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UA 257/10
Abgeschlossen am 26. Januar 2011

Falun Gong practitioner at risk of torture

AI-Index: ASA 17/049/2010

Falun Gong practitioner, Guo Xiaojun, a former lecturer at Jiaotong University in Shanghai, is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment in prison. He was convicted solely on charges which relate to his practice of Falun Gong and based on a confession he says was extracted through torture.

Guo Xiaojun was taken from his home in Shanghai by eight plainclothes police and security officers on 7 January, 2010. They forced their way into his home, without a warrant, and pushed him to the ground in front of his wife and four year old child, cutting his head. The police then ransacked his home, finding only a few books relating to Falun Gong. Police then took him to the Baoshan District detention centre. He was later charged with ‘using a heretical organization to subvert the law’ based on allegations that he had distributed Falun Gong materials. This charge was made following a confession which Guo Xiaojun told lawyers’ was extracted through torture. Since his detention Guo’s family have not been able to visit him.

During the course of the case Guo’s family hired five lawyers, each of whom dropped the case after being threatened with negative consequences by local authorities. He has therefore not been able to have legal counsel throughout his detention and trial. After his first trial on 7 July, Guo was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, upheld at an appeal hearing in October. The lawyer the family had hired at the time was not informed of the date of the appeal hearing, and Guo therefore had no legal representation. During a meeting with one of the lawyers hired by the family at the end of July Guo recounted the torture and sleep deprivation he had endured, including being kept in solitary confinement for long periods.

Guo’s wife is seeking to appeal his sentence before the Shanghai Higher Court, on the grounds that the evidence used against her husband was obtained through torture. Guo Xianjun was previously imprisoned in 2001 for five years for his Falun Gong beliefs.

Additional Information

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement which gained large numbers of supporters in China during the 1990s. After it staged a peaceful gathering in Tiananmen Square in July 1999, the government outlawed the group and launched a long-term campaign of intimidation and persecution, directed by a special organization called the 610 Office. Tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arbitrarily detained since the spiritual movement was banned as a "threat to social and political stability". Practitioners have been held in psychiatric hospitals, re-education through Labour (RTL) facilities - a form of administrative detention imposed without charge, trial or judicial review -- or sentenced to long prison terms.
Torture and other ill-treatment are endemic in all forms of detention, despite China’s ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1988. Falun Gong sources have documented numerous deaths in custody of Falun Gong practitioners, believed to have been caused by torture and other ill-treatment.
New regulations effective from 1 July 2010 and jointly issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security and Ministry of Justice, aim to strengthen prohibitions against the use of illegal evidence in criminal cases, including coerced confessions and other evidence obtained through torture and other ill-treatment.

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