Disappearance and Detention of Hunger StrikersComments Off on Disappearance and Detention of Hunger Strikers
Joint Statement by CRD and Citizen Rights Defense Net
On Disappearance and Detention of Hunger Strikers
We are deeply concerned about the fate of several individuals who have disappeared and been detained after participating in the hunger strike marathon started by the Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng on February 8, 2006, to protest police violence and other abuses against rights activists. We fear they are likely to be subjected to ill-treatment or torture, while the irregular nature of their detention makes it even more difficult than normal to monitor their situation and the authorities take no responsibility for the disappearances.
In Beijing, HIV/AIDS activist Hu Jia vanished on February 16 while he was being closely followed by police, who had escorted him on his way to a meeting at the AIZHIXING Institute on February 15. Another activist, Qi Zhiyong, who is a double amputee due to injuries from gunshots during the Tiananmen massacre, also went missing during the night of February 15. The artist and activist Yan Zhengxue has not been seen since his wife witnessed him being taken away by police from his home in Beijing on February 12 after he met with Gao Zhisheng. The officers were not from Beijing, but from Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, Yan’s original place of residence,. One hunger striker who volunteered to assist Gao Zhisheng was taken away by police from Gao’s office on February 16. Their families reported them missing to authorities, but were not given any information about their whereabouts. By the evening Beijing time, February 22, we have made inquiries and confirmed that these individuals remain missing or in police custody.
Also on February 16, police in Shanghai detained Chen Xiaoming, a housing rights activist, citing his participation in the hunger strike. Yesterday, activist Zhao Xin was taken in by police for questioning in the afternoon and still has not returned to his parents’ house in Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, where he was recovering from injuries he sustained when he was beaten by unidentified men in December 2005.
On February 22, Gao Zhisheng, the Beijing lawyer and hunger strike leader, received a summon from Beijing Municipal Bureau for Judicial Affairs for going to the Bureau to “talk” to authorities at 10 am on the 23rd. Zeng Jing, Gao’s wife, fears that Gao would be incarcerated. Gao has been constantly harassed by police who follow him everywhere and surveillance his residence.
Staging hunger strikes at their own residences is a legitimate exercise of these individuals’ right to free expression, a right protected by the PRC Constitution and international human rights law. It is a serious violation of these citizens’ civil rights and human rights when they are made to “disappear” or secretly detained for this activity alone. If they are suspected of any illegal activities, authorities should handle their cases in accordance with Chinese legal procedures, producing the necessary legal documents and notifying their families of their whereabouts and the reasons for their detention. Their legal rights in police custody must be respected.
We urge the Chinese authorities to release immediately those detained for exercising their right to free expression in a hunger strike protest against ill-treatment of human rights defenders, or to inform families of the whereabouts of anyone detained on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence, to handle such cases according to proper legal procedures and respect the rights of the individuals concerned. Law enforcement officials and local authorities who violate the law by subjecting these people to arbitrary detention or torture must be investigated and prosecuted.
Hu Jia, male, 31, AIDS activist based in Beijing. Hu focuses on the health rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Henan province. Due to his criticisms of the government’s failures in AIDS prevention and care, he has been repeatedly harassed, often put under house arrest, and beaten by police. He was placed under house arrest on May 28, 2004, after publicly stating his intention to light a candle in Tiananmen Square in memory of those who were killed during the June 1989 crackdown. He reported that he was beaten when he tried to leave his apartment building. He was again detained after he tried to participate a gathering to mourn the deceased leader Zhao Ziyang in February and in late August during the visit to China of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour. More recently, Hu Jia was detained on November 7 by Zhengzhou police in Hunan, while he was assisting HIV/AIDS petitioners trying to bring their cases to the attention of officials attending an AIDS conference there.
Zhao Xin, male, 38. Zhao has advocated for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and petitioners who travelled to the capital to complain about corruption and abuses by local government. He wrote articles online and offered legal aid. Zhao also assists victims of the 1989 massacre by collecting testimonies and evidence and raising funds for the support of the victims’ families. He also campaigned for citizens’ rights to political participation and participated in organizing the China Democratic Party.
Zhao was a student leader during the 1989 student protests and was arrested on June 17, 1989, and imprisoned at Qincheng Prison in Beijing for one year. Zhao was arrested again on February 2, 1992, for organizing an event to mark 1,000 days since the June Fourth crackdown. He was sent to Beijing Haidian Detention Center, where he was beaten. As a result he suffers from permanent memory loss and chronic pain in his lower back. After attempting to organize a memorial event for Zhao Ziyang, the former Communist Party Secretary who was sympathetic to the 1989 student protests, Zhao Xin was detained on January 21, 2005. Zhao is currently on probationary release awaiting possible trial.
Zhao Xin works for the Empowerment and Rights Institute in Beijing. He is currently the Executive Director of the group. On November 17, 2005, Zhao was severely beaten by unidentified thugs in Sichuan province, where he was visiting his parents, while plain-clothes police, who had followed him all the way from Beijing, looked on. He was beaten in the hotel where he was staying, in plain view of other guests and hotel staff. He was told by one of the attackers that they had sought him out for beating. He was severely injured with one broken leg, several fractured ribs, and needed 11 stitches on his head. He was hospitalized at the Chengdu Army 8.1 Hospital. In late November, Zhao Xin met with the visiting UN Special Rapporteur against Torture. Since then, local officials also visited Zhao in the hospital, promising to bring those who beat him to justice. But authorities have not agreed to help Zhao to pay his huge medical bills.
Qi Zhiyong, male, 50. He was a construction worker in 1989 when he was shot and wounded near Tiananmen Square, in the early morning of June 4th. Both of his legs were amputated and he now lives on selling things in the streets. He has since become actively involved in the “Tiananmen Mothers” group seeking justice and remedy for families of the killed and wounded in the June 1989 massacre, as well as other pro-democracy and human rights activities in Beijing. Due to his activities, he has been frequently put under house arrest, detained, or beaten by police
Yan Zhengxue, male, 61, an artist by profession, member of the Independent Chinese PEN, based in Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, and Beijing. He is a prolific Internet reporter of official corruption and rights abuses. For his outspokenness, he was sent to prison and the Reform-through-Labor camp in the 1990s and in 2002-3. Since his release, through exhibits of his paintings (which he painted at the RTL camp: http://www.boxun.com/hero/yzx) and online documentation of his own acts, which he described as “performing art,” he has pursued a personal crusade to end the Reform-through-Labor Camp system.
Chen Xiaoming, male, in his 40s, is an activist against forced evictions in Shanghai. After himself being forcibly evicted from his home, he became active in petitioning for housing rights and has also been involved in collecting and publicizing information about official abuses of housing activists.
Ouyang Xiaorong, male, 32, is an software engineer and activist in Yunnan Province. He graduated from Beijing Aerospace University and went to work in Yunnan. In recent years, he has written political commentaries for online publications and signed protest letters. On February 14, he travelled to Beijing to volunteer to help Gao Zhisheng to coordinate the hunger strike. He was taken away from Gao’s office less than 24 hours after his arrival.
Februray 23, 2006
For more information, contact:
Li Jian: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 86-411-87530776
Renee Xia: email@example.com
The Chinese version of this statement can be found at: