China Human Rights Briefing May 12-June 1, 2006Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing May 12-June 1, 2006
China Human Rights Briefing (May 12-June1, 2006)
June 1: “Tiananmen Mothers” leader Ding Zilin urges remembering “6.4”
On May 28, the leader of the Tiananmen Mothers movement, Ding Zilin, who lost her son during the June 4th Massacre in Beijing in 1989, wrote an open letter to endorse US Congressman Chris Smith‘s action to sponsor a Bill (No. 794) to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen event. She says, “This action is most timely and significant to me and our group of victims‘ families.“ The June 4th incident must not to be treated as a thing of the past, she said. She wants to draw the world‘s attention to “the violations of human rights, as in the Tiananmen incident, that are still a daily occurrence in China.“ (For a translation of the letter, see Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1341. CRD’s 2005 submission to the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders documentedDing Zilin’s work: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=876)
On the eve of the 17th anniversary of the brutal crushing of the 1989 democracy movement, the “hardship assistance“ granted to the family of a student who was beaten to death after being captured by police during the military crackdown in June 1989 in Chengdu, Sichuan (see Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1075), the first government action to respond to requests by victims‘ families, caused lively debates within the community that is trying to carry on the 1989 spirit and seek redress. Ding Zilin worries that such a government attempt to “buy out” and “silence” efforts to seek compensation and justice would divert attention and divide the community. (Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1096)
May 31: Shanghai activist Mao Hengfeng detained for the 3rd time this year
Ms. Mao Hengfeng was detained by Shanghai police one week ago, according to family members. She is detained at the city police Detention Center and may face criminal charge. Her family is trying to raise fund to hire a lawyer to defend her. Her detention may have to do with her encouragement for Shanghai housing activists to petition the government for their cases. But police accused her of damaging public property at the official guest house where she was detained for several months without charge. She was only released in April. (For more information on Ms. Mao’s case, see Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=888)
May 26: Shanwei villagers sentenced: the killers get a “warning,” the common people are punished
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. (Note that reports that only 13 villagers were convicted are in error; the last group who did not receive sentences were convicted of crimes.) Charges included use of explosives, gathering crowds to disturb public order, disturbing public order and blocking traffic. The three-day trial was closed to all observers, including members of the convicted villagers’ families and journalists, yet the authorities called 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 counsel.
This is contrasted 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, in the latest effort to protest against the requisition of their land with inadequate compensation. Officials acknowledge that three villagers were killed and eight wounded, but villagers say at least 20 died and dozens were injured. 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.
The affected villages have been virtually sealed off by officials since the December events, and a news blackout imposed. In the absence of any compensation for bereaved families, some have resorted to begging in the streets to survive, but authorities have forced them to stop and put them under virtual house arrest.
For details on the events of December 6, 2006, see: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=304
For details on the convictions and a statement from CRD, see: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1299
An online signature campaign is underway, please sign the petition: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1325
May 26: Prior to release of Shanghai human rights lawyer Zheng Enchong, strangers seek entry to his home
When Zheng Enchong’s wife Jiang Meili went for her last visit with her husband in jail on May 16 prior to his June 5 completion of his prison term, two unidentified men attempted to gain access to the couple’s home. When Jiang inquired about this with the Shanghai State Security Bureau, she received no response and no investigation was launched. That day, Jiang had asked a family friend, Mr. Zhao, to watch her home, and he reported that both men had used keys to enter the house. The first man ran away when he realized he had been seen, but the second did not leave until Zhao approached him and said that breaking into people’s homes was a crime. Soon after he had gone, three persons including a plainclothes officer and members of the Chanbei District residence registration police arrived on the scene and tried to detain Mr. Zhao.
Zheng Enchong acted as legal representative and counsel for close to 500 victims of forced eviction in Shanghai’s Dongbakuai in Jing’an District in a lawsuit against tycoon Zhou Zhengyi. On June 6, 2003, Zheng was taken into criminal detention, and then on October 28 of the same year he was convicted by the Shanghai Intermediate People’s Court of “illegally providing state secrets outside the border” and sentenced to three years in prison.
