlk02ithQ15PdvCgaOBB8aw/pub

 

Translated by China Change.

 

 

 

The Dire Consequences of the Imprisonment of Ilham Tohti

Elliot Sperling, February 5, 2017

In memory of Elliot, who passed away last week. I recovered this from my email archive, dated September 17, 2016, the day after Ilham Tohti was nominated for the Sakharov Prize. It is published here for the first time. – Yaxue Cao

 

image1-7

 

The nomination last week of the imprisoned Uyghur Professor Ilham Tohti for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is welcome recognition of the role this courageous individual has played in working for the fundamental rights of a beleaguered people, a people subject to one of the harshest regimens that China visits on any nationalities or collective groups within its borders. But the persecution of Ilham Tohti serves as an example of how China’s repressive policies create damage and danger that go far beyond its own borders. There are good reasons for international concern and outrage over Ilham Tohti’s imprisonment.

On the heels of recent attacks in Europe, and concern about new ISIS-aligned actors outside the group’s core Middle East area, a recent report from the New America think-tank has revealed, among other things, that China’s treatment of its Muslim population is boosting radicalization: over 100 Turkic Uyghurs, Muslims from the region of Xinjiang in China’s northwest were recruited into ISIS response to the harsh state repression visited on them as Muslims and as Uyghurs in full disregard of common human rights norms. But the particularly harsh persecution of Ilham Tohti demonstrates a terrible dynamic in that process: the one-party Chinese state, by targeting moderates effectively nurtures extremism as the outlet for legitimate grievances over China’s policies.

On January 15, 2014 Ilham Tohti was spending the afternoon resting with his two young sons in his apartment on the campus of Minzu University where he taught economics. When a large contingent of police and state security agents burst through the door, suddenly and unexpectedly, waking the napping professor, his life changed forever. He was dragged from his apartment and has spent all of his subsequent days behind bars. As for legal formalities—such as they are for an outspoken liberal Uyghur intellectual in China—his trial on charges of supporting separatism, advocating violence among his students, etc.—took all of two days and produced a life sentence. And what had he really done? He had written about what had been happening in Xinjiang in a way that was markedly different from the official line; he circulated word of what he had found openly and on his own website; and perhaps most dangerously, he invited response and discussion. Though fluent and literate in Uyghur, he constituted his website as a Chinese-language venue so as to initiate dialogue between Uyghurs and Chinese. In retrospect that, as well as Ilham’s charismatic teaching, was intolerable. And so he was taken from his family and months later subjected to a kangaroo court (witnesses he asked for were not called; in contravention of Chinese law he was tried in a venue hundreds of mile from Beijing, his place of residence and the place in which his supposed crimes had allegedly been committed).

The intrinsic merit in Ilham’s activities and the egregious injustice of his imprisonment have been acknowledged internationally: he was the recipient of the PEN American Center’s Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and just recently named one of three Finalists for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. And now he is a nominee for the Sakharov Prize.

One might be inclined to see in Ilham Tohti’s case just one more sad instance of Chinese authoritarian repression and hostility to free thought. But in the present climate of anxieties about extremism, about Islam and about terror, his case is especially significant. Given China’s record of cynical misuse of the terrorism issue to attack dissent among Uyghurs and Tibetans, observers are rightly concerned that the state’s adoption of a new, broad anti-terrorism law just this past December has set the stage for actions that will exacerbate China’s problems.

By any measure, Ilham Tohti is a moderate person. A Muslim, he is liberal in his practice and entertains close friendships across lines of nationality and religion. But from the perspective of the authorities, moderates such as Ilham—non-violent critics who operate openly—are threats and are targeted for severe repression. The ills and abuses they bring to the surface are ignored and fester. Thus, the persecution to which Uyghurs are subjected continues. Bans on beards and head scarves in public venues, coercion to violate religious prohibitions concerning food and drink, violence and incarceration as a response to dissent: this is precisely the kind of abuse that, in the absence of a moderate core seeking dialogue, lends itself to exploitation by extremists. Indeed, China seems to go after the moderates because they can be seen: they operate in the open and call for dialogue and honesty about what the state is doing. Their imprisonment leaves the field to extremists who operate below the radar; they become the only ones articulating to an aggrieved population anything contrary to the official line. For all its propaganda about fighting extremism China is actively abetting its rise: in this instance among a population that has previously been noted for its moderation and restraint. Given current anxiety about Islamist extremism, the international community ought to be horrified by what China is doing. The Islamic world, wherein this extremism is wreaking the greatest havoc should be even more alarmed—and should make the persecution of writers and intellectuals such as Ilham Tohti a prominent issue in its relations with China.

The original sin, so to speak, in modern China’s dealings with Uyghurs as well as Tibetans was its annexation of these peoples without any regard to what they wanted. (And for most it was unwanted.) This original sin and the brutal periods of Chinese rule that followed have fostered a situation in which a free, open discussion of the history of Uyghurs and Tibetan under PRC rule cannot be entertained without severe damage to the myths that are enforced as the official line. Thus, when discontent surfaces the Party finds itself structurally incapable of asking what it is doing wrong. Instead, the question becomes “Who is doing this to us?” And it answers the question by seeking scapegoats. Not long ago Tibetan disgust at the appearance in the media of fake “Chinese Lamas” produced an incoherent and irrelevant response from official quarters denouncing Tibetan separatism, something that only exacerbated Tibetan frustration at their concerns not being taken seriously. Matters in Xinjiang have brought no serious questioning of the repressive Chinese policies. When French journalist Ursula Gauthier questioned China’s deployment of the terrorism narrative to defend its actions there she was expelled from China. And Ilham Tohti, who tirelessly pursued a principled quest for dialogue and change, languishes in a prison in Xinjiang. The injustice inherent in Ilham’s case is symbolic of the way China is making extremism the only option for the disaffected in Xinjiang. It should be a primary concern of the international community.

 

Elliot Sperling is the former chair of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University and formerly the Director of its Tibetan Studies Program. He is the author of “The Tibet-China: History and Polemics.”