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Falun Gong Practitioner Serving 18 Years in Prison

[Image: Li Chang]
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Basic Information


Name Li Chang / 李昌
Date and Place of Birth

1939, Jilin Province[1]

Date of Coercive Summon July 20, 1999
Formal Arrest October 19, 1999
Charges Organizing and using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law
(组织、利用邪教组织破坏法律实施罪)
Organizing and Using a heretical organization to cause death (组织、利用邪教组织致人死亡罪)
Illegally obtaining state secrets (非法获取国家秘密罪)
Trial Date December 26, 1999
Sentence 25 years reduced to 18 years, and 5 years’ deprivation of political rights
Current Location Qianjin Prison, Tianjin
Anticipated Release October 18, 2017


Overview: Falun Gong Practitioner
  Serving 18 Years in Prison

Note: There is very little information on Li Chang’s background and virtually no information on the treatment he has received in prison and his current status. The following has been compiled based on English language reports and Chinese official reports on Li Chang’s conviction in December 1999; the official verdict of Li Chang’s case issued by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court; the defense statement made by Li Chang’s lawyers, Yue Cheng (岳成) and Zheng Bing (郑冰), at trial; an Amnesty International report from 2000 and other English-language press reports (1999-2003); and one 2006 article on an anti-Falun Gong website which purports to be based on a series of interviews with Li Chang.

Li Chang is a former high-ranking government official in the Ministry of Public Security (公安部) who belonged to the Communist Party for over 39 years.[2] His trial and sentencing in 1999 for holding a leadership position in the Falun Gong movement stand as one of the most widely publicized and high-profile prosecutions of a Falun Gong member to date.

Li Chang graduated from Nankai University (南开大学) with a major in science and technology.[3] He joined the Communist Party at a young age, and eventually rose to the position of either vice director-general (局级), or a “section” official (处级干部), at the Ministry of Public Security.[4] Originally a practitioner of qigong (气功), a form of breathing meditation, Li joined the Falun Gong movement in 1992 in order to improve his health.[5] While the details of Li Chang’s connection to Li Hongzhi (李洪志), the founder of the Falun Gong movement who began living in the United States in 1996, are unclear, he is believed to have served as one of Li Hongzhi’s main contacts in Beijing and worked as a representative for Falun Gong.[6]

The Chinese official press maintained that Li Chang held a leading position in the Falun Dafa Research Society (法轮大法研究会), which the Chinese government called the “supreme organ” of Falun Gong which oversaw its operations nationwide, and used his post in the Communist Party to shield Li Hongzhi from arrest and help him move to the United States.[7]

Official sources also claimed that he played a key role in organizing a massive sit-in protest on April 25, 1999 outside Zhongnanhai (中南海), the housing compound in Beijing for the highest-level Communist Party leaders. This protest put Falun Gong in the international media spotlight and triggered an intensified government crackdown on Falun Gong. During the protest, around 10,000 practitioners from across China demonstrated peacefully against the government’s persecution of Falun Gong members. Sources within the Falun Gong movement say Li Chang acted as a negotiator, meeting with Party leaders and securing the promise of then Premier Zhu Rongji that authorities would not interfere with the group’s peaceful practices.[8]

They also alleged that Li Chang and others organized 78 Falun Gong protests in which more than 300 people participated and attempted to coordinate a power handover within the Falun Gong movement after the original leadership was put under heavy surveillance following the April 25 protest.[9]

On July 20, 1999, two days before Falun Gong was officially banned, Li Chang was coercively summoned (拘传) by authorities and put under residential surveillance (监视居住) for three months. He was formally arrested on October 19, 1999. Amnesty International reported that after his formal arrest, Li Chang confessed to his involvement with Falun Gong and expressed remorse for his actions. However, the lack of transparency surrounding the conditions of Li Chang’s detention casts doubt on the reliability of his confession.[10]

Li Chang’s trial took place on December 26, 1999, at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. He was tried with Wang Zhiwen (王治文), Ji Liewu (纪烈武), and Yao Jie (姚洁), three other former government officials suspected of leading Falun Gong. The official charges were:

  • “Organizing and using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law” (组织、利用邪教组织破坏法律实施),

  • “Organizing and using a heretical organization to cause death” (组织、利用邪教组织致人死亡), and

  • “Illegally obtaining state secrets” (非法获取国家秘密罪).

