In the Case of Liu Yao, victim of entrapment and retaliation by corrupt high-ranking officials in Guangdong who colluded with businesses and abused their power
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
[Case synopsis: Liu Yao (刘尧) is a former lawyer who represented peasants in Dongyuan County, Guangdong Province, in seeking redress for land confiscated by local government. In the second half of 2015, he exposed a high ranking provincial official for involvement in the illegal appropriation of a vast tract of farmland for a golf course project. In November 2015, Liu was detained by police and later charged with “extortion” and “providing state secrets to foreign organizations.” In April 2017, the Yuancheng District People’s Court of Heyuan City, Guangdong, sentenced him to 20 years in prison and a fine of RMB 1.4 million on conviction of “extortion,” “fraud,” and “buying trafficked children.” In August 2017, the Heyuan Municipal Intermediate People’s Court upheld the lower court’s sentence without a hearing. As of March 2018, Liu is held at the Yangchun Prison in Guangdong with access to lawyers. A petition for a new trial has been submitted to the Guangdong Provincial High People’s Court.]
Purpose of the call
I sincerely request help in defending the rights of my husband, Liu Yao, who has been unjustly imprisoned as a result of retaliation by corrupt high-ranking officials in Guangdong Province who colluded with businesses and abused their power.
My personal information
Lai Wei’e (赖伟娥), citizen of the People’s Republic of China, female, born on September 21, 1974, a native of Huizhou City, Guangdong Province. ID No. 441321197409211229. Wife of Liu Yao. Contact phone number +13824273616.
My husband, Liu Yao, male, citizen of the People’s Republic of China, was born on February 18, 1962. He is a native of Heyuan City and a former lawyer whose license was revoked because he helped peasants in rights defense. The people of Heyuan City praise him as the “Anti-graft Hero.”
In late November 2015, answering the Chinese government's call to "fight corruption and advocate intergrity," Liu, using his real name, reported his allegations against He Zhongyou (何忠友), then CPC Secretary of Heyuan City (currently a member of the Guangdong Provincial CPC Standing Committee and the Secretary of the CPC Political and Legal Affairs Commission in Guangdong), to the CPC Guangdong Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection. Liu exposed that He Zhongyou colluded with, condoned, and supported Guangdong Kangquan Eighteen International Eco-health Tourism City, Ltd. in its illegal appropriation of a vast tract of agricultural land—which included basic farmland that peasants rely on for subsistence farming—to build a golf course, in violation of the government’s strict prohibition on appropriation of subsistence farmland.
At the same time, Liu Yao, using his real name, also reported on Peng Dingbang (彭定邦), the Deputy CPC Secretary of Heyuan and Secretary of the CPC Political and Legal Affairs Commission of Heyuan, to the CPC Guangdong Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection. Liu exposed Peng’s collusion with business, abuse of power, and covering up for Zeng Xiangzhi (曾祥志) and Zeng Heri (曾河日), father and son, and ten other people from two steel enterprises in Fengshun County and Lianping County, Guangdong Province. The group had over a long period of time unlawfully sold counterfeit steel products in places including Heyuan and Huizhou under the trademark "Shaogang Brand" (韶钢牌), the brand name for the famous steel manufactured by Shaoguan Iron and Steel Company. This was a major criminal case of registered trademark counterfeit involving in excess of RMB 400 million (around $63 million).
Liu Yao and his son [from a former wife] Zou Zhaoxing (邹肇星) are ordinary citizens who have no "state secrets" whatsoever to offer to anyone outside China. Peng Dingbang and He Zhongyou—the “two political and legal affairs tigers of Guangdong”—were furious at Liu’s whistleblowing, and used their public power to manipulate the judiciary to trump up charges of “providing state secrets overseas” and “endangering state security” against Liu Yao, Zou Zhaoxing, and others. They illegally formed the "4.28 task force," filed the cases unlawfully, filed fabricated cases, unlawfully collected evidence, and criminally arrested Liu and his son on December 26, 2015.
In order to retaliate against and frame Liu, He Zhongyou and Peng Dingbang manipulated and instructed criminal justice personnel (including investigators, inspectors, and judges) at the Yuancheng District level and Heyuan municipal level to intentionally go against the facts and provisions of the law, and comingle the criminal conduct of individual state officials (including He Zhongyou and Peng Dingbang) and that of unscrupulous merchants that were lawfuly exposed by Liu Yao, with the land rights defense cases that Liu Yao once represented to help peasants who lost their land. By linking and mixing up these cases, inverting black and white, and distorting facts, [these officials] trumped up multiple criminal charges of extortion to settle scores. They turned the lawful conduct of Liu’s assisting a village committee to draft an official report for application to the local government for funding for a public interest construction project into [evidence of] a crime of scamming the government of funds. He Zhongyou and Peng Dingbang even deliberately violated clear stipulations in China's criminal law, which exempt criminal liability for adoption, to unlawfully hold Liu Yao and me for crimes.
In a miscarriage of justice resulting from He Zhongyou and Peng Dingbang’s manipulation of and instruction to the judicial departments at the Yuancheng district and Heyuan municipal levels, including the investigatory units, procurators, and courts, members of our whole family—Liu Yao, his son Zou Zhaoxing, and I—were sentenced to prison terms. I received one year, Liu Yao was sentenced to 20 years and fined RMB 1.4 million, and Zou Zhaoxing was sentenced to four years and six months in prison and fined RMB 100,000.
After the Heyuan Municipal Intermediate Court upheld the lower court’s sentence of 20 years for Liu Yao, he was sent to Yangchun Prison in Guangdong Province to serve his sentence. He Zhongyou used his power as the Secretary of the Party’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission of Guangdong Province and as the overseer of prisons in Guangdong Province, and ordered close monitoring of Liu’s every move in order to prevent Liu from continuing to report on his [He Zhongyou’s] criminal violations.
Both Liu Yao and [his son] Zou Zhaoxing are suffering reprisal in the form of imprisonment because Liu responded to the Chinese government's call to "fight corruption and advocate integrity," defying the rich and mighty to expose, using his real name, these law-breaching high-level officials, He Zhongyou and Peng Dingbang. As a weak woman, I have exhausted every means of judicial remedies but have not been able to save my husband Liu Yao and son Zou Zhaoxing from prison. I am writing this letter to appeal for assistance in defending our rights.
A Citizen of the People’s Republic of China