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Case History: Xie Yanyi

Awaiting Trial
About the situation

On 18 January 2017, human rights defender Xie Yanyi (谢燕益) returned home following eighteen months in detention.

About Xie Yanyi

Xie YanyiXie Yanyi is a Beijing-based human rights lawyer who has taken on a number of human rights cases. In 2008 he attempted to sue the government to uphold citizens' rights to privacy and has also defended Falun Gong practitioners who have been persecuted because of their beliefs.

18 January 2017
Human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi released on bail

On 18 January 2017, human rights defender Xie Yanyi (谢燕益) returned home following eighteen months in detention.

On 5 January 2017, Xie Yanyi called his wife to inform her that he had been released on bail awaiting trial, but that he was being kept under surveillance in a Tianjin hotel. On 18 January 2017, the human rights defender returned to his home in Beijing. He remains under close surveillance, and authorities have regularly visited his home since his return to warn him against further involvement in human rights work.

On 12 January 2016, Xie Yanyi’s family received official notice that he had been formally charged with “inciting subversion of state power” following six months of incommunicado detention in the Tianjin No. 2 Detention Centre. Throughout the entirety of his period in detention, Xie Yanyi was denied access to his lawyer as well as any communication with his family.

Front Line Defenders welcomes Xie Yanyi's safe return to his family, while condemning the flagrant abuse of judicial power exhibited in the defender's detention.

12 January 2016
Charging of human rights defenders following months of incommunicado detention

On 11 and 12 January 2016, the families of five human rights lawyers and a legal assistant received official notice that their family members had been formally charged. All six individuals had been held in secret detention for six months.

Mr Zhou Shifeng, Mr Wang Quanzhang, Ms Zhao Wei and Ms Li Shuyun have all been charged with subversion of state power, while Mr Xie Yanyi and Mr Xie Yang have been charged with inciting subversion of state power. The maximum penalty for the crime of 'subversion of state power' is life imprisonment. There is a 15 year maximum penalty for the crime of 'inciting subversion of state power'.

On 10 July 2015, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Quanzhang, Li Shuyun and Zhao Wei were detained by police in Beijing. On 11 July 2015, Xie Yang was detained in Changsha, Hunan province. On 12 July 2015, Xie Yanyi was also detained in Beijing. None of the six have been permitted access to lawyers and all have been held incommunicado since their detentions. They were among over 300 lawyers, legal assistants and human rights defenders who were detained, placed under residential surveillance, subjected to travel bans or harassed in the period following 9 July last year. It is believed that up to 20 other human rights defenders remain in some form of police custody, in addition to the aforementioned six.

Front Line Defenders expresses its grave concern for the charging of the six human rights lawyers, given the severity of the offences with which they have been falsely accused. Particularly grave concern is expressed at the charge of 'subversion of state power', which has been brought against Zhou Shifeng, Wang Quanzhang, Zhao Wei and Li Shuyun. Front Line Defenders believes the charging of the human rights lawyers and their continued incommunicado detention to be directly linked to their peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

14 September 2015
Whereabouts of at least 18 human rights defenders remain unknown two months after their detentions

9 September 2015 marked two months to the day since a nationwide crackdown on human rights defenders began in China.

The whereabouts of at least 18 defenders remain unknown following their detention by police in July. It is thought that at least nine others are also detained. Many of those missing or detained are lawyers who have been at the forefront of the human rights movement in China over the past number of years.

Beginning on 9 July 2015, scores of human rights defenders, mostly involved in legal activism, were taken in for questioning by police in a number of cities across China. While many were released shortly after, it is reported that at least 27 remain in police custody. The families and lawyers of at least 18 of those detained have not been informed of where they are being held, nor have their lawyers been permitted to meet with them. No information has been received about their physical or mental well-being. All but one of those detained have been refused access to their lawyers, with some legal representatives informed that this is because their clients' cases involve 'national security'.

On 9 July 2015, human rights lawyer Ms Wang Yu and her husband Mr Bao Longjun, a legal activist, were detained and subsequently placed under 'residential surveillance' in an unknown location. They are being held on charges of 'inciting subversion of state power' and Bao Longjun also faces the charge of 'picking quarrels and provoking troubles'. The following day, a number of lawyers and legal assistants Messrs Wang Quangzhang, Xie Yuandong, Li Heping, Liu Sixin, Zhou Shifeng, Huang Liqun and Ms Li Shuyun were seized by police in Beijing. Their whereabouts are currently unknown, as are the whereabouts of Ms Wang Fang, an accountant at a law firm where some of the detained lawyers work, and Mr Hu Shigen, a human rights defender and writer who previously spent 16 years in prison as a result of his human rights activities. Three further human rights defenders, namely Messrs Gou Hongguo, Liu Yongping and Lin Bin, were also detained on 10 July and remain under 'residential surveillance' at an unknown location.

That same day, lawyer Mr Sui Muqing was detained in Guangzhou and has also been placed under 'residential surveillance' at an unknown location on charges of 'inciting subversion of state power'. On 12 July lawyer Mr Xie Yanyi was also detained in Beijing and subsequently placed under 'residential surveillance' at an unknown location on charges of 'disrupting court order' and 'inciting subversion of state power'. On 20 July Ms Gao Yue, an assistant to lawyer Li Heping, was detained and subsequently placed under 'residential surveillance' at an unknown location on charges of 'picking quarrels and provoking troubles' and 'inciting subversion of state power'. On 1 August, Mr Li Chunfu, the younger brother of Li Heping was disappeared following a raid on his home by police in Beijing. He has not been heard from since. In addition to the defenders named above, at least nine others reportedly remain in detention.