All of the alleged activities had taken place prior to the government’s ban on Falun Gong. Under the charge of “organizing and using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law,” Li Chang and the other defendants were accused of setting up illegal organizations and recklessly expanding the Falun Gong “cult organization” by setting up “39 command posts, more than 1,900 training centers, and more than 280,000 contact posts” nationwide, and organizing, plotting, and directing illegal protests which seriously disturbed the social public order. There were as many as 78 protests of more than 300 people each.[11] The charge of “organizing and using a heretical organization to cause death” referred to activities allegedly perpetrated by the Falun Gong movement as a whole, not to any actions taken by the defendants themselves.

The nine-hour trial received wide coverage from Chinese state media. CCTV broadcast portions of the trial, including the four defendants making confessions. Li Chang’s hearing was “open” to an audience of government cadres and official media reporters selected by authorities. Only one family member for each of the defendants was permitted to attend. The portion of the trial covering alleged state secrets was held behind closed doors.[12]

Li Chang and the three other defendants were all found guilty. The court handed Li Chang a sentence of 25 years for the three crimes but decided to enforce an eighteen-year imprisonment, the longest of the four being tried. The government claimed it had been “lenient” since Li Chang had made a confession. Li Chang is currently serving his sentence at Qianjin Prison in Tianjin and is due to be released in 2017.

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Treatment in Prison and Current Status

In Qianjin Prison (December 1999 - Present)

Note: In late October 2008, Yue Cheng, Li Chang’s trial lawyer, told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he had not had any contact with his former client or family since the trial, and did not know Li Chang’s current situation. HRIC has not been able to obtain additional information from other sources.

All the information available to HRIC about prisoner treatment in Qianjin Prison came from accounts of Falun Gong practitioners previously imprisoned there.


Qianjin Prison of the Qinghe Branch Bureau of Beijing Prison Management Bureau (北京市监狱管理局清河分局前进监狱), located in Tianjin, is where many Falun Gong practitioners serve their sentences. Reports by former inmates describe the use of brainwashing and physical violence on Falun Gong followers. Prisoners had their hands and legs cuffed and chained, were shocked with electrical batons, severely deprived of sleep, and forced to read material defaming Falun Gong on a daily basis. Prisoners kept in the “strictly monitored” Second Section were made to sit in the same position on a small stool from 5:00AM until 10:00PM and were forbidden to speak. Li Chang was reported to have been kept in the Second Section.[13]

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Official Appeals

International Experts

  • The European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights awarded the 2008 Sakharov Prize to Hu Jia “on behalf of the silenced voices of China and Tibet.” Li Chang’s name was included by the Subcommittee in a list of repressed Chinese and Tibetan citizens the award was meant to honor.[14]

  • The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in 2001 that the detention of Li Chang was arbitrary and constituted a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[15]

  • The following United Nations reports have detailed Li Chang’s arrest and trial as well as the persecution of Falun Gong members in China:

    • 2000 Note by the Secretary General on the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance.[16]

    • 2000 Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on civil and political rights including questions of torture and detention.[17]

    • 2001 Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on civil and political rights, including religious intolerance.[18]

U.S Government

  • The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China included Li Chang in its annual country reports for 2006 and 2007, drawing attention to the continuing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and the legal pretexts used to imprison them.[19]

  • The U.S. Department of State in its annual country report on human rights practices for 1999 and 2000 highlighted the obstruction of justice practiced in the trial of Li Chang and other Falun Gong members. According to the report, attorneys must obtain government permission to represent Falun Gong members, and some have been prevented from entering pleas of “not guilty.”[20]

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Court Documents
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HRIC Advocacy and Media Work on Li Chang

Below is a listing of HRIC's advocacy and media work on Li Chang, including press release, statements, and case updates. To subscribe to HRIC's press list, please e-mail communications@hrichina.org with "SUBSCRIBE" as the subject heading.

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Updated News Articles

The Human Rights in China (HRIC) Daily News Brief is a daily compilation of selected human rights-related news covered in local and regional Chinese and English press compiled by HRIC's research office. Visit the Daily News Brief for recent news articles on Li Chang.

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ENDNOTES

[1] Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Criminal Verdict [北京市第一中级人民法院刑事判决书], No. 2075 (1999) [(1999)一中刑初字第2075号], December 26, 1999. http://www.panjueshu.com/beijing/zhongyuan1/lichang.html.

[2] “Li Chang: Women bei Li Hongzhi mengbi le,” [李昌:我们被李洪志蒙蔽了!], Kaifeng [开风], September 26, 2006, http://www.kaiwind.com/kfjc/ytflg/200711/t71262.htm.

[3] “Li Chang: Women bei Li Hongzhi mengbi le,” [李昌:我们被李洪志蒙蔽了!], Kaifeng [开风], September 26, 2006, http://www.kaiwind.com/kfjc/ytflg/200711/t71262.htm.

