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Democracy Activist Is Scheduled for Release after Serving 11 Years for Subversion

April 13, 2012

On April 14, 2012, Li Dawei (李大伟), a former policeman and democracy activist, is scheduled to be released from a prison in Gansu Province after serving 11 years on conviction of “subversion of state power.” According to Li’s family members, Li is not expected to arrive home until the evening of April 14 because of the distance between the prison, in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, and his home in Tianshui. After he leaves prison, Li is subjected to four years of post-release deprivation of political rights.

The charges that led to Li’s conviction stemmed essentially from three sets of activities: contacting people overseas, sharing information, and accepting financial help.  In its verdict, the Gansu Provincial Higher People’s Court listed three specific crimes that Li committed: 1) receiving instruction from overseas “hostile organizations [and] elements” to engage in activities to subvert state power; 2) supplying information to overseas dissidents and international media about another government critic convicted of “subversion of state power” in an attempt to overturn the case; and 3) soliciting and accepting contributions, ranging from £40 to HK$6,000 (about $771 in 2000), to “finance criminal activities.”

“Sadly, more than a decade has passed, the Chinese authorities remain intolerant of human rights and distrustful of their citizens,” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China (HRIC). “They need to open their eyes to the obvious truth: in order to build a true foundation for social stability, there must be respect for the law and the rights of the people.”

Li was criminally detained by state security authorities in Tianshui, on April 14, 2001, and was formally arrested on April 22. In May 2002, Li was tried by the Tianshui Municipal Intermediate People’s Court, which convicted him and sentenced him to 11 years in prison. Li appealed the conviction. On November 28, 2002, the Gansu Provincial Higher People’s Court, without holding a hearing, upheld the lower court’s ruling.

According to family members, Li’s lengthy imprisonment shattered the family and brought great hardships. They said that after Li’s wife divorced him, his elderly parents have had to support Li’s daughter, and Li’s sister had to leave behind her husband in Lanzhou to care for her parents in Tianshui. During these years, relatives said, his sister visited Li once a year, but his mother was able to make the 14-hour journey by bus to the prison only once.

Li was a policeman at the Tianshui Public Security Bureau. During the late 1990s and in early 2001, he actively participated in protests against the government’s crackdown on the China Democracy Party, advocated for the release of political prisoners, and signed open letters voicing the grievances of the people. In an effort to help imprisoned dissidents, Li contacted overseas pro-democracy and human rights organizations and used the international media to put pressure on Chinese authorities.

Following is an English translation by Human Rights in China of the November 2002 ruling by the appeals court, the Gansu Provincial Higher People's Court, which upheld the lower court’s verdict.


[English translation by Human Rights in China]

