Appeal cases for Falun Gong cyberdissidents, including two adherents who died in custody

People's Republic of China: State control of the internet in China: Appeal cases

Qi YanchenQi Yanchen, Prisoner of Conscience, Hebei Province

Qi Yanchen, an economist and a freelance writer, was detained on 2 September 1999 in Cangzhou, Hebei Province for allegedly "spreading anti-government messages via the Internet". This reportedly included posting parts of his book, The Collapse of China, on the Internet. The book explored social instability in China and urged political reforms to avoid future turmoil in the country. He was also accused of posting articles, under a pen name, about the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. These articles appeared in publications printed in Hong Kong and in the electronic newsletter VIP Reference, published by overseas Chinese living in the USA.

Qi Yanchen was charged with "subversion" and "diffusion of anti-governmental news via the Internet". He was tried by the Cangzhou Intermediate People’s Court. The trial, which reportedly took place on 31 May 2000, lasted four-and-a-half hours; his family were not informed of the trial. On 19 September 2000 it was announced that Qi had been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

Dong Yanhong, Liu Wenyu, Meng Jun, Wang Xin, Wang Xuefei and Yao Yue, Prisoners of Conscience, Beijing and Shanghai

Six Falun Gong practitioners, Dong Yanhong, Liu Wenyu, Meng Jun, Wang Xin, Wang Xuefei and Yao Yue, were secretly tried on 13 December 2001 in the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court. All defendants were charged with using a heretical organization" to undermine the implementation of the law for downloading information from Falun Gong websites and printing leaflets for distribution on Beijing streets. They were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 12 years as follows:

  • Dong Yanhong, aged 30, a female employee of Qinghua University, Beijing, was detained in January 2001. She reportedly refused to renounce her beliefs in FLG, and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
  • Liu Wenyu and her husband Yao Yue, both aged 29 and students from Qinghua University, were arrested at their home on 1 January 2001. They had been detained previously for short periods, and Yao Yue had been expelled from his university and from the Chinese Communist Party for practising Falun Gong exercises on campus. Liu Wenyu had also been expelled from the university. Liu Wenyu was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and Yao Yue to twelve years’ imprisonment.
  • Meng Jun, aged 29, an associate lecturer in engineering from Qinghua University, was forced to leave his work as a lecturer. Meng Jun has been detained on a number of occasions for activities in connection with the Falun Gong movement. He was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment and reportedly beaten in detention.
  • Wang Xin, an engineering student from Qinghua University, was suspended from the university in October 1999 because he practised Falun Gong. He was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.
  • Wang Xuefei, a student from Shanghai City University, was sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment.


In July 1999, the Falun Gong was banned by the Chinese government as a "threat to social and political stability". Since then, tens of thousands of its practitioners have been arbitrarily detained by police and put under pressure to renounce their beliefs. Some have been detained in psychiatric hospitals, others have been charged with crimes and sentenced under the Criminal Law after unfair trials, while the majority have been sent to labour camps without trial. Many have been tortured or ill-treated in detention and hundreds have reportedly died in custody as a result of torture.

The Chinese authorities have closed down websites, arrested and passed heavy sentences against those who disseminate, download, print or email information about the Falun Gong.

Amnesty International (AI) takes no position on Falun Gong as an organization or as a belief system. However, AI supports the right of Falun Gong practitioners to peacefully advocate their beliefs and to associate freely with each other in line with their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression and association.

Please send appeals for Dong Yanhong, Liu Wenyu, Meng Jun, Wang Xin, Wang Xuefei and Yao Yue

Chen Qiulan, Death in Custody, Heilongjiang Province

According to official sources, Chen Qiulan, a female Falun Gong practitioner, died in custody on 24 August 2001 at the Daqing City Detention Centre, Heilongjiang Province.

Chen Qiulan, aged 47, had been arrested in July 2001 for reportedly posting information about the Falun Gong spiritual movement on the Internet. Following her death, a police officer who refused to give his full name, only describing himself as Li, stated in a CNN report (4) that "coroners had determined it was a heart attack. There is no doubt. Her corpse was cremated with the approval of her family."

Falun Gong sources report that Chen Qiulan died due to torture having been beaten unconscious many times while in detention at the Daqing City Detention Centre and denied medical treatment.

In July 1999, the Falun Gong was banned by the Chinese government as a "threat to social and political stability". Since then, tens of thousands of its practitioners have been arbitrarily detained by police and put under pressure to renounce their beliefs. Some have been detained in psychiatric hospitals, others have been charged with crimes and sentenced under the Criminal Law after unfair trials, while the majority have been sent to labour camps without trial. Many have been tortured or ill-treated in detention and hundreds have reportedly died in custody as a result of torture.

The Chinese authorities have closed down websites, arrested and passed heavy sentences against those who disseminate, download, print or email information about the Falun Gong.

Amnesty International (AI) takes no position on Falun Gong as an organization or as a belief system. However, AI supports the right of Falun Gong practitioners to peacefully advocate their beliefs and to associate freely with each other in line with their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression and association.

China linked up with the global Internet in 1994. A year later it became commercially available. Since then the Chinese authorities have introduced greater controls on its use as the Internet has spread quickly in China. Scores of rules and regulations have been introduced, equipment confiscated, sites banned, and Internet cafes controlled and shut down throughout China. Many political activists have been arrested and sentenced often after being charged with "subversion" for Internet-related "offences" in blatant disregard of fundamental international human rights law guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression.

Li Changjun, Death in Custody, Hubei Province

Li Changjun, a Falun Gong practitioner, was reportedly detained on 16 May 2001 for downloading and printing information from the Internet on the banned spiritual movement. Li had worked at the Wuhan Tax Bureau but was said to have lost his job for refusing to renounce his Falun Gong beliefs. He had reportedly been detained many times previously for his Falun Gong activities.

On 27 June 2001, 40 days after his arrest, the Wuhan police notified his family of his death. His mother, Wei Sumin was allowed to see her son’s body shortly after he died and reportedly said after seeing him, "....he had only skin and bones left. His face and neck were black and blue. His fists were clenched. His teeth were out of place. His face was distorted. His whole back looked as if it was burned and cooked. The scene was horrifying."

Li Changjun, aged 33, had graduated as an engineer in July 1991 and continued his graduate studies in computer technology.

In July 1999, the Falun Gong was banned by the Chinese government as a "threat to social and political stability". Since then, tens of thousands of practitioners have been arbitrarily detained by police and put under pressure to renounce their beliefs. Some have been detained in psychiatric hospitals, others have been charged with crimes and sentenced under the Criminal Law after unfair trials, while the majority have been sent to labour camps without trial. Many have been tortured and ill-treated in detention and hundreds have reportedly died in custody as a result of torture.

The Chinese authorities have closed down websites, arrested and passed heavy sentences against those who disseminate, download, print or email information about the Falun Gong.

Amnesty International (AI) takes no position on Falun Gong as an organization or as a belief system. However, AI supports the right of Falun Gong practitioners to peacefully advocate their beliefs and to associate freely with each other in line with their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression and association.

China linked up with the global Internet in 1994. A year later it became commercially available. Since then the Chinese authorities have introduced greater controls on its use as the Internet has spread quickly in China. Scores of rules and regulations have been introduced, equipment confiscated, sites banned, and Internet cafes controlled and shut down throughout China. Many political activists have been arrested and sentenced often after being charged with "subversion" for Internet-related "offences" in blatant disregard of fundamental international human rights law guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression.

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