China Human Rights Briefing June 2-13,2006Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing June 2-13,2006
June 13: After 89 days of illegal detention, Shandong rights activist Chen Guangcheng faces charges
On June 11, Yuan Weijing, wife of the human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, was notified by the Yinan County Public Security Bureau that her husband had been charged with “deliberate destruction of property” and “organizing a mob to disrupt traffic” on June 10, 2006, Chen is currently under criminal detention at Yinan County Detention Center.
Chen Guangcheng, who is registered blind, has been working on disability rights issues for many years. In the spring of 2005 he exposed the issue of violence in the implementation of family planning policies in Linyi, Shandong. His efforts were met with fear and resentment from the local government. In order to conceal the truth and to avoid legal consequences, since August 2005, the authorities have tried to undermine and intimidate Chen Guangcheng, his family and other villagers who support Chen’s work, through illegal means such as close surveillance, threats, house arrest and secret detention. On March 11, 2006, using the pretext that they had blocked traffic, local police arrested and questioned Chen Guangcheng and three villagers, and Chen was held in custody beyond the maximum detention period without any regard for proper criminal procedure. As of June 10, he had been unlawfully detained for 89 days. Since his arrest, the police never notified his family of the reason for his detention, nor told them where he was held or his condition in custody. During Chen’s detention, the police repeatedly summoned and detained many local rights activists and supporters for questioning, three villagers Chen Gengguang, Chen Guangdong and Chen Guanghe remain in custody. On May 8, 2006, when Chen’s lawyer requested to meet him, the police even denied that they were holding Chen Guangcheng in detention, and other lawyers were prevented from meeting the three detained villagers mentioned above.
CRD identified Chen Guangcheng as a defender at high risk in its October 2005 report to the United Nations “Human Rights Defenders: an NGO Report:” https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=186 (English)
For more information about Chen Guangcheng, please see: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1361 (English)
With three other groups, CRD issued a statement protesting Mr.Chen’s detention: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1424 (Chinese)
An open letter demanding freeing Mr. Chen by his wife Yuan Weijing and his mother: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1431 (Chinese)
Linyi violence in the implementation of family planning policies: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=441 (English)
June 10: Police abduct six Nanhai farmers who protested illegal land appropriation, trumped up charges likely to follow
CRD Network has confirmed that on June 8-9, six farmers from Sanshan, Nanhai who led the recent local protests against illegal land appropriation were seized by a gang of over 200 men in plainclothes. According to local sources the six detainees are: Cui Yongfa, Guo Jianhua, Chen Ningbiao, Chen Zhibiao, Shao Xiaobing (f) and Liu Dehuo. On June 8, the local government removed and destroyed all materials displayed by the farmers, and cleaned off all documents which the farmers had put up on a notice board.
Family members and villagers at the scene believe that the plainclothes officers were from the local Public Security Bureau. When they forcibly took the six villagers away, they did not present any identification, detention orders or arrest warrants; and gave no explanation for the detentions nor any information about where the detainees were being taken. Given the complete lack of due process, this operation effectively amounts to kidnapping. After the normal 24-hour maximum detention period, the police had still not informed the families where and why the six were detained, and had still not allowed them or their families to retain lawyers. In effect, the six villagers have been subjected to forced disappearance. CRD expresses grave concern and objection against such unlawful action: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1435
On June 9 a local government-run newspaper, the Pearl River Daily (Zhujiang Ribao) reported the detentions and confirmed that it was a police operation. The news report claimed that the detainees were members of a “black society evil group,” who were put into criminal detention for investigation on suspicion of “extortion” by the Nanhai PSB. According to villagers familiar with the circumstances, two incidents that occurred in recent months may be used as excuses to imprison the farmer representatives on “extortion” charges. One involved a speeding school-bus which almost ran over Chen Ningbiao in May, and the other involved an oil company taking over village land without a permit in April, which was resisted by villagers. In both cases, the driver and the oil company offered to settle the disputes without alerting the police, apologized, and offered to pay the villagers. These arrests are only the latest measures by local authorities to suppress rural protests in the area.
June 8: Internet writer, rights defender Guo Qizhen officially arrested, his health condition is cause for concern
CRD has confirmed information from the group Tianwang Disappeared Persons Service Center that on June 8 Zhao Changqin was notified by the Cangzhou City PSB in Hebei Province that her husband, activist Guo Qizhen, had been formally arrested on June 6 for “suspicion of inciting subversion of state power” and is currently being held at the Cangzhou City No. 2 Detention Center. Guo Qizhen was detained by Cangzhou security personnel on May 12, 2006.