Gansu Provincial Higher People's Court
Criminal Ruling
No. 297 (2002)
Original Public Prosecution Organ: Tianshui Municipal People’s Procuratorate of Gansu Province. 
Appellant (defendant of the first instance trial) Li Dawei: male; Han ethnicity; born May 10, 1962; from Leting, Hebei Province; junior college education; resides at No. 42 Gongyuan Road, Qincheng District, Tianshui, Gansu Province. He was convicted of transporting narcotics, sentenced to three years in prison in 1993, and released from prison on September 28, 1995. 
Defense counsel: Dou Peixin; Li Jie of Boshuo Law Offices of Shaanxi Province. 
The Tianshui Municipal Intermediate People’s Court tried the case against Li Dawei, defendant of the first instance trial, on charges from Tianshui Municipal People’s Procuratorate of Gansu Province that Li had subverted state power. On July 17, 2002, the Tianshui Municipal Intermediate People’s Court issued Criminal Verdict No. 02 (2002). Li Dawei, defendant of the first instance trial, did not accept the verdict and appealed. This court assembled a collegiate bench in accordance with the law. Through its consultation of the case files, this court found that the facts of this case are clear and decided to not review the case in open court. The appellate review has concluded. 
The verdict of the first instance trial found that the defendant Li Dawei had committed the following criminal acts: 
1. He accepted directions from hostile overseas organizations and hostile overseas elements to engage in activities to subvert state power. The defendant Li Dawei made no effort to reform himself after he had finished serving his sentence and was released in September 1995. He became seriously dissatisfied with the Communist Party of China and the socialist system and took the initiative to contact hostile overseas organizations and plan activities to subvert state power. In May 1998, the defendant Li Dawei contacted hostile overseas elements Liu Binyan, Wei Jingsheng, Wang Dan, and others, and wrote a letter of collusion to Wei Lan at the American [radio station] “Radio Free Asia,” actively seeking to join the ranks of the “democracy movement.”
From 1998, Li Dawei called, paged, and contacted via the Internet the following people multiple times and actively accepted their directions: the U.S.-based Liu Qing of Human Rights in China; Wang Bingzhang, advisor of the China Justice Party; Zhuang Yan, leader of the Overseas Preparatory Committee of the China Democracy Party; Wang Xizhe, director of the Mainland Working Committee of the Democratic Front [unofficial translation of 民阵联大陆工委]; Cary Hung, Vice Chairman of the United Formosans for Independence and consultant to the Democratic Progressive Party [of Taiwan]; Li Hongkuan of Small Reference, and the America-based hostile element Xu Shuiliang, as well as the Hong Kong-based Frank Lu Siqing of the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and Han Dongfang of China Labour Bulletin. He also contacted domestic hostile elements who had been suppressed—Ren Wanting, Xu Wenli, Jiang Qisheng, and Qin Yongmin—to exchange information with them, and plot and discuss measures to subvert state power. On August 20, 1999, Li Dawei clearly indicated in a conversation with Wang Bingzhang that, “In Gansu, I was the first to step forward, then Yue Tianxiang.”
In August 1999, again in his capacity as a “member of the Gansu political opposition,” he strongly protested our judicial organ’s arrest of the hostile element Wang Youcai, He also sent letters to the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate brazenly declaring his desire to be tried together with the criminals Xu Wenli, Qin Yongmin, and Wang Youcai, who were charged with subversion of state power. He also attacked how our judicial organ punishes crimes.
In December 1999, Li Dawei renounced his Chinese nationality. In his application for foreign citizenship he viciously attacked China's socialist system. In January 2001, Li Dawei was among the 119 signers from 22 provinces of the “Open Letter to All Chinese Citizens and the Government for Calling for the Release of All Political Prisoners in the First Chinese New Year of the New Century.”
On March 7, 2001, the defendant Li Dawei—in an open letter by the “Three Dissidents” to the 2001 “Two Congresses” [the National People’s Congress, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference], which he sent via the Internet to the "Overseas Joint Headquarters of the China Democracy Party”—distorted the facts as he openly declared that "the people have nowhere to seek redress for their injustices and nowhere to voice their grievances, and when they do, it is all in vain." On March 9 that year, defendant Li Dawei sent letters via the Internet to the hostile overseas elements Cary Hung and Xu Shuiliang requesting their help to deliver his writings about his dissatisfaction with the CPC and our judicial system to the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., so that they would be forwarded back to China, in the manner of an "export product to be sold domestically" [having acquired added value as an export]. He also asked Cary Hung to appeal to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. At the same time he used the occasion of the national “Two Congresses” to ask [foreign] journalists reporting in China to expose the so-called serious interference of the Party and government in judicial affairs in China— deliberate miscarriage of justice that he fabricated.
On October 5, 1999, the defendant Li Dawei provided Han Dongfang information of the so-called Hongshan factory workers’ disturbance in Tianshui. Han Dongfang in turn reported and publicized the incident overseas.
On October 5, 1999, the defendant Li Dawei provided information to Frank Lu Siqing in Hong Kong that the mayor of Tianshui would be passing through Hong Kong during a fact-finding trip abroad and asked that Frank Lu Siqing, in his capacity as a journalist, ask the mayor some difficult questions.
2. He directed Yue Tianxiang (already sentenced) to engage in activities to subvert state power, plotted with hostile overseas elements to rescue Yue Tianxiang, and colluded with hostile overseas elements to manufacture international public opinion in an attempt to get Yue Tianxiang's case overturned.
In August 1998, Li Dawei called Yue Tianxiang from Qinhuangdao [Hebei Province] and announced that he had received directions in politics and theory from “senior democracy activists” Xu Wenli, Ren Wanting, and Qin Yongmin, and that he had benefitted from their guidance and had made great progress.
