The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in the People’s Republic of China.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest, judicial harassment and ill-treatment of Mr. Wu Zeheng, a prominent Buddhist leader, also known as Buddhist Zen Master Shi Xingwu, known for his commitment towards greater respect of human rights and the rule of law principles, and for his fight against corruption.
According to the information received, on July 29, 2014, Mr. Wu Zeheng was taken into custody, after the police staged a coordinated raid on a number of businesses and living compounds run by his group, Huazang Dharma.
The police entered Mr. Wu’s home in Zhuhai at around 11.00 pm, saying they wanted to examine his residency papers and took him away without any official warrant. They also injured Mr. Wu’s 71-year-old mother, while she tried to protect her son. Her left arm was injured by being pulled roughly.
Nearly 50 people, 20 of them children, were also detained during the raids. While the majority have been released, Mr. Wu and eighteen others are still being held at various detention centres around the city of Zhuhai. Mr. Wu is being held at Zhuhai No. 2 Detention Centre along with three other male followers while the other followers are being held at Zhuhai No. 1 Detention Centre.
In the first 24 hours of his detention, Mr. Wu was kept awake for 16 hours, denied all food and water, and consecutively questioned by four different groups of police officers. He is currently being held in a small cell with no bed or bedding materials, forced to sleep on a hard floor in Zhuhai No. 1 Detention Centre.
After his arrest, the Legal Times, a Guangdong Province state-run legal newspaper, accused Mr. Wu and his followers of being “cultic” and of committing criminal activities that pose a threat to society. It accused them specifically of “using cultic activities to undermine law enforcement, to defraud, to commit sexual assaults, and to engage in other criminal activities”.
The Observatory strongly condemns the acts of ill-treatment and pressures, as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning Mr. Wu Zeheng’s peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the authorities of the People’s Republic of China to put an end to all acts of harassment against him as well as against all human rights defenders in the country. Moreover, the Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Wu and urges the Chinese authorities to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity, and to immediately release him.
Since his release from prison on February 28, 2010, where he faced repeated and extensive torture while he served a 11-year prison term on spurious accusations of economic crimes that followed a letter he sent in 1998 to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and State Council to denounce human rights violations and call for reform, Mr. Wu Zeheng has been subjected to close surveillance by the Chinese authorities as well as various forms of persecutions (stalking, beatings, insults, theft, travel restrictions, etc.).
On May 9, 2011, in front of several witnesses, Mr. Wu Zeheng was beaten, threatened and forcibly arrested by officers belonging to the Zhuhai police. At 9 pm, eight policemen forcefully entered Mr. Wu’s residence and seized him, his young sister and two other students and searched all rooms, without presenting any search warrant or any other legal documentation authorising their action. Double-handcuffed, Mr. Wu was forcefully taken to the police for questioning. Along the way and during the interrogation, which went on until 10:00 am the following morning, the police beat him and yelled offensive comments. He was told that he would not be allowed to do anything and that only if he remained in his home town, he would not be bothered. He was also warned not to participate in Buddhist ceremonies nor to have his students visit him. He was held in detention for 24 hours before being released without charge and without being provided any legal document explaining or justifying the police actions.
According to the police interrogators, Mr. Wu and his followers were detained on suspicion of intending to organise an illegal assembly. Despite complaints filed on May 16, 2011 with the Xiangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) of Zhuhai city, these acts of harassment remain unpunished. According to a written notice in response to the complaints, bearing the seal of the Xiangzhou PSB of Zhuhai and dated July 4, 2011, the Bureau stated no illegal enforcement of the law and assault of citizens had occurred during the police actions on May 9.
Please write to the authorities in the People’s Republic of China, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Wu Zeheng and his followers, as well as of all human rights defenders in China;
ii. Release Mr. Wu Zeheng and his followers immediately and unconditionally since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.
iii. Put an end to the harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Wu Zeheng, his followers, as well as against all human rights defenders in the People’s Republic of China;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the People’s Republic of China.
• Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Guojia Zongli, The State Council General Office, 2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 65961109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
• Ms. WU Aiying, Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Sifabu, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345, email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mr. YANG Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Waijiaobu, 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijingshi 100701, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email: email@example.com;
• Mr. GUO Shengkun, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang, Gong’anbu, 14 Dongchang’anjie, Dongchengqu, Beijingshi 100741, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 63099216
• Ambassador Wu Hailong, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Chemin de Surville 11, P.O. Box 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7937014, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
• Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Avenue de Tervuren, 1150 Woluwe Saint-Pierre, Belgium,Tel: +32-2-7711497, 7711495; Fax: +32-2-7792895; Email: email@example.com.
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your respective country.