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.
According to the information received, on November 27, 2006, the retrial of Mr. Chen Guangcheng took place before the Yinan County People’s Court and lasted for ten hours. His lawyers, his wife and his mother were able to attend the hearing on that day.
On December 1, 2006, the Yinan County People’s Court sentenced Mr. Chen to four years and three months’ imprisonment for "intentional obstruction of traffic" and "inciting destruction of property". Mr. Chen’s mother was stopped outside the courtroom by the police, who cited her role as a witness. Only Mr. Chen’s older brother Mr. Chen Guangfu was present. Mr. Chen Guangcheng will appeal again to the Linyi City Intermediate Court.
According to the information received, many irregularities were observed during the retrial. First of all, several key witnesses were subjected to several acts of harassment and intimidation in order to prevent them from attending the trial. Thus, those who lived in other cities were visited by police, and their family members were warned that they should not return to testify during the trial. For instance, Mr. Chen Gengjiang was detained in the morning on November 26, 2006, and released after the trial. He was forced to sign papers declaring that he promised he would stay out of the case. Mr. Chen Guangdong and Mr. Chen Guangyu, two other key witnesses, disappeared on November 26 after they told the lawyers that they would testify in court. Likewise, Mr. Chen Guanghe was abducted by unidentified men when he was about to meet with the lawyers in the afternoon of November 26. As of now, his whereabouts remain unknown. All men had been tortured in order to provide false testimony against Mr. Chen during the first trial.
Moreover, Ms. Yuan Weijing, Mr. Chen Guangcheng’s wife, also a witness, remained under residential surveillance until November 25, 2006. On November 28, 2006, around noon, she was arrested by members of the Yinan County Public Security Bureau in front of the lawyers. The police then produced a paper authorising "detention for questioning". Her one-year-old child was also taken in, before being later sent back to their home village. Eight hours later, Ms. Yuan was dragged out of a police car and let on the road side outside her village, nearly unconscious. She could not talk until the next day, when she stated that police had handled her very roughly and insulted her. She was sent to the Mengyin County Menglianggu Hospital, where doctors ordered her to stay for treatment and observation, as she was extremely traumatised. About 20 policemen watched her at the hospital. During her detention, police also issued an order of "residential surveillance", "on suspicion for ‘intentional obstruction of traffic’ and ‘inciting to destruct property’". Chinese law allows a maximum of six months for residential surveillance. Ms. Yuan has already been under surveillance or house arrest for 15 months without any legal order.
Furthermore, Mr. Chen’s lawyers Mr. Li Jinsong and Mr. Li Fangping were stopped at the outskirts of his village, Gushidong Village, as they were to interview witnesses and collect evidence before the retrial. While they were allowed to meet with Mr. Chen’s wife and mother, they were unable to meet with other key witnesses, including three villagers who were released from detention, where, as they told the lawyers, they were tortured to sign incriminating testimonies against Mr. Chen. The lawyers waited outside the village and tried to negotiate with the police, without any success.
Besides, Dr. Teng Biao, also a member of Mr. Chen’s defense team, was denied permission to attend the trial when he applied beforehand. In the morning of November 27, 2006, he was detained for five hours in order to prevent him from attending the trial. While in detention, six or seven policemen pushed him to the ground, pinned him down, searched him, and grabbed his cell phone. They searched his bags and his computer, and interrogated him. They never produced any ID nor any detention order.
The Observatory calls for Mr. Chen immediate and unconditional release, as his detention seems to be directly linked to his activities in favour of the villagers of Linyi, who have been the victims of numerous violations of their rights in relation to the implementation of the birth planning policy. In particular, Mr. Chen tried to assist them in bringing legal proceedings against the perpetrators of such violations.
The Observatory also urges the Chinese authorities to conform with its international human rights obligations, commitments that were reaffirmed by China on the occasion of its election as a member of the new United Nations Human Rights Council.
In early 2005, Mr. Chen Guangcheng began to investigate into the violence perpetrated against local women and their families in order to meet birth planning quotas in his native Linyi City. Information on the extensive violations was also published by the international press and on the Internet. Eventually, the State Family Planning Commission conducted its own investigation and publicly admitted that officials had violated the law and that disciplinary action was being taken.
Since August 2005, the authorities have tried to undermine and intimidate Mr. Chen Guangcheng, his family and other villagers who support Mr. Chen’s work. The means used were often illegal such as close surveillance, threats, house arrest and secret detention. On September 6, 2005, Mr. Chen was placed under "residential surveillance".
On March 11, 2006, local police arrested and questioned Mr. Chen Guangcheng on the grounds that he and others activists had obstructed traffic. On the same night, the police assaulted Mr. Chen’s wife, Mrs. Yuan Weijing. On June 11, 2006, she was notified by the Yinan County Public Security Bureau that her husband was charged with "deliberate destruction of property" and "organising a mob to disrupt traffic".
On August 24, 2006, Mr. Chen Guangcheng had been sentenced to four years and three months’ imprisonment, after a two-hour hearing by the Linnan County People’s Court for "deliberate destruction of property" and "disrupting traffic". The trial only lasted two hours.
On October 30, 2006, the Linyi City People’s Intermediate Court had overturned the lower court’s guilty verdict against Mr. Chen Guangcheng, sending the case back to the Yinan County Court for a retrial. The judge did not justify nor explain his decision.
Please write to the Chinese authorities urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Chen Guangcheng as well as of his lawyers and key witnesses in his trial;
ii. Ensure that Mr. Chen Guangcheng be immediately released, as his detention is arbitrary;
iii. Take prompt action in order to locate Messrs. Chen Guanghe, Chen Guangyu and Chen Guangdong, make public their whereabouts, and ensure their immediate release;
iv. Conduct a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into these events in order to identify the authors, bring them to justice and pronounce sentences proportional to the gravity of their crimes;
v. Put an end to any kind of reprisals against Mr. Chen Guangcheng, his wife, Ms. Yuan Weijing, his lawyers, as well as against all 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, to freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms", article 9.3.c, which states that "everyone has the right [...] to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms", and article 12.2, which states 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";
vii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments signed by the People’s Republic of China, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), that China has publicly declared its intention to ratify.
· 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, Zhang Fusen Buzhang, Sifabu, 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, Li Zhaoxing Buzhang Waijiaobu, 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijingshi 100701, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email: email@example.com
· Ambassador, Sha Zukang, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Ch. De Surville, CP 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Suisse, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax : +41 22 793 70 14
· 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: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the People’s Republic of China in your respective countries.
Geneva-Paris, December 1, 2006
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.
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Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
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