This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 29 July 2019.
In response to the detention of three staff members with a disability rights NGO on charges of “subversion,” and the sentencing of citizen journalist Huang Qi to 12 years in prison for “leaking state secrets,” Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Under Xi Jinping, the party-state has increasingly and arbitrarily used the law as a tool to close previously tolerated space for civil society in China,” said Sarah Cook, senior research analyst for East Asia at Freedom House. “Even those advocating for disability rights and vulnerable groups can be disappeared by police under suspicion of ‘subversion.’ They may face severe punishment, as illustrated by the harsh sentence handed to Huang Qi. We are deeply concerned that remaining in prison may place Huang Qi’s life at risk, as he is in poor health and has continually been denied medical parole.
“These are just two of the countless cases in Xi Jinping’s ongoing campaign to imprison and silence peaceful advocates for accountability and human rights. However, instead of exuding power or confidence, this attack on civil society only exposes the insecurity of the Chinese Communist Party.”
On July 22, state security agents in Changsha detained three staff members of Changsha Funeng, an NGO that advocates for disability rights and legal protections for vulnerable groups. The detainees are Liu Yongze, Xiao Wu, and Cheng Yuan. The authorities failed to inform the families of those detained until July 25, when family members and a lawyer finally confirmed that they were in custody under suspicion of “subverting state power.”
Huang Qi founded the 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, a website for citizen journalism that focuses on human rights violations. He was detained in 2016 on charges of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities” and “leaking state secrets” in connection to the work of 64 Tianwang. He has alleged that prison officials have subjected him to torture. Despite his deteriorating health, Huang Qi has been denied medical parole. Reporters Without Borders awarded the 2016 Press Freedom Prize to 64 Tianwang.
China is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2018. Freedom House has also tracked the tightening of civic space in recent years in its China Media Bulletin.
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Source: MEDIA FEED