Chinese activist detained after protesting N. Korea’s nuclear tests; at risk of torture

Liu Yuandong standing in front of Democratic Action banner, Photo: Wiebo

from Amnesty International

URGENT ACTION – April 19, 2013

Activist Liu Yuandong, a businessman, was detained on 23 February in Guangzhou, China after he took part in a protest against North Korea’s nuclear tests. He is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Liu Yuandong, a 35-year-old businessman, protested with several other people against North Korea’s nuclear tests on 23 February in the southern city of Guangzhou. They were all detained, and given administrative detention orders ranging from seven to 15 days for violating the Law on Assemblies, Processions and Demonstrations. All but Liu Yuandong have since been released, and have told the media they were deprived of sleep in custody.

The police told his wife that they were holding him on the grounds that he had “withdrawn the contributed capital after the incorporation of the company” and that they were in the process of issuing a formal arrest notification. His wife, however, has not received any formal arrest notice. Liu Yuandong is detained in Guangzhou city’s Tianhe district detention centre.

Liu Yuandong has taken an active part in a number of social movements or protests in China. He was briefly detained after he took part in a solidarity action for the people of the nearby village of Wukan who were protesting against local corruption and land grabs. More than 500 people across China signed a petition in March, within three days, calling for him to be released.

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

Calling on the authorities to give Liu Yuandong immediate access to his family, legal representation of his choosing and any medical attention he may require;

Calling on them to release Liu Yuandong immediately and unconditionally;

Calling on them to ensure that Liu Yuandong is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated.


Director, Tianhe District People’s Procuratorate

Liu Zhimin Jianchazhang

Guangzhoushi Tianhequ Remin Jianchayuan, 19 Longkou West Road

Tianhequ, Guangzhoushi 510630

People’s Republic of China

Salutation: Dear Director

Director, Tianhe District Public Security Sub-branch

Jin Wei Juzhang

Guangzhoushi Tianhequ Gong’anfenju, 613 Shougoulinglu, Tianhequ,

Guangzhoushi 510640,

People’s Republic of China

Salutation: Dear Director

And copies to:


Li Keqiang Zhongli

The State Council General Office

2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu Beijingshi 100017 People’s Republic of China

Fax: +86 10 6596 1109


Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.


A man calling for Liu’s release outside a Shenzhen subway station, Photo: Wiebo

Online campaign for release of Guangdong democracy activist Liu Yuandong gathers pace

by Patrick Boehler

An online campaign calling for the release of a jailed Guangdong activist is facing roadblocks from Chinese censors as supporters’ weibo posts have for the most part been promptly deleted since February.
Pictures of people holding banners demanding that Liu Yuandong be freed keep appearing on Sina Weibo, but many of the posts are not seen for long.

Liu, 36, was detained in February after he participated in a protest in the provincial capital of Guangzhou condemning North Korea’s nuclear test. His arrest has incited a movement online.

In one photo, a group of seven men are seen at night holding a white banner with black handwritten characters. “What crime has Liu Yuandong committed when protesting against the nuclear test?” the banner said. “We ask the authorities to release him without charges.”

One photo, dated April 7, shows three men holding a red banner that reads: “Release Liu Yuandong, stop political persecution.” Another shows a man named Yu Gang calling for Liu’s release outside a Shenzhen subway station.

Liu’s arrest came 11 days after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on February 12. Within several hours of Pyongyang’s rocket launch, news of the earthquake triggered by the test close to the Chinese border led to an outpouring of concern in China over nuclear contamination.

The trained chemist gathered some 16 others in Guangzhou, where they held banners condemning the test, according to another person surnamed Liu who participated in the February 23 protest.

Liu Yuandong was first held for 15 days; eight others were also detained, for seven to 10 days; and seven escaped the authorities.

“They didn’t let us sleep,” said the other detainee surnamed Liu. “They treated us like dogs and pigs.”

Liu, who runs the Guangdong-based company Dongsheng Biotech, was detained longer on charges of embezzling corporate funds at his small high-tech company. On April 3, his family was informed of his formal arrest. He is understood to be currently awaiting trial.

“He has not embezzled any money from his own company,” Ou Longgui, 28, who has worked at Dongsheng Biotech for years, told the South China Morning Post. “They just used it as an excuse to prosecute him.”

Ou, who also participated in the protest, said Liu organised one of the first public protests in Guangzhou in 2011.

“On August 28, 2011, we organised a protest at the Teemall Plaza in Guangdong to celebrate the fall of [Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi,” Ou said. “This was the first protest for democracy there since 1989.”

“Liu said we had to bring the protest from the internet to the public squares,” Ou said. “He brought a loudspeaker.”

“We were very naïve. We thought we could just show up and get the crowd to walk with us. But within minutes we were surrounded by police.”

The dozen people participating in the protest were arrested, but released by the evening, Ou said. “We told the state security officials that Gaddafi was an evil man, and we just wanted to celebrate his downfall,” Ou said.

“Liu is a core person among a group of 20 to 30 people in Guangzhou,” said the other protester surnamed Liu. “This has nothing to do with religion; he opposes the Chinese political regime,” she said. “He thinks the current regime has not been established democratically, has no legitimacy.”

Liu Yuandong, a married man and father of two, is a native of Meizhou in eastern Guangdong. He has participated in several protests in Guangdong after the initial anti-Gaddafi protest.

Earlier this year, he participated in a protest in solidarity of the Southern Weekly journalists in Guangzhou in January and the trial of policeman-turned-activist Wang Dengchao in Shenzhen in February.

On February 16, he participated in a protest against North Korea’s nuclear test in Guangzhou. Others where arrested, but not Liu, whose turn came on February 23.

“Most of us are in Guangzhou,” Ou said, “but there are people in other cities. Around Spring Festival we even talked about founding a party, but we have no leaders or even a name yet.”

“We thought we’d call it Democracy Action Group [minzhu xingdong pai],” he said. “We will continue to protest, because it’s right.”

Patrick Boehler has written for Time, Bloomberg, Le Monde Diplomatique and others. He studied at Peking University and worked in Austria’s foreign service in Beijing, before moving to Hong Kong.