Guo Qizhen, 45, has been involved in rights activism for many years. In May 2005 Guo went to Chengdu to work at Tianwang Disappeared Persons Service Center as a volunteer, to help victims put their stories on the internet. Guo Qizhen published many articles which openly criticized the government. He was detained at home on May 12 when he was preparing to join the hunger strike protesting against the Chinese government’s repression of human rights activists organized by lawyer Gao Zhisheng. “Reporters without borders” quoted Guo Qizhen’s lawyer Li Jianqiang as saying that the authorities arrested Guo because of the articles he published on the internet and not because of his participation in the hunger strike. Since Guo was detained, his family and lawyer have not been allowed to visit him. Guo has a crippled leg and suffers from severe neurasthenia. Thus the condition of his health in detention is cause for concern.
Because of his rights activism, Guo Qizhen has endured many years of persecution by the authorities. After he exposed corruption by a local official, the PSB of Xinhua District, Cangzhou City detained Guo on June 2, 1994, and then twice applied for an arrest warrant from the Xinhua District Procuratorate, but both times the application was rejected. The authorities then applied for an arrest warrant at the Cangzhou City Procuratorate, which the prosecutor granted although the case was outside its jurisdiction. On July 28, 1994, Guo was released on bail, but was again detained by the Xinhua PSB on September 9, and unlawfully detained until January 23, 1995, when he was again released on bail. Guo sued the local government for illegally detaining him, and refused to withdraw the lawsuit. On May 17, 1995, the court in Xinhua gave him a one year suspended sentence , without presenting any evidence or witnesses. In July 1996, his employer, the Provincial Housing Department, decided to dismiss him from the civil service due to his criminal conviction.
In recent years Guo Qizhen has repeatedly petitioned the authorities for redress, and applied for demonstration permits on numerous occasions to protest against the maltreatment he suffered at the hands of the police: illegal detention, confiscation of his computer and other personal belongings without issuing receipts, monitoring and intercepting his emails; banning him from accessing internet cafes; illegally stealing his computer files; and confiscating remuneration for his writing sent from overseas.
June 7: New York Times researcher Zhao Yan to be tried in closed court; lawyer says there is no new evidence
Zhao Yan, a former researcher in the New York Times’ Beijing office has been charged again and his trial was expected to open on June 8, but was postponed. Zhao has been charged with leaking state secrets and fraud. His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, has confirmed that Zhao is to be tried at the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court. Mo said that delay can be due to the defense calling a new witness, or the prosecuting authorities requesting the inclusion of new evidence. Since the case involves the alleged “leaking of state secrets”, the hearing will be in camera.
The authorities have not dealt with Zhao Yan’s case in accordance with law. After initial charges against Zhao were dropped on March 17, the authorities had no lawful reason to continue detaining him. Furthermore, if the prosecutors now once again charge Zhao with the same crimes they must produce new evidence and facts to support the allegations. But Mo Shaoping does not believe the prosecutors have obtained any new evidence or facts. In 21 months of detention, Zhao has never appeared in court. Mo Shaoping last met with Zhao on June 6, he said that Zhao’s physical condition and state of mind were worrying. He has been a benign tumor, and despite the prison authorities arranging for him to have a physical examination, his health has not improved.
Zhao Yan, was a news reporter for the magazine “China Reform” writing on rural issues and is a well-known rights defender and social activist. In the past few years, Zhao has used media pressure to help peasants fight for land compensation. He started working for the Beijing Office of the New York Times in May 2004, and four months later he was arrested by Shanghai State Security Bureau officers. CRD identified Zhao as an individual at high risk in its October 2005 report to the United Nations “Human Rights Defenders: an NGO Report”.
CRD identified Zhao Yan as a defender at high risk in its report to the United Nations, “Human Rights Defenders: an NGO Report:” https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=893
June 6: Zheng Enchong released, personal freedom still restricted; Shanghai petitioners detained
Shanghai human rights lawyer Zheng Enchong was released on June 5 after completing his sentence, but is deprived of political rights for another year. But Shanghai authorities have imposed greater restrictions on him than normally associated with “deprivation of political rights”. In addition to being barred from giving media interviews, from contact with foreign diplomats and involvement in political activities, Zheng is not allowed to leave the area where he lives, and is being monitored round the clock by more than 20 police officers. On June 6, when he tried to take his daughter to school, police stopped him and took his daughter away in a police car. His relatives, as well as Shanghai petitioners who came to visit, were prevented from seeing him and some were detained. Zheng asked to attend a Christian church gathering but his request was turned down. An official told him not to leave Shanghai in the next year, or his personal safety would not be guaranteed. Before he was released from prison, prison management and PSB officers talked to him many times asking him to admit his “crimes,” sometimes even arranging for “chats” very late at night. (On June 10, Mr. Zheng was detained for 6 hours for accepting media interviews.)