[4] A Falun Gong source said that Li was a “vice director-general” at Ministry of Public Security (局级), http://epochtimes.com/gb/4/4/29/n524408.htm; Chinese official press described his position as “section official”(處級幹部), http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:vLoLMPdtN-0J:big5.xinhuanet.com/gate/big5/news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2006-09/27/content_5143343.htm+%E6%9D%8E%E6%98%8C%EF%BC%8C%E6%AD%A3%E5%A4%84%E7%BA%A7%EF%BC%8C%E5%85%AC%E5%AE%89%E9%83%A8&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us&lr=lang_zh-CN|lang_zh-TW|lang_en; O’Clery, “In Propaganda Onslaught, Falun Gong Spiritual Sect Is Denounced by China as Dangerous to Society,” The Irish Times, August 11, 1999; “Sect Members Held Over Mao Protest,” BBC News, January 29, 2000, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/623481.stm.

[5] “Falungong guganfenzi lichang xingshi bianhu’an,” [“法轮功”骨干分子李昌刑事辩护案], December 26, 1999, http://www.yuecheng.com/Article_View_1171.html.

[6] Michael Laris, “Chinese Sentence 4 Falun Leaders; Jail Terms Range Up to 18 Years,” Washington Post, December 27, 1999.

[7] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “Falun Gong Is a Cult,” November 1, 1999. http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/ce/cekor/kor/zgzt/xjflg/t83630.htm; “Chinese Court Sentences Falun Gong Members Three-to-Eighteen–Year Prison Terms,” Xinhua News Agency, November 5, 2003. Via BBC Montioring Asia Pacific.

[8] Michelle Chak, “Falun Gong Leaders Arrested,” South China Morning Post, July 21, 1999; “Police Break Up Falun Gong Sect Demonstrations Following Crackdown,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, July 21, 1999.

[9] Wang Suning, “Evidence of Attempt to Stage Long-term Confrontation – Truth of Falun Gong Establishing Second and Third Echelons,” Renmin Ribao, November 1, 1999. “Party Paper Says 78 Illegal Cult Protests Have Taken Place,” BBC, November 3, 1999.

[10] “China: The Crackdown on Falun Gong and Other So-Called ‘Heretical Organizations,’” Amnesty International, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/011/2000/en/dom-ASA170112000en.html.

[11]Criminal Verdict of the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, [北京市第一中级人民法院刑事判决书], December 26, 1999, http://www.panjueshu.com/beijing/zhongyuan1/lichang.html.

[12] “China: The Crackdown on Falun Gong and Other So-Called ‘Heretical Organizations,’” Amnesty International, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/011/2000/en/dom-ASA170112000en.html.

[13] Global Rescue, “A Beijing Dafa Practitioner’s Three Years of Abuse, Mistreatment, and Persecution in the Qianjin Prison,” May 14, 2004, http://globalrescue.net/gmr/case.asp?id=30153; Monitor China, “The Crimes Committed by Chen Jun from Qianjin Prison in Beijing,” March 18, 2007, http://www.monitorchina.org/document_details.php?id=4176; China Aid, “Cai Zhuohua: People of the Book,” April 12, 2007, http://chinaaid.org/2007/04/12/cai-zhuohua-people-of-the-book/; “Partial Description of the Persecution of Practitioners in Qianjin Prison in Beijing, Clear Harmony, December 2, 2006, http://www.clearharmony.net/articles/200612/36757.html; “Cai Zhuohua: People of the Book,” China Aid, April 12, 2007, http://chinaaid.org/2007/04/12/cai-zhuohua-people-of-the-book/.

[14] European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, “2008 Sakharov Prize,” http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/cm/740/740674/740674en.pdf.

[15] United Nations Working Group on Arbitrarion Detention, “Opinions Adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” E/CN.4/2002/77/ADD.1 (2001), http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2002/77/ADD.1.

[16] United Nations, “Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance: Note by the Secretary General,” U.N. Doc. A/56/253, http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=A/55/280&Lang=E.

[17] Commission on Human Rights, “Civil and Political Rights Including Questions of Torture and Detention: Report of the Special Rapporteur,” U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2000/9 (2001) (Special Rapporteur, Sir Nigel Rodley), http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=E/CN.4/2000/9&Lang=E.

[18] Commission on Human Rights, “Civil and Political Rights, Including Religious Intolerance: Report,” U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2001/63 (2001) (Special Rapporteur, Abdelfattah Amor), http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_3.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2001/63.

[19] 2006 Annual Report, U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, September 20, 2006, http://www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt06/FullReport.php.

[20] U.S. Department of State, 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, February 23, 2000, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/284.htm. U.S. Department of State, 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: China, September 5, 2000, http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/irf_china.html.

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