Authorities Step Up Pressure Against Detained Human Rights Lawyer’s Wife, Son

Friday, December 17, 2010

China Aid Association
(Beijing – Dec. 17, 2010) Authorities have kept in illegal detention for seven days one of China’s foremost legal scholars and advocates of constitutional democracy and are harassing Fan Yafeng’s wife and three-year-old son as they apparently prepare to prosecute the Christian human rights lawyer on criminal charges.
Dr. Fan disappeared into police detention on Dec. 9. At the time, authorities told his wife that he would be released in four days, but a week after officers of the Domestic Security Department took him away, there has been no information whatsoever on his whereabouts or legal status. Dr. Fan is the head of the Holy Mountain (Shengshan) Culture Research Institute and Christian Human Rights Lawyers of China, as well as of the Holy Mountain (Shengshan) Church in Beijing.

As is commonly done in cases involving dissidents and other politically sensitive figures, authorities may initially follow the required legal procedures when detaining a person. But once the person is in police custody, authorities routinely ignore the legal requirements that a detainee must be formally charged or released after a certain number of days. This is the legal limbo that Dr. Fan is now in. Based on the authorities’ other moves in recent days, it appears clear that a criminal case is being prepared against him.
On Dec. 12, in addition to searching Dr. Fan’s home and the research institute and confiscating virtually all the contents of the research institute as well as many personal items from the couple’s home, the police also detained Dr. Fan’s wife Wu Lingling for eight hours of interrogation. She described her recent experiences as like being subjected to “a series of repeated bombardments.”
Wu’s cell phone has been confiscated and she has access to only one phone line that still works, although it is heavily monitored. Authorities have also confiscated all her bank ATM cards and bank passbooks, and have given her only 2,000 to 3,000 yuan ($300-$450) in cash. When that runs out, she must ask them for more.
During the eight-hour interrogation, police repeatedly questioned her about magazines published by the research institute and also about the research institute’s finances. They threatened her with arrest, saying she was an accessory to all of Dr. Fan’s activities since she was both assistant to the director of the research institute as well as its registered legal representative.
The nature of the police interrogation follows the pattern of previous cases in which prominent or influential house church leaders were prosecuted and convicted of alleged illegal business operations and alleged illegal activities involving printing and publishing.
Worried that there would be no one to take care of their three-year-old son Huzi if she is indeed arrested, Wu asked Dr. Fan’s mother come to Beijing and live in their second apartment at Shuangyushu. Authorities, however, have barred Wu from seeing her mother-in-law, and when she has taken Huzi to see his grandmother, she is not allowed to take the child upstairs to the apartment, nor is his grandmother allowed to come down and fetch him. Instead, the small boy has to go upstairs all alone with no adult to escort him.
Wherever Wu goes, she is tailed by surveillance officers who also record her every entrance and exit from her home. Dr. Fan’s mother’s movements are also closely monitored.
The police have also threatened Wu with confiscation of the couple’s two apartments, which they said were held illegally by Dr. Fan because he had changed his name some years ago, the implication being that if his original name was not on the paperwork for his apartments then the properties do not legally belong to him. (Editor’s note: Unlike in the West, changing one’s name is a somewhat common occurrence among Chinese. Traditionally, it was usually done to mark some momentous change in a person’s life, but nowadays it might be done simply because a person thinks his or her name is not fashionable.)
During their interrogation, police intentionally tried to politicize Dr. Fan’s activities, suggesting that he was playing politics and that even his conversion to Christianity was politically motivated. His wife said she believes the authorities are trying to create a rift between Dr. Fan and other Christians by leading them to believe that there may be political repercussions for the house churches because of Dr. Fan’s activities.
ChinaAid Association denounces the Beijing authorities for illegally detaining Dr. Fan beyond the legal time limit, for expanding their persecution of him to include his family members—including his three-year-old child—and for adopting their usual strategy of combining threats with inducements in an effort to get their victims to “give an account of their problems.” From such coerced oral confessions, authorities gather evidence that is then used to prosecute the victims.
ChinaAid founder and president Pastor Bob Fu says that the political atmosphere in Beijing has deteriorated to the worst point in 20 years. In response to the serious persecution of Dr. Fan Yafeng and the “Operation Deterrence” campaign launched by the Chinese leadership in Zhongnanhai (the walled compound in central Beijing where China’s top leaders have their offices) in an all-out effort to suppress house churches, ChinaAid will launch a large-scale rescue operation.
ChinaAid urges brothers and sisters in the church in China not to lose heart and to remain brave and steadfast in the face of persecution. This is a battle between righteousness and evil, and victory is assured.  God is with us, because we stand on God’s side.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985