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Case History: Guo Feixiong

Status: 
Imprisoned
About the situation

Human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong ended a three month hunger strike on 18 August 2016 after receiving a prison transfer in Guangdong province. He had suffered a serious deterioration of his health since his hunger strike began on 9 May 2016 and had reportedly lost one third of his weight.

Guo began his hunger strike calling on President Xi Jinping to implement democratic reforms, end the use of electric shocks in prison, improve the treatment of political prisoners, and ratify a United Nations covenant on civil and political rights.

More than 400 HRDs particpated in relay hunger strikes in support of Guo after he began refusing food and water. 

He has been denied adequate medical attention despite rapidly declining health and has been subjected to degrading treatment by the authorities in Yangchung Prison, Guangdong Province. Guo, the 2015 winner of the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, is serving a six year prison sentence for “gathering crowds to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Guo was initially detained on 8 August 2013 in connection with an anti-censorship demonstration he had participated in outside the offices of a newspaper in January that year in Guangzhou. In April 2013 he was involved in a campaign to urge the Chinese authorities to ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Following his arrest, he was held in pre-trial detention for over a year.

About Guo Feixiong

Guo FeixiongGuo Feixiong is a well known figure in China's rights defence movement and has previously spent five years in prison for his human rights activities. In 2005, the human rights defender provided legal assistance and organisational support to residents in Taishi village in Guangdong province who were seeking to remove their village chief whom they accused of corruption. As a result of his involvement in this case, he was held by the police for three months without charge, during which time he went on hunger strike to protest his treatment.

13 June 2016
Serious deterioration of human rights defender Guo Feixiong’s health after more than 40 days of hunger strike

Human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong has suffered a serious deterioration of his health since his hunger strike began on 9 May 2016, since which date he has lost one third of his weight.

On 10 June 2016, human rights defender Guo Feixiong was reported to have weighed 52kg which has dropped dramatically from 75kg in the past 40 days since he began his hunger strike. His hunger strike is in protest against his treatment in prison as he has been denied adequate medical attention and has been subjected to degrading treatment by the authorities in Yangchung Prison, Guangdong Province.

Authorities have threatened the human rights defender’s family that should they comment publicly on Guo Feixiong’s condition they will risk not being able to visit the human rights defender again. The information concerning Guo Feixiong’s health was revealed by other sources. Seven human rights defenders and supporters of Guo Feixiong, calling for his release were detained in Beijing on 31 May 2016. The coordinator of the “Save Guo Feixiong” hunger strike rally, Ms Ai Wu, also reported that rally participants in Chongqing have been subjected to various forms of harassment by the authorities.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about Guo Feixiong’s health and rapid weight loss as well as about the threats against his family to impose visiting restrictions.

23 May 2016
Imprisoned human rights defender Guo Feixiong enters third week of hunger strike

On 23 May 2016, human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong entered the third week of a hunger strike protesting against his treatment in prison. He has been denied adequate medical attention despite rapidly declining health and has been subjected to degrading treatment by the authorities in Yangchung Prison, Guangdong Province.

Guo Feixiong, the 2015 winner of the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, is currently serving a six year prison sentence for “gathering crowds to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Following increasing concern regarding his ill-health, Guo Feixiong was finally taken to Yangchun Prison hospital on 9 May 2016, two weeks after his sister Yang Maoping had visited him in prison and reported him to be in a severely poor condition. At the prison hospital he did not receive adequate medical attention and furthermore was reportedly subjected to a forced rectal examination against his wishes, which was recorded by prison authorities, who threatened that they would post the video online. His head was also forcibly shaved. In an open letter to the Chinese President, Guo Feixiong's wife, Ms Zhang Qing, reported that her husband has also been instructed to crouch down and place his hands behind his head each time a member of the prison staff was in his presence.

That same day, Guo Feixiong embarked on a hunger strike to protest this treatment and to call on the Chinese government to launch political reforms, to abolish punishment by electric shock, to improve the treatment of political prisoners and to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. During previous periods in detention, Guo Feixiong was tortured extensively with electric shocks administered through an electric baton.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the health of human rights defender Guo Feixiong and the limited and delayed medical care that he has received.

26 April 2016
Guo Feixiong's health rapidly deteriorates in prison

On the morning of 26 April 2016, the sister of jailed human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong visited him in Yangchun Prison, Guangdong Province and expressed serious concerns for his health. Guo Feixiong, the 2015 winner of the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, is currently serving a six year prison sentence for “gathering crowds to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

Guo Feixiong, pen name of Yang Maodong, is a well-known figure in China's rights defence movement and has been imprisoned a number of times for his human rights activities. On 27 November 2015, he was sentenced to six years in prison for his participation in peaceful protests in support of press freedom and for his involvement in a campaign urging the Chinese government to ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. In September 2015, Guo Feixiong was awarded the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.

