China
08.02.10
Urgent Interventions

Ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Huang Qi

New information
CHN 004 / 0608 / OBS 105.3
Ongoing arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment

People’s Republic of China

February 8, 2010

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 (PRC).

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) that the Chengdu City Intermediate Court rejected the appeal lodged by Mr. Huang Qi, a cyber-dissident and Director of the Tianwang Human Rights Centre (www.64tianwang.com)[1].

According to the information received, on February 8, 2010, a judge from the Chengdu City Intermediate Court went to the Chengdu City Detention Center, where Mr. Huang Qi was held, and informed him of the decision to reject his appeal. On November 23, 2009, Mr. Huang had been sentenced to three years in prison for "illegal possession of State secrets" (See background information).

Mr. Huang was not given any oral appeal hearing before the decision was made and Mr. Huang’s wife and his lawyer have not yet been formally notified of the decision.

The Observatory was also informed that Mr. Huang has just been transferred from the Chengdu City Detention Center to a midway house where newly convicted are held before they are sent to prison.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about Mr. Huang Qi’s ongoing arbitrary detention, which seems merely aimed at sanctioning his human rights activities, and recalls that Mr. Huang has been arbitrarily detained since June 10, 2008 after he visited the Sichuan earthquake zone numerous times, provided aid to victims of the disaster and published information on his website about the plight of parents who had lost their children. He also provided reports and interviews to foreign journalists about the protests carried out by the families of children who died in the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008 (See background information).

The Observatory points out that the National People’s Congress amended the Chinese Constitution in 2004 to include that “the State respects and safeguards human rights” and that in April 2009, the PRC submitted a document to the UN in order to support its candidacy to the Human Rights Council, in which it affirmed that the People’s Republic of China was “committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Chinese people”. As a member of the Human Rights Council, China “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

The Observatory therefore urges the Chinese authorities to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, in particular the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

The Observatory also urges the European Commission Delegation as well as European Union (EU) Member-States embassies in the PRC to call upon the Chinese authorities to comply with the relevant international norms and standards and take action on this situation, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

Background information:

On June 10, 2008, in the evening, Mr. Huang was taken away in a car by unidentified individuals. On June 12, 2008, the legal counsellor of Mr. Huang’s Internet company, Lawyer Xu, went to the police to file a missing persons report. At the police station, he was informed that Mr. Huang was being detained and that the legal procedure notice would be sent to his family soon. The police refused to disclose to Mr. Xu the grounds for his detention. At the same time, the police summoned Mr. Huang Qi’s friends, as well as petitioners who had sought help from Mr. Huang Qi’s Tianwang Human Rights Centre.

Five days after his arrest, the grounds of his detention were finally communicated. Mr. Qi was suspected of “possessing illegally State secrets”.

On July 18, 2008, Mr. Huang’s family received the formal arrest warrant, when they went to enquire about Mr. Huang’s situation at Chengdu Public Security Bureau (PSB) Wuhou Sub-division. When asked why Mr. Huang had not been released after the legal limit of 37 days, the police immediately issued the warrant in the presence of his family. Subsequently, Mr. Huang was denied access to legal counsel for over three months, as his case involved “State secrets”. His family has not been allowed to visit the activist despite repeated requests. In addition, Mr. Huang was barred from accessing his lawyers for over three months after he was first taken into custody.

On August 5, 2009, Mr. Huang Qi was tried in a closed trial before the Wuhou District Court, Chengdu City, which did not announce its verdict before November 23.

In the past, Mr. Huang Qi has already been subjected to various acts of harassment in the past because of his human rights activities. Mr. Huang Qi was arrested on June 3, 2000 and sentenced in 2003 to five years’ imprisonment for having posted several articles on the Tiananmen Square Massacre on his website. He was released on June 4, 2005 at the end of his sentence. Moreover, in 2006, Mr. Huang was the target of intimidation, especially after posting on his website comments and pictures of a workers’ protest in the Nanguang firm in Chengdu in June 2006[2].

On November 23, 2009, the Wuhou District Court, in Chengdu City, found Mr. Huang Qi guilty for possessing "three documents issued by a certain city Government", although the judge did not specify what kind of documents they were, which city government issued them or, more importantly, how their contents constituted "State secrets". When Mr. Huang’s wife requested a written copy of the verdict at the end of the hearing, the judge replied that “there was not one”.

Moreover, about 30 supporters of Mr. Huang Qi were not allowed to enter the courthouse, and one of them was taken away while another petitioner was roughly handled by the security guards when they tried entering the court.

Actions requested:

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

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Huang Qi;
  2. Release Mr. Huang Qi immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;
  3. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Huang Qi and more generally against all human rights defenders in the People’s Republic of China;
  4. 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”, its article 9, which states that “[...] everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights” and its 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”;
  5. 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. Wen Jiabao, 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, 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. Meng Jianzhu, 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 Sha Zukang, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, 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, 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: 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.

Geneva-Paris, February 8, 2010.

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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
  • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] In 2005, Mr. Huang created a website to continue domestic rights activities, publish rights protection information, and provide assistance to vulnerable groups.

[2] See Observatory Annual Report 2006. Nanguang firm is closely linked to local authorities and published a propaganda pamphlet accusing Mr. Huang Qi of being involved in the organisation of this social movement. For their part, authorities accused Mr. Huang of illegally leading and supporting retired workers of the Nanguang firm, who gather on a regular basis to demand their pension. Moreover, the managers of the business affairs office denounced, in their pamphlets, links between Nanguang workers and foreign organisations and journalists of Radio Free Asia, based in the United States.

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