Last updated: December 13, 2021
The case is also known as the “Changsha Funeng” case.
On July 22, 2019, three staff members of Changsha Funeng (长沙富能), a non-governmental public interest organization, were criminally detained by the Changsha Municipal State Security Bureau on suspicion of "subversion of state power" and officially arrested on August 26 on the same charges. The three individuals are: Chen Yuan (程渊), Liu Dazhi (刘大志), and Wu Gejianxiong (吴葛健雄). The investigation period of their cases was extended multiple times, and the authorities rejected repeated requests by lawyers appointed by family members to meet with the defendants. On March 16, 2020, the six defense lawyers (two representing each defendant) received oral notices from the Changsha Municipal State Security Bureau and local bureaus of justice informing them that the defendants had dismissed their lawyers, including lawyer Wu Youshui (吴有水), who was representing his son, Wu Gejianxiong.
On September 10, 2020, Wu Youshui called Wu Gejianxiong's officially-appointed lawyer, Chen Weichao, and learned that the Changsha 3 Case had been tried in the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court the preceding week and that the trial had concluded. The families had received no notice of the trial, nor was there information among the public notices from the Changsha Intermediate Court.
On September 11, Cheng Yuan's wife, Shi Minglei (施明磊), went to the court to inquire, and the head bailiff informed her what Judge Zhao Wei said: the trial was public and the rights of all parties were protected. On Twitter, Shi Minglei posted three points addressed to Judge Zhao: 1) she downloaded the public notices from the website of the Changsha Intermediate Court related to all cases handled by Judge Zhao Wei since he took over the Changsha 3 Case and could find no information referencing the Changsha 3 Case; 2) Cheng Yuan's defense lawyer Zhang Lei and Xie Yanyi did not appear in court—how was the trial public? and 3) the court did not notify even the families—how was the trial public?
On July 2, 2021, Wu Youshui received a message: the three had been convicted of “subversion of state power." Liu Dazhi was sentenced to two years in prison, Wu Gejianxiong was sentenced to three years; but Cheng Yuan’s sentence was unknown. On August 5, Shi Minglei learned that Cheng Yuan had been sentenced to five years in prison, but his officially-appointed lawyer refused to give his family the official verdict document. "This is a completely illegal trial and our family will never accept it," Shi said.
Founded in 2016, Changsha Funeng focused on the rights of persons with disabilities and the rights of vulnerable groups. Cheng Yuan, Liu Dazhi, and Wu Gejianxiong had made significant contributions to eliminating discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and promoting the right to health and the rights of persons with disabilities.
Human rights defenders play a critical role in ensuring peaceful exercise of rights and promoting an independent civil society. As China’s civil society faces increasingly steep restrictions, human rights defenders have become the targets of draconian and comprehensive crackdowns. For their efforts, many human rights defenders have lost their jobs, family members, and personal freedom; many suffer mistreatment and torture in prison.
In these dark times for so many of them, HRIC honors their work, their spirit of dedication, and the great price they continue to pay in promoting the progress of civil society. Please take a moment to send messages to the imprisoned and detained rights defenders—to show your concern, solidarity, and support.