End HIV discrimination: Free the Changsha Three

On July 22nd, after he visited Hong Kong for personal and organizational business, Chinese state security detained health rights advocate Cheng Yuan (photo right) and his two colleagues from NGO Changsha Funeng, Liu Yongze (photo left) and Xiao Wu. Cheng Yuan’s wife, Shi Minglei, has nothing to do with his NGO, but she was also detained and interrogated, and placed under residential surveillance under suspicion of subverting state power.

An open letter calling on China to release the Changsha Three is online here

Cheng Yuan has led over a decade of ground-breaking impact litigation on rights of people living with HIV and other health rights — first as one of the earliest hepatitis B anti-discrimination activists in China, then at anti-discrimination group Justice for All, and later as co-founder of Changsha Funeng. He has led three out of China’s nine national impact litigation cases on HIV-related discrimination. Two of his landmark cases, in 2013 and 2016, won damages for teachers who lost their jobs due to their HIV status. In addition to his work on health rights, Cheng Yuan has also advocated forcefully for the rights of persons with disabilities and for women’s reproductive rights, has worked to promote freedom of information, and more.
China has warned lawyers not to visit Hong Kong, the site of ongoing protests against a proposed extradition law. But the work of Changsha Funeng is in the forefront of work in China to combat discrimination based on health status. As chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, China should be leading the world in the effort to end HIV by 2030, and champions UNAIDS’ campaign for zero HIV-related discrimination.
Bulletins from Changsha Funeng are below.
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“722” Changsha NGO Three Disappearance: Bulletin No. 3 (25 July 2019)

 State Security admitted that it is in charge of the case

Officer agreed to meet with lawyer and family

Cheng Yuan, Liu Yongze and Xiao Wu, who are members of the public interest law NGO, Changsha Funeng, have disappeared since about 12:45 p.m. on 22 July 2019 (“Changsha NGO Three Disappearance”). Finally clues emerge as to their whereabouts; agent from the local State Security Department admits that they are responsible for the case.

Lawyer for Liu Yongze, one of the missing three, received a phone call this morning (25 July) from one officer Lin claiming to be from the Local State Security Department. Officer Lin said that Liu Dazhi (the real name of Liu Yongze) was taken away by them, on suspicion of “Subverting State Power”, and has been placed under criminal detention. The Notification of Criminal Detention has already been sent through registered post to Liu’s family, but Lin refused to divulge which address it was sent to. Officer Lin further said that as the case involves state security, it will not be possible for lawyer and family to meet with the detainees in the near future. However, lawyer and family can ask to meet with Lin, and he left his phone number (if any journalist would like to have officer Lin’s number, please contact Yang Zhanqing. Yang’s contact is at the end of this bulletin). When asked where Liu is held, officer Lin said that he is being detained at a detention centre of the Local State Security Department, but refused to provide the address of the said detention centre. Lawyer suspects that Lin may be detained at a designated guesthouse.

There are no further information on Cheng Yuan and Xiao Wu; the three may well be held together on the same charge. Till now, the disappearance has already attracted widespread attention both nationally and internationally. Weibo and Wechat have had posts on the incident. Central News Agency, Apply Daily, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Financial Times, Radio Free Asia and Epoch Times etc have all posted, reported or followed up on the incident.

25 July 2019

Contact person: Co-founder of Changsha Funeng: Yang Zhanqing

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“722” Changsha NGO Three Disappearance: Bulletin No. 2 – Alleged “Subverting State Power”, Case Handled by State Security (24 July 2019)

Three members of the public interest law NGO, Changsha Funeng, have disappeared since about 12:45 pm on 22 July 2019. They are Cheng Yuan, Liu Yongze and Xiao Wu (“Changsha NGO Three Disappearance”).

