Renowned Artist Arrested for His Opinions

November 17, 2006 Updated: November 17, 2006

CHINA—On Nov, 15, renowned Chinese painter Yan Zhengxue's wife received notice of Yan's formal arrest on charges of suspicion of participating in the “subversion of state power.”

Yan was abducted by local National Security police and their house searched on October 18, then formally detained on October 25.

The formal notice is as follows: “Yan Zhengxue, in suspicion of participating in the crime of 'subversion of state power,' after the approval of Taizhou City People's Procuratorate, our bureau executed the arrest at 10:40 a.m. on November 15, and he is now in custody at the Luqiao detention center.”

Before the formal arrest notice, Yan's wife Zhu Chunliu, received a notice from Taizhou police on November 10. The notice stated that because he was “involved in national secrets,” she is not permitted to retain an attorney for her husband.

However, on November 8, Zhu had already retained attorney Li Jianqiang to defend Yan. Li indicated that the police told him the case involved state secrets, so he was not allowed to meet with Yan while the case was under investigation. He could only be involved in the case after it was transferred to the Procuratorate.

'Subversion' Means Being Truthful

Zhu stated that her husband was only telling the truth, and did the right thing. “How could it be possible for him to 'subvert state power?' It is truly 'If you want to condemn somebody, you can always trump up a charge.'” Speaking candidly, “The suspected crime was 'subversion,' it should be open and should not involve national secrets. I thought it was just an excuse [to arrest him].”

Zhu appeals for international attention of Yan's predicament. She said, “I now feel quite helpless, and don't know what to do. If it drags on like this, it will only get worse. Each day Yan is in there, he suffers another day.”

Long Sentence

Wu Gaoxing, a local rights advocate, is very worried about Yan's situation. He said that Yan was accused of the crime of “subverting state power” which is much worse than the crime of “inciting subversion of state power,” and the sentence could be quite severe, 10 years or more.

Wu appealed to the international community. He said, “The authority operates and controls everything, it does whatever it wishes. Now we have no other means but to ask for outside help. The louder the outside voices, the more pressure it exerts on the authorities. Only then, is it possible for Yan's situation to be different.”

Yan Zhengxue was born in 1944 in Zhejiang Province, China. In 1990, he was elected as the leader of the “Old Imperial Summer Palace Village”—a loosely organized artists group located in a suburb of Beijing. He has displayed his art works in China and many other countries, especially the paintings he drew in prison after he was imprisoned for his speeches.

Since 1994, Yan has filed more than 40 lawsuits against the Chinese regime. He has spoken for minority groups, exposed the Chinese Communist Party's tyranny, and unmasked the Chinese Communist Party judiciary's dark side. Because of this, the Public Security arrested, beat up, and injured him dozens of times. He has lost his personal freedom many times.