At 10am on 26 April 2016, Yang Maoping, sister of Guo Feixiong, visited her brother in Yangchun Prison and reported that he looked paler and thinner than when she had last seen him on 29 February 2016. Guo Feixiong told her that on 7 April 2016, he was admitted to hospital and for over a year had been experiencing intermittent blood in his stools and bleeding in his mouth and throat. Furthermore, he told her on 19 April 2016, he experienced heavy bleeding and was unable to walk steadily, and on 25 April 2016, he was barely able to stand up. Whilst in hospital he was held in a 7.5 square metre windowless room for twenty-three hours a day with four others. Guo Feixiong had requested a full health examination but was reportedly informed that the prison warden would not permit it.

When she saw Guo Feixiong on 29 February 2016, Yang Maoping requested that prison officials provide her brother with a full examination, including a lumbar MRI scan because he looked so unwell. Following her visit on 26 April 2016, she requested once again that Guo Feixiong be transferred to a higher level hospital for a series of tests, including a CT scan, endoscopy, colonoscopy and blood tests, diagnosis and treatment. The prison warden responded that Guo Feixiong had not made such a request to him, but that if the human rights defender lost consciousness, he would be sent immediately to hospital. Yang Maoping insisted that waiting until then may be too late and that if the prison warden did not have the authority to approve it, then he should ask his superiors to approve the transfer.

In 2005, the human rights defender provided legal assistance and organisational support to residents in Taishi village in Guangdong province who were seeking to remove their village chief whom they accused of corruption. As a result of his involvement in this case, he was held by the police for three months without charge, during which time he went on hunger strike to protest his treatment. When he was released in December 2005 he was subjected to regular surveillance, harassment and at least one severe beating before being detained again in September 2006. In November 2007 he was sentenced to five years in prison, back dated to his arrest the previous year, for “illegal business activity” following his publication of a book documenting a political scandal in China's north eastern Liaoning province. On his release in September 2011, Guo Feixiong said that the treatment he received while in police custody and later in prison was “beyond people's imagination”. He was reportedly shackled to a wooden bed for forty-two days and hung naked from a ceiling by his arms while police used an electric baton to electrocute him.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the health of human rights defender Guo Feixiong and the lack of medical care which he has received.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in China to:

1. Ensure immediate and adequate medical care for Guo Feixiong and that his treatment in detention fully adheres to the conditions set out in the 'Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

2. Quash the sentence against Guo Feixiong and release him, as Front Line Defenders believes that his sentencing is solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in China are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
 

1 December 2015
Human Rights Defender Guo Feixiong responds to his 6 year sentence

On 27 November 2015, the Tianhe District People's Court in Guangzhou sentenced human rights defender Guo Feixiong to six years in prison on charges of “gathering crowds to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The latter charge was reportedly added by the judge at the sentencing and therefore one that Guo Feixiong's lawyers had no opportunity to defend him against, and which resulted in two years being added to his sentence.

Guo Feixiong: Final Response at Sentencing
Translated from the Chinese by Xiaohua

This judgment is anti-justice and anti-law. It is a despicable political persecution against me and Sun Desheng conducted by the dark anti-democratic forces in China. We are completely innocent.

What flows deep inside law is the voice of subject and dignity. “ What’s more important in law are righteousness, mercy and faithfulness.” However, this judgment of yours tramples on righteousness, violates humanity, and undermines the most basic procedural justice. This case of political injustice that you have done to us who had just uprightly fulfilled our civil and political rights means that you have misused the legal organization which should have been used to hphold justice and protect human rights to frame false evidence against innocent citizens and trample on the core interest of the Chinese nation ——the constitutional democratic cause. The criminal intent of your behavior is very obvious, and the details are so serious as to constitute the most profound evil.

Your action has severely violated criminal law. The future court of the democratic legal system will judge your crime in a just way, and will use the humanitarian light to illuminate your human nature that has been submerged for so long by unruliness, greed, fear and hatred. Without justice and atonement, there will be no dignified benevolence and forgiveness.

All you tyrants, oppressors and anti-democratic evil persons in China, I will use the indignant prophecy of an indomitable idealist who has been made the target of fabricated political charges and suffered savage torture to punish that soul of yours that has been poisoned by totalitarian ideology and refuses to repent up to this day. Having experienced the extremely brutal historical tragedy caused by totalitarianism, you still act perversely by holding its mantle and take all measures to safeguard private ownership of power and carry out full dictatorship. I believe that human beings of future generations will condemn you for your stubborness and conscience decay and denounce the jungle wild nature political barbarity for which you don’t feel ashamed but instead self-beautify.

