Report for UN review calls for end of persecution of Chinese and foreign human rights defenders

Press release

(Paris, Taipei) In a joint report submitted today for the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China, FIDH and its member organization Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) documented the Chinese government’s repressive actions against Chinese and foreign human rights defenders. The third UPR of China is scheduled to be held in November 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The Chinese government’s relentless crackdown on human rights defenders reflects Beijing’s intolerance for all dissenting voices. It is crucial that the international community pushes back against Beijing’s repressive actions and supports the expansion of vital space for civil society and plurality of voices.”

Guissou Jahangiri, FIDH Vice-President

Since China’s second UPR in 2013, authorities have intensified the crackdown on both local and foreign human rights defenders through arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, prosecutions, and imprisonment. These actions have been inconsistent with the recommendations the Chinese government accepted in the 2013 UPR to provide a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders and civil society.

In many cases, authorities have invoked vaguely worded ‘national security’ provisions in their draconian legislation, such as Articles 103 (‘inciting separatism’) and 105 (including ‘subversion of the state power’ and ‘inciting subversion’) of China’s Criminal Law, to arrest, detain, and prosecute human rights defenders without due process. New repressive laws, such as the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations in the Mainland of China” and the “Cybersecurity Law”, have contributed to creating an unsafe and overly restrictive environment for civil society actors.

The case of Taiwanese activist Li Ming-Che illustrates the ordeal to which many human rights defenders have been subjected simply for the legitimate and peaceful exercise of their rights and their support for democracy and human rights.

Li Ming-Che was arrested on 19 March 2017 in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, after entering China from Macau. Chinese authorities refused to disclose his fate or whereabouts until 27 March 2017, when they revealed that Li Ming-Che was being detained at an undisclosed location and investigated by police on suspicion of “endangering national security.” His right to access to effective legal counsel was denied, even if the Chinese government announced that a lawyer had been appointed on 14 June 2017. On 28 November 2017, a court in Yueyang, Hunan Province, found Li Ming-Che guilty of charges of “subversion of the state power” and sentenced him to five years in prison for sharing information about the history and democratization of Taiwan and for criticizing the Chinese government through social media. In court, Li Ming-Che was forced to confess to this crime in front of the court’s cameras. After the trial, Li Ming-Che’s whereabouts remained unknown until January 2018, when a document received by his family members revealed that he was imprisoned in Zishan Prison in China’s Hunan Province. He remained imprisoned incommunicado until his wife was allowed to visit him on 27 March 2018.

“UN member states should use the UPR to demand an end to torture, ill-treatment, and violations of the right to a fair trial and the release of all activists, human rights defenders, academics, bloggers, and writers who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.”

E-Ling Chiu, TAHR Secretary-General

In their joint report, FIDH and TAHR call on United Nations (UN) member states to make a series of recommendations to China, which include: the amendment or repeal of legislation that is inconsistent with international standards related to the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom of opinion and expression; an end to the arrest and detention of individuals for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression; cooperation with UN special procedures; and the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Press contacts
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English), Tel.: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
TAHR: Ms. E-Ling Chiu (Chinese, English), Tel.: +886225969525 (Taipei)
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