30 April 2012

China: Mr. Chen Guangcheng escapes house arrest; several of his relatives subsequently arrested

The Observatory has been informed by Human Rights in China (HRIC) and Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) that Mr. Chen Guangcheng, a prominent self-taught human lawyer involved in denouncing the extensive use of violence by the authorities of Linyi city, Shangdong province, in relation to birth planning policies, has managed to escape the house arrest he has been subjected to since September 2010[1] and is safe. However, several of his relatives, including his older brother, Mr. Chen Guangfu, his nephew, Mr. Chen Kegui, his cousin, Mr. Chen Guangcun, and Mr. Chen Guangcun’s son, Mr. Chen Hua, were subsequently reportedly arrested.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in the People’s Republic of China.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by Human Rights in China (HRIC) and Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) that Mr. Chen Guangcheng, a prominent self-taught human lawyer involved in denouncing the extensive use of violence by the authorities of Linyi city, Shangdong province, in relation to birth planning policies, has managed to escape the house arrest he has been subjected to since September 2010 [1] and is safe. However, several of his relatives, including his older brother, Mr. Chen Guangfu, his nephew, Mr. Chen Kegui, his cousin, Mr. Chen Guangcun, and Mr. Chen Guangcun’s son, Mr. Chen Hua, were subsequently reportedly arrested.

According to the information received, on April 27, 2012, a video of Mr. Chen Guangcheng was released by an overseas Chinese language news website, Boxun.com, and later posted on YouTube [2]. In the video, Mr. Chen asked Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to bring to justice those who committed crimes against him and his family and the corrupt officials who have profited from maintaining his surveillance and house arrest over the years. Mr. Chen also asked for the protection of his family members.

In the video, Mr. Chen detailed many beatings that he, his wife and his mother suffered at the hands of dozens of police officers and Party officials acting on orders from the Linyi city and Shuanghou township authorities. He described the deployment of as many as several hundred people in layers of cordons that enforced his 18-month house arrest: policemen were stationed inside and outside his home, at the four corners of the road leading to his home, and sometimes in the neighbouring village, and vehicles patrolled an area in a five-kilometre radius around his village. Mr. Chen also described officials bragging about the money they were making from the employment of the large contingent of men who maintained his and his wife’s confinement. He also said that he was fearing retaliation that would target his wife, mother, and children.

As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, the situation of Mr. Chen’s family, which includes his ailing mother, his wife Yuan Weijing and their young daughter, and who had been under illegal house arrest with him, remains unknown.

Moreover, on April 27, 2012, Mr. Chen Kegui was taken away by more than 30 policemen from his home, after he had a violent confrontation with intruders entering his house from the township government. When five lawyers arrived in Dongshigu village, Shuanghou township, Yi’nan county, Linyi city, and asked about Mr. Chen Kegui, public security authorities denied having taken him away, saying that he had fled, and that an order for his arrest had been issued. The day before, his father, Mr. Chen Guangfu, had also been taken away in the late evening by unknown persons [3]. At least two other relatives of Mr. Chen Guangcheng, his cousin Mr. Chen Guangcun and his son Mr. Chen Hua, were also taken into custody.

Moreover, Ms. He Peirong would reportedly be currently missing and her whereabouts unknown, after she Tweeted her own involvement in assisting Mr. Chen Guangcheng’s escape.

Background information  [4]:

On March 11, 2006, Mr. Chen Guangcheng was arrested with other militants by local police officers for “disturbing traffic”. Before he was arrested, Mr. Chen had been campaigning against the Linyi city authorities’ recurrent use of violence for the implementation of the Government birth quotas.

On August 24, 2006, Mr. Guangcheng was sentenced to four years’ and three months’ imprisonment for “intentionally disrupting traffic” and “inciting material destruction”. While in prison, he was denied appropriate medical care.

On September 9, 2010, Mr. Guangcheng was finally released from prison after having served over four years of imprisonment for his work exposing human rights abuses in Linyi city . However, despite having served his full sentence, he and his family were subjected to extrajudicial house arrest under very harsh conditions. On February 8, 2011, Mr. Guangcheng and his wife, Mrs. Yuan Weijing, were beaten by national security officers from Linyi city and police from Shuanghou town at their home and were subsequently prevented from seeking medical treatment. The beating was reportedly related to the release of a videotape detailing the illegal house arrest and the abuses he and his family suffered during this period.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the People’s Republic of China, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Chen Guangcheng and his relatives, including Messrs. Chen Guangfu, Chen Kegui, Chen Guangcun and Chen Hua as well as of Ms. He Peirong and of all human rights defenders in China;

ii. Ensure the immediate release of Messrs. Chen Guangfu, Chen Kegui, Chen Guangcun and Chen Hua as well as of Ms. He Peirong, since their detention seem to only aim at sanctioning Mr. Chen Guangcheng’s human rights activities;

iii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the above mentioned acts, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to the harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Chen Guangcheng, his relatives, as well as against all human rights defenders in the People’s Republic of China;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the People’s Republic of China.

Addresses:

* Mr. Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Guojia Zongli, The State Council General Office, 2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 65961109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

* Ms. Wu Aiying, Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Sifabu, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345, minister@legalinfo.gov.cn / pfmaster@legalinfo.gov.cn

* Mr. Dai Bingguo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Waijiaobu, 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijingshi 100701, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email: ipc@fmprc.gov.cn;

* Mr. Meng Jianzhu, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang, Gong’anbu, 14 Dongchang’anjie, Dongchengqu, Beijingshi 100741, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 63099216

* Ambassador He Yafei, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Chemin de Surville 11, P.O. Box 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7937014, E-mail: mission.china@ties.itu.int;

* Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Avenue de Tervuren, 463 1160 Auderghem, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 663 30 10 / + 32 2 663 30 17 / +32 2 771 14 97 / +32 2 779 43 33; Fax: +32 2 762 99 66 / +32 2 779 28 95; Email: chinaemb_be@mfa.gov.cn.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your respective country.

***

Geneva - Paris, April 30, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Last Update 30 April 2012
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Footnotes

[1See background information.

[3 See Observatory Urgent Appeal CHN 001 / 0412 / OBS 043.

[4See Observatory Annual Report 2011.

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