Revenge on Dongzhou Villagers: Convictions Based on Travesty of JusticeComments Off on Revenge on Dongzhou Villagers: Convictions Based on Travesty of Justice
Joint statement by CRD & Citizens’ Rights Defense Net (gongmin weiquanwang)
May 26, 2006
Revenge on Dongzhou Villagers: Convictions Based on Travesty of Justice
We condemn the blatantly unfair trials of 19 Dongzhou villagers. The convictions can only be described as retribution by local authorities for the villagers’ long-standing campaign against the requisition of their land and expropriation of a lake that was crucial to their livelihoods.
According to the Shanwei Daily, on May 24, 2006, the Haifeng County People’s Court in Shanwei City sentenced seven Dongzhou villagers to prison terms ranging from three to seven years, while another six villagers received suspended sentences and six more were convicted of crimes, but not sentenced due to the minor nature of their offenses. The three-day trial was closed to all observers, including members of the convicted villagers’ families, yet the authorities had the affront to call this a “public trial”. The convicted villagers had been held incommunicado since their arrest in December 2005, and there have been reports that some of them may have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment. None of them has been allowed to hire their own lawyers. There is no indication that they had any access to legal council.
We believe the nature of the trial as retribution is made clear by the contrast with the lack of significant punishment given to the local officials responsible for the bloody suppression of the Dongzhou protests on December 6, 2005, when police fired machine guns at villagers who had set up a road block, killing at least three according to official acknowledgement (though villagers put the death toll higher) and injuring many more. Most of those responsible were only given serious Party warnings, and only one, a deputy head of the local Public Security Bureau, lost his job.
Based on the available evidence, in particular a detailed report by the Citizens’ Rights Defense Net (gongmin weiquan wang), an independent Chinese group, in collaboration with CRD, Pre-meditated Use of Lethal Force against Villagers Defending Their Land (Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=304), published in January 2006, we believe the convictions of the villagers are a travesty of justice.
The villagers must be allowed to appeal their convictions and the appeals should be heard by a court that has not been involved in this process and has no connection with the local authorities. The appeals should be held in open court with access for the families of the defendants and for the media. Defendants should have plenty of time to meet with lawyers of their own choice to prepare their appeals.
An extensive, independent investigation into the Dongzhou events is long overdue, and should be launched as soon as possible. We find it entirely unacceptable that there should be no criminal prosecutions relating to the premeditated use of lethal force against largely unarmed villagers on December 6, 2005, and urges the local Procuratorate to review the evidence and reconsider bringing such an action.
For background on the killings in Dongzhou village, Shanwei City, Guangdong Province, please visit Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=490
The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders &
The Citizens’ Rights Defense Net
May 26, 2006
Li Jian: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +86 411 87530766
Renee Xia: networkCRD@gmail.com Phone: +852 8125 7553