Elderly counterrevolutionaries continue serving their sentences

Dui Hua has uncovered another case of an elderly counterrevolutionary who is still serving a prison sentence.

Xie Wenlong (谢文龙), a 67-year-old man from Lufeng, Guangdong, is serving his sentence at Conghua Prison. In May 2019, the Conghua District Court convicted Xie of escape from prison. Combining his remaining sentence with his previous crimes, the court sentenced him to a total of 10 years in prison. Xie was originally convicted and sentenced for counterrevolutionary incitement and fraud. The year of his original conviction is not known. He received three sentence reductions in 1998, 1991, and 1993. It appears that he might have escaped from incarceration after 1993 and was caught much later. For his latest sentence, Xie was granted a four-month reduction at the end of 2022. He will be released in July 2028.

Counterrevolutionary crimes were removed from the criminal law when the amended criminal law was promulgated in 1997. However, China continues to imprison and even convict people for this crime. For instance, Chan Yu Lam (aka Chen Yulin 陈瑜琳) was convicted by the Guangzhou Intermediate Court for counterrevolutionary espionage in 2004. He was released in August 2020 but is serving a sentence for deprivation of political rights.

New details learned of in “Three Grades of Servants Sect” case in Yunnan

From Yunnan, Dui Hua has uncovered new information on a case involving the “Three Grades of Servants Sect (三班仆人).”

Liu Wei (刘巍) and six other key members from a local branch were detained in 2016 for “using a cult to sabotage implementation of the law.” They were accused of holding house worship services that were reportedly attended by dozens of people. While the case received international attention at the time, little has been revealed about the outcome. A newly discovered document shows that the seven defendants were sentenced in May 2018 by the Chuxioing People’s District Court, and the judgment was then upheld by the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court in August.

Liu was sentenced to eight years in prison. The others’ sentences remain unknown. Liu was admitted to Yunnan First Women’s Prison in the same year and was granted her first sentence reduction, of eight months, in October 2020. The prison submitted another reduction request in 2022, of six months, citing Liu’s good behavior and the fact that she had completed half of her sentence in October 2020. The decision by the Kunming Intermediate People’s Court has not yet been made public. If the reduction was approved, Liu will complete her sentence sometime in 2023.

Two dissidents sentenced for inciting subversion in December 2022

Prominent activist Guo Quan (郭泉) was handed a four-year prison sentence for inciting subversion in Nanjing on December 20, 2022, the second time he was convicted of the same crime. Guo, a longtime advocate of multiparty democracy, was detained on January 31, 2020 over a dozen articles he published criticizing officials who covered up the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. Some observers believe that Guo’s conviction was meant as a warning to those who took part in the recent blank paper protests against COVID restrictions, even as China lifted those controls virtually overnight.

Guo completed his prior 10-year sentence without a sentence reduction on November 12, 2018. He was detained during his three-year deprivation of political rights period. Guo still has one year to serve and is scheduled for release in January 2024.

In the same month, Ou Biaofeng (欧彪峰) received a prison sentence of three years and six months for inciting subversion in Zhuzhou, Hunan. Ou was originally detained for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for retweeting a video of “ink girl” Dong Yaoqiong. Dong claimed that she was on the verge of mental collapse because of intense restrictions and surveillance after she live-streamed a video of herself splashing ink on a poster of Xi Jinping. Ou was later placed under residential surveillance at a designated location and formally charged with inciting subversion. The court found that Ou made “an illegal income” from the critical articles he wrote for Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper and the now-defunct Apple Daily.

Rights lawyer Tang Jitian regains his freedom

Tang Jitian (唐吉田) updated his social media with a photo and a message on January 14, 2023, letting friends and supporters know that he has regained his freedom.

Tang disappeared on December 10, 2021, while he was on the way to attend the International Human Rights Day event hosted by the EU in Beijing. His whereabouts since then were unknown until June 2022, when activist and artist Xiang Li posted on her Twitter account that Tang suffered some injuries while in custody of the state security bureau in Jilin Province, where Tang’s residency registration is.

Unlike many other activists’ disappearances, in which they were eventually charged with a crime and subjected to residential surveillance at a designed location, Tang was never accused of any crime during his 398-day long disappearance. Tang said he was sent back to Dunhua City, his hometown, upon release.

Tang is a well-known rights lawyer who has suffered numerous disappearances and administrative punishments in the past for his legal activism and advocacy work, including having his practicing license revoked in 2010. He has made several attempts to leave the country. He was prevented from leaving to seek medical treatment abroad on November 11, 2017. Customs at Shenzhou Luohu prevented him from leaving China on the grounds that “he might endanger state security.” Tang again was prevented from leaving in June 2021, when he desperately wanted to visit his daughter who was seriously ill at the time in Japan. Customs at Fuzhou Airport told Tang that Beijing Public Security, which issued the restriction, also cited the same “endangering state security” reason.