China: Concerning health condition and ongoing arbitrary detention of Guo Feixiong

13/07/2016
Urgent Appeal

CHN 002 / 0716 / OBS 060
Torture / Arbitrary detention / Ill-treatment
People’s Republic of China
July 13, 2016

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

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Human Rights in China (HRC) about the very concerning health condition, allegations of torture and ill-treatment and ongoing arbitrary detention of prominent human rights defender Mr. Yang Maodong, more commonly known by his pen-name Guo Feixiong.

According to the information received, Guo Feixiong is feared to be in critical health condition after more than 60 days on hunger strike in protest against his arbitrary detention and ill-treatment in Yangchun Prison in Guangdong Province. According to the director of the prison hospital at Yangchun, Guo Feixiong has been force-fed twice every other day since May 14, 2016 and is being given intravenous supplements every other day against his will. Previous reports of force feeding in prisons in China have indicated that prisoners are tied to a bed while tubes are forcibly inserted into their nose, resulting in injuries to their nose, mouth, and stomach and subsequent bleeding, which could be fatal considering Guo Feixiong’s already fragile health condition.

No one has been allowed to see or speak with Guo Feixiong for almost a month, and it is feared that his health is in critical condition. The last visit he was granted was by his lawyers Zhang Lei and Li Jinxing on June 20, 2016, who were allowed to meet with him for only 30 minutes. [1] They noted that Guo Feixiong was very frail, and was unable to walk properly or speak coherently.

While in detention, Guo Feixiong has been subject to multiple degrading acts and ill-treatment. Most recently, on May 9, 2016, prison officials video-recorded Guo Feixiong undergoing a humiliating medical examination against his will, and threatened to upload the video online. This prompted Guo Feixiong to declare a hunger strike the same day to protest against the continuous harassment and ill-treatment he has suffered while in detention. His weight subsequently dropped from 75 kg to 52 kg the last time he was seen in June 2016. Guo Feixiong had also informed his family in June that he was suffering from internal bleeding and continued bleeding in his mouth and throat that had begun when he was first transferred to Yangchun Prison in 2015, but was still being denied access to proper medical treatment. In view of this, Guo Feixiong’s family requested that he be transferred to a facility where he can receive medical treatment, but the authorities reportedly responded that he would only be moved to a hospital “in the event that he loses consciousness”.

On June 11, 2016, Guo Feixiong’s sister attempted to visit him, but prison officials refused the visit and only allowed her to exchange written notes with him. In these notes, Guo wrote that he would not stop his hunger strike because his demands had not been met and the prison authorities were continuing to subject him to humiliation and ill-treatment, and that he wished to request a transfer from Yangchun Prison on the 100th day of his hunger strike. On the same day, his sister was also informed by prison officials that she could only visit her brother once a month. She therefore went to Yangshun Prison on July 12, 2016 but was again denied the right to visit with her brother. Prison officials told her that Guo had decided that she could only visit him on July 28, and not before.

Guo Feixiong was arrested on August 8, 2013 on charges of “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” after he was spotted at a public protest in January 2013, in support of a Guangzhou newspaper that was battling government censorship at the time. Guo Feixiong was subsequently placed in police custody, and was denied access to legal counsel until November 14, 2013, after eight failed attempts made by lawyers to visit him.

On June 24, 2014, after ten months in police custody, Guo Feixiong was formally charged with “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”. Because they had been denied access to Guo’s case file, his lawyers boycotted his initial hearing scheduled for September 12, 2014, which resulted in a postponement. On November 27, 2015, Guo Feixiong was finally sentenced to six years in prison by the Tianhe District People’s Court in Guangzhou on charges of “gathering crowds to disrupt social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The latter charge was added by the judge at the time of sentencing.

The Observatory is deeply concerned regarding the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Guo Feixiong in detention, as well as his current health condition, and calls on the authorities to provide him immediately with appropriate medical treatment and to fully investigate the allegations of mistreatment by the prison authorities.

Besides, the Observatory strongly condemns the continued arbitrary detention of Guo Feixiong, which seem aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights work, and Observatory calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

Background information:

Guo Feixiong has continuously been subjected to extreme judicial harassment and arbitrary detention since 2005. [2] In November 2007 he was sentenced to five years in prison and fined RMB 40,000 for “illegal business activity” in connection with his 2001 publication of a book about a political scandal in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. Guo was released in September 2011, but has since been subjected to heavy surveillance and regular questioning about his activities, until he was re-arrested in August 2013. [3]

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 Guo Feixiong, as well as of his family and of all human rights defenders in China;

ii. Provide immediately Guo Feixiong with appropriate medical treatment;

iii. Release Guo Feixiong immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary;

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

v. Put an end to the harassment - including at the judicial level - against Guo Feixiong, as well as against all human rights defenders in China;

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

vii. 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. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the 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, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345, Email: minister@legalinfo.gov.cn / pfmaster@legalinfo.gov.cn
• Mr. Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email: ipc@fmprc.gov.cn
• Mr. Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 63099216
• H.E. Mr. Wu Hailong, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7937014, E-mail: chinamission_gva@mfa.gov.cn
• Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32-2-7792895; 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.

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    ***
    Geneva-Paris, July 13, 2016

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