To: Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) hereby respectfully submits an update concerning the imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mr. LIU Xiaobo (刘晓波), the subject of an urgent appeal we submitted on June 30, 2009, and his wife, Ms. LIU Xia (刘霞) (see CHRD submission to UN: http://chrdnet.com/2009/06/30/un-work-on-cases-liu-xiaobo-june-30-2009/). In May 2011, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found both the imprisonment of Mr. Liu and the house arrest of Ms. Liu to be arbitrary under Categories II and III of the criteria adopted by the WGAD to determine whether a deprivation of liberty is arbitrary. (See Opinions No. 15/2011 and No. 16/2011.) Our update will focus on information obtained after the WGAD’s consideration of the cases of Mr. and Ms. Liu.
Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” at Jinzhou Prison in Dalian City, Liaoning Province. In early May 2012, CHRD learned from a reliable source the following about Mr. Liu’s circumstances in prison: Liu Xiaobo has been permitted access to some reading materials and has been allowed to write. He has not been forced to work. Since November 2011, he has been permitted to visit with his wife, Liu Xia, once a month, and Liu Xiaobo’s brother has visited him at least twice. For these visits, police officers have driven Ms. Liu and his brother from Beijing to Dalian in the evening and taken them to visit Mr. Liu at the prison the next morning. Liu’s family members have been permitted to bring him books and money for food. Liu is only allowed access to academic-type books, however, not “political” books or any books published outside China.
Regarding Liu Xia, who is still under unlawful house arrest and continues to face restrictions on her freedom of movement and expression, CHRD has learned the following: Ms. Liu is allowed to visit her parents once a week and can occasionally go out shopping — but only when “escorted” by national security officers. She is permitted to see some friends (who must first be approved by authorities before a meeting can take place), but she is prohibited from seeing friends in “sensitive circles.” When two of Liu Xia’s friends recently went to her apartment building to try to visit her, they were told by a guard, citing “leaders’ orders,” that they could not see her. Authorities have also prohibited Liu Xia from having contact with Mo Shaoping (莫少平), the prominent Beijing lawyer who was barred from defending Liu Xiaobo in this case. Officials have also warned Liu Xia neither to send out messages on the internet nor to discuss Liu Xiaobo’s situation with anyone.
Background regarding Liu Xiaobo’s detention and trial
The entire process of Liu Xiaobo’s detention, from the arrival of police at his home on December 8, 2008, through the verdict announcement on December 25, 2009, was marred by violations of Liu’s rights. From December 8, 2008 to June 23, 2009, Mr. Liu was held under illegal “residential surveillance” at an undisclosed location in Beijing. Except for two visits from his wife, Liu had no contact with the outside world for six months. Once Liu was formally arrested and allowed legal representation, officials barred lawyer Mo Shaoping from representing Liu because Mo had also signed Charter 08 — a manifesto calling for political reform and greater human rights protections in China — which the authorities used as a pretext to label Mo a “co-defendant” in Liu’s case.
At Mr. Liu’s trial on December 23, 2009, he and his defense lawyers were not allowed to fully present their defense statements in court, a violation of Article 160 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law. The presiding judge interrupted Liu Xiaobo and cut him short during his prepared remarks. Liu’s two lawyers, Shang Baojun (尚宝军) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎), were given less than 20 minutes to present their arguments. Liu’s lawyers entered a non-guilty plea, arguing that Liu’s writings neither “incited” violence nor had any intention of, or impact on, “subverting” the state.
Only two of Mr. Liu’s family members – his younger brother and his brother-in-law—were permitted to attend the trial; the other seats were apparently filled by government functionaries or their stand-ins. Security guards stationed outside the entrance to the courthouse blocked dozens of supporters as well as reporters and diplomats from the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, the US, the UK, Italy, Australia, Norway, Sweden, and EU from observing the trial, stating that all permits to observe the trial had been given out. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, was denied a permit to attend after the authorities listed her as a witness for the prosecution. Police stood outside Liu’s apartment to prevent her from leaving or receiving visitors during her husband’s trial. Several dozen supporters were prevented from leaving their homes in Beijing and a dozen or so were detained on their way to the trial.
According to the court’s verdict issued on December 25, 2009, Liu’s conviction and sentence of 11 years for “inciting subversion” was based solely on his writings—nonviolent, legally protected expressions of his own opinions. Along with his co-authorship of Charter 08, prosecutors cited six articles written by Liu between October 2005 and July 2007 as “evidence” to convict him. These articles include: “CCP’s Dictatorial Patriotism,” “Who Said Chinese People Only Deserve Accepting ‘Party-Rule Democracy?,” “Political Reform through Social Change,” “Many Facets of CCP Dictatorship,” “Negative Impact of Rising Dictatorship on Democratization,” and “Follow-up Questions about the Case of Illegal Child Labor Brick Factories.”
Please do not hesitate to contact CHRD if you have any questions about this update regarding Mr. Liu Xiaobo and Ms. Liu Xia.
Ms. Renee Xia, International Director
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)