Changsha, Hunan— Authorities in China’s southern Hunan province arrested a passionate defender of human rights and religious freedom on falsified charges of attempting to overthrow the state, his father learned today.
The father of imprisoned Christian human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong received a statement from a sub-bureau of the Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau notifying him that officials arrested his son on May 31 for “subversion of state power,” a charge reserved for those who plan to overturn the regime but commonly used to persecute human rights lawyers. According to the law, it carries a maximum life sentence.
During his time as a lawyer, Jiang stalwartly represented individuals persecuted by the Communist Party for their faith, including Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners as well as other minority groups and petitioners. In 2009, ChinaAid invited him to the U.S., where he testified in front of Congress twice, spotlighting China’s forced abortion and sterilization practices as well as their continued abuse of rule of law.
Jiang disappeared on Nov. 21, 2016, as he was returning to Beijing from a visit to the family of Xie Yang, a human rights lawyer imprisoned on July 9, 2015, during a nationwide crackdown on rights defenders. Shortly after being taken into police custody, a Chinese propaganda source alleged that he illegally possessed state secrets and leaked such information to foreign entities. On Dec. 1, 2016, government personnel charged him with “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced him to time in an unofficial “black jail.” Upon his arrest, officials altered the accusation once more, saying he is suspected of “subversion of state power.”
Jiang resurfaced today when authorities announced he is being held at the Changsha No. 1 Detention Center. For the entirety of his incarceration, he has been barred from meeting with lawyers.
In 2013, Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, and the couple’s daughter relocated to California in order to flee ongoing harassment on account of Jiang’s work. Jiang has also been granted asylum in the United States, but China repeatedly forbade him from leaving the country. Jin now travels to advocate for her husband’s release, her past audiences including U.S. congressional committees.