“History is our religion.” History is our nation’s court of natural law. The judges Zheng Xin, Luo Cheng, Lu Xiao and the prosecutors Wang Yu and Liu Lijun involved in this case, and all the officials of the stability-maintaining group behind you who regard modern democracy as the abyss, you should know that you are acting against conscience and God knows everything you do, and you can never escape the punishment of the court of history for your grave sinfulness.

Let me honestly tell you: it is impossible for this shameful political persecution of yours to realise the political goal of suppressing the mighty democratic wave of China, on the contrary, it just helps people all over the world to get a clearer understanding of your anti- democratic character. More citizens will, out of anger or awakening, stand up like mountain peaks and join us. Our liberal democratic movement will grow more powerful amid your continuous suppression and hardening, until one day this generation of citizens will erect with their own hands the plural and balanced democratic edifice on this land of calamities. There is no exception in the world that the future belongs to sovereign citizens and sovereign people.

I will take this chance to express my sincere thankfulness to the lawyers Cheng Guangwu, Zhang Xuezhong and Zhang Lei who in the past two years overcame all kinds of risks and obstructions and dauntlessly provided me legal defence. No words can describe their great help to me. I would like to thank the lawyers Sui Muqing and Lin Qilei, Xiaoshu, Guo Chunping, Zhao Hongwei, the Pastor Fu Xiqiu and Zhang Min for your tenacious and selfless efforts to rescue me and support me. My thanks also go to my elder sister Yang Maoping and my elder brother Yang Maoquan who have suffered deeply and have become all the stronger. I would like to give my thanks to countless other people whose names I cannot possibly list one by one, yet you have joined in different ways the activities of appealing , rescuing and watching. Thanks heartily all those virtuous compatriots and international friends who in different ways spread information, express support and issue protests. Support and help from brothers and sisters all over the world make me feel as if I am living in a warm ocean of humanity and benevolence, and I often forget the coldness of the prison bars and the distress of the thick walls.

I would like to give special thankfulness to my wife Zhang Qing. At a dinner party with the senior soldiers of the democratic movement in late July 2012, my answer to the question concerning my family situation was: ” My feeling for my wife is sacred, for she has done her utmost to appeal for my rescue when I am in calamity and she refuses to step backward when faced with every threat.” My dear wife, now I openly express my deep thankfulness to you, with the intention of expressing and spreading my great respect to you for your resistance, adherence and loyalty shown under special test in the past tenyears. I would forever keep in mind and thank you for what you did for me during September 2006 and December 2008. “The eternal female leads humanity to rise. “My beloved wife, I deeply understand the hardships that you as a mother experience in raising our daughter and son in the new continent. While I am constantly imprisoned in the Chinese mainland for my dedication to democracy, the education of our daughter and son, the family affair that I most highly consider, is dependent on you.

My friends, it is time for an end and I will embrace a new beginning. Infinite wonders and opportunities, ideal brightness and brilliance, are all just ahead, waiting for us.

Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong)
On sentencing day

27 November 2015
2015 Front Line Defenders Award Winner Guo Feixiong sentenced to six years in prison

On 27 November 2015, human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong was sentenced to six years in prison by the Tianhe District People's Court in Guangzhou.

Two other human rights defenders, Messrs Liu Yuandong and Sun Desheng, received three and two and a half year sentences respectively.

In September 2015, Guo Feixiong was awarded the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, which was accepted on his behalf by his wife, Zhang Qing and daughter, Yang Tianjiao. All three human rights defenders had taken part in peaceful demonstrations calling for freedom of the press in Guangzhou in January 2013, which led to their arrests.

On the morning of 27 November 2015, Tianhe District People's Court in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, sentenced Guo Feixiong (penname of Yang Maodong) to six years in prison on charges of “gathering crowds to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The latter charge was reportedly added by the judge at the sentencing and therefore one that Guo Feixiong's lawyers had no opportunity to defend him against, and which resulted in two years being added to his sentence. Liu Yuandong was sentenced to three years, while Sun Desheng was sentenced to two and a half years, both on charges of “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”.

Guo Feixiong was initially detained on 8 August 2013 in connection with an anti-censorship demonstration he had participated in outside the offices of a newspaper in January that year in Guangzhou. In April 2013 he was involved in a campaign to urge the Chinese authorities to ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Following his arrest, he was held in pre-trial detention for over a year.

The first hearing of the trial against him and Sun Desheng took place on 12 September 2014 and was boycotted by their lawyers in protest at unfair treatment. The trial resumed on 22 November 2014 when the court sat for 18 hours without interruption. Liu Yuandong was tried in January 2014 and had been awaiting sentencing since then.

