China: Sentencing of human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong

22/11/2017
Press release

New information
CHN 001 / 0117 / OBS 002.1
Sentencing /
Arbitrary detention / Torture
China
November 22, 2017

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, a leader of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group [1] and an outspoken supporter of detained rights lawyers from the ‘709 crackdown’ [2].

According to the information received, on November 21, 2017, Changsha Intermediate People’s Court, Hunan Province, found Mr. Jiang Tianyong guilty of “inciting subversion of State power” (Article 105 (2) of the Criminal Law), and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment and three years of deprivation of political rights, on the basis of a confession that was likely coerced. In convicting Mr. Jiang, the court said he had “attacked” and “vilified” the Government, judicial authorities, and China’s political system in online postings and interviews with foreign media. The court also cited as “evidence” of criminal behaviour his attendance at trainings overseas, applications for funding from so-called “anti-China forces”, and establishing with other lawyers the China Human Rights Lawyers Group. The court specifically mentioned his advocacy in support of ‘709 crackdown’ victims, including Zhou Shifeng, claiming it “severely harmed” national security and social stability. Mr. Jiang said in court that he would not appeal his conviction.

Mr. Jiang’s conviction took place exactly one year after he was kidnapped from a train station by Chinese police. He was forcibly disappeared, denied access to a lawyer, and likely tortured (See background information).

The Observatory strongly condemns the sentencing and arbitrary detention of Mr. Jiang Tianyong, and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him as his detention appears to be only aimed at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory further recalls that another human rights lawyer, Mr. Wang Quanzhang, has been held in incommunicado pre-trial detention for more than two years as part of the ‘709 crackdown’ [3].

Background information:

On November 21, 2016, Mr. Jiang Tianyong went missing as he was meant to board a train to Beijing from Changsha in Hunan Province, where he had met the wife and lawyers of Mr. Xie Yang, a ‘709 crackdown’ human rights lawyer detained at Changsha City Detention Centre [4]/. Mr. Jiang’s family members and lawyers immediately reported his disappearance to the authorities. However, the police refused to file a missing person case.

On December 16, 2016, Chinese authorities finally confirmed through media reports that Mr. Jiang Tianyong had been taken into custody by public security officers, and given a nine-day administrative detention for “fraudulent use of another person’s ID”. They also specified that on December 1, 2016, he was placed under “compulsory criminal measures” for “illegally possessing documents classified as State secrets” (Article 282 of the Criminal Law) and “illegally disseminating State secrets to overseas [sources]” (Article 111) and other unnamed “crimes”. If convicted under Article 111, Mr. Jiang was facing life imprisonment.

On December 23, 2016, Mr. Jiang’s family members received a notification from the Changsha City Public Security Bureau, informing that he had been put under residential surveillance at an unknown “place designated by the police”, a form of extrajudicial secret detention, on suspicion of “inciting subversion of State power”.

On December 29, 2016, Changsha Public Security Bureau rejected the request of his defence lawyer to meet him.

In early March 2017, State-run media reports claimed that Mr. Jiang had “fabricated” stories of Mr. Xie Yang’s alleged torture, and broadcasted clips of an interview with Mr. Jiang. Mr. Jiang’s family-hired lawyers were repeatedly denied visits to meet with him, on the grounds that such contact would “endanger national security”, “hinder the investigation”, or “leak State secrets”, even after State-run media had been allowed to meet Mr. Jiang.

Mr. Jiang remained held incommunicado until May 31, 2017, when he was formally arrested. Since then, he has been detained at the Changsha No. 1 Detention Center.

During his trial on August 22, 2017 before Changsha Court, during which serious violations of several basic fair trial rights were reported, Mr. Jiang publicly confessed that he had attended trainings abroad that encouraged him to reject China’s political system. Despite being partially broadcasted online, the trial hearing was held behind closed doors and Mr. Jiang’s supporters and international observers were denied entry into the courthouse. Moreover, Mr. Jiang was represented by a Government-appointed lawyer after authorities refused to let him meet with the lawyers hired by his family and then claimed he had “dismissed” them.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of China asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Jiang Tianyong, Mr. Wang Quanzhang as well as that of all human rights defenders in China;

ii. Release Messrs. Jiang Tianyong and Wang Quanzhang immediately and unconditionally as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iii. Immediately disclose Mr. Wang Quanzhang’s whereabouts;

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 forms of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Jiang Tianyong, Mr. Wang Quanzhang and all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

vi. Comply with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2;

vii. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by the People’s Republic of China.

Addresses:

· Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 659 611 09 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Email: premier@mail.gov.cn
· Mr. Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 63099216, Email: gabzfwz@mps.gov.cn
· H.E. Mr. Zhaoxu Ma, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 793 70 14, E-mail: chinamission_gva@mfa.gov.cn
· H.E. Mr. QU XING, Ambassador, 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 missions or embassies of the People’s Republic of China in your respective country.

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    Geneva-Paris, November 22, 2017

    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 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 ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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