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A group of nine poets and artists from Songzhuang, an artist community in Beijing, were detained between 1 and 8 October for organizing an event where they had planned to read poetry and display posters in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Poet Wang Zang, also from Songzhuang, has also been criminally detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after he posted a photograph online of himself holding an umbrella, which has become the symbol of the Hong Kong protests. Wang Zang’s wife and their one-year old daughter were detained and not given any food or water for approximately nine hours at a police station in Beijing on 8 October when they tried to obtain information about his situation.


8 May 2014

China: Detention of journalist for leaking state secrets a ‘smokescreen’

The Chinese authorities are using trumped-up charges to target a prominent journalist who has been detained for disclosing state secrets, said Amnesty International.

Gao Yu, 70, is accused of sharing a ‘secret’ document with editors of a foreign website in August last year, Chinese state media reported on Thursday.

“Gao is the latest victim of China’s vaguely worded and arbitrary state secret laws which the authorities repeatedly use as a smokescreen to target activists,” said Anu Kultalahti, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

Gao is an outspoken campaigner for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. The past week has seen several prominent activists arrested ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crackdown on 4 June.

“The timing of Gao’s detention is highly dubious and raises serious questions as to the authorities’ true motives,” said Kultalahti.

Gao’s friends became concerned for her whereabouts when she failed to turn up to an event to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown. State media have since confirmed that she was detained on 24 April.

According to media reports, Gao is accused of sharing a Communist Party ideological paper known as Document No. 9. Freedom of the press and freedom of thought all come under severe attack in the paper.

“The information contained in Document No. 9 in no way merits being classified as a state secret. If Gao is being held for sharing this document she must be immediately released,” said Kultalahti.

Son missing

On Thursday morning, China’s state television, CCTV, broadcast a confession from Gao, with her face blurred out.

Her son, Zhao Meng, has not been heard from since 24 April and may be being held as leverage against his mother.

“The TV confession proves nothing, and is likely to have been made under duress. Such a confession negates any chance of a fair trial,” said Kultalahti.

China’s vaguely worded state secret laws should be revised to include a clear and concise definition of state secrets, to ensure that punishment is only levied for actual harm to a legitimate national security interest and to eliminate retroactive classification of information. These laws have too often been used to punish activists for the legitimate exercise of their rights.

A video of Chinese activists visiting Liu Xia at the end of December has been circulated online for a while. Amnesty International got permission to use it and added English subtitles. The release of the video is in conjunction of a petition calling on incoming Chinese president Xi Jinping to release Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia.

7 March 2012

China must not legalize “disappearances” and ‘two-track justice’

A major overhaul of China’s criminal procedure law could legalize “disappearances” of people deemed “subversive” by the state through a dangerous extension of police power, Amnesty International said.

In a memorandum to the country’s National People’s Congress, which is considering multiple changes to the law, Amnesty International called for the rejection of a proposed amendment – Article 73 – which would make legal the increasingly common practice by police of subjecting persons the state authorities see as politically “subversive” to enforced disappearance.

“Such an extension of police powers would effectively legalize secret detentions and disappearances,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia-Pacific.

Over the past year the Chinese authorities reacted to peaceful calls for a “Jasmine revolution”, inspired by events in the Middle East and North Africa, by arbitrarily detaining dozens of activists. Some were held incommunicado, many were beaten and tortured.

Amnesty International commends some of the proposed legal reforms, including improved legal protections for minors and the mentally ill, and the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence from criminal proceedings and for those appealing the death penalty.

The human rights organization also urged the inclusion in the amendments of a “right to silence”, a right to be “presumed innocent until proven guilty,” and specific safeguards to prevent the abuse of “technical surveillance” techniques such as wiretapping, in criminal investigations.

The charge of “endangering national security” has long been used to silence government critics in China. The proposed revision would deprive persons suspected of this crime or “terrorism” and other “serious crimes” of basic rights, including the right to have family informed of their detention and access to a lawyer.

“China is at risk of creating a two-track criminal justice system, where basic legal protections for those suspected of vaguely defined crimes such as “endangering national security” are stripped away,” Baber said.

“This would fundamentally undermine China’s long-stated commitment to the rule of law as well as the leadership’s claim that they have drafted these revisions to ‘ensure people’s freedom’ and ‘protect human rights’“, said Catherine Baber.

28 December 2011

China: Christmas crackdown against activists continues

The Chinese authorities must immediately release prominent women’s rights activist Ni Yulan, who faces several years in jail when her trial starts on 29 December, Amnesty International said today.

Ni Yulan is the third activist that Amnesty International is aware of to be tried over the past few weeks, as the Chinese authorities crack down on individuals they perceive to be a threat.

For more than a decade, Ni Yulan has campaigned against forced evictions and other rights violations in China. She has been charged, along with her husband, Dong Jiqin, with “picking quarrels and making trouble” and “fraud.”

“The Chinese government seems to be doing its best to put anyone they deem a threat behind bars over the holiday season, when many people around the world are distracted by festivities,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

“The authorities are using vague charges and unfair trials to quickly do away with so-called troublemakers before the unprecedented leadership transition in 2012, that will see the majority of members of China’s most powerful decision-making bodies replaced with a new generation of leaders.”

On 23 December, a court sentenced another prominent activist, Chen Wei, to nine years in prison for writing and distributing essays critical of the Communist Party. On 26 December, activist Chen Xi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for forming a human rights discussion group.

Over the past 10 years the authorities have continued to subject Ni Yulan to harassment, detention and torture. When she was detained in 2002, her knee caps and feet were broken. Her injuries were so severe that she remains in a wheel chair.

“The Chinese authorities have made Ni Yulan’s life unbearable, subjecting her to detention and beatings that have left her unable to walk,” said Sam Zarifi. ” The Chinese government must immediately release Ni Yulan, and her husband, and bring an end to their persecution.”

According to her lawyer, Ni Yulan is to stand trial at Beijing Xicheng North District People’s Court. She faces charges of “fraud” for allegedly providing legal advice without a lawyer’s license to people across China who faced forced eviction and other housing rights violations.

Ni Yulan’s husband, Dong Jiqin, who has consistently supported his wife’s work on human rights, will also be put on trial for “picking quarrels and making trouble.”

The couple were detained on 7 April 2011 and formally arrested on 13 and 15 April. They have only been allowed to meet with their lawyers two or three times since their detention.

Ni Yulan’s health has deteriorated during this time. She suffers from injuries sustained while being tortured during previous detentions as well as other health issues.

Ni Yulan’s daughter, Dong Xuan, told Amnesty International, “The authorities can destroy my mother’s record of education and question her lawyer’s license, but they cannot destroy the work my mother has done for people or ignore the torture, detention and imprisonment she has suffered over the years for that work.”


Ni Yulan is herself a victim of forced eviction. Since 2001, she has defended people’s housing rights in China and has been detained three times at length for her work.

In 2002, as Ni Yulan was filming the demolition of a Beijing home, authorities took her to a nearby police station and tortured her for several days, breaking her feet and kneecaps. Her injuries were so severe that she remains in a wheel chair.

When Ni Yulan attempted to petition the authorities over the beatings, she was arrested, convicted of “obstructing official business,” and sentenced to one year in prison. Her husband, Dong Jiqin, was barred from attending her trial.

After her release in 2003, Ni Yulan continued fighting for the rights of people facing eviction ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She was arrested and imprisoned for two years in 2008 just before the Olympics while trying to stop the demolition of her own home. She was tortured and suffered from other ill-treatment during the prison time and was denied adequate medical care.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
8 April 2011

China: UN expert body concerned about recent wave of enforced disappearances

GENEVA – The UN Working Group* on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances expressed Friday serious concern at the recent wave of enforced disappearances that allegedly took place in China over the last few months.

“Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law. Even short-term secret detentions can qualify as enforced disappearances,” the UN expert body said. “There can never be an excuse to disappear people, especially when those persons are peacefully expressing their dissent with the Government of their country.”

The Working Group has received recently multiple reports of a number of persons having being subject to enforced disappearance, including lawyers Teng Biao, Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, and Tang Jingling.

According to the allegations received, there is a pattern of enforced disappearances in China, where persons suspected of dissent are taken to secret detention facilities, and are then often tortured and intimidated, before being released or put into “soft detention” and barred from contacting the outside world.

According to the Working Group, “persons subject to enforced disappearances appear to be human rights activists, lawyers and students. These enforced disappearances represent the continuation of a disturbing trend in the suppression of dissidents”. However there are older cases that the Working Group continues to monitor, a few of which are indicated below as a representative sample.

A case going back 16 years is that concerning Gedhun Choekyi Nyima known as the 11th Panchen Lama. He disappeared in 1995 when he was six years old. While the Chinese authorities have admitted taking him, they have continually refused to divulge any information about him or his whereabouts, making his case an enforced disappearance. A number of human rights mechanisms including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have all called for his whereabouts to be revealed, to no avail.

Another case that the experts continue to express their concern about is that of Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer, who has been disappeared for most of the past two years and has seemingly conveyed a number of accounts of torture that he has suffered by the police. The Working Group sent an Urgent Action communication on his case to the Chinese government on 23 February 2009.

A futher case concerns Mr. Feng Jiang, a Falun Gong practitioner who disappeared at the hands of the Chinese authorities at Shanghai Pudong Airport while on his way to meet his wife in Newark, New Jersey, USA on 18 February 2010.

“China has an obligation to abide by the strictest standards in the field of human rights. It also should fully cooperate with the UN special procedures and in particular with the Working Group,” they stressed.

The Working Group called on the Chinese authorities to release all those who have been disappeared, to provide full information on the fate and the whereabouts of the persons who have allegedly disappeared. “It ought to ensure that there are full investigations into these practices and should provide integral reparations to those who have suffered this heinous practice”, concluded the experts.

The Working Group was established by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. In view of the Working Group’s humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person is clearly established.

The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

(*) The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa) and the other members are Mr. Ariel Dulitkzy (Argentina), Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon) and Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France).

For more information on the WGEID, log on to:

How to submit cases to the WGEID? Log on to:

OHCHR Country Page – China:

For more information and media requests:
Ms. Giovanna Zucchelli (Tel.:+ 41 22 917 9189 / e-mail:
Mr. Matías Pellado (Tel.: +41 22 917 9336/ e-mail:

Amnesty International
4 April 2011

China detains Ai Weiwei as warning against dissent

The detention of China’s most famous artist and political critic Ai Weiwei is a troubling development in a widening crackdown on dissent which has seen dozens of activists detained over the last few months, Amnesty International said today.

Police detained Ai Weiwei at Beijing airport on 3 April. His wife and several members of his studio staff were also briefly detained on the weekend.

“Ai Weiwei was not even involved in any call for ‘Jasmine’ protests. There seems to be no reason whatsoever for his detention, other than that the authorities are trying to broadcast the message that China’s time for open dissent has come to an end,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Director for the Asia-Pacific.

Since online calls for Chinese ‘Jasmine Revolution’ protests inspired by people’s movements in the Middle East and North Africa began circulating in late February, the Chinese authorities have rounded up dozens of activists, lawyers and bloggers.

“We’ve already seen the chilling effect the ‘Jasmine Revolution’-related arrests have had on Chinese activists and netizens over the past month. Holding Ai Weiwei takes this to another level,” said Sam Zarifi.

“If the authorities are so bold as to grab this world-renowned artist in broad daylight at Beijing airport, it’s frightening to think how they might treat other, lesser known dissidents.”

Update (4-14-2011): AI issued an Urgent Action for Ai Weiwei that also includes several of his business associates. They are all detained incommunicado at unknown locations.

Amnesty International
Press Release
29 March 2011

China: Prominent blogger missing

The Chinese authorities must reveal the whereabouts of a political blogger and commentator who has not been seen since Sunday and is believed to be detained, Amnesty International said today.

Chinese-born former diplomat Yang Hengjun, an Australian national, informed his blog administrator in a phone call on Sunday that he was at Guangzhou Airport in southern China, being followed by three men.

Since then, those close to him have told Amnesty International that he has been detained by the Chinese authorities, although his whereabouts are unknown.

“Yang Hengjun’s disappearance is extremely worrying, especially as it comes during one of the biggest round-ups of activists and critics for years,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia Pacific.

“He joins a long list of peaceful reformists who have gone missing or been arrested in China in the last month.”

Chinese government spokespeople have so far denied knowledge of Yang’s whereabouts in response to requests from the Australian government.

Amnesty International has logged dozens of arrests, detentions and disappearances of activists, Twitter-users and bloggers since February, when online calls for a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China began to circulate, inspired by protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

In the latest formal criminal charge to arise from the sweep, prominent Sichuan blogger Ran Yunfei was yesterday charged with ‘incitement to subvert state power’ after being detained for a month.

More than 20 activists, lawyers and bloggers are being held without charge, such as blogger Gu Chuan, who has been held in incommunicado detention for a month in Beijing. Amnesty International fears that he is at risk of torture and ill-treatment.

“There is no sign of this crackdown easing,” said Catherine Baber. “The net is being cast wider than ever before. We fear the Chinese authorities seem to be moving the goal posts to treat any peaceful expression of support for reform as ‘subversion’.”

About me & Disclaimer

I am a volunteer for Amnesty International USA. The opinion expressed on this blog does not represent the positions, strategies or opinions of AIUSA, AI headquarter in UK, or any other organization on planet earth.

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