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Family of Detained Chinese Rights Lawyer Turned Away After Making Torture Complaint

Chinese human rights lawyer Chang Weiping. Screen shot from video
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Gao Feng | Radio Free Asia

The family of Chang Weiping has been prevented from complaining through official channels about allegations of torture and falsification of evidence.

Authorities in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi have rejected an official complaint from family of detained rights lawyer Chang Weiping, who is currently under investigation for “subversion of state power” after he attended a December 2019 gathering of dissidents in the southeastern city of Xiamen.

Chang’s wife Chen Zijuan said the family had complained that he had been tortured during a period of incommunicado detention — known as residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) — as well as about the way in which police were using interviews with people he had known to try to build a case against him.

“I had an altercation with the staff of the Shaanxi provincial state prosecutor’s office, and they shut the door of the reception area and all the staff left,” Chen said.

“The staff … actually claimed that they had no control over the way that police investigate cases,” she said.

“They tried to send me off to the supervisory committee, but my lawyer told me that investigations into torture are managed by the procuratorate [prosecution],” she said.

Chen, along with rights attorneys Bao Longjun and Ren Quanniu, had earlier tried to file their complaints with the Baoji municipal police department, but had been turned away there as well, she said.

Authorities in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi have formally arrested rights attorney Chang Weiping on suspicion of “subversion of state power,” his wife said on Monday.

Chang was redetained in October 2020 after he spoke out about being tortured following an earlier detention in connection with a dinner gathering of human rights lawyers, dissidents, and rights activists in the southeastern port city of Xiamen in December 2019.

The charge against him appears to have been changed from “incitement to subvert state power,” which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years, to the more serious charge of “subversion of state power,” which has no upper limit on length of custodial sentence.

Held in remote area

According to Chen, police had no legal basis to detain Chang, and are now holding him in the Fengxian Detention Center in a mountainous area outside Baoji city, with scant transportation links.

“In terms of public transportation, there are only two buses a day going to that place, which is very inconvenient and there is no expressway,” she said.

“We drove for more than two hours in total, of which two hours were very hard going on mountain roads,” she said.

Once in Fengxian, Chen filed an application for review of the investigation procedures with the department running the case.

“Judging from their reaction body language, I think we were refused,” she said.

Chen said police had also forced “testimony” from people known to Chang in Shenzhen, Beijing, and Guangzhou.

“This is tantamount to falsifying testimony,” Chen said. “They were likely given prewritten ‘confessions’ and not allowed to leave until [they had signed them].”

“Either that, or they were encouraged to say that Chang Weiping said things that he didn’t say,” Chen said.

She cited one example, in which an interviewee was pressured to “admit” that Chang had talked about bringing down the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), when he had told them he was unable to represent them following the loss of his lawyer’s license.

“They are trying to depict Chang Weiping as an opposition leader, a political dissident,” Chen said.

Call for international investigation

Du Song, director-general of the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said China should be investigated as Chang’s torture allegations under international treaties.

“China has no mechanism for monitoring [torture allegations], and no department is authorized to be the first port of call,” Du said.

“China has been a party to the Convention against Torture since 1988. Articles 20 and 30 of the Convention allow for international human rights experts to investigate suspected cases of torture, but China refuses to implement these provisions,” Du said.

The European Bar Association and Amnesty International have both called for Chang’s release in recent months.

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