Front Line:China: Charge of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ brought against human rights defender Mr Zhu Chengzhi

On 9 August 2012, the wife of human rights defender Mr Zhu Chengzhi, received official notice from the authorities in Shaoyang City, Hunan Province, that her husband was being charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’
It is thought that the charges relate to Zhu Chengzhi’s questioning of the official version of events regarding the death of his friend and fellow human rights defender Mr Li Wangyang in June 2012. Zhu Chengzhi is reportedly being held incommunicado in a detention centre in Shuangqing District, Shaoyang City.
Death of Li Wangyang
Following the death of Li Wangyang in a hospital in Shaoyang City on 6 June 2012, Zhu Chengzhi circulated photographs online which called into question the official explanation of Li Wangyang’s death as suicide. The photographs showed Li Wangyang’s body with his feet planted on the ground and his face free from any signs of distortion, with a piece of cloth slung around his neck and tied to the window. Li Wangyang was in very poor health at the time of his death, and in addition to Zhu Chengzhi, his family questioned how Li Wangyang, who had difficulty walking, would be able to hang himself.
Administrative Detention
On 9 June 2012 Zhu Chengzhi was detained by police in Shaoyang City after reportedly refusing to sign a document guaranteeing he would stop questioning the causes of Li Wangyang’s death. Zhu Chengzhi was sentenced to a ten day period of administrative detention for ‘disrupting social order’. On 18 June 2012, the date he was due to be released, authorities informed Zhu Chengzhi’s family that he had been transferred to a detention centre while his case was investigated further. He has remained in detention since then. The new charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ reflect an escalation in the seriousness with which the authorities are treating his case.
Front Line Defenders believes that the detention of Zhu Chengzhi and the charge being brought against him are directly linked to his legitimate human rights work, particularly his efforts to establish the cause of Li Wangyang’s death.