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China: Human rights defenders Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing facing “inciting subversion” charge

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Today marks 80 days since woman human rights defender Huang Xueqin and labour and disability rights defender Wang Jianbing were both taken by local police from Wang Jianbing’s residence in the city of Guangzhou, in southern China, on 19 September 2021. Between late October and early November 2021, Huang Xueqin’s and Wang Jianbing’s families respectively received a formal arrest notice, dated 27 October 2021, indicating that they were arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of State power” under the law of the People's Republic of China, and are detained in Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Centre.

About the HRD

Huang XueqinHuang Xueqin (黄雪琴) is a journalist and woman human rights defender from Guangdong province. She has worked to promote women’s rights, and to document and expose sexual harassment against women and girls in the workplace and in educational institutions. She was also previously detained from October 2019 to January 2020 after she published writings about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

4 April 2022
Police seek prosecution of Huang Xueqin

On 27 March 2022, the police in Guangzhou transferred the case against woman human rights defender Huang Xueqin and labour rights defender Wang Jianbing to the Guangzhou Municipal Procuratorate for review and decision on prosecution. Huang Xueqin is currently detained at the Guangzhou Municipal No. 1 Detention Centre. Both human rights defenders are facing the charge of “inciting subversion of State power”. In the period between their detention in September 2021 and the transfer of the case to the Procuratorate, neither human rights defender was allowed access to legal counsel of their choice.

Under China’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), the Procuratorate must make a decision on whether to prosecute a case within one month after receiving it from the police. In “major or complicated cases”, a concept not defined by the CPL, the deadline may be extended by 15 days. The Procuratorate may also send the case back to the police for supplementary investigation, which must be completed in a month and only two rounds of such investigation are allowed. Under the CPL, as soon as the Procuratorate begins reviewing a case for prosecution, defense lawyers have the right to read, copy and reproduce case file materials.

9 December 2021
China: Human rights defenders Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing facing “inciting subversion” charge

Today marks 80 days since woman human rights defender Huang Xueqin and labour and disability rights defender Wang Jianbing were both taken by local police from Wang Jianbing’s residence in the city of Guangzhou, in southern China, on 19 September 2021. Between late October and early November 2021, Huang Xueqin’s and Wang Jianbing’s families respectively received a formal arrest notice, dated 27 October 2021, indicating that they were arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of State power” under the law of the People's Republic of China, and are detained in Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Centre.

Huang Xueqin (黄雪琴) is a journalist and woman human rights defender from Guangdong province. She has worked to promote women’s rights, and to document and expose sexual harassment against women and girls in the workplace and in educational institutions. She was also previously detained from October 2019 to January 2020 after she published writings about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

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Wang Jianbing (王建兵) is a labour rights and disability rights defender originally from Gansu province. After graduating from university in 2005, he began to work in the non-profit sector promoting youth education and rural development. In 2014, he joined an NGO in Guangzhou and implemented projects to promote youth development and empowerment of people living with disabilities. In 2018, he began to advocate for the rights of workers with occupational diseases through legal and community support. He is also a strong supporter of China’s #MeToo movement.

Wang Jianbing had originally planned to accompany Huang Xueqin to Shenzhen where she was to travel onwards to the Hong Kong airport for a flight on 20 September 2021 to the United Kingdom for her graduate studies. In the afternoon on 19 September 2021, Guangzhou public security officers arrived at Wang Jianbing’s residence and took both him and Huang Xueqin into custody. The police also searched the two defenders’ residences and confiscated their personal belongings.

The grounds for their detention appear to be connected to multiple private gatherings at Wang Jianbing’s residence. Following Wang Jianbing and Huang Xueqin’s detention, local police in Guangzhou and in other provinces repeatedly visited and interrogated more than 40 of their acquaintances. During these interrogations, the police reportedly demanded the acquaintances to confirm the identity of people who had gathered at Wang Jianbing’s residence, to testify that the discussions at these gatherings were political in nature, and to sign pre-written testimonies falsely accusing the two human rights defenders of attending political assemblies that “subvert State power.” Many of them also had their electronic devices searched and data copied by the police.

In the weeks between the two human rights defenders’ arrest and the issuance of the formal arrest notice, neither of their families had received any legal notices confirming their arrest, their whereabouts or the charges against them. Wang Jianbing’s family visited multiple police offices in Guangzhou in an attempt to locate him, without success. They then submitted complaints to the district, municipal and provincial public security offices without receiving any meaningful response. When the family submitted complaints against the police to the Guangzhou Municipal Procuratorate, on 30 September 2021, the office refused to intervene. Also, the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau has so far rejected twice, in October and November, Wang Jianbing’s lawyer’s requests to meet with the human rights defender and to have him released on bail.

On 30 September 2021, three unidentified persons, suspected to be state security officers, summoned Wang Jianbing’s family for interrogation at a police station without showing any official identification or warrants. They told the family that the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau is responsible for the arrest of Wang Jianbing, but they could not reveal the charges against him nor the location of his detention. They ordered the family to stop contacting government offices and warned them not to conduct public advocacy.

The latest research published by Front Line Defenders and partner organisations highlights the systematic misuse of vague national security provisions in order to arbitrarily detain human rights defenders for their peaceful activities.

Front Line Defenders believes the detention and charges against Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing are a reprisal for their peaceful and legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of assembly and association.