Case history: Wang Cheng
Wang Cheng was released from a 15 day adminstrative detention sentence in early April 2014. He had been handed down this punishment as a result of his investigations into an illegal holding centre in Heilongjiang province.
Wang Cheng is a human rights lawyer whose license has been revoked as a result of his human rights activities.
On 23 March 2014, it was confirmed that two human rights lawyers, Messers Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong, have been given a 15 day administrative detention sentence following their attempts to investigate an unofficial detention centre, also known as a black jail, in China's north eastern Heilongjiang province. Their two colleagues, Messers Wang Cheng and Zhang Junjie, with whom they travelled to Heilongjiang, are also believed to be in detention, although their status is currently unclear.
All four human rights defenders have a record of taking on politically sensitive cases and for the past number of years have been extremely active in defending the rights of others. As a result of their work, they have been subjected to harassment, detention, beatings and disappearances. In 2011 Jiang Tiangyong and Tang Jitian were forcibly disappeared and tortured for a number of months during a widespread crackdown on human rights defenders in the country. In February 2014, Wang Cheng was detained following his involvement in the launch of an online petition calling on China to ratify to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
On 20 March 2014 the four lawyers travelled to Heilongjiang province at the request of relatives of people who had been illegally detained in a so-called black jail. At around 8.30am on 21 March, the human rights defenders were detained following their visit to a 'Legal Education Centre' at Qinglongshan state farm, where a number of people were being illegally held. Family members of those being held in the black jail who had travelled with the lawyers to the site were also detained.
On 23 March it emerged that lawyers Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong had been given sentences of 15 days administrative detention for “using cult activities to endanger society”. It is believed the charge relates to the fact that people who have been illegally detained in the black jail are Falun Gong practitioners. Such a sentence can be handed down at the sole discretion of the police in China without the need for any judicial review. There is currently no information regarding the whereabouts or status of Wang Cheng and Zhang Junjie.
Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Wang Cheng, Zhang Junjie, Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong, particularly given the precedent for torture in Chinese detention centres and against the human rights defenders in the past.