Human Rights in China condemns the Chinese prison authorities' interference in the communication of imprisoned rights defenders, Hu Jia (胡佳) and Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄) (aka Yang Maodong 杨茂东), with their lawyers and families, undermining their access to justice.
Prominent rights defender Hu Jia's time to appeal his sentence expired last week after his lawyer, Li Fangping (李方平), tried unsuccessfully to meet with him prior to the appeal deadline. Li Fangping said he was barred from meeting with his client at the detention center where Hu was awaiting transfer to prison to serve a three and a half year sentence handed down on April 3 for "inciting subversion of state power."
Human Rights in China has also learned from sources in China that officials in Meizhou Prison have blocked letters from jailed rights defender and legal advisor Guo Feixiong to his family and his lawyer, Mo Shaoping (莫少平).
"To ensure effective legal counsel and a functioning rule of law, detainees and prisoners must at least be able to communicate with their lawyers," said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. "The Chinese authorities must ensure that Hu Jia, Guo Feixiong, and others held in prison are able to obtain legal counsel and pursue available appeals and review avenues provided for in Chinese law."
Hu Jia's lawyer, Li Fangping, said that when he arrived at the detention center on Monday, April 14, and asked to see his client, he was told that Hu Jia was unavailable as he was undergoing a medical examination. Li asked to be allowed to wait until Hu returned, but his request was denied. The next day, he returned to the detention center and was told that Hu's deadline to appeal had expired. Neither he nor Hu Jia's family have been able to see Hu since then.
Guo Feixiong’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, has not received letters from his client, but during a family visit on April 18, Guo said he had sent more than five letters authorizing the lawyer to file for a review of his case. Similarly, Guo said he never received a letter from his family sent in February about his health, despite provisions in China's Prison Law that provide for the right to correspondence that does not "hinder the reform" of a prisoner. Guo's wife, Zhang Qing (张青), has published a copy of a letter she wrote to Guo today about contacting Mo Shaoping. The letter is appended to this statement.
The April 18 family visit was cut off as Guo detailed conditions in the prison and his suspicion that mentally ill inmates were being kept in an adjoining cell, the sources said.
Human Rights in China calls on the Chinese government to investigate these reports of detainees being denied their legal rights, and to take steps to ensure that detainees have access to all the legal protections to which they are entitled under Chinese and international law.
Hu Jia is a long-time HIV/AIDS activist and an internationally recognized Chinese rights defender. He has actively fought for the defense of rights in China through his timely international reporting of major rights abuses. Hu and his wife Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) received a special press freedom award from Reporters without Borders in 2007. They were also nominated for the Sakharov Human Rights Award of the European Parliament.
Guo Feixiong provided legal advice in a number of controversial rights defense cases and served as the main legal counsel in 2005's Taishi Village incident. He is serving a prison term for "illegal business activity" for a book he edited about a political scandal in Shenyang City in 2001. Guo has complained of torture and other inhumane treatment during his long detention, and has gone on hunger strike numerous times in protest.
For an English translation of Teng Biao and Hu Jia's article on human rights in the lead-up to the Olympics, see:
For more information on Hu Jia, see:
For more information on Guo Feixiong, see:
Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong): Hello!
Today I spoke on the phone with Mo Shaoping. We discussed the problem you had mentioned to me: that you had written many letters to Mr. Mo and Mr. Hu Xiao authorizing them to handle the petition the decision in your case. Mr. Mo said very clearly: he still has not received the letter that you wrote to him from Meizhou Prison. I explained that you hoped Mo Shaoping would be able to write a lawyer's letter to Meizhou Prison regarding the petition of the decision in your case that you were unable to send. Meizhou's unlawful actions are in violation of your freedom to correspond. The lawyer said: for this we must first have a letter authorizing him to act for you. Only after we have authorized a lawyer to present the petition can he send the letter to Meizhou Prison or apply for lawyer visitation. He spoke very clearly and reasonably. So the issue at hand is that of the authorization.
The lawyer said: there are two methods by which to authorize the petition for review of the case. First, the family can authorize a lawyer and apply to begin the procedures, but in this situation, the lawyers cannot come to the prison to meet you in person. The second method is that you can demand the right to apply to begin the petition yourself, and you can sign over your authorization to the lawyer. In this case only can the lawyer come to the prison to deal with the petition, meet with you, and discuss the issues with you. Actually, with regards to these logistics, after I saw you on December 28, 2007, I spoke with Mr. Mo and Mr. Hu Xiao. At the time they very clearly explained to me that the procedures were as follows: you must first write a letter of authorization, then you can move on to the next step. Because of this, around the date of January 6, 2008, I sent a letter to you asking you to write either a letter or postcard authorizing the lawyer to represent you in petitioning the decision of your case. I sent this to you via express mail service and included several other postcards. The lawyer said to me last time and said it again today, that it is your legal right to send a letter of authorization for the petition. The prison is supposed to allow you to send a letter or postcard of authorization. Now it seems that the reality is this: I cannot confirm whether or not you have received the express mail that I sent, but I do know that Mr. Mo Shaoping has not received a single one of the five or six letters of authorization that you have sent to him. Meizhou Prison has not allowed your letters to be sent. Given this situation, Mr. Mo said that I should make direct requests to the prison authorities the next time I see you, and have you sign the letter of authorization. This is your lawful right. Only in this way can the lawyer take the next step, given that it has been decided which lawyer will represent you in filling the petition for review.
Thus, at this point you had best try to send the letter of authorization to Mr. Mo again. If this still does not work, we can only wait until the next time I visit you. At that time I will demand that the prison authorities allow you to sign a letter of authorization, and I will send it to the lawyer.
I am not able to confirm whether or not this letter will make it into your hands; however, aside from this effort, there is nothing else I can do.
April 21, 2008
(This letter will be sent by registered mail to Yang Maodong, along with a power of attorney form.)