In the three to six months before his sentence finished, prison authorities were constantly trying to persuade Zheng Enchong to confess, promising an early release. Zheng refused. He said he had done nothing wrong, and requested that the authorities guarantee his personal safety; he said that he reserves the right to file a grievance complaint, including the right to file a complaint against police maltreatment at the Discipline Inspection Commission, the right to complain to the Construction Department and other government departments against forced eviction, even though he can only exercise these rights next year.
Zheng Enchong, currently 56, was originally a Shanghai lawyer; but his license to practice was revoked by the Shanghai Bureau of Justice in 2001 because he represented victims of forced evictions in Shanghai in a lawsuit. He is now only permitted to act as a legal consultant. In the beginning of 2003, he helped evictee Zhou Ting (f) to file a lawsuit against developer Zhou Zhengyi and the Jing’an District government, accusing them of colluding in an illegal land appropriation. The trial opened in May 2003, and a week later Zheng was arrested, and in October 2003 he was convicted of “illegally leaking state secrets outside the borders” and sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment, and 1 year’s deprivation of political rights. Zheng repeatedly appealed to higher courts, but to no avail. In December 2005 Zheng was awarded a prestigious human rights award by the German Judges Association in recognition of his contribution in defending human rights. (CRD identified Zheng Enchong as a defender at high risk in its “Human Rights Defenders: an NGO Report:” https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=897)
Meanwhile, Shanghai authorities have now detained at least six forced eviction victims and activists, including Tian Baocheng and his wife, Du Yangming and Chen Enjuan (f). Mao Hengfeng was taken away by police on May 29, and police accused her of damaging property inside the hotel room in which she was held during her last detention. Chen Xiaoming, who was detained by police for taking part in the hunger strike in February this year, is still in custody, but his whereabouts are still unknown and his family is very worried about his personal safety.
June 4: 17th anniversary widely marked, police harassment and monitoring escalated
Chinese police intensified their harassment and monitoring of those who took part in the 1989 democracy movement on the 17th anniversary of its suppression, also targeting other democracy activists and rights defenders:
– On June 4, Wang Nan’s mother Zhang Xianling and more than 20 relatives of others killed in the June Fourth massacre visited the Wan-an Public Cemetery to remember their loved ones who were killed 17 years ago. They were surrounded and closely monitored by more than 20 plainclothes police officers and all their activities were videotaped.
– Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang posted a note on the internet on June 2, expressing his wish to commemorate June Fourth by visiting Tiananmen Square. His wife saw him off on the train on the morning of June 3, but a few hours later his family lost contact with him, until he came home at 3am on June 4. He had been intercepted by Shandong police when the train was close to Beijing, and was detained and questioned for 16 hours then escorted back to Jinan, Shandong.
– After 51 days of solitary confinement, Qi Zhiyong, a disabled survivor of the June Fourth massacre was released on March 28. He has since been closely monitored by the authorities and has to report his activities every time he leaves his house. On May 15 the police took him away for questioning, letting him go home later that day. In the early evening of June 2, he was again taken away by state security personnel despite protests from his wife and 8-year-old daughter; he was taken to a hotel and held there for a day. He has now been released, and the officers who had been stationed outside his door have been withdrawn.
– Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang who took part in the 1989 democracy movement while studying at the University of Politics and Law sent an SMS message to his friend on June 2: “The night of June 3 is the 17th anniversary of the 1989 massacre. We will be paying tribute at the Tiananmen Square Memorial. This is to remind myself, that the event is not yet history, but remains very much alive in our hearts. Together we pledge: never forget June Fourth, tell the truth; keep on defending our rights, and call for reconciliation!” Pu was taken away by Beijing PSB officers at 1:30am on June 3 for questioning, he was asked by the authorities not to broadcast any more messages about commemorating June Fourth at Tiananmen Square, and then he was sent home two hours later. Police did not show him any summons or record of his detention. Later, his freedom to leave his home was restricted.
– From May 30, police imposed surveillance and various other restrictions on Ding Zilin, one of the “Tiananmen Mothers”. Her home was closely monitored, she was not allowed any visitors and she was not allowed out of her home, except to visit the hospital or a grocery store accompanied by the police. Other relatives of June Fourth victims, such as Zhang Xianling, were also closely monitored. In the past few days, security personnel also appeared outside the residences of Jiang Qisheng, former Beijing University postgraduate student who took part in the 1989 democracy movement, and independent writer Liu Xiaobo. Jiang Qisheng has served two prison terms since 1989.
