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Court Upholds Punishment for “Inciting Illegal Assembling” for June Fourth Commemoration Applicant

January 22, 2014

In a ruling today that has implications for Chinese citizens’ right to hold assemblies or just informal gatherings in public, a court in Guangzhou upholds the police’s punishment of Li Weiguo (李维国), a Guangzhou resident, for inviting people in May 2013 to witness his delivery of applications to police authorities seeking permission to hold a march and a candlelight vigil. The activities were planned for June 4, 2013, to mark the anniversary of the June Fourth crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement.

On May 21, 2013, Li posted information online about his plans to deliver the applications on the following day to the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau and its Yuexiu District Sub-Branch. The applications cited Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution (“Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”[1]) and Article 3, among others, of The Law of Assembly, Procession, and Demonstration of the People’s Republic of China ( “The citizens' exercise of their right to assembly, procession and demonstration shall be safeguarded by the people's governments at all levels in accordance with the provisions of this Law.” [2]).

On May 23, 2013, the day following the delivery, police from the Haizhu District Sub-Branch of the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau searched Li’s home, computers, and phones, and then, on May 24, confiscated Li’s USB key and placed him under a 15-day administrative detention for “inciting illegal assembly.” In August, Li filed a complaint at the Guangzhou Municipal Haizhu District People's Court against the police for deprivation of liberty and violation of citizens' constitutional right to freedom of assembly. The court initially refused to hear the case, but was ordered to do so by the Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court in its December 29, 2013 ruling on an appeal filed by Li.

In a five-page verdict handed down after a 45-minute administrative hearing today, January 22, the Haizhu District People's Court rules that the information Li posted online to invite the public to observe his delivery of the applications on May 22—where two spectators were present—constituted “inciting illegal assembly,” and that the police acted in accordance with the law in subjecting Li to punishment. The court cites Article 55 of the Law on Penalties for Administration of Public Security, which states that “A person who incites or engineers an illegal gathering, parade or demonstration and refuses to listen to dissuasions shall be detained for not less than 10 days but not more than 15 days.” [3]

Sources told HRIC that Li plans to appeal this decision.

HRIC has compiled the following case documents, and translated selected documents:

  1. Application for assembly and procession on June Fourth:
    submitted to the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau and its Yuexiu District Sub-Branch, May 22, 2013. (Chinese and English translation)
  2. Application for candlelight vigil on June Fourth:
    submitted to the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau and its Yuexiu District Sub-Branch, May 22, 2013. (Chinese and English translation)
  3. Administrative penalty decision:
    issued by the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, May 25, 2013. (Chinese)
  4. Administrative complaint against police:
    submitted to the Guangzhou Haizhu District People's Court against the Haizhu District Public Security Bureau Sub-Branch for deprivation of liberty and violation of citizens' constitutional right to freedom of assembly, August 6, 2013. (Chinese)
  5. Guangzhou Municipal Haizhu District People’s Court decision on administrative complaint:
    the Haizhu District Court denied the administrative complaint claiming it fell outside the court's jurisdiction, August 19, 2013. (Chinese)
  6. Guangzhou Intermediate Court decision on Liu's appeal against the Haizhu District People’s Court decision:
    the Intermediate Court overturned the District Court's administrative decision and ordered it to try the case, December 29, 2013. (Chinese)
  7. Guangzhou Municipal Haizhu District People’s Court's notice of trial date and location:
    the Haizhu District Court notified Liu that the trial will take place on January 22, 2014, January 14, 2014. (Chinese)
  8. Administrative Verdict:
    issued by the Guangzhou Municipal Haizhu District People’s Court on January 22, 2014. (Chinese)
 

[1] Official English translation of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/Constitution/2007-11/15/content_1372964....

[2] Official English translation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Assemblies, Processions and Demonstrations, http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/Law/2007-12/12/content_1383911.htm.

[3] Official English translation of the Law on Penalties for Administration of Public Security, available at: http://www.china.org.cn/china/LegislationsForm2001-2010/2011-02/11/content_21899252.htm.

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