human rights defenders Mr Guo Bin and Mr Yang Zhanqing
 human rights defenders Mr Guo Bin and Mr Yang Zhanqing
human rights defenders Mr Guo Bin and Mr Yang Zhanqing

Ms. Wu Aiying

Minister of Justice of the People?s Republic of China,

Buzhang Sifabu,

10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie,

Chaoyangqu,

Beijingshi 100020,

People?s Republic of China.

Fax: +86 10 6529 2345

Email:[email protected]

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

On 12 June 2015, human rights defenders Mr Guo Bin and Mr Yang Zhanqing were detained in Guangdong province by police and state security officers from Beijing, Henan and Guangdong. It is believed that Yang Zhanqing is being held in Zhengzhou No 3 Detention Centre. The whereabouts of Guo Bin remain unconfirmed.

Both Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing worked at the Beijing Yirenping Centre (?Yirenping?) and were formerly the directors of the non-governmental organisation’s Zhengzhou offices. Yirenping was founded in 1996 to combat discrimination and offer support to people suffering from hepatitis B and HIV. The NGO also champions gender equality. Guo Bin is now head of the NGO ACTogether, which advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities. He recently filed a report concerning nearly 2,000 cases of employment discrimination. Yang Zhanqing currently works to promote health rights, particularly concerning food and medicine, and advocates for improved regulation in these areas.

Guo Bin was detained at the Children’s Hospital of Shenzen, where he had been looking after his son, who had recently undergone surgery, and was reportedly taken to the Futian District Detention Centre in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Yang Zhanqing was detained at around 10.00 pm at his home in the city of Huizhou, Guangdong and reportedly taken to the Huiyang District Detention Centre before being transferred to Zhengzhou. The human rights defenders are being held on charges of ?illegal business operations?.

The detentions of Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing follow Yirenping’s publication and outspoken criticism of the detention of gender equality activists in March 2015. All of those detained had ties to Yirenping. Following the release of the five detainees, the NGO was identified by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as having been involved in illegal activities, and signalled that it would be penalized. This threat followed a police raid at the Beijing office of Yirenping on 24 March 2015.

The detentions of Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing suggest the coming of further harassment against Yirenping. The charge they are being held on is identical to that brought against human rights lawyer Mr Chang Boyang in May 2014. Chang Boyang, who was representing detained participants in a memorial for the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 at the time of his detention, was a former legal representative of the Zhegzhou office of the Yirenping. The office was subsequently raided as part of the investigation against the lawyer.

I express my grave concern at the detention and charging of Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing. I believe the actions to have been taken against them solely as a result of their legitimate work in the defence of human rights. I see the illegitimate action against them as part of the systematic closing down of civil society space, instigated by the Chinese authorities and including human rights defenders as specific targets for harassment, intimidation, and groundless sanctions.

I urge the authorities in China to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing, and drop all charges against them, as Front Line Defenders believes that they are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Cease the targeting by implication of the Beijing Yirenping Centre and its provincial offices within China;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in China are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human Rights Defender & ?Freelance Journalist

Twitter @wnicholasgomes

Email: [email protected]

www.facebook.com/williamnicholasgomes

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