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Intimidation often happens in dark corners, we shine a bright light.
— Hunter Heaney, Co-founder
The activist and artist, Chen Yunfei, has been tortured for extended periods in a Chinese prison. Chen told his lawyer, Sui Muqing, that he was tortured twice for violating the rules of the detention center. His hands and feet were cuffed and shackled for over ten days after he refused to say the standard greetings to prison officials. Mr. Chen, 48, uses performance art to criticize the Communist Party. He calls himself a “beast tamer,” using the term beasts to refer to the Chinese authorities.
He was detained on March 25, 2015, after visiting the grave of a student, Wu Guofeng, who was killed by soldiers in Tiananmen Square during the protest massacre in June 1989. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians died in the student-led pro-democracy protest. He has been especially active in trying to keep their memories alive with an annual memorial visit and by calling on the government to investigate the massacre and provide compensation to the victims.
On April 30, 2015, Mr. Chen was officially arrested on subversion charges, but those charges were altered to “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, charges often used to dissuade dissidents. In 2013, China’s top legal bodies expanded the definition of the “picking quarrels” charge to include online writing, and the security forces have wielded it as a legal weapon against liberal voices on the internet and people carrying out protests or other acts judged to be overly critical of the party or the state. A document from prosecutors that was posted by Mr. Chen’s lawyer accuses Mr. Chen of taking advantage of having tens of thousands of followers on Twitter to “start rumors about and libel against our country’s political system on the internet many times.” Twitter is among the foreign websites blocked in China.
A 21 month long pre-trial detention has violated his due process rights and human rights. He is currently being held at Xinjin County Detention Center with a trial date still unscheduled.
We call on you to help us speak out for this unjustly imprisoned artist.