China: Activist and his wife forcibly disappeared
April 21, 2015, 4:27 am

A veteran Chinese dissident and his wife have been “forcibly disappeared” by the authorities since last month, according to their relatives.

Wuhan-based dissident Qin Yongmin, who has already served a lengthy jail term for helping to found the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP), was taken with his wife Zhao Suli from their home by state security police officers on Sunday, friends and fellow activists said.

“We have launched a petition of lawyers and citizens that has collected around 500 signatures calling on the Wuhan authorities to release Qin Yongmin and his wife,” Pan Lu, a close friend of Qin’s told RFA.

“He has been refused the normal legal help a lawyer would provide,” Pan said.

“If they formally arrest someone, then there should be an arrest warrant issued, but there hasn’t been any of this stuff,” he said.

Qin, 58, a veteran dissident who also served time in the wake of the 1981 “Democracy Wall” movement, was placed under police surveillance alongside Zhao in January, ahead of China’s annual parliamentary sessions in early March, the couple’s friends and relatives told RFA.

But while many others detained or forced by state security police to take “vacations” during the National People’s Congress (NPC) have since reappeared, nobody has heard from the Qins, Zhao’s sister said.

“We haven’t managed to contact them in three months,” Zhao’s sister, who asked not to be named in full, said in a recent interview. “We don’t know what has happened to Zhao Suli, whether she’s been ‘disappeared’ or what.”

“That’s why we came to Wuhan to look for her.”

Search blocked by police

She said the three sisters have teamed up with Qin’s defense attorney Ma Lianshun to file a missing person’s report on the couple at their local police station.

“The first thing we did was report them missing at the Qingshan police station,” the sister said. “We don’t know where Zhao Suli is, or even if she’s still alive.”

“We have looked all over for her, but we can’t find her.”

The sisters had been prevented from visiting Qin Yongmin’s apartment in Wuhan to look for clues by police guarding the entrance to his apartment, she said.

They then printed and displayed a banner near the apartment calling on the authorities to explain what had happened to the couple.

“They snatched our banner away, so we started walking around the streets looking for her,” Zhao’s sister said. “We have the right to search for her ourselves.”

Qin was detained by local state security police in January for “writing too many articles recently and giving too many interviews to overseas media organization,” according to his friends.

He was initially held for 10 days under administrative detention starting Jan. 19, but was never subsequently released. Instead, the authorities took Zhao away as well.

‘A harder line’ seen

Pan called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to release Qin under its own call for the rule of law to be upheld across the country.

“They are ruling the country illegally, and they are illegally persecuting dissident leaders,” Pan said.

He said the current crackdown on dissent appeared to be taking a harder line than previous campaigns had done.

“The Chinese Communist Party is using violent suppression to target proponents of peaceful evolution, or anyone who suggests we need to have a conversation about democracy,” Pan said.

“This shows that things have gone seriously downhill for the civil rights and pro-democracy movements in China since [President] Xi Jinping came to power,” he said.

“The human rights situation has also taken a sharp downturn.”

Qin was initially sentenced to eight years in prison for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and subversion” in the wake of China’s Democracy Wall movement in 1981.

A contemporary of exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng, Qin served a further two years’ “re-education through labor” in 1993 after he penned a controversial document titled “Peace Charter.”

Qin then served a 12-year jail term for subversion after he helped found the CDP in 1998.

UPDATE: 08/ 09/ 2015
Veteran Chinese Rights Activist Qin Yongmin Being Probed For ‘Subversion’

A veteran Chinese dissident who has been held in detention at an unknown location since January now faces subversion charges, while his wife remains “disappeared,” fellow activists told RFA on Tuesday.

Wuhan-based dissident Qin Yongmin, who has already served a lengthy jail term for helping to found the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP), was taken from his home by state security police officers on Jan. 21.

Qin’s wife Zhao Suli was also taken to an unknown location in April, prompting a nationwide “search for Qin Yongmin” by fellow rights activists, who collected hundreds of petition signatures.

Qin, 58, who also served time in the wake of the 1981 “Democracy Wall” movement, now appears to be facing charges of “incitement to subvert state power,” fellow rights activist Liu Feiyue told RFA, citing an official summons document handed to his fellow campaigner, Shi Yulin.

“It stated very clearly on the summons document that that he was being summoned in connection with the Qin Yongmin incitement to subvert state power case,” Liu said.

“They wanted to get information about him for the case, and that’s why they summoned him,” Liu said. “This is actually about the authorities trying to gather evidence.”

Shi now heads the China Human Rights Observer group that Qin founded.

Liu said he believes that Qin is currently under criminal detention or possibly formal arrest on suspicion of subversion, and has yet to be indicted.

Due process denied

He said the authorities can “throw due process to the winds” because the case is categorized as a national security case, and that Qin’s family had received no notification of the investigation or potential charges against him.

He said Zhao is now likely being held under police surveillance at an unknown location, and has remained incommunicado.

An official who answered the phone at the Wuhan municipal police department’s surveillance team declined to comment on Qin’s whereabouts.