Lawyers and family of the missing three went looking for them around Changsha today (24 July). They first went to Wangcheng Public Security Bureau. Wangcheng PSB denied that they participated in the arrest, and only said that a lot of departments are involved, and that they did not arrest the three. Afterwards lawyers and family went to the building where the office of Funeng is situated, and asked for the CCTV recordings. During that time a management staff at the building said that he saw two people being subdued and taken away by many, and that the arrest was effected by the State Security. He was then stopped by other staff and did not elaborate any further. According to various sources, the three have been criminally detained on suspicion of “Subverting State Power.” It appears that State Security took the lead in the arrest, but there is still no information on where they may be detained.

Lawyers and family members intend to continue the search tomorrow. They would like to call for more attention on the situation and safety of NGO workers in China, and urge the authorities to abide by the law, ending such illegal enforced disappearance as soon as possible.

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Head of Changsha Rights NGO disappeared, was in Hong Kong last week (23 July 2019)

Three members of the public interest law NGO, Changsha Funeng, have disappeared since about 12:45 pm on 22 July 2019. They are Cheng Yuan, Liu Yongze and Xiao Wu. By noon 23 July, they have already disappeared for more than 24 hours.

Liu Yongze and Xiao Wu are both staff of Changsha Funeng. They were supposed to meet with a lawyer in the afternoon of 22 July. Yet since 12:45 pm, the lawyer has been unable to contact the two, nor did the two appeared for their scheduled meeting. At the same time, it was discovered that the head of Changsha Funeng, Cheng Yuan, had also lost contact. Friends, relatives and colleagues have been unable to reach Cheng Yuan since around noon of 22 July. According to a friend of Cheng Yuan, Cheng mentioned that the police has been summoning and talking to their partners, saying that they were about to arrest Cheng. Another friend of Cheng Yuan said that the police has warned Cheng Yuan through an intermediary, saying that he should not go to Changsha anymore.

Last week, Cheng Yuan had travelled to Hong Kong to handle some personal and organisational affairs. Due to the Anti-Extradition Movement in Hong Kong in recent days, many lawyers in China have been forbidden to travel to Hong Kong. NGO leaders have also been threatened by police, saying that “big thing has happened in Hong Kong recently”.

Changsha Funeng is a grassroot public interest organisation which advocates for the institutional protection of vulnerable groups through policy advocacy and legal empowerment. It has worked on disability rights, promoted the implementation of the “Regulation on the Disclosure of Government Information”, and promoted the implementation of a system to review the legality of governmental rules and orders.

Cheng Yuan, head of Changsha Funeng, is an experienced public interests and legal activist in China, having been involved in defending the rights of the vulnerable for over 10 years. He has represented about a dozen hepatitis B and AIDS discrimination cases, and contributed hugely to removing systematic hepatitis B discrimination in China. The AIDS employment discrimination case in Jinxian County, Jiangxi Province in 2013 was a landmark case represented by Cheng Yuan, and was the first ever case where AIDS carrier received compensation for employment discrimination.

In 2012, the organisation Cheng was then serving rented a hotel room, but the hotel revoked the booking due to harassment of the police, in the name of “maintaining stability”. Cheng Yuan represented the organisation in a lawsuit against the hotel. For the very first time, the Court held that “maintaining stability” is not a lawful ground to breach a contract, and ruled that the defendant shall bear legal responsibility for breaching the contract.

Since 2013, Cheng Yuan has been working towards the abolishment of the One Child Policy and   reform of the Household Registration System. He supported dozens of impact litigation, among which the case of the dismissal of a teacher in Guangzhou for violating the One Child Policy, the case of application for ID card by a person without household registration in Shenzhen, and the case of mass migration for National College Entrance Examination are particularly influential. The lawsuits against the Guangdong and Jiangsu Health and Family Planning Commission was rated by the China Case Law Association and Southern Weekly as the Top 10 Influential Lawsuits in 2013, together with Bo Xilai’s case and Liu Zhijun’s case.

Co-founder of Changsha Funeng: Yang Zhanqing

23 July 2019

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This entry was posted in Civil society, HIV/AIDS, Human rights impact. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to End HIV discrimination: Free the Changsha Three

  1. Pingback: Hundreds sign letter to call on China to free Changsha 3 | Meg Davis, Ph.D.

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