06/09/2023, 14.33
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Lawyer and activist Chang Weiping tortured and convicted

A court in Shanxi found the lawyer guilty of "subversion of state power” after a "secret trial" and extensive use of torture and abuse during interrogation, which included the "tiger chair" as well as food and sleep deprivation. For CHRD, such a “cruel reprisal” targets people who fight against injustice.


Beijing (AsiaNews) – Activist and pro-human rights lawyer Chang Weiping was convicted in a secret trial of "subversion of state power" and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

The sentence was announced yesterday at the Feng County Detention Centre in Baoji City, Shanxi.

The defendant wad "twice detained, repeatedly tortured" ahead of the secret trial and the harsh and unjust sentence, Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) reports.

The authorities waited nearly a year before announcing the sentence, after Chang secretly appeared in court in July 2022.

Scores of officers, police vehicles and anti-COVID enforcers prevented Chang's wife and other family members from attending the trial, held behind closed doors for less than two hours.

According to CHRD, the way the Chinese government dealt with the activist's case shows multiple failures to meet its obligations under the International Convention against Torture, to which it is a signatory.

On the contrary, China still uses this tool to extract confessions, punish those who stand up against the dominant ideology and impose unfair prison sentences.

"This sentence is outrageous," said William Nee, CHRD Research and Advocacy Coordinator. "Chang Weiping should not be spending even one day in prison.”

“The government’s handling of this case has been rife with procedural illegality and human rights abuses throughout, and the sentencing is a cruel reprisal against a lawyer who defended victims of injustice and who bravely revealed the details of torture that he had experienced,” Nee explained.

For him, the sentence “is meant to deter other torture victims from coming forward. For the Chinese government, sadly, systemic use of torture is a feature, not a bug.”

In December 2019, Chang Weiping attended a meeting of human rights lawyers and activists in the southern coastal city of Xiamen. Subsequently, all those present were subjected to repression, systematically detained and questioned.

Chang was accused of “endangering national security” and placed under “residential surveillance in a designated location (RSDL)”. He was released after ten days, but remained under close watch and his licence to practice law was revoked.

In October 2020 he posted a video online, describing how he was tortured during  questioning, strapped in a "tiger chair" held in place by painful handcuffs and leg irons.

During his detention, he was subjected to interrogation while under extreme hunger, exhaustion and pain. In fact, the authorities turned down his request to see a doctor and deprived him of adequate food while his interrogators ate snacks in front of him.

Instead of launching a prompt and impartial investigation into police officers accused of abuse and torture, the authorities violated international law again by re-arresting Chang Weiping and keeping him in solitary confinement for almost eleven months.

When he was able to meet a lawyer for the first time in September 2021, he said that he had been tortured, with long periods on the "tiger chair", including one stint of six days and six nights.

This, combined with sleep deprivation and inadequate food, was designed to extract a confession in order to reach a conviction, which arrived yesterday.

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