CRD and Independent Chinese Pen Association issued a joint statement on June 4, 2006, entitled “Surveillance stepped up around June 4, human rights condition still not improved after 17 years,” (https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1376) calling on the authorities to immediately release all the 1989 democracy movement participants, democracy activists and rights defenders who are imprisoned because they acted to defend their rights. We ask the authorities to cease using violence as a response to citizens’ legitimate grievances; and to resolve rights violations due to corruption, land seizure and forced evictions through legal means. We call for all to petition the government to approve the establishment of an independent committee to investigate the truth behind the events surrounding June 4, 1989; to prosecute those responsible for the tragedy; to apologize to and compensate the families of those who killed and injured, and all those who were persecuted subsequently; to initiate political reform to ensure such a tragedy will never occur again; and to guarantee basic human rights for all Chinese citizens.
June 1: Farmers’ rights defender Huang Weizhong appeals against sentence, plans to sue local Party newspapers for libel
On May 17, 2006, Putian farmers’ representative Huang Weizhong was found guilty of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” by the Chengxiang District Court. After the judge sentenced Huang to three years’ imprisonment, he immediately told his family that “he will definitely appeal”. During the past two years Huang Weizhong has repeatedly petitioned, filed legal actions, and applied for a permit to demonstrate in order to defend the farmers’ legitimate land rights, seeking at all times to act in compliance with the law. Huang was arrested on December 28, 2005, and on February 28 this year he was charged by Chengxiang District Procuratorate in Putian City with the crime of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order”, his case was heard by the Chengxiang District Court on March 20.
On the morning of May 29, defense lawyer Lu Guang met with Huang Weizhong at the detention center, Huang asked Lu Guang to continue representing him at the appeal stage, and signed the authorization. Huang said that after hearing the verdict and sentence, he feels aggrieved and let down by the state’s justice system. He said that he had used only legal means to advocate the farmers’ rights, but met dead ends everywhere he turned: “Law has deceived us, the system has abandoned us.”
That same afternoon, lawyer Lu Guang went to Chengxiang District Court to file a libel suit against the local Party newspaper Meizhou Daily (Meizhou Ribao), the court accepted the document and will decide whether it will hear the case. Meizhou Daily is the Putian Municipal Party Committee’s official publication. On May 18 it published a front page article entitled “Huang Weizhong sentenced to three years’ imprisonment at the trial of first instance,” with the subheading “fomenting resistance to land requisition and demolition by blatantly organizing a crowd to cause disorder”. On May 19 the newspaper published a commentary under the pen name “Si Yuan” entitled “Stop all acts fomenting resistance to land requisition according to law.” Huang Weizhong believes that the newspaper’s reports were not truthful, and when his lawyer told him that he could take legal action against the newspaper for damage to his reputation, he said he would definitely sue. Although Huang’s situation means that the case may not be treated impartially by the courts, Huang signed the legal documents filing the civil lawsuit against the newspaper and authorizing his lawyer to represent him in the action. (For further details please see: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1381)
May 30: NGOs condemn conviction of Dongzhou villagers, launch internet petition
More than two hundred activists petition authorities to protest what they see as unfair verdict against Dongzhou villagers in Guangdong. The Citizens’ Rights Defense Net (gongmin weiquanwang) launched this petition drive (http://www.gmwq.org/web/news_view.asp?newsid=299). CRD and the Citizens’ Rights Defense Net also issued a joint statement entitled “Revenge on Dongzhou Villagers: Convictions Based on Travesty of Justice” (https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1299). On May 22 to 24, Haifeng County Court tried and convicted 19 Shanwei villagers, sentencing seven of them to prison terms of between three and seven years. The villagers include Huang Xijun, Huang Xirang, Lin Hanru, Huang Xianyu and Zhang Qingyu. They were arrested after the Shanwei Incident, and were found guilty of “causing explosions,” “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic.” At the same time, those directly responsible for the bloody incident, such as the Assistant Party Secretary of Shanwei City, Liu Jinsheng, were let off with nothing more than a severe disciplinary warning; Assistant Chief of Shanwei PSB Wu Sheng, who ordered the police to open fire on the crowd, was only given a severe Party warning and dismissed from his post. CRD and Citizen’s Rights Defense Network expressed strong condemnation of this gross injustice, and launched an internet petition asking for justice for the Shanwei villagers.
Last year, Shanwei villagers held a number of public protests against the local authorities for appropriating farmland in Dongzhou Village for a power station construction project while giving very little compensation to the villagers. On December 6, the authorities sent police to suppress the protest, and as the result of the brutal operation, at least three villagers were shot dead, many were injured, and a number were arrested afterwards. The detained villagers were held in isolation and have not seen their families since December 2005. The authorities also barred the villagers from obtaining legal representation. After the incident the authorities also mobilized the Party propaganda machinery to cover up the truth, and used intimidation tactics to deter the victims and the outside world from following up and investigating the incident. The Shanwei villagers were tried in closed court, and no information is available on whether the villagers had any legal counsel representing them.
(Unless otherwise attributed, all the information in this Briefing is collected and verified by CRD)
Managing editor: Zhong Yan