UPDATE: Ding Jiaxi was secretly tried on 24 June 2022 but the verdict is still pending.
Ding Jiaxi is a prominent Chinese human rights activist and lawyer. Since 2010, he has been relentlessly promoting and protecting the rights of his fellow citizens facing injustices. He is one of the leaders of the ‘New Citizens Movement,’ which sought to encourage Chinese citizens to exercise their civil and political rights enshrined in China’s Constitution. He advocated for equal education for the children of migrant workers, and for transparency over the assets of top officials. For this, the Chinese government has tried many times to silence him. Ding was first jailed from 2013 to 2016.
In December 2019, the authorities resorted to one of its repressive tools to target Ding – they disappeared him under China’s system of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’ (RSDL). RSDL is a practice adopted in 2012 in Chinese law that gives police the power to take individuals into custody outside of official facilities for up to six months, without disclosing where they are held, cutting them from the outside world, including from their families and lawyers. United Nations experts made it clear: RSDL is a form of enforced disappearance, which is absolutely prohibited under international law. Enforced disappearances are endemic in China: civil society estimates point to at least 57,000 individuals held under RSDL since 2013. RSDL tears families apart, and is intended to instill fear into China’s human rights movement.
For 6 months, no one knew where Ding was or what had happened. According to his testimonies, the police tortured him during his detention. He was tied to a ‘tiger chair’, deprived of sleep and continuously exposed to artificial light and loud noise. In June 2020, he reappeared in the city of Linyi, where he was formally arrested without access to his lawyers. In January 2021, they were notified Ding was indicted on charges of ‘subversion of State power.’ Only then was he allowed to see a lawyer. However, his lawyer has not been granted full access to the case files or able to freely meet with him. Ding has not been allowed to see or talk to his loved ones since 2019. His detention conditions are very poor and his health is deteriorating. His trial got postponed repeatedly without clear reasons.
Ding could be secretly tried anytime now. We call on the Chinese authorities to :
- Ensure Ding Jiaxi’s trial is fair and in line with international standards – including that his trial is held publicly, his lawyers have full access to case files, and witnesses can appear in court;
- Release him promptly;
- Review China’s Criminal Procedure Law and repeal RSDL, so that no one has to go through what Ding Jiaxi did.
Add your voice! Help us putting pressure on the authorities: send an email to Chinese authorities calling on them to #ReleaseDingJiaxi and #RepealRSDL!