China: Arbitrary and incommunicado detention of Mr. Chang Weiping

Urgent Appeal

CHN 003 / 1020 / OBS 119
Arbitrary and incommunicado detention /
At risk of torture
October 28, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in China.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) about the arbitrary and incommunicado detention of Mr. Chang Weiping, a prominent human rights lawyer known for taking on sensitive human rights cases and filling lawsuits against companies for discrimination in the workplace against women, LGBTQ+ persons, and individuals affected by HIV/AIDs.

According to the information received, on October 22, 2020, Mr. Chang Weiping was arrested at his home in Fengxiang County, Shaanxi Province, by police officers from Baoji City. Later the same day, Mr. Chang Weiping’s wife received a phone call from a police officer who informed her that her husband had been placed under “residential surveillance in a designated location” (RSDL), a form of enforced disappearance [1].

On October 26, 2020, the Baoji City Public Security Bureau denied two separate requests presented by Mr. Chang Weiping’s lawyers to meet with their client. Furthermore, one of the lawyers was informed that Mr. Chang Weiping was suspected of “subversion of State power” and that the case involved “State secrets”. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Chang Weiping had not been formally charged and his whereabouts remained unknown.

Six days before his arrest, on October 16, 2020, Mr. Chang Weiping published a video statement on social media denouncing the physical and psychological torture he had been subjected to while in detention in January 2020, including being tied to a “tiger chair”[2].

On January 12, 2020, Mr. Chang Weiping, was arbitrarily arrested by Shaanxi police and placed under RSDL in an unknown location on charges of “subversion of State power” (Article 105(1) of China’s Criminal Law), in connection to a private meeting organised by academics, human rights lawyers and activists in December 2019 in Xiamen, Fujian Province, to discuss the situation of the rule of law and human rights in China.

On January 13, Mr. Chang Weiping’s license to practice law was cancelled. Previously, in October 2018, the Baoji City Judicial Bureau had suspended his law license in retaliation for his human rights work.

On January 21, Mr. Chang Weiping was released on bail pending trial. Nonetheless, he was requested to leave his city of residence and was confined to his family home in Baoji, where he remained under strict police scrutiny, including daily phone calls and weekly meetings with the police. Furthermore, he was prevented from being reunited with his family.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr. Chang Weiping as it seems to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately disclose his whereabouts and unconditionally release him and all other human rights defenders, including labour rights defenders, arbitrarily detained in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Chinese authorities to urge them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Chang Weiping as well as that of all other human rights defenders in China;

ii. Immediately disclose Mr. Chang Weiping’s whereabouts and release him immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing him for his human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee Mr. Chang Weiping’s access to his family members and to lawyers of his own or his family’s choosing;

iv. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by law;

v. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Chang Weiping and all other human rights defenders in the country, so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance and fear of reprisals, as well as against their family members;

vi. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1 and 12.2;

vii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by China.


· Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Email:
· Mr. Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Zhaoxu Ma, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail:
· H.E. Mr. QU XING, Ambassador, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Belgium, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of China in your respective countries.

Geneva-Paris, October 28, 2020

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail:
· Tel OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39
· Tel FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

[1] For more information, see
[2] See

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