Updated April 13, 2016
Since March 2013, Chinese police have taken into custody dozens of activists, lawyers, and other citizens in a crackdown meant to suppress peaceful assembly, association, and expression around the country. The strident response by authorities was partially triggered by advocacy campaigns waged against official corruption and other politically sensitive issues. To date, 70 individuals in total were taken into police custody, with 37 tried and convicted, of whom 13 are still serving their prison sentences (in light blue below). Three individuals have still not yet been tried (in dark blue below) and have languished in pre-trial detention. Additionally, 54 have been released in total: 24 after completing their sentences (in grey below) and 30 were released on “bail pending further investigation.” See table below for details confirmed by CHRD. View a gallery of images and background information on several of the detainees. CHRD has also prepared more detailed case profiles for some individuals caught up in the crackdown.
In Beijing, police have seized activists who organized a campaign demanding that more than 200 high-ranking Communist Party officials, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, publicly disclose their financial wealth. Activists in Xinyu City, Jiangxi joined the anti-corruption campaign while also calling for the government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China signed in 1998.
The activists detained in Hubei had appealed for the release of those in the other locations and also promoted the ICCPR. The city where they were seized, Chibi, was the tenth stop on a nationwide “advocacy trip” that began on April 8. Activists on the trip had staged rallies, made public speeches, and met with fellow activists, with the stated goals of encouraging citizen activism and spreading ideas of democracy and rule of law. Those detained in Jiangsu Province were involved in locating a “black jail”–a temporary and illegal detention facility–in June 2013 and freeing several individuals being held there.
Many of the detainees, particularly in Beijing, are believed to be associated with (or inspired by) the “New Citizens’ Movement,” a loose network of activists who have peacefully promoted social justice and political and legal reforms since 2011. The movement has been spearheaded by the prominent legal advocate Xu Zhiyong (许志永), who founded the now-banned Open Constitution Initiative (公盟)–from which the New Citizens’ Movement emerged–and who was himself swept up in the crackdown and given a four-year prison sentence.