Yu Wensheng (余文生) was civil rights lawyer based in Beijing. His clients included Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), another civil rights lawyer who was also convicted of speech-related offenses. Yu was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law on November 21, 2018.
According to PRC government documents, on January 20, 2018, Yu was detained by the Public Security Bureau of Beijing, Shijingshan Division on suspicion of committing the crime of obstructing an official in the exercise of their duty. On January 24, 2018, he was taken into criminal detention by the Public Security Bureau of Tongshan District, Xuzhou on suspicion of committing the crime of inciting subversion of state power. On the 27th of that month he was ordered placed under residential confinement at a designated location. On April 19, 2018, the People's Procuratorate of Xuzhou authorized his arrest on suspicion of committing the crimes of inciting subversion of state power and obstructing an official in the exercise of their duty.
On June 17, 2020 the Intermediate People's Court of Xuzhou, Jiangsu found Yu guilty of committing the crime of inciting subversion of state power, and sentenced him to a fixed term imprisonment of four years and three years deprivation of political rights. A full translation of the court judgment is available here: http://blog.feichangdao.com/2021/07/709-YuWensheng-Judgment.html.
On December 13, 2020, the High People's Court of Jiangsu rejected Yu's appeal, and upheld the Intermediate Court's judgment.
Below are translations of two of the documents that the PRC court cited as evidence of his inciting subversion. Specifically, the court said:
On the afternoon of October 18, 2017, the defendant Yu Wensheng cooked up the "Lawyer Yu Wensheng's Open Letter" and posted it on "Facebook" and "Twitter." It denigrated our country's Party and State leaders, and repudiated the Party's leadership. On January 16, 2018, Yu Wensheng once again posted that article on "Facebook" and "Twitter." In the early morning of January 18, 2018, Yu Wensheng cooked up the "Yu Wensheng's Open Letter on a Proposal to Amend the Constitution" and published it on "Facebook" and "Twitter," repudiating the organizational form of our country's existing regime and the leadership of the Party and the foundations of the socialist system.
The lower court's judgment did not provide any analysis explaining why these open letters were not protected speech under either Article 35 or Article 41 of the PRC Constitution, which provide:
- Article 35. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
- Article 41. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any State organ or functionary.
Proposal to Recall Xi Jinping at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and Comprehensively Implement Political Reform
An Open Letter from Lawyer Yu Wensheng
Delegates to the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party of China:
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, China's human rights have deteriorated, the rule of law has regressed, torture has become rampant, and unjust imprisonment has become widespread. The CPC authorities speak of freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law. In reality, China has no freedom, no democracy, no equality, and no rule of law. What it does have are powerful officials and corruption run amuck.
In 2013, the CPC authorities suppressed the "New Citizens Movement" and arrested citizens who demanded "official property disclosure" on a large scale. In 2014, the CPC authorities suppressed the "Hong Kong Occupy Central" movement, and Beijing and Guangzhou conducted sweeping arrests of citizens who "supported Hong Kong Occupy Central." In the "7.09" Incident in 2015, the CPC authorities conducted sweeping arrests of "human rights lawyers" and "human rights defenders." Over the past five years, the CPC authorities have tortured and killed innocent compatriots; in the "Qing'an Incident," "Leiyang Incident", etc., the murderers went unpunished. Over the past five years the CPC authorities have continued to persecute "Falun Gong," burn "crosses," and suppress freedom of belief. Over the past five years "evil laws" have become rampant, with the "National Security Law," the "Cybersecurity Law", etc. oppressing dissenting citizens who would defend their rights, punishing for speaking out, and protecting the interests of the powerful.
Looking back over the 97-year history of the CPC, looking back over the 68-year history of the CPC established government, the autocratic centralization and extreme corruption, who cares about the life and death of the people? The inhumane crimes they have committed are legion!
As the paramount leader of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping has been in power for five years. He has gone against the tides of history, has turned back the clock, has strengthened totalitarian rule, and he is no longer suitable to remain in office. As a Chinese lawyer, Yu Wensheng proposes that the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China should remove Xi Jinping, go with the tides of history, comprehensively implement political reform, build a free, democratic, human rights, and law-based China, and return power to the people.
Lawyer Yu Wensheng
October 18, 2017 in Beijing
Source: Yu Wensheng's Twitter Account - https://twitter.com/yuwensheng/status/952955040574029824
A Citizen's Proposal for a Constitutional Amendment
Yu Wensheng's Open Letter to the Second Plenary Session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
The CPC Central Committee and Each Member:
Because the CPC has some constitutional amendments brewing for January 18 and 19, 2018, Yu Wensheng, formerly a lawyer of the People's Republic of China who has been engaged in legal work for nearly 20 years, puts forward the following constitutional amendment opinions for the reference of the CCP ruling authorities.
1. It is proposed to delete the "Preamble to the Constitution." The "Preamble to the Constitution" has no actual binding force or actual constitutional significance in the constitution and law, and in practice will create disputes and ambiguities. It is proposed that the relevant content of the "Preamble to the Constitution" has utility be "converted into articles" or included in a "Constitutional Interpretation," with the other content to be deleted.
2. It is proposed that the Chairperson of the State be determined through competitive elections. The State Chairperson is the head of State, and an uncontested election is similar to an appointment. It is not a meaningful election, and lacks any credibility whatsoever for the country, civil society, and other nations throughout the world.
3. It is proposed that the Chairperson of the Military Commission be abolished, and some of its functions and powers be merged into the powers of the Chairperson of the State. It is proposed that the President of the Supreme Court and the Procurator-General of the Supreme Procuratorate be nominated by the Chairperson of the State and approved by the National People's Congress. Since the Chairperson of the State, the Chairperson of the Military Commission, the President of the Supreme Court, and the Procurator-General of the Supreme Procuratorate are all elected by the National People's Congress, the way they are elected affects the authority of the Chairperson as the head of state, and is not conducive to the Chairperson's representation of the country internally and externally. The Chairperson of the State should automatically have the highest command of the military, and the abolition of the post of the Chairperson of the Military Commission and its incorporation into the purview of the Chairperson of the State can strengthen military execution and military legitimacy.
4. It is proposed to abolish the Military Commission and that its powers to be merged into the Ministry of National Defense and under the leadership of the State Council. The army is the army of the country, and the army cannot be above the country. As the highest administrative organ of the country, the State Council should lead the army on behalf of the country.
5. It is proposed that a dedicate chapter should be established in the Constitution stipulating a "Party Administration System." Any political party shall register with the State administrative agency (the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Civil Affairs), any political party must be subject to the State administrative agency, and no political party may be above the highest organ of power (the National People's Congress).
6. It is proposed that the Political Consultative Conference be disbanded as it is without a constitutional basis.
Proposed by: Yu Wensheng
January 18, 2018, in Beijing
Source: Yu Wensheng's Twitter Account - https://twitter.com/yuwensheng/status/953701041396105216