In September 1998, at the request of Xu Wenli (who was sentenced for the crime of subversion of state power), Li Dawei asked to visit Yue Tianxiang and others: Let me [Li] come for a visit and get to know Tianshui's progress in the “labor movement” and “democracy movement.” [Li] directed Yue to manage well the “labor movement” and “democracy movement” so that the work will be solid. During the entire conversation, Li Dawei assumed the status and tone of an officer sent by the senior level of the “labor movement” and “democracy movement,” and reprimanded Yue Tianxiang for “having engaged too few people to conduct labor arbitration, making it difficult to broaden [the movements’] influence and power.”
At the same time, the defendant Li Dawei provided Yue Tianxiang a large number of illegal documents so as to instill in Yue the ideas of "democracy movement" and incite him to engage in illegal criminal activities for the “labor movement,” “democracy movement,” and “human rights.” The majority of the illegal documents were from Qin Yongmin’s China Human Rights Watch [journal]: “Hunan Democracy Movement Activists’ Application to Demonstrate,” “Interview with Jiang Qisheng,” and “Letter to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tang,” as well as reactionary essays by Jiang Qisheng, Li Weiping, Lü Honglai, and others. . . . In the reactionary documents that Li Dawei gave him, Yue Tianxiang received a brief introduction to the “Zhejiang Provincial Preparatory Committee of the China Democracy Party” and a list of its members and their contact phone numbers.
In July 1999, while Yue Tianxiang and others were being tried for subversion of state power, Li Dawei gave the ringleaders of hostile organizations—Liu Qing and Zhuang Yan in the U.S. and Frank Lu Siqing and Han Dongfang in Hong Kong—a fabricated report that Yue Tianxiang was sick and did not receive treatment in the detention center, to stir international public opinion and attention, in an attempt to overturn Yue Tianxiang’s case.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse, the BBC, and The New York Times reported the distorted information on Yue’s trial. American human rights groups used the misrepresented case of Yue Tianxiang as an example to attack us on human rights.
On November 10 of that year, Li Dawei and Wang Bingzhang discussed arranging for Yue Tianxiang to be released on medical parole and to flee the country. They schemed to have Yue Tianxiang flee abroad and join hostile overseas organizations.
From March 2001, Li Dawei collected from the Internet “2000 New Year Statement of the China Democracy Party,” “Democracy Party’s Strategies for Democracy,” “The Past, Present, and Future of the Chinese Democracy Movement,” “Small Reference,” and “Big Reference.” In reactionary articles such as “China Review” and others, Li slandered China’s socialist system and incited ethnic separatism and Taiwanese independence. He also participated in online signature campaigns to attack China’s judicial system.
3. He solicited and accepted financial assistance from hostile organizations and hostile elements to fund the criminal activities. On August 14, 1999, on the suggestion of Zhuang Yan in light of the crackdown upon Yue Tianxiang and others, Li Dawei on seven occasions solicited from Han Dongfang, Zhuang Yan, Liu Qing, Xie Wanjun, and others, nine donations for himself and the families of the criminals Yue Tianxiang, Guo Xinmin, and Wang Fengshan, for a total of HK$6,000, $400, €462.43, £40, and 1,800 yuan. Zhuang Yan sent Li Dawei $500 to encourage his activities.
The verdict of the first instance trial confirmed the following evidence. . . . Also seized from Li Dawei were the “Constitution of the China Democracy Party (Draft)” and the “Public Declaration of the Founding of the Zhejiang Provincial Preparatory Committee of the China Democracy Party.”
The court of the first instance trial found that defendant Li Dawei ignored state laws to plot and effect the subversion of state power in order to achieve his aim of overthrowing the socialist system. His actions indeed constitute the crime of subversion of state power. The defendant Li Dawei also colluded with overseas organizations and individuals and accepted directions from them. He also directed Yue Tianxiang and others to carry out activities to subvert state power, and sought and solicited financial assistance from hostile overseas organizations and individuals. He should be severely punished.
In accordance with the stipulations of Article 105, Paragraph 1, Article 106, and Article 56 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the defendant Li Dawei was convicted of subversion of state power, and sentenced to a fixed term of 11 years of imprisonment and four years of deprivation of political rights. The defendant Li Dawei appealed, putting forward that his actions did not constitute the crime of subversion of state power. . . . In accordance with the stipulations of Article 189, Item 1 and Article 197 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, and Article 56, Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, [this court] rejects the appeal and affirms the original judgment. This ruling is final. 
Presiding Judge of the Gansu Provincial Higher People's Court: Qian Lin
Judge: Kang Yusheng
Judge: Wang Sanshou
November 28, 2002
Secretary: Liu Zhongwen


Below is an English translation of the specific conditions placed on individuals subject to deprivation of political rights, excerpted from the Regulations on the Supervision and Administration by Public Security Organs of Criminals Who Have Been Put Under Surveillance, Deprived of Political Rights, Given Reprieve, Given Parole, or Released on Bail for Medical Treatment:

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

Article 12. Public security organs shall announce to the criminal whose political rights are being deprived that he must abide by the following provisions during the deprivation period:

  • Abide by national laws and regulations and relevant Ministry of Public Security regulations;
  • Shall not enjoy the right to vote or stand for election;
  • Shall not organize or participate in any gatherings, marches, demonstrations, or forming associations;
  • Shall not accept interviews or give speeches;
  • Shall not issue, publish, or distribute discussions, books, or recordings which are detrimental to the state's honor and interests or otherwise endanger society domestically or abroad;
  • Shall not hold a position in any state organ;
  • Shall not hold a leadership position in any enterprise, state-run institution, or civic organization;
  • Abide by the specific supervision and administration measures set out by the public security organs.

For more information on Li Dawei, see:

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