Chen Jianfang, a devoted grassroots human rights defender has been held in incommunicado detention since 20 March. A well-known activist, she led a campaign in 2013 with late activist Cao Shunli to demand that the government allow civil society participation in China’s preparations for its UPR at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Denied access to her family and a lawyer of her choice, Chen Jianfang is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
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Branch Chief Xu Zhanghua
Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau Pudong Branch
655 Dingxianglu, Pudongxingqu
People’s Republic of China
Ambassador Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 495 2266 I Fax: 202 495 2138
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Branch Chief Xu,
Chen Jianfang and her husband were taken away by police in the early morning of 20 March 2019 from their home in Shanghai. According to sources, Chen Jianfang’s neighbor witnessed approximately seven police cars of the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau parked outside their home that same morning. Amnesty International has been told that police did not inform the couple of the offense they were suspected of committing when they were arrested. While Chen’s husband was released on bail on 3 April, authorities have guarded their home and put pressure on family and neighbors not to speak publicly about her situation.
Four months since her arrest, the authorities have not yet provided a reason for Chen Jianfang’s detention, nor revealed details about where she is being held. Friends of Chen have speculated that her detention was related to her online article, posted on 14 March, commemorating the 5th Anniversary of Cao Shunli’s death.
In June, Chen Jianfang’s lawyer went to Pudong Public Security Bureau to obtain information about her case, however the national security officers in charge refused to communicate with him about her situation as they claimed that the lawyer’s representation was not valid. According to an unconfirmed report, Chen Jianfang has been formally arrested on suspicion of the charge of “inciting subversion of state power” in June. She could face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted of that charge. Chen Jianfang has not had access to a lawyer of her choice or her family, raising fears that she is at real risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
Therefore, I call on you to immediately and unconditionally release Chen Jianfang as she is a prisoner of conscience, deprived of liberty solely for exercising her human rights peacefully; pending her release ensure that Chen Jianfang is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and has immediate, and thereafter regular and unrestricted access to a lawyer of her choice, and is able to communicate with family members, without undue interference.