07/15/2020

Urgent Action Update: Covid-19 Activist Held Incommunicado for Months (China: UA 74.20)


No contact has been made with human rights defender Chen Mei since he was taken away by police in Beijing on 19 April 2020. Not knowing anything about his condition or whereabouts for nearly two months, Chen’s family were finally told on 12 June that he is being detained at Chaoyang Detention Center in Beijing on criminal charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Chen remains detained incommunicado and, without access to a lawyer of his choice, is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

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Director Wang Xiaohong
Beijingshi Gong’anju
9 Dongdajie, Qianmen
Dongchengqu, Beijing Shi 100017
People Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 85222823
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] [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

 

Dear Director Wang:

I am writing to express my concern about human rights defender Chen Mei (陈玫), who was taken away by the police on 19 April 2020. Chen Mei is one of three contributors to Terminus2049 (端点星计划) who were arrested that day. While the families of the two other individuals have received some basic information about their arrest, Chen’s family have yet to receive any details about his current status.

It is worrying to learn that Chen Mei seems to have been arrested simply for collecting and archiving public information about COVID-19. As I am sure you are aware, freedom to information is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression as recognized in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in China, there have been worrying reports of independent journalists being taken away by the police and harassment of citizens who openly criticized the government’s handling of the crisis. If there is one lesson from the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, it is that arbitrarily limiting access to information and shutting down debate serves no public health purpose and can, on the contrary, have serious consequences for people’s ability to protect their health.

I call on you to release Chen Mei immediately and unconditionally unless there is sufficient credible and admissible evidence that he has committed an internationally recognized offense and is granted a fair trial in line with international standards;  and pending his release, ensure that Chen Mei has regular, unrestricted access to family and lawyers of his choice and is not subjected to torture and other ill-treatment;

Yours sincerely,

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