Fan Yafeng
Current Status

Dr. Fan Yafeng is currently under house arrest.

Case Summary

Fan Yafeng was born in 1969 in Anhui province. He received a bachelor’s degree in education from Anhui Normal University in 1992, a law degree from Beijing University Law School in 1995, and a doctorate in Comparative Constitutional Law from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2003.

Dr. Fan is a signer of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for fundamental changes in China including an independent legal system, freedom of association, and the elimination of one-party rule. He served as Lead Researcher for the Holy Mountain Research Institute in Beijing and as a pastor of a local house church. Dr. Fan also founded the Chinese Civil Rights Defenders League and co-founded the Chinese Christian Rights Defense Lawyers Association. In 2009, he was awarded the John Leland Religious Liberty Award.

In addition to the harassment Dr. Fan has faced as a result of his legal work, his wife Wu Lingling and mother-in-law were similarly harassed and have been subjected to close monitoring, interrogation and even detainment.

While working as a legal researcher at the China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, Dr. Fan wrote extensively on political and constitutional reforms. On November 13, 2009, the head of his department told him he was being fired for “political reasons.”

On November 18, 2009, Dr. Fan and lawyer Jiang Tianyong were among a group of activists who gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing, hoping to speak to visiting U.S. President Obama about the deterioration of religious freedom in China. The two were seized by plain-clothed security police and interrogated until early the next morning.

On October 12, 2010, Dr. Fan’s home was surrounded by 20 police officers who prevented him from departing to conduct an interview with NPR about an upcoming Christian conference in South Africa, and again from leaving to meet a friend for dinner later that evening.

On the morning of October 20, 2010, police seized Dr. Fan and stopped him from holding a planned symposium on the efforts of Chinese authorities to prevent Chinese evangelicals from attending the same South African conference.

Beginning on November 1, 2010, Dr. Fan was placed under house arrest. On November 24, 2010, Dr. Fan, his wife and their 3-year old son were summoned by local authorities, who confiscated their phone and keys. His wife and mother-in-law were also put under surveillance. Dr. Fan was seized and held for interrogation from December 9 to December 18, when he was returned to soft detention at home. On December 12, Dr. Fan’s wife was summoned for questioning as well, before being returned home to house arrest. Dr. Fan has been under house arrest since November, 2010. Police search all arriving packages and detain activists who attempt to visit him.

As of 2018, Dr. Fan remains under house arrest and enforced surveillance.

Last updated July 18, 2018

Other Resources

Additional information on this case will be posted as it becomes available.


Congressional-Executive Committee on China, “Legal Scholar and Religious Freedom Advocate Fan Yafeng Harassed, Kept Under Surveillance,” Dec. 9, 2010, available at