Since his detention in 2013, Guo Feixiong has reportedly been held in a 30 sq metre cell with 30 other detainees. Furthermore, he has been denied permission to go outside or exercise in the prison yard since his initial detention and has alleged ill-treatment by the prison guards. According to his lawyer, Mr Zhang Lei, Guo Feixiong's health has suffered greatly as a result. It has also been reported that Sun Desheng had had his hands cuffed and legs shackled for long periods after his detention.

16 September 2014
Lawyers for human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong denounce unfair trial

On 12 September 2014, the trial of human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong was postponed following a hearing in Guang Zhou Tianhe court.

The day before, his lawyers released a statement denouncing violations of his right to a defence as they were not allowed to access the case file, and refused to attend the hearing.

On 11 September 2014, Guo Feixiong's lawyers released a statement explaining that the court had unlawfully deprived their client of a proper defence. His lawyers stated that they would not attend the court proceedings since they had been prevented from acquiring copies of court files that were crucial to the case, as well as video and photo evidence related to the alleged offences. Guo Feixiong remained silent in court in the absence of his lawyer and the court took the decision to postpone the trial. The date of the next hearing is unknown.

The human rights defender's arrest is reportedly linked to his appearance at a public protest in early January 2013 in support of a Guangzhou newspaper ('Southern Weekend') that had been challenging government censorship. Guo Feixiong joined other human rights defenders who had gathered at the newspaper's offices to speak in support of freedom of speech and to show solidarity with 'Southern Weekend' reporters who were resisting censorship efforts. The human rights defender's arrest may also be connected to his involvement in a campaign to urge the Chinese authorities to ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

25 June 2014
Indictment of human rights defender Mr Yang Maodong

On 24 June 2014, human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong was formally charged with "gathering crowds to disrupt public order" by authorities in Guangzhou. The human rights defender has spent over ten months in custody since being detained on 8 August 2013.

The human rights defender was detained in Guangzhou by police and not permitted access to a lawyer until 14 November 2013. Previous to this, his lawyers had been denied permission to visit him at least eight times. His current lawyer, Mr Zhang Xuezhong, reported that the human rights defender will most likely stand trial in the coming months.

The human rights defender's arrest is reportedly linked to his appearance at a public protest in early January 2013 in support of a Guangzhou newspaper ('Southern Weekend') that had been challenging government censorship. Guo Feixiong joined other human rights defenders who had gathered at the newspaper's offices to speak in support of freedom of speech and to show solidarity with 'Southern Weekend' reporters who were resisting censorship efforts. The human rights defender's arrest may also be connected to his involvement in a campaign to urge the Chinese authorities to ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

19 August 2013
Detention of human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong

On 17 August 2013, it emerged that Guangzhou-based human rights defender Mr Guo Feixiong, the pen name Yang Maodong, had been detained on charges of “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”. Although in detention since 8 August 2013, Guo Feixiong's family were only notified by the police of his arrest on 17 August.

According to his lawyer, Mr Sui Muqing, the reason for Yang Maodong's arrest is likely connected to his appearance at a public protest in January 2013 in support of a Guangzhou newspaper which was battling government censorship. At that time, Guo Feixiong joined other human rights defenders in gathering at the offices of Southern Weekend to speak in support of freedom of speech and show solidarity with reporters working for the newspaper who were resisting censorship efforts.

Guo Feixiong's detention is the latest in a series of arrests targeting human rights defenders in China who have been calling for political reform and engaging in a campaign for Chinese Communist Party officials to disclose their assets.

Guo Feixiong is a legal activist and writer who was jailed for five years in 2007 for “illegal business activity” following his publication of a book documenting a political scandal in China's north eastern Liaoning province.

In 2005 he provided legal assistance and organisational support to residents in Taishi village in Guangdong province who were seeking to remove their village chief whom they accused of corruption. As a result of his involvement in this case, Guo Feixiong was held by the police for three months without charge, during which time he went on hunger strike to protest his treatment.

When he was released in December 2005 he was subjected to regular surveillance, harassment and at least one brutal beating before being detained again in September 2006. In November 2007 he was sentenced to five years in prison, back dated to his arrest the previous year.

On his release in September 2011, Guo Feixiong said that the treatment he received while in police custody and later in prison was 'beyond people's imagination'. He was reportedly shackled to a wooden bed for 42 days and hung from a ceiling by his arms while police used an electric baton to electrocute his genitals. Since his release he has been active once again in the rights defence movement in China and has been subjected to regular surveillance, questioning by the police and periods of house arrest.