May 24: As June Fourth anniversary nears, dissidents suffer harassment
—Qi Zhiyong, who lost a leg in the military assault on Beijing in June 1989, has been under intensive surveillance since he was released from 51 days of secret detention on March 28, 2006, and has to report every time he leaves his home. On May 15, he was taken away by police for questioning, but was released the same day. —Zhao Xin, executive director of the Empowerment and Rights Institute, was visited by State Security officers immediately after his return to Beijing on May 24. The officers wanted to “understand” where he had been and find out about his “forthcoming plans” (in other words, whether he planned any actions for the June Fourth anniversary). At the beginning of the month, State Security officers had already sought him out in Yunnan and asked him not to return to Beijing until after June 4. (About Zhao Xin, view Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=908)
—Ma Shaofang, one of the 21 most-wanted student leaders for whom the police issued national arrest warrants after the 1989 crackdown, was telephoned by Shenzhen officials for a “chat” when he was on a business trip to Tianjin in May.
—Huang Qi, webmaster of the “Tianwang” website (http://64tianwang.com/) which first revealed that the Sichuan authorities had made a 70,000 yuan “hardship assistance” payment to the mother of Zhou Guozong who died in the suppression of the 1989 democracy movement, has reported that after this his website has been subject to repeated attacks by hackers and he has been harassed. On May 17, four public security officers came to his home to check his ID card, and spent 20 minutes questioning him. In recent days, unidentified people have approached him and said his ID was forged.
May 24: Farmer representative Huang Weizhong is appealing three-year sentence, lawyer says
On May 17, the Chengxiang District People’s Court in Putian, Fujian Province, sentenced representative of protesting local farmers Huang Weizhong to three years in prison for “gathering crowds to disturb public order.” Huang’s defense lawyer Lu Guang has filed an appeal against the conviction, and believes that the court of second instance is likely to render a verdict on the appeal by the end of June. While Lu did not expect that the verdict would be changed, the appeal had been filed to protest against the injustice of the verdict he said. Lu said on the day the verdict was announced, a number of farmers had come to the court to express their support for Huang, but they were not allowed to observe the trial. In Lu’s defense statement, he argued that Huang’s actions had not broken the law. While the indictment claimed that Huang had incited villagers to oppose the measuring of their land and blocked the work of requisition, Lu said that in fact Huang had informed villagers about state laws and encouraged them to protect their rights in accordance with the law.
For more detail on the case, see Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=608
May 24: One year on, Jilin teacher’s appeal against one-year Reeducation sentence for discussing freedom of religion still has not been heard
One year ago Lu Xuesong, 32, lecturer of Film History and Dramatic Literature at the Drama School of Jilin Fine Arts Academy, in Changchun City, was ordered by the school to stop her teaching. It was after she showed a film about Lin Zhao, a woman journalist murdered by the authorities in 1954 and discussed with students about history, truth and religious freedom.
She asked the school to give a reason for stopping her teaching and appealed to the principal as well as the provincial Education Bureau. They all refused to reply, until August 1, 2005, when she went to school secretary’s office and asked when she could resume teaching, and police were called to detain her even though she did not had spoken in a quiet manner and had not used any violence. Police also searched her house and sentenced her to a one-year Re-education Through Labor (RETL) term for “disturbing social order” on September 8 on the basis of the “confession” of one of her students who said she had discussed the Falungong issue in class.
According to the RETL decision, Lu’s term was to be served at home, rather than in a RETL facility. Now that one year has passed, Lu has asked to return to her teaching, but the Academy has refused and she is only receiving a portion of her original salary. Lu has made repeated attempts to file a legal challenge against the RETL decision in November 2005, but the court has refused to hear the case on the grounds that it is Falungong-related.
Lu says she does not regret discussing religious freedom with her students, stating that as an intellectual in the field of humanities, she advocates freedom of conscience and that as long as they do not harm others, she respects different religious beliefs, ways of life, social standpoints and life choices, and has no biases against them. She believes that there should be no forbidden zones in academic research. Her own teaching and research focuses on questions of freedom and justice as basic values. Lu has a young daughter, born in 2004, and spends her time at home looking after her and pursuing her research interests.
(For background information, see Article_Class.asp?ClassID=50)
May 24: Dr. Gao Yaojie, human rights defender for people affected by HIV/AIDS, is seriously ill
Dr. Gao Yaojie, 79, who spent the past 10 years helping HIV/AIDS infected people in one of the poorest provinces in China, Henan is seriously ill and may die soon. She has passed all the cases of HIV/AIDS orphans she was helping over to a Hong Kong based foundation, asking them to take care of the children for her. She sent out the last batch of clothes and toys she had collected for the orphans to finish up her last mission.
She said she wished she would be able to live until July, so that she could see her new book, A ten years journey of HIV/AIDS prevention, in print. Dr. Gao is very weak now, and is mostly bedridden. She cannot get used to life without her life long supporter and beloved husband, Dr. Guo Mingjiu, who passed away in April. Despite her condition, however, Dr. Gao still