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Support Group Says Police Unlawfully Block Lawyers from Meeting with Guo Feixiong

August 27, 2013

Sources told Human Rights in China that the Tianhe Sub-branch of the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau (天河公安分局) has refused to let detained rights activist Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), also known as Yang Maodong (杨茂东), meet with his lawyers, Sui Muqing (隋牧青) and Lin Qilei (蔺其磊). Guo has been under criminal detention since August 8 on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and is held at Tianhe Detention Center in Guangzhou.

In its “Decision to Refuse to Allow Meetings with Criminal Suspect,” the Tianhe Sub-branch of the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau said the reason for its refusal is that Guo is involved in the case of Huang Wenxun (黄文勋), Yuan Xiaohua (袁小华), and Yuan Fengchu (袁奉初), who are facing charges of "subversion" and “inciting subversion" in Chibi, Hubei.

In an August 27 statement, 16 members of the Legal Support Group for the Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong) Case protest that mere “involvement” in a subversion case is not a lawful reason for denying client-lawyer meetings, and that both the Tianhe Detention Center and the Tianhe Sub-branch of the Public Security Bureau are in violation of the law. (See below for HRIC's translation of the statement.)

According to a post on Sui’s Weibo, Lin and Sui went to the detention center on the morning of Aug 26 to try to meet with Guo. They were sent to the Tianhe Sub-branch of the Public Security Bureau, where they were told that a decision had already been made by the sub-branch, therefore further communication would be “meaningless.” The sub-branch told them to file a complaint if they were unsatisfied. Sui had twice requested to meet with Guo previously, on August 19 and 21, but was turned down both times.

Guo, a long-time rights advocate, is among dozens of rights activists and defenders who have been taken into custody in recent months in an intensified crackdown on those calling for greater government transparency and an end to corruption. Those detained include Xu Zhiyong (许志永), a proponent of the New Citizens’ Movement.

Guo is a vocal supporter of those calling for disclosure of officials’ assets. In March, he helped organize a signature campaign to urge the National People’s Congress to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China signed in 1998. Guo also supported the January 2013 protest by the staff of Southern Weekly against political interference in editorial matters.

Solemn Statement Regarding the Tianhe Sub-branch of the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau's Refusal to Let Guo Feixiong Meet his Lawyers

August 27, 2013

[English translation by Human Rights in China]

It has been half a month since Mr. Guo Feixiong was criminally detained on August 8 by the Tianhe Public Security Bureau Sub-branch, on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.” The legal support group issues the following statement:

1. According to provisions under Article 83 of the Criminal Procedure Law, public security organs must produce a detention warrant when detaining an individual. After an individual is detained, he/she must be transferred to a detention facility immediately and within 24 hours of detention. The individual's family should be informed within 24 hours of detention, unless there is no means of informing the family or if doing so would hinder investigation in cases when the detained individual is suspected of having committed crimes that endanger national security or terrorist crimes. When conditions that would hinder investigation are no longer applicable, the detained individual's family must be informed immediately.

It is thus clear under the aforementioned provisions that “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,” of which Guo is suspected, does not fall within the category of “suspicion of crimes that endanger national security or terrorist crimes,” in which case notification of the family would hinder investigation. Although Guo's wife and daughter are living in the United States, his sister lives in Wuhan and has a stable job and residence, so the authorities cannot claim they have “no means of informing” Guo's family. The Tianhe police should have informed Guo's sister within 24 hours of detaining him, but they failed to do so until August 17. Therefore, the Tianhe police have clearly violated the law and infringed on Guo's right to seek the assistance of a lawyer in a timely manner. The Tianhe police should provide an explanation, ensure accountability for their unlawful actions, and publicly apologize to Guo and his family.

2. Guo’s appointed lawyer, Mr. Sui Muqing, after learning of Guo's detention went to the Tianhe Detention Center in the morning of August 19 and asked to meet with Guo. The Tianhe Detention Center told Sui that he must make an appointment to register to see Guo. According to provisions under Article 34 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Law, a defense lawyer can ask to meet with a detained suspect provided that the lawyer can provide his/her lawyer's practice license, a certificate from a law firm, and a power of attorney or an official letter of legal assistance; the detention center where the individual is held must then promptly arrange a meeting for the lawyer within 48 hours. Under the law, a lawyer does not need to make an appointment to see his/her client and the detention center should arrange for a meeting as soon as possible. In reality, an appointment [for lawyer-client meetings] is not required in ordinary cases and has no legal basis. The Tianhe Detention Center has violated the law by demanding that Guo's lawyer make an appointment for meeting.

3. On August 21, lawyer Sui Muqing again went to the detention center and asked to meet Guo, but the detention center refused on the ground that such a request must be approved by the investigative organs. In doing so, the Tianhe Detention Center has again violated the law.

On August 26, lawyers Sui and Lin Qilei went to the detention center for a third time and asked to meet Guo. The detention center again turned down the request and has violated the law for a third time.

4. Sui Muqing then received a document entitled “Decision to Refuse Meeting with Criminal Suspect” issued by the Tianhe Public Security Bureau Sub-branch. The Decision stated that Sui is not allowed to meet Guo because Guo is involved in the case of Huang Wenxun, Yuan Xiaohua, and Yuan Fengchu, who are facing charges of endangering national security in Chibi, Hubei. Article 37 of the Criminal Procedure Law clearly stipulates that a meeting between a defense lawyer and his/her client needs the approval of an investigative organ only if the client is suspected of having committed offenses of endangering national security, terrorism, or extremely serious corruption, but the law does not require such approval if the suspect is only “involved in” the three crimes. Currently, Guo is still only suspected of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,” so according to the law an application to meet a suspect is not needed. We are in full agreement with the statement issued by Sui Muqing regarding this matter: the decision may appear to be reasonable but actually has no legal basis whatsoever and is a total violation of the law. We have reason to believe that the Tianhe police are intentionally creating obstacles and unlawfully preventing Guo from meeting with his lawyers.

5. If the Tianhe police authorities in Guangzhou do not rectify their errors and continue to unlawfully prevent Guo from meeting his lawyers, we will support Sui Muqing and Lin Qilei, as Guo's appointed lawyers, to file a complaint or lawsuit, in which case we will provide necessary support for their legal actions.

6. In light of the fact that Guo Feixiong has been repeatedly subject to torture and ill-treatment in prison in the past, we have reason to question the motive behind the Tianhe police's delay in notifying Guo's family, their denial of his lawyers' requests for meeting, and their other unlawful administrative decisions. The Tianhe police must provide an explanation.

We hope all stages in Guo Feixiong's case—investigation, indictment, trial—can be conducted in a truly open, just, and fair manner. We hope that officers of the police, procutorate, and the court involved in this case all maintain their fundamental, baseline of conscience as officers of law. We will pay close attention to and monitor all the procedures and details in this case and provide all necessary legal support. We again urge the Tianhe police to immediately rectify their unlawful actions, stop illegally preventing Guo from meeting with his lawyers in accordance with the law, and apologize and provide compensation to Guo and his appointed lawyers.

Declared by

Members of the Legal Support Group for the Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong) Case

Teng Biao
Wang Cheng
Jiang Tianyong
Tang Jitian
Li Fangping
Li Heping
Liu Weiguo
Liang Xiaojun
Tang Tianhao
Chang Boyang
Wang Yu
Zhang Yansheng
Wang Qing
Tang Jingling
Pang Kun
Wang Quanping

Note:

  1. Due to lack of time, some group members could not be reached and their names do not appear as signatories.
  2. Other members can still sign the declaration or authorize Wang Cheng, Tang Jitian, or Jiang Tianyong to sign on their behalf.
  3. The Legal Support Group's contact email is: shengyuanguofeixiong@gmail.com

We welcome legal professionals from all sectors to join the Support Group!

 

Background on Guo Feixiong (a.k.a. Yang Maodong)

Guo Feixiong is a writer, activist, and self-taught legal defender, who has written a number of articles and published books on China’s history, leadership, and social issues. He was previously sentenced to five years in prison, and suffered on-going harassment from the authorities, for articles he wrote in support of the well- known rights defense lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

Guo was formally arrested in September 2006 on the charge of “illegal business activity” (非法经营) in connection with his 2001 publication of Shenyang Political Earthquake (沈阳政坛地震), a book he edited that discussed a political scandal in Shenyang, Liaoning province. He was convicted in November 2007, sentenced to five years in prison, and fined 40,000 yuan.

Since his release in September 2011, Guo was subject to unrelenting surveillance and regularly seized or summoned and questioned about his activities. He nonetheless remains an active member of the human rights community, and has participated in key recent events such as the Wukan elections in 2012; investigations surrounding the death of Li Wangyang; and a signature campaign for independent candidate, Liu Ping, an advocate of the disclosure of officials’ assets who has been indicted on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”

 

For more information on Guo Feixiong, see:

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