Another Shenzhen Activist Held on 'Subversion' Charges in Secret Location

2017-04-10
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Deng Hongcheng, one of 10 activists who went missing and believed to be detained in November in Shenzhen, in undated photo.
Deng Hongcheng, one of 10 activists who went missing and believed to be detained in November in Shenzhen, in undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have charged an activist with subversion following his detention amid a crackdown on rights campaigners in the southern city of Shenzhen.

Li Jiangpeng, who was taken away by police in February, is being held under "residential surveillance" at an unknown location on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," his wife told RFA.

"I don't know what this is about," Li's wife Yu Xiaoping said on Monday. "I will ask the lawyer, but I don't think that he broke any laws. He did nothing criminal."

"All I want is for them to release him as soon as possible."

An officer who answered the phone at the Shenzhen municipal police department on Monday declined to comment, saying he wasn't obliged to make statements.

Li's arrest came after police detained nine people earlier this year, including rights activists Deng Hongcheng, Xiao Bing, Wang Wei, Huo Yan, and Shen Li after they made plans to meet up in the city's Longgang district on Nov. 14 for dinner.

The following day, friends and relatives Ding Yan, Wang Jun, Huang Anyang, Li Nanhai, Wang Jianhua, and Deng Jianfeng also went missing after they inquired with police after their whereabouts.

While the authorities have since confirmed that they are holding Deng Hongcheng, Wang Jun, Xiao Bing and Li Nanhai on subversion charges, and have released Deng Jianfeng.

Xiao Bing's lawyer Lin Qilei told RFA that his client's family had received notification only in February.

"This happened in November, and yet it took all that time for the family to receive it," Lin said at the time.

Family powerless

Li Nanhai's father said the family felt powerless to help.

"There's very little we as his parents can do to help him," Li told RFA. "The government gets to decide how it will deal with him."

He said his son "finds it hard to let go of his fantasy" of human rights and the rule of law, suggesting that he is unlikely to admit his "crimes" and get more lenient treatment.

Wang Jun's wife Yan Junjun, who is six months pregnant with the couple's child, said she had traveled to lodge an official complaint about his detention in Beijing during the annual parliament last month, but was detained and escorted back to Shenzhen by police.

She is now being prevented from traveling to take care of her sick, elderly parents.

"My pregnancy is quite far advanced now, so I feel very tired, and can't go out much, but if my health allowed it, I would be out there fighting for our rights, and searching for my husband," Yan said.

"The lawyer told me they are still working hard to try to get him out on bail," she said.

'Aggressive' campaign

"Subversion of state power" carries a minimum jail term of 10 years in cases where the person is judged to have played a leading role, or where the consequences are deemed especially harmful.

However, jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is currently serving a 13-year sentence for the lesser charge of "incitement to subvert state power," because the circumstances were deemed serious by the court.

The Chinese government has stepped up an "aggressive" campaign against civil society activists and online speech in the past year, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement last week.

Many peaceful critics of the government remained locked away, including Liu Xiaobo and Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti, the group said ahead of a recent summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Eight of the human rights lawyers and supporters among the 300 detained during a nationwide raid in July 2015 are still facing trial, while another six have been sentenced; the legal proceedings have fallen far short of international standards, HRW said.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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