“I have no way of checking that for you,” the official said. “There are so many agencies within the Wuhan police department.”

Activists first began to be concerned about the couple after most of their fellow activists were released from annual police surveillance at the end of the parliamentary sessions in March.

While many others detained or forced by state security police to take “vacations” during the National People’s Congress (NPC) later reappeared, there was no news of the Qins.

Zhao Suli’s three sisters filed a missing person’s report on the couple at their local police station in April, but were prevented from visiting their home in Wuhan to look for clues by police guarding the entrance to his apartment.

‘Too many articles’

Qin was initially detained by local state security police in January for “writing too many articles recently and giving too many interviews to overseas media organizations,” according to his friends.

He was held for 10 days under administrative detention starting Jan. 19, but was never subsequently released. Instead, the authorities took Zhao away as well.

Liu said he wasn’t surprised at the subversion investigation, however.

“This was within our expectations, because the authorities have always been uneasy about a nongovernment rights group like China Rights Observer, which is still trying to get registered,” he said.

“Even before Qin Yongmin was detained, the authorities had persecuted this group on a number of occasions,” Liu said. “The secretary-general Liu Xinglian was formally arrested, while [fellow activist] Pan Lu received a warning and a summons, and many of its rank-and-file members were detained.”

“That’s why it’s not surprising that the main person responsible for this group, Qin Yongmin, has now been charged with subversion,” he said.

Jailed before

A contemporary of exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng, Qin was sentenced to eight years in prison for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and subversion” in the wake of China’s Democracy Wall movement in 1981.

He served a further two years’ “re-education through labor” in 1993 after he penned a controversial document titled “Peace Charter.”

Qin then served a 12-year jail term for subversion after he helped found the CDP in 1998 in spite of a ban on opposition political parties by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

UPDATE: 23 September 2016
China Postpones Activist’s Subversion Trial, Wife Still Missing

Authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan once more prolonged the pretrial detention of a veteran democracy activist for subversion on Thursday amid growing concerns over the safety of his ‘disappeared’ wife.

Qin Yongmin, a veteran activist and founder of the short-lived, banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP), was barred from attending the pretrial meeting at the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court, his lawyer said.

Qin was initially detained in 2015 alongside his wife Zhao Suli, but Zhao disappeared several weeks later, and hasn’t been seen for months. Her relatives say they fear some harm has come to her.

Zhao’s three sisters have mounted a campaign to find her, after the authorities fired her defense lawyer unilaterally.

“Last year, when her three sisters came to Wuhan, an official told them he would carry a letter from them to Zhao Suli, but that they weren’t allowed to see her, or call her on the phone,” Human Rights in China spokesman Xu Qin told RFA.

“The following day, the official told her sisters that Zhao Suli didn’t want to reply to the letter,” said Xu, who accompanied them. “That’s really pretty improbable.”

“Then they discovered that I was filming [the meeting] and they detained me and confiscated my cell phone,” he said.

At risk of torture

Earlier this year, Wuhan police told relatives that Zhao wasn’t in their custody, sparking further concerns that she might be at risk of torture or had died in extrajudicial detention.

Meanwhile, prosecutors told Qin Yongmin’s lawyers that they have enough evidence to convict him of “subversion of state power” by showing that he worked for political reforms in China by advocating a “peaceful transition” to a democratic society.

“Qin Yongmin has published a book on the peaceful transition in Hong Kong, and he has posted a lot of articles online and in QQ chatrooms in recent years,” his defense lawyer Ma Lianshun said.

“All of this is being used as evidence to support the subversion charges.”

Ma said the defense team will say more when it has reviewed all of the case files.

Fellow lawyer Li Chunhua said the defense team would be arguing that Qin is not guilty, however.

“We are of the opinion that [Qin’s actions] do not constitute a crime,” Li said. “We accept all of the facts of the case, but we don’t think that they add up to criminal behavior.”

‘Subversion of state power’

Qin is currently being held at a police-run detention center in the central city of Wuhan. His location was only discovered by accident, and his first meeting with a lawyer came 17 months after his detention.

Qin and Zhao were initially reported missing on Jan. 19, 2015, amid unconfirmed reports that he had been tried in secret.

But family and fellow activists continued to hunt for the couple, and Qin’s lawyers tracked him down to an anonymous, numbered entry in a logbook at the Wuhan No. 2 Detention Center.

A contemporary of exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng, Qin was sentenced to eight years in prison for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and subversion” in the wake of China’s Democracy Wall movement in 1981.

He served a further two years’ “re-education through labor” in 1993 after he penned a controversial document titled the “Peace Charter.”

Qin then served a 12-year jail term for subversion after he helped found the CDP in 1998 in spite of a ban on opposition political parties.

“Subversion of state power” carries a minimum jail term of 10 years in cases where the person is judged to have played a leading role. Jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is currently serving a 13-year sentence for “incitement to subvert state power.”

Source: RFA- http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/search-04172015101633.html

UPDATE: 08 September 2015- Radio Free Asia: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/search-04172015101633.html

UPDATE: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/search-04172015101633.html