(Harbin, Heilongjiang province— May 3, 2023) The Harbin City Detention Center staff attempted to prevent Christian lawyer Fang Xiangui’s visit with his client, Xu Feng. The client is a member of Harbin Maizi Church and the principal of Maizi Christian Music Highschool. Police arrested Xu in 2021 and charged him with “illegal business operations.”
During their eventual visit, Xu’s lawyer found that many of the prisoners were malnourished. Xu Feng himself suffered from some allergies due to poor nutrition.
Maizi Christian Music Highschool
On September 4, 2021, public security agents criminally detained Xu Feng on suspicion of “illegal business operations.” They raided Maizi Christian Music Highschool, confiscating property and arresting teachers and some students. The 26-year-old treasurer of the school, Sun Enhui, was also arrested at the same time. However, she was later released on bail. Investigation for the case ended on December 10, and the Harbin Songbei District Procuratorate began the prosecution phase.
Recent Lawyer visit
On April 20, 2023, attorney Fang Xiangui representing the case came to visit Xu Feng and bring his family’s greetings. But prison staff rejected Fang’s visitation. The female staffer, who previously helped Xu Feng’s case during the pandemic, suddenly had a different attitude. She was stiff and unsympathetic. The detention center made several unreasonable demands on the attorney.
Illegally requesting documents
She required extra documents outside of the necessary materials needed to see the client. These extra requirements were illegal to demand. After reviewing the paperwork, she said that the “Statement of Termination of Entrustment” needed to be stamped by Fang’s law firm. All other elements were on the document except the seal. Both parties negotiated for more than an hour.
National ID card required
After making it past the receptionist, Fang ran into other issues. Guards required him to have his national ID card, which no other detention center has ever required of him. He had to go home to retrieve his ID and finally meet with Xu Feng.
During the recent visit, attorney Fang suspected poor nutrition at the detention, leading to malnutrition among the detainees. Xu Feng mentioned that food improved recently after COVID restrictions eased. During the pandemic, detainees could not buy their food. The detention center provided extremely poor food at the time. This resulted in malnutrition and low immunity for all detainees. Xu developed eczema, and he took chlorpheniramine twice to treat his allergies.
After the meeting, Attorney Fang reported these issues to the relevant authorities but to no result. He reminded them that the detention center is temporary. The presumption of innocence is fundamental. Even if they were guilty, they need proper nutrition.
Kong Yan, Xu Feng’s wife, publicly denounced the judicial department for unjustly accusing her husband. She reported that he never profited from Maizi Christian Music Highschool. This training school never charged any tuition; the only cost was for the room and board. Not only that but for some children from poor families, the school also provided scholarships and grants. According to Kong Yan, police involved in the case were perplexed by the low cost of the operation.
~Yu Bing, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid