Sentencing of Mr. Yang Maodong, alias Guo Feixiong, to five years’ imprisonment - CHN 001 / 0206 / OBS 018.3

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by Human Rights in China (HRIC) and Chinese Human Rights Defenders about the sentencing of Mr. Yang Maodong, alias Guo Feixiong, legal adviser with the Beijing-based Shengzhi law firm, to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 40,000 yuan.

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 in the following situation in the People’s Republic of China.

New information:

According to the information received, on November 14, 2007, the Tianhe District Court of Guangzhou City convicted Mr. Guo Feixiong for “illegal business activity”, in connection with the publication of Shenyang Political Earthquake, which exposed government corruption in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, Liaoning Province, and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 40,000 yuan, following a trial marked with serious procedural irregularities. In particular, Mr. Guo’s lawyers were not present at the sentencing hearing.

Mr. Guo is currently detained at Guangzhou City No. 3 Detention Centre.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Guo has been arbitrarily detained since September 14, 2006 (See background information) and expresses its deep concern about his sentencing, which seems to aim at sanctioning his human rights activities. Indeed, the Observatory believes that Mr. Guo’s detention and sentencing is related to the legal assistance he had provided since July 2005 to the peasants of the village of Taishu (Guangdong), who have been trying to obtain a court ruling to dismiss the head of the village committee, suspected of corruption.

The Observatory wishes to recall that the National People’s Congress amended the Chinese Constitution in 2004 to include that “the State respects and safeguards human rights” and that in April 2006, China submitted a document to the UN in order to support its candidacy to the Human Rights Council’s first election1, in which it affirmed that the amendment to the Constitution was aiming at “defining the position of human rights in the overall national development strategy”. The Observatory further wishes to point out that, as a member of the Human Rights Council, China “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”2.

The Observatory insists on the fact that democracy and the respect for human rights go hand in hand with the existence of a free civil society and urges the Chinese authorities to implement their policies in favour of human rights and democracy and to refrain from resorting to any form of harassment against human rights defenders.

Background information:

On September 13, 2005, Mr. Guo Feixiong, who provided legal advice in a number of controversial right defence cases, was arrested in Guangzhou and held incommunicado until October 4, 2005. He was released without charge on December 27, 2005. Following his release, Mr. Guo was beaten by public security officers on three occasions in February, March and August of 2006.

On February 3, 2006 Mr. Guo Feixiong was detained in the Linhe police station in Guangzhou for 12 hours. He was subsequently released on February 4, 2006. Before he left the building, he was dragged out by a group of unidentified men who beat him violently.

On February 8, 2006, Mr. Guo Feixiong issued an open letter addressed to the Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. In the letter, he protested against the excessive use of force in government crackdowns on recent demonstrations and civil society movements in rural areas, forced evictions, violence against human rights lawyers and media censorship. He also requested the authorities to engage in dialogue with villagers in order to avoid escalation of rural land disputes.

On the same day, he was detained for 26 hours in the Fuyou police station in Beijing. The next day, he was escorted back home by three policemen. Since then, his house was being watched by the police and he was being followed by policemen.

On September 14, 2006, Mr. Guo Feixiong was detained, before being formally arrested on September 30, 2006 on suspicion of “illegal business activity”. On September 29, 2006, his lawyers were allowed to visit him at the Guangzhou Municipal Detention Centre. Mr. Guo told them about his very bad conditions of detention and that, despite he wrote several letters of complaint to the Prosecutor, detention centre officials refused to deliver them. Moreover, during a prison visit on January 11, 2007, Mr. Guo told his lawyer that he had been handcuffed and shackled to his bed for more than 40 days. Mr. Guo further said that he was deprived of sleep for days and subjected to around-the-clock interrogation.

The Guangzhou Public Security Bureau referred the case to Guangzhou’s Tianhe District Procuratorate, but the case was sent back on January 19, 2007, for supplemental investigation. On January 20, 2007, the case was transferred to the authorities in Liaoning Province. The case was referred again to the Tianhe District Procuratorate on February 17, but the procuratorate sent it back once more to the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau on March 1, 2007 for another round of supplemental investigation.

On April 2, 2007, Mr. Guo Feixiong’s wife was informed by the Public Prosecutor of the Tianhe district that her husband had been transferred back to the Guangzhou Municipal No. 3 Detention Centre, following a previous transfer to the town of Shenyang (Liaoning province) in January 2007. She was also told that on March 30, 2007, the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) submitted the case to the Public Prosecutor for further investigation.

Mr. Guo was formally indicted on May 15, 2007, the last day on which a prosecution could be initiated against him.

On July 9, 2007, his trial was adjourned because of his “unruly” behaviour in court and his refusal to answer questions from the Prosecutor.

On July 26, 2007, Mr. Guo’s wife learned from a judge at Tianhe District Court that the procuratorate had requested that his case be sent back for supplemental investigation following the adjournment of his trial. At the end of August, the case was sent back to the Tianhe District Court upon completion of this investigation period. On October 12, 2007, his wife learned that the Tianhe District Court had requested approval from the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province to further delay his case for another month.

Actions required:

Please write to the Chinese authorities urging them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Guo Feixiong;

ii.Release him immediately, as his detention is arbitrary;

iii.Conduct a fair, impartial and independent investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment above-mentioned, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them to trial and apply to them the civil, penal and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;

iv.Guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to him, as a victim of abuses;

v.Put an end to all acts of harassment against him as well as all other human rights defenders in China;

vi.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”, article 6(b), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others (...) to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and its article 8(2), which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organisations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

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 :

 President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China, c/o Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; 2300 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20008, USA, Fax: +01 202 588-0032;
 Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Sifabu, Wu Aiying, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345;
 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Waijiaobu, Mr. Yang Jiechi, 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijingshi 100701, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email:;
 Ambassador Sha Zukang, 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:;
 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:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the People’s Republic of China in your respective countries.

Geneva-Paris, November 14, 2007

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.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email :
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

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New information
CHN 001 / 0206 / OBS 018.3
Sentencing / Arbitrary detention / Ill-treatment
People’s Republic of China
November 14, 2007

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