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“State Security”: A Tool of Repression at the Trials of Wang Youcai and Qin Yongmin

December 16, 1998

Human Rights in China condemns the Chinese government's resort to the notion of "state security" as a tool of political repression. Thousands of peaceful democracy and religious activists remain behind bars in China today. The repeated use of "state security" as a political weapon to silence advocates for democratic change is again illustrated in the trials of Wang Youcai and Qin Yongmin, due to begin on Thursday, December 17, 1998. Both have been charged under China's State Security provisions for exchanging ideas with others and for trying to legally establish the first independent political party in China.

Wang Youcai and Qin Yongmin are among the leading founders of the China Democracy Party (CDP). The numerous attempts made since June 1998 in various provinces to formally register the CDP as a legal and independent political party have been rejected. Since then, hundreds of CDP sympathizers have been interrogated, detained and imprisoned.

Wang Youcai, 32, a former student democracy leader, was detained on November 2 and charged on November 30 with "conspiring to subvert the government." His alleged crimes include organizing a meeting of party supporters, using e-mail to send party materials abroad and accepting funds from overseas to buy a computer. He will be tried by the Hangzhou Intermediate Court.

Arrested on November 30 in Wuhan (Hebei), Qin Yongmin, 49, has been charged with "endangering state security." Chinese officials claim that his role in preparing for the establishment of the China Democracy Party "breached the relevant provisions of China's criminal laws." Last spring, Qin and fellow dissident Xu Wenli announced the establishment of China Human Rights Observer, a human rights organization. As with the CDP, the registration of the Observer has been consistently rejected. Xu Wenli himself is behind bars, although charges against him have not been made public. Qin, 49, served seven years in prison for his role in the Democracy Wall Movement and three years of Reeducation Through Labor for his involvement in the Peace Charter.

Despite China's assurance that the country is moving towards greater respect for the rule of law, both men lack legal representation and will have to present their own defense. Pressured by the authorities to plead guilty, several lawyers finally decided not to take on Wang and Qin's cases.

"The "state security" charge against Wang and Qin is just a pretext. The government's sole concern is to maintain its unchallenged grip on power, at the cost of smothering on the Chinese people's fundamental rights and freedoms," said Xiao Qiang, the Executive Director of Human Rights in China. Human Rights in China demands that the Chinese government release Wang Youcai, Qin Yongmin and all other CDP members and sympathizers detained in the recent crackdown. Human Rights in China further calls on the Chinese government to revise the laws based on the undefined concept of "state security" so that they are in accordance with the standards laid out by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.