Religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling for information regarding the status of Chinese writer and activist Pang Jian, who has been detained for over eight months on suspicion of 'inciting secession.'
Pang Jian, 30, writes under the name Gao Yang. According to Radio Free Asia, he has reported on forced demolitions and evictions and about the Catholic community in Hebei. He had also featured in Hong Kong media talking about the province's 'underground' Catholic community.
In an interview with RFA earlier this year, Pang's father Pang Jingxian said his son had been taken away by police when he went for a coronavirus test in January. Later, police sent a notice of detention and a notice of formal arrest to Pang's father. The notice of detention stated that Pang Jian was criminally detained on suspicion of 'inciting secession.' The place of detention was given as Gaobeidian Detention Centre.
On 10th September, Radio Free Asia reported that his case was about to be heard at Baoding City Intermediate Court, in Hebei Province - however, it is unclear if the case has gone to trial.
Chen Taihe, a human rights lawyer, said that the first trial of Pang Jian's case was to be held in the intermediate court, indicating that the authorities were preparing to give a heavy sentence.
China has strict rules around reporting and journalism, with those who write about human rights abuses or religious persecution at risk of being detained and harassed.
CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: "We are extremely concerned about the grave charge against Pang Jian, and the lack of information regarding his expected trial. We further note with concern that Pang's family was only informed of his upcoming trial at short notice, and it is not clear whether Pang has had access to a legal counsel of his choosing.
"We call on the authorities to immediately allow Pang access to legal counsel, to permit regular visits by his family, and to ensure that he has access to any medical care he may require. We further call on the Chinese government to uphold the rights to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information as guaranteed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."