Case history: Guo Bin
Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing were released on 11 July 2015 after being held in detention for a month on charges of "illegal business operations". On 12 June 2015, both were detained in Guangdong province by police and state security officers from Beijing, Henan and Guangdong.
Guo Bin is director of ACTogether, an anti-discrmination NGO which works to promote equal access to employment for disadvantaged groups. He previously worked at the Beijing Yirenping Centre and was formerly the director of the non-governmental organisation's Zhengzhou offices.
On 12 June 2015, human rights defenders Mr Guo Bin and Mr Yang Zhanqing were detained in Guangdong province by police and state security officers from Beijing, Henan and Guangdong. It is believed that Yang Zhanqing is being held in Zhengzhou No 3 Detention Centre. The whereabouts of Guo Bin remain unconfirmed.
Guo Bin was detained at the Children's Hospital of Shenzen, where he had been looking after his son, who had recently undergone surgery, and was reportedly taken to the Futian District Detention Centre in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Yang Zhanqing was detained at around 10.00 pm at his home in the city of Huizhou, Guangdong and reportedly taken to the Huiyang District Detention Centre before being transferred to Zhengzhou. The human rights defenders are being held on charges of “illegal business operations”.
The detentions of Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing follow Yirenping's publication and outspoken criticism of the detention of gender equality activists in March 2015. All of those detained had ties to Yirenping. Following the release of the five detainees, the NGO was identified by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs as having been involved in illegal activities, and signalled that it would be penalized. This threat followed a police raid at the Beijing office of Yirenping on 24 March 2015.
The detentions of Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing suggest the coming of further harassment against Yirenping. The charge they are being held on is identical to that brought against human rights lawyer Mr Chang Boyang in May 2014. Chang Boyang, who was representing detained participants in a memorial for the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 at the time of his detention, was a former legal representative of the Zhegzhou office of the Yirenping. The office was subsequently raided as part of the investigation against the lawyer.
Front Line Defenders expresses its grave concern at the detention and charging of Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing. It believes the actions to have been taken against them solely as a result of their legitimate work in the defence of human rights. It sees the illegitimate action against them as part of the systematic closing down of civil society space, instigated by the Chinese authorities and including human rights defenders as specific targets for harassment, intimidation, and groundless sanctions.