On April 14, 2012, Li Dawei (李大伟), a former policeman and democracy activist, is scheduled to be released from a prison in Gansu Province after serving 11 years on conviction of “subversion of state power.” According to Li’s family members, Li is not expected to arrive home until the evening of April 14 because of the distance between the prison, in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, and his home in Tianshui. After he leaves prison, Li is subjected to four years of post-release deprivation of political rights.
The charges that led to Li’s conviction stemmed essentially from three sets of activities: contacting people overseas, sharing information, and accepting financial help. In its verdict, the Gansu Provincial Higher People’s Court listed three specific crimes that Li committed: 1) receiving instruction from overseas “hostile organizations [and] elements” to engage in activities to subvert state power; 2) supplying information to overseas dissidents and international media about another government critic convicted of “subversion of state power” in an attempt to overturn the case; and 3) soliciting and accepting contributions, ranging from £40 to HK$6,000 (about $771 in 2000), to “finance criminal activities.”
“Sadly, more than a decade has passed, the Chinese authorities remain intolerant of human rights and distrustful of their citizens,” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China (HRIC). “They need to open their eyes to the obvious truth: in order to build a true foundation for social stability, there must be respect for the law and the rights of the people.”
Li was criminally detained by state security authorities in Tianshui, on April 14, 2001, and was formally arrested on April 22. In May 2002, Li was tried by the Tianshui Municipal Intermediate People’s Court, which convicted him and sentenced him to 11 years in prison. Li appealed the conviction. On November 28, 2002, the Gansu Provincial Higher People’s Court, without holding a hearing, upheld the lower court’s ruling.
According to family members, Li’s lengthy imprisonment shattered the family and brought great hardships. They said that after Li’s wife divorced him, his elderly parents have had to support Li’s daughter, and Li’s sister had to leave behind her husband in Lanzhou to care for her parents in Tianshui. During these years, relatives said, his sister visited Li once a year, but his mother was able to make the 14-hour journey by bus to the prison only once.
Li was a policeman at the Tianshui Public Security Bureau. During the late 1990s and in early 2001, he actively participated in protests against the government’s crackdown on the China Democracy Party, advocated for the release of political prisoners, and signed open letters voicing the grievances of the people. In an effort to help imprisoned dissidents, Li contacted overseas pro-democracy and human rights organizations and used the international media to put pressure on Chinese authorities.
Following is an English translation by Human Rights in China of the November 2002 ruling by the appeals court, the Gansu Provincial Higher People's Court, which upheld the lower court’s verdict.
Below is an English translation of the specific conditions placed on individuals subject to deprivation of political rights, excerpted from the Regulations on the Supervision and Administration by Public Security Organs of Criminals Who Have Been Put Under Surveillance, Deprived of Political Rights, Given Reprieve, Given Parole, or Released on Bail for Medical Treatment:
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
Article 12. Public security organs shall announce to the criminal whose political rights are being deprived that he must abide by the following provisions during the deprivation period:
- Abide by national laws and regulations and relevant Ministry of Public Security regulations;
- Shall not enjoy the right to vote or stand for election;
- Shall not organize or participate in any gatherings, marches, demonstrations, or forming associations;
- Shall not accept interviews or give speeches;
- Shall not issue, publish, or distribute discussions, books, or recordings which are detrimental to the state's honor and interests or otherwise endanger society domestically or abroad;
- Shall not hold a position in any state organ;
- Shall not hold a leadership position in any enterprise, state-run institution, or civic organization;
- Abide by the specific supervision and administration measures set out by the public security organs.
For more information on Li Dawei, see: