This Saturday, September 1st, will mark the first year in detention for journalist Zhen Jianghua, who has been accused of "inciting subversion of state power,” a charge for which he risks 15 years in prison. Beijing reproached him for managing the Human Rights Campaign in China, a website that lists violations of human rights in China, and Across the Great Firewall, an online media that teaches its readers how to circumvent censorship and avoid surveillance.
Zhen’s trial, which was initially scheduled to take place in early August, was postponed without a date. Four independent lawyers who successively offered to defend him were rejected by authorities on the pretext that their assistance "would slow down the investigation.” The police is also putting pressure on the detainees' family members to dissuade them from assisting him.
"By preventing the journalist from consulting a lawyer of his choice, the regime of President Xi Jinping violates the rights of defense that are expressly enshrined in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China", said Cédric Alviani, the head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF)'s East Asia bureau, who also urged the international community "to enhance its pressure on the Chinese authorities so they release Zhen and the other detained journalists.”
Zhen Jianghua was arrested in Zhuhai on September 1st, 2017. In a month, he was placed under "residential surveillance in a designated location (RSDL),” which are in fact Chinese black prisons where detainees are placed in isolation, deprived of their rights and sometimes tortured. By the Chinese Code of Criminal Procedure, the maximum duration of such detention is six months.
China ranks 176th out of 180 countries in the 2018 RSF World Press Freedom Index, with more than 50 journalists detained in conditions that pose a threat to their lives.