Villager Tortured and Put on Trial for Protesting Air Pollution

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CRD has learned that, on November 25, 2005, Zhejiang villager Wang Liangping was put on trial for “gathering crowds to harm [others], destroy [property] and rob” in the Nanxi Municipal People’s Court for his role in the April 10, 2005, protest against air pollution produced by a chemical factory in the township of Huashui, Dongyang City, Zhejiang Province. Protesters clashed with 3,500 police and officials sent by the Dongyang City government, resulting in more than 60 injured, 69 destroyed vehicles, and dozens of arrests. Eight of the protesters were put on trial.

Wang, male, 39, of Xishan Village in Huashui Township, was first detained on May 30 by local police and beaten severelyand then released on May 31. He was put under administrative detention on June 16 and formally arrested for “gathering crowds to disturb social order” on June 26 by public security police of Dongyang City. He has been detained at the Dongyang Detention Center. According to his lawyer, Wang is mildly retarded as a result of childhood meningitis.

The case was first brought to the Dongyang Municipal People’s Court on September 8, 2005. The Dongyang Court listened to prosecutors and defendants’ lawyers and the judge closed the trial declaring that the court would issue its verdict later. However, the court, apparently recognizing certain irregularities in the Dongyang trial, subsequently decided to move the case to be tried again in a different municipal court, the Nanxi Municipal Court.

Wang’s defense lawyer, Li Heping, of Beijing Gaobo Longhua Law Firm, entered a not-guilty plea at the November 25 trial, arguing that Wang was innocent of the charges laid. (See “1. Lawyer’s Defence Argument for Wang Liangping before the Nanxi Municipal People’s Court, Zhejiang Province, on November 25, 2005” below) Li argues that the decision to move the case to Nanxi for anoher trial apparently did not accord with Chinese law and the Nanxi trial is therefore unlawful.

Lawyer Li also argued that the Nanxi trial failed to correct procedural irregularities in the Dongyang trial. For example, the Nanxi court did not throw out the illegal evidence collected through torture, which had also beenaccepted by the Dongyang court. The lawyer’s statement lists some of the methods of torture used to force the arrested villagers to confess.

For example, some of the detained villagers were forced to kneel down for seven days and nights. Wang Liangping was hanged from the ceiling by his arms and beaten, and after his stomach had been filled with water from a hose inserted in his mouth, his stomach was pushed down so hard that water was came out of his nose. Police also squeezed him around the chest under the arms while he was hanging from his arms. The lawyer produced evidence of the torture of Wang Liangping in court.

Prior to the November 25 trial, a rights activist who uses the penname Lu Xiangfu conducted an interview with family members of Wang Liangping, which provides more details about Wang, background information about the April 10 protest, and Wang’s torture at the hands of Dongyang police. (See “2. An Interview with Family Members of Arrested Villager Wang Liangping: Tortured to Force Confession” below.)

CRD urges the Nanxi Municipal People’s Intermediate Court to handle the case according to relevant Chinese law, bearing in mind the PRC’s obligations to abide by the UN Convention Against Torture and the PRC Constitution’s commitment to protect the basic human rights of PRC citizens. In particular, Chinese law makes clear that no one should be convicted of a crime solely on the basis of a confession (thus implicitly recognizing that such a confession may well be forced). CRD believes the court should throw out any evidence collected by police detectives through the use of torture to force a confession.

At a time when the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture is visiting the PRC, all Chinese institutions should demonstrate that they take their obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture seriously. China ratified the Convention in 1988.

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