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Communiqué on Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong – June 10, 2019

Communiqué on Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong – June 10, 2019

June 28, 2019       Comments Off on Communiqué on Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong – June 10, 2019

Submission to:

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Communiqué on Behalf of Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong, Citizens of the People’s Republic of China, Alleging Arbitrary Detention, Deprivation of Rights to Expression, Assembly, and Association, and Torture and Reprisal against Human Rights Defenders

I. Identity

A. Chen Shuqing

1. Family name: Chen (陈)  

2. First name: Shuqing (树庆)

3. Sex: Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): September 26, 1965

5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China

6. Identity document (if any): National ID Card:

7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Chen Shuqing, a dissident and freelance writer, has long faced long persecution by Chinese state authorities. He participated in the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing while a student at Hangzhou University in Zhejiang Province. Beginning in 1998, Chen served as the director of the national organizing committee of the China Democracy Party after the government declared the party illegal. From the mid-2000s, Chen served a four-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” in apparent retaliation for posting a pro-democracy essay online. After his release in 2010, Chen resumed taking part in demonstrations and pro-democracy activities, and as a result was repeatedly summoned and questioned by police.

8. Address of usual residence: Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

B. Lü Gengsong

1. Family name: Lü (吕)

2. First name: Gengsong (耿松)

3. Sex: Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): January 7, 1956

5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China

6. Identity document (if any): National ID Card:

7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Lü Gengsong is a human rights activist, dissident, and writer who has long faced persecution by Chinese state authorities. Lü took part in the 1989 pro-democracy movement in China while he was teaching at Zhejiang Higher Professional School of Public Security, from which he was fired in 1993 for his activism. He then worked as a freelance writer and became affiliated with the China Democracy Party, a political party banned by the Chinese government. Lü frequently wrote articles critical of Chinese government policies, human rights violations, and the country’s political system. In 2007, he was arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” over essays he wrote for overseas news websites, and he was sentenced to four years in prison in 2008. That year, Lü received the Imprisoned Writer Award from the Independent Chinese Pen Center. After his release from prison in 2011, police subjected Lü to harassment, intimidation, and short-term detentions due to his ongoing pro-democracy activities, searching his home numerous times, confiscating computers and documents, and keeping him under tight surveillance. 

8. Address of usual residence: Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

II. Arrest

A. Chen Shuqing

1. Date of arrest: September 11, 2014

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Hangzhou City Public Security Bureau officers

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? Yes

5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: Hangzhou City Public Security Bureau

6. Reasons for the arrest imputed by the authorities: Subversion of state power

7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known): 

Article 105 (1) of China’s Criminal Law (“subversion of state power”) stipulates “fixed-term imprisonment of not more than 3 years for participants, 3 to 10 years for active participants, and not less than 10 years or life imprisonment to those who organize, plot or carry out the scheme of subverting the state power or overthrowing the socialist system, and to ringleaders and others who commit major crimes.”  

B.  Lü Gengsong

1. Date of arrest: July 7, 2014

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Hangzhou City Public Security Bureau officers

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? Yes

5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: Hangzhou City Public Security Bureau

6. Reasons for the arrest imputed by the authorities: Subversion of state power

7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known): 

Article 105 (1) of China’s Criminal Law (“subversion of state power”) stipulates “fixed-term imprisonment of not more than 3 years for participants, 3 to 10 years for active participants, and not less than 10 years or life imprisonment to those who organize, plot or carry out the scheme of subverting the state power or overthrowing the socialist system, and to ringleaders and others who commit major crimes.”  

III. Detention

A. Chen Shuqing

1. Date of detention: October 21, 2014 (formal arrest); June 14, 2016 (imprisonment)

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Chen Shuqing has been detained since September 11, 2014. Since he was issued a 10.5-year prison sentence, Chen is expected to be released on March 10, 2025 at the completion of the sentence.

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Hangzhou City Public Security officers

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Qiaosi Prison in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province; previously detained at Hangzhou City Detention Center 

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: Subversion of state power

7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known): 

Article 105 (1) of China’s Criminal Law (“subversion of state power”) stipulates “fixed-term imprisonment of not more than 3 years for participants, 3 to 10 years for active participants, and not less than 10 years or life imprisonment to those who organize, plot or carry out the scheme of subverting the state power or overthrowing the socialist system, and to ringleaders and others who commit major crimes.”  

B.  Lü Gengsong

1. Date of detention: August 13, 2014 (formal arrest); June 14, 2016 (imprisonment)

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Lü Gengsong has been detained since July 7, 2014. Since he was issued an 11-year prison sentence, Lü is expected to be released on July 6, 2025 at the completion of the sentence.

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Hangzhou City Public Security officers

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Changhu Prison in Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province; previously detained at Hangzhou City Detention Center  

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: Subversion of state power

7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known): 

Article 105 (1) of China’s Criminal Law (“subversion of state power”) stipulates “fixed-term imprisonment of not more than 3 years for participants, 3 to 10 years for active participants, and not less than 10 years or life imprisonment to those who organize, plot or carry out the scheme of subverting the state power or overthrowing the socialist system, and to ringleaders and others who commit major crimes.”  

IV. Describe the circumstances of the arrests

On July 7, 2014, Lü Gengsong was detained by police after visiting his wife’s workplace in Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province. More than 20 police officers searched his home that same day, confiscating a large amount of property, reportedly including seven computer hard drives, six USB keys, and five cellphones. 

On September 11, 2014, Chen Shuqing was detained in his home in Hangzhou by police, who searched his home and seized a computer hard drive, a cellphone, articles, and other items. 

V. Indicate reasons why you consider the arrest and/or detention to be arbitrary

The persecution against Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong for their role with the banned China Democracy Party has been a part of broader suppression against members of the banned party. Besides Chen and Lü, Hangzhou police in Zhejiang Province summoned or detained six other members of the banned party between April and August of 2014. Police accused these individuals of various criminal offenses, including “inciting subversion of state power.” 

Just prior to being taken into police custody in 2014, both Lü Gengsong and Chen Shuqing had been under intense police harassment. From February 2014 until Lü’s detention that July, authorities had restricted his movement and put his home under round-the-clock surveillance. Police had twice summoned Chen for questioning, in May and August 2014, and after he had signed an open joint statement calling for the release of detained rights defenders and posted online about Lü Gengsong’s detention and denied access to legal counsel.

The criminal prosecutions of Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong constitute political retaliation for their exercise of universal rights to peaceful expression and association. Chinese authorities focused on essays attributed to the men that were published on overseas websites as well as their activities with the China Democratic Party, including meetings they had attended with other dissidents. According to the indictment against Chen Shuqing, his alleged “crimes” were his involvement in the China Democracy Party, and for publishing essays on overseas websites, including Boxun Newsand Canyu, about the party and about pro-democracy advocates, many of whom were hospitalized or detained. In its verdict against Chen, the Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Courtstated that he had “published 14 articles on overseas websites,” and through “proclamations, statements and articles had “attacked and smeared state power and the socialist system.” In the verdict against Lü, the same court determined that he had written and published “filthy” articles numerous times on overseas websites, gathered together members of Zhejiang chapter of the China Democracy Party, and thus had implemented plans to “subvert China’s state power and overthrow the socialist system.” 

The above circumstances constitute violations of Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong’s rights to peacefully exercise free expression and association, including those guaranteed under Category II of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (i.e., when the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights under Articles 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, and 26), and freedoms guaranteed by Articles 18, 19, and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Both men were subjected to procedural violations of their legal rights from the point of detention through their court proceedings. For weeks after Chinese authorities had initially taken Lü Gengsong into custody, lawyer Ding Xikui was not allowed to visit with Lü at Hangzhou City Detention Center. Lü had been accused of a crime in the category of endangering state security, thus allowing authorities to deprive his access to legal counsel beyond 48 hours, the limit set for most other offenses (China’s Criminal Procedure Law, Article 37). Lü Gengsong’s family was not allowed to visit him until December 2016, nearly two-and-a-half years after he had been taken into custody. (According to Lü’s family, they are now able to meet him once a month in prison, as of the time of this communication.)

Authorities had initially set a trial date of July 23, 2015, for both Chen and Lü, but authorities postponed those proceedings without explanation to their lawyers or families. The men were put on trial in separate cases and hearings but by the same court and on the same date, September 29, 2015. During Lü Gengsong’s court hearing, the judge interrupted him before he could finish reading his defense statement, according to his wife. Each defendant’s wife was allowed to attend proceedings, but authorities did not allow other supporters to attend.

Both men were tried over a year after initially being taken into custody, constituting prolonged pretrial detention according to international standards. They faced trial over seven months after being indicted (both were indicted on February 17, 2015), and the court issued its verdicts over nine months after hearing their cases. The delays in both the first-instance trials and verdict issuance violate provisions of China’s Criminal Procedure Law.

The above circumstances demonstrate violations of Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong’s rights guaranteed under Category III of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 9).

Both men have experienced health problems in detention that have raised concerns that authorities have deprived them of medical treatment, a form of torture that violates Chinese law and, among other international standards, the UN Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Chen Shuqing has high blood pressure and has lost four teeth since being taken into custody in September 2014. Chen has reportedly been able to exercise and make recommendations to the prison management for better treatment, according to his lawyer Wu Kuiming, but it is unclear if Chen’s treatment has in fact improved.

Lü Gengsong’s health condition has deteriorated due to various serious illnesses and could deteriorate to a critical level. In September 2016, a human rights activist revealed that Lü had contracted oral ulceration, causing some of the detainee’s teeth to fall out, and that Lü was also suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and necrosis of the gallbladder, which had caused gallstones. According to the activist, authorities had not allowed Lü to receive medical treatment for these conditions outside the prison. In March 2018, it was reported that authorities planned to allow Lü to undergo gallbladder surgery. However, the procedure had not been done by the time of this communication; reportedly, a prison doctor had recommended delaying surgery, since Lü’s gallbladder still has “partial function.”

In addition, Lü’s daughter disclosed details of his poor health following her first visit with him at Changhu Prison on December 16, 2016. She observed that Lü had lost significant weight due to the bad quality of prison food and difficulty eating caused by dental problems; he had lost eight of his teeth by the time of her visit. She also confirmed the activist’s report from September 2016, specifically about her father’s serious medical issues. National security officers reportedly came to the daughter’s workplace and threatened her after she spoke out about her father’s situation in prison. In the spring of 2019, Lü’s lawyer had confirmed that his client has consistently been given medication for high blood pressure and diabetes.

Prison authorities reportedly mistreated Lü in retaliation for his refusal to admit guilt to criminal charges, but his overall treatment has improved, according to his lawyer and family. Initially, he was kept under tight, 24-hour watch by guards and monitored when using the toilet. His shoes were confiscated at night as a way to restrict his movements, and he was exposed to cold temperatures in prison, with guards only giving him a thin blanket. The prison formerly did not allow Lü’s family to provide him clothing or food, and he was deprived of reading and writing materials and blocked from using his own money to buy daily necessities in the prison. Authorities eventually lifted these restrictions. 

VI. Indicate internal steps, including domestic remedies, taken especially with the legal and administrative authorities, particularly for the purpose of establishing the detention and, as appropriate, their results or the reasons why such steps or remedies were ineffective or why they were not taken.

Chen Shuqing lodged an appeal of his conviction and prison sentence with the Zhejiang Province Higher People’s Court, which upheld the original verdict on November 1, 2016. In addition, it was reported in May 2018 that Chen had submitted a complaint to authorities to challenge the legality of his prison sentence. To date, authorities are not known to have issued an official response to the complaint. 

Lü Gengsong lodged an appeal of his conviction and prison sentence with the Zhejiang Province Higher People’s Court, which upheld the original verdict on November 1, 2016.His lawyer, Yan Xin, was not allowed to meet with him or be present during the appellate hearing.

Ever since Lü and Chen were detained by police in 2014, lawyers, activists, and international human rights groups have called for their release. However, Chinese authorities have refused to release them or issue either any sentence reduction.

Date of Submission: June 10, 2019

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