China : Arbitrary arrest and detention of nine women’s and LGBT rights defenders

13/03/2015
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary arrest of at least nine women’s and LGBT rights defenders and the continued detention of five of these women.

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

CHN 001 / 0315 / OBS 018
Arbitrary detention /Denial of access to lawyers
People’s Republic of China
March 13, 2015

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), requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest of at least nine women’s and LGBT rights defenders – Ms. Li Tingting, also known as “Li Maizi”, Manager of the LGBT program at the Beijing Yirenping Center; Ms. Wu Rongrong, Founder and Executive Director of the Weizhiming Women’s Center in Hangzhou ; Ms. Zheng Churan, also known as “Datu” staff member of Yirenping based in Guangzhou; Ms. Wei Tingting, Director of LGBT rights organization Ji’ande in Beijing; Ms. Wang Man, Beijing-based coordinator for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP); Ms. Xu Ting, also known as “Xiaola” member of the LGBT group Rainbow Coalition in Wuhan; Ms. Yu Lian, student volunteer at the Beijing Yirenping Center; Ms. Ai Ke, coordinator of the Chinese production of the play “The Vagina Monologues”; and Ms. Gao Lei, a trans-gender rights activist and Founder of Good Men for Feminism – and that five of these women remain in arbitrary detention.

According to the information received, on March 6-7, 2015, the police arrested nine women’s and LGBT rights defenders. These nine defenders have been promoting equal rights for women in the country and were about to launch a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about sexual harassment aboard public transportation and to join a march against sexual harassment in a Beijing park on the eve of International Women’s Day on March 8. In light of the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference which began on March 5, authorities increased their surveillance and repression of NGOs throughout the country.

Four of the detained defenders were released on March 8, the evening after being interrogated, namely Ms. Xu Ting, Ms. Yu Lian, Ms. Ai Ke and Ms. Gao Lei. As of issuing this appeal, at least five others remain arbitrarily detained namely Ms. Li Tingting, Ms. Wu Rongrong, Ms. Zheng Churan, Ms. Wei Tingting, and Ms. Wang Man.

The five women have all subsequently been transferred to Haidian District Detention Center in Beijing, where where they are reportedly being held under suspicion of the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. While to date, none has been formally charged, if convicted, they would face up to five years in prison.

According to the information received, as of March 13, only Li Tingting has been allowed to see her lawyer; the other four defenders have been denied access to their lawyers since their arrest. Li Tingting’s first meeting with her lawyer took place on March 12 in Beijing, one week after her arrest. She mentioned that on the day of her arrest, the police officers did not present their badges. Her lawyer observed that she seems to be in good health and that she stands by her innocence of any wrongdoing.

The Observatory was also informed that the houses of Ms. Li Tingting, Ms. Zheng Churan and Ms. Wu Rongrong were searched and some of the banners and other materials meant for use during the anti-sexual harassment campaign were seized. Moreover, Ms. Zheng Churan and Ms. Wu Rongrong, who were arrested in Guangzhou, were transported to Beijing for their detention, which is 2,000 kilometres from their residence. This increases the difficulties they face in being able to communicate with their lawyers and families.

The Observatory is also concerned about Ms Wu Rongrong’s health in detention, as she suffers from diabetes and severe digestion issues and may not receive proper medical care in detention. Her lawyer has requested an assessment of her health in detention, but sources indicate that authorities have not yet responded to this request.

All of the nine activists arrested on March 6 and 7 have fought for the rights of individuals suffering from HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis B; disabled persons; women discriminated against in rural land entitlement cases, employment, and higher education; female victims of rape or sexual harassment; as well as the rights of LGBT individuals. It is worth noting that the CEDAW Committee, in its concluding observations in November 2014, expressed its concern about reprisals against NGOs and activists taking part in the review process and about restrictions and censorship faced by NGOs in China.

The Observatory strongly condemns he ongoing arbitrary detention and police harassment of Ms. Li Tingting, Ms. Wu Rongrong, Ms. Zheng Churan, Ms. Wei Tingting, and Ms. Wang Man, which seem aimed only at preventing them from carrying out their peaceful human rights activities. The Observatory calls upon the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these activists.

The Observatory is further concerned by the latest measures introduced by the Chinese government regulating the work of NGOs, including a draft law to restrict the funding and the operations of foreign NGOs in China’s mainland by requiring their projects and work to be pre-approved by government agencies.

Actions requested:

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

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Li Tingting, Ms. Wu Rongrong, Ms. Zheng Churan, Ms. Wei Tingting, and Ms. Wang Man, since their detention is arbitrary and seems only aimed at sanctioning their human rights activities;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Li Tingting, Ms. Wu Rongrong, Ms. Zheng Churan, Ms. Wei Tingting, Ms. Wang Man, Ms. Xu Ting, Ms. Yu Lian, Ms. Ai Ke and Ms. Gao Lei, as well as of all human rights defenders in the People’s Republic of China;

iii. Put an end to the harassment, by public security officials, against Ms. Li Tingting, Ms. Wu Rongrong, Ms. Zheng Churan, Ms. Wei Tingting, and Ms. Wang Man, as well as against all human rights defenders in the People’s Republic of China;

iv. 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:
- 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”; and

v. 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: 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; Email: minister@legalinfo.gov.cn / pfmaster@legalinfo.gov.cn
Mr. YANG Jiechi, 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. GUO Shengkun, 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 WU Hailong, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations: 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, 1150 Woluwe Saint-Pierre, Belgium; Tel: +32-2-7711497, +32-2-7711495; 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.

***
Paris-Geneva, March 13, 2015

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.

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