March 19 marked six months of arbitrary detention for #MeToo activist and freelance journalist Huang Xueqin and labor rights defender Wang Jianbing, following their initial enforced disappearances.
On September 19, 2021, Guangzhou police forcibly arrested Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” during a weekly gathering of friends at Wang Jianbing’s home on trial ” subversive to state power”. They were immediately placed under Residential monitoring at a designated location (RSDL) and it was not until early November 2021 that their family members received official “arrest notices” issued by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau.
Despite these notices that they would be detained in Guangzhou, until today no family member or lawyer has been able to meet or talk to them, leaving their whereabouts effectively unknown and constituting a secret detention.
On April 1, the Free Campaign Xueqin & Jianbing 释放雪饼 announced that they had been transferred to the Guangzhou City Procuratorate for examination and prosecution. Citing national security reasons, their lawyers have still not been allowed to meet them.
Since their arrest, about 70 feminist friends and colleagues of Xueqin have been continuously summoned, intimidated and interrogated by the police, and forced to sign false confessions alleging that they participated in so-called training activities to “subvert power”. of State “.
While Peng Shuai’s disappearance from public view and coerced statements following her accusations of sexual abuse by Zhang Gaoli have rightly raised concern around the world, the crackdown continues against women rights activists and feminists in the People’s Republic of China remains a little-known problem. We therefore publish a brief overview of their case based on a translation of the appeal launched by the Free Xueqin & Jianbing 释放雪饼 campaign on March 20, 2022.
Arrest and disappearance
Both Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing were taken on September 19, 2021, a day before Xueqin was to travel to the UK on a scholarship to the University of Sussex with the UK Chevening Committee. They first disappeared in a favorite regime of human rights defenders: residential surveillance at a designated person.
It was only through continuous police summons and questioning of other activists that Xuebing’s family and friends learned of the charges and police intentions against the two, because despite legal provisions, no notice detention was not sent until October 27, 2021, when the two were formally charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and were reportedly detained at Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Center.
However, at the end of January 2021, it was learned that Huang Xueqin was indeed detained in Guangzhou No. 2 Detention Center, and it is unclear whether Wang Jianbing was actually detained in No. 1 Detention Center. Xueqin’s family and friends have tried several times over the past six months to send money to Xueqin and Jianbing in the detention center, but to no avail. This strongly suggests that the location of their detention may not match the location provided or that they were held under pseudonyms as our report alleges. Access Denied – China’s Disappearing Suspects. Family, friends and lawyers have no way of knowing the actual whereabouts and physical health of the two.
While both Xueqin and Jianbing have lawyers appointed by their families, neither of them has been able to meet with their clients. Since October 2021, Jianbing’s lawyer, Xiao Yunyang, has repeatedly submitted requests to Guangzhou police for interviews and bail pending trial, all of which have been rejected on “national security” grounds. “. More recently, Xueqin’s lawyer’s request for a meeting in March 2022 was also denied. This growing practice has been amply documented in our report China’s legal blockade.
During this time, about 70 of Xueqin’s friends were continuously summoned by the police for questioning. Since his arrest, Guangzhou police, in conjunction with public security departments across the country, have continued to issue local or cross-regional summonses for questioning. Without following any legal formalities, the Guangzhou police interrogated and intimidated them for up to 24 hours, and searched and forcibly copied their electronic equipment. The police forced and threatened some of Xueqin’s friends to sign police-made false confessions, asking them to allege that the two had participated in so-called “subversive state power” forming activities and defining the rally at Jianbing’s home as a political event. criticism of the government. meeting. Over the past six months, the police have been relentlessly trying to collect illegal evidence to charge Xueqin in this way.
A long history of repression
Since 2015, the Chinese government has accelerated its crackdown on civil society, with repressive policies and accusations against civil organizations and activists concerned with women’s and labor rights. The specific purpose of large-scale political arrests such as the “Feminist Five” case in 2015, the “709” crackdown on a human rights lawyer or the “123” crackdown on labor activists was to gradually disintegrate the civil society networks and instilling widespread fear. in the community.
It was in this depressing atmosphere that Xueqin and Jianbing organized a party at his home, to accompany and encourage those who feel lost in an increasingly oppressive environment. However, the weekly rally is now seen by the government as a major so-called “national security” threat, leading to charges of “inciting subversion of state power” against the two.
After the complete repression and closure of organized civil society, it is evident that the government is seeking to further dismantle the remaining network of actors, while shifting the attention of the state apparatus to more discreet and unknown actors. , further adding to the atmosphere of panic. in the little community that managed to survive.
Furthermore, as the case of Peng Shuai and the crackdown on the Me Too movement demonstrate, women’s rights movements are viewed and treated as an existential threat to the survival of the CCP and routinely accused of colluding with foreign forces. Indeed, April 1sta WeChat account linked to the CCP spokesperson that the Global Times published a piece of smear against other Chinese feminist activists and the director of Safeguard Defenders, Peter Dahlin.
A call from friends
It has been six months since we lost contact with Xueqin. We cannot imagine the torture and humiliation she endured. His friends and family are deeply concerned for his physical and mental health. But we think Xueqin should cling to the belief that being a journalist is not a sin, participating in #MeToo is not a sin, supporting workers is not a sin, and paying attention to social justice. should never be a sin!
- We strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest and charges against Xueqin by Guangzhou police and the government. We demand that the government immediately release the whereabouts, physical and mental health information of the two, allow their lawyers to meet, and release Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing unconditionally!
- We are deeply disappointed by the continued silence of the UK Chevening Committee and the University of Sussex during the enforced disappearance and arbitrary arrest of its affiliated scholar/student Xueqin Huang. We call on the Chevening Scholarship Committee and university officials to actively respond to and condemn the Chinese government’s blatant crackdown on human rights defenders.
- We are grateful to international non-profit organizations, human rights organizations, social media and international civil society for their solidarity and assistance to Xueqin, as well as for everyone’s continued care. to the human rights situation in China. We call on more international groups to continue to pay attention to and support deeply suppressed Chinese human rights defenders.
- We hope that all of our friends and partners in civil society who have been affected by this crackdown will remain strong. Political repression makes us deeply fearful, and only unity and company with one another can keep us strong and free. This is what Xueqin is working on.
Friends of Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing
March 20, 2022