Rights lawyer detained in China for 'inciting state subversion'

Rights lawyer detained in China for 'inciting state subversion'

Xie Yang (right) has previously defended Christians and democracy activists and has not been heard from since he was detained last week.
Xie Yang (right) has previously defended Christians and democracy activists and has not been heard from since he was detained last week.

BEIJING: A human rights lawyer has been detained in China on suspicion of "inciting state subversion", according to an official notice obtained by his wife weeks after he spoke out for a hospitalised teacher.

Xie Yang -- who has previously defended Christians and democracy activists -- has not been heard from since he was detained more than a week ago in Changsha city, Hunan province.

Beijing has stepped up its crackdown on civil society since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, tightening restrictions on freedom of speech and detaining hundreds of activists and lawyers.

The police notice, dated Monday and seen by AFP, says 49-year-old Xie has been detained on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" -- a catch-all allegation frequently used against dissidents and activists.

"I am very angry that he has been detained on trumped-up charges," his wife Chen Guiqiu told AFP from the United States, where she lives with their two children.

His home was also ransacked, according to Chen.

"Anything that could be opened was opened or torn open, even his pillows were ripped apart," she said, adding that two computers and his safe were missing.

His detention comes weeks after he tried to visit a teacher, Li Tiantian, who friends said was forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital after expressing sympathy for views questioning Beijing's narrative over the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.

The historical tragedy is a hugely sensitive topic in China.

Li was believed to have been held after she publicly sympathised with a Shanghai professor who questioned the official death toll of 300,000 attributed to the six-week spree of killing, rape and destruction.

Xie was a vocal advocate for the 27-year-old pregnant teacher, who authorities have said was willingly admitted to the hospital.

He tweeted a video in December showing himself outside the local police headquarters holding a poster calling for her release.

Changsha public security bureau declined to comment, while the detention centre and local propaganda department did not pick up phonecalls.

"Xie Yang has participated in almost all the hot-button issues in China," rights activist Cheng Xiaofeng, who attempted to visit the hospital with Xie, told AFP.

"His actions probably make the authorities very uncomfortable."

Xie was previously detained for almost two years during the "709 crackdown" targeting human rights activists and lawyers in 2015, when he said he suffered torture.

Another human rights lawyer, Yang Maodong, was arrested last week also on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power", according to a police notice shared with AFP. He had been detained in the megacity of Guangzhou since last month.

Yang has been imprisoned repeatedly as a result of his advocacy.

Yang's wife died of cancer last week in the US, after he was blocked from leaving China to reunite with her.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (6)

Australia's new PM scolds China over trade tariffs

SYDNEY: New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rebuked China on Tuesday for imposing hefty tariffs on Australian exports two years ago, in remarks made while attending a regional security conference in Tokyo a day after being sworn in.

15:34

Taiwan goes from 15,000 cases for all 2021 to 80,000 a day

TAIPEI: Billed a Covid-19 success story as its economy boomed through the pandemic, Taiwan is now battling a record wave of infections as it eases restrictions that had kept outbreaks at bay to start life with the virus.

15:34

Overheated brakes caused city bus fire, says BMTA

The fire that destroyed a route 522 airconditioned bus in Nonthaburi on Monday night was started by an overheated brake on a rear right wheel, according to a statement released by the city bus operator.

15:05