Chinese Rights Lawyer Still Under House Arrest on 50th Birthday

Calls are growing for Jiang Tianyong's release after a friend was detained for visiting him under house arrest.
Chinese Rights Lawyer Still Under House Arrest on 50th Birthday Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong is shown in a file photo.

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Henan are continuing to hold prominent human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong under house arrest at his home in Luoyang city, RFA has learned.

Jiang, who recently passed his 50th birthday under close surveillance by state security police, was "released" from prison in February 2019 at the end of a two-year jail term for "incitement to subvert state power," a charge often used to imprison peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

He was allowed to return to his parents' home in Luoyang, but remains under close surveillance and heavy restrictions.

Jiang's U.S.-based wife Jin Bianling has repeatedly expressed concern for her husband's health after he was tortured by cellmates during his time in detention.

Henan-based rights activist Xing Wangli visited Jiang in Luoyang on April 20, but was subsequently detained by police in Beijing, Xing's New Zealand-based son Xing Jian told RFA.

"My father went to visit Lawyer Jiang on April 20," Xing Jian said. "On April 23, the director and deputy director of the Huaihe police station got my parents to come to the neighborhood committee offices on a pretext, and warned him off visiting Jiang."

"They said that if he didn't behave properly in future, he would be punished."

Xing Wangli left Henan that afternoon for Beijing, where he was detained and handed over to Henan police, who currently have him under criminal detention on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," a charge frequently used to target peaceful activists and critics of the CCP.

"They told my father that he shouldn't have gone to Luoshan to visit the human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, and told him not to go to Beijing, and they also accused me of speaking on behalf of my father and Jiang Tianyong online after the incident," Xing Jian said.

Outstanding contributions

"Attorney Jiang Tianyong has made outstanding contributions to Chinese society, the rule of law, democracy and human rights," he said. "He has given us a lot."

"My father just wanted to use his meager power to give something back, and they still attacked him and retaliated against him," Xing Jian said.

Rights lawyer Ren Quanniu, who last visited Jiang after his release in 2019, said security was tight around the Jiang family home in Luoyang.

"The police, including state security police, forcibly checked our ID cards, before hauling us down to the police station," Ren said.

"Because I refused to cooperate with their illegal behavior, they sprayed me with pepper spray at close range and didn't let me wash it off for an hour."

"This is appalling behavior that totally restricts citizens' legal right to freedom of movement," he said. "They see anyone who goes to visit [Jiang] as a criminal suspect."

'No legal basis to continue'

Ren said little has changed in the two years since his visit.

"This is a kind of humiliation for all Chinese citizens," he said. "There is no legal basis to continue to detain a person after they have been released."

Jiang's wife Jin posted a birthday message for her husband via Twitter on Wednesday, saying the couple hadn't been together on his birthday for eight years.

She also retweeted birthday messages, songs, and cards from dozens of fellow rights lawyers and activists and their families.

Among them was a video featuring a message from fellow rights lawyer Xie Yanyi, who called Jiang's continued detention a scandal, and demanded his immediate release.

Changsha Funeng founder Yang Zhanqing added his good wishes in the same video, while California-based pastor Liu Yi offered prayers for Jiang, a committed Christian.

Rights attorney Wang Qingpeng, legal activist Liu Sixin, China Change founder Cao Yaxue, and Germany-based journalist Su Yutong also sent messages of support.

Reported by Gao Feng and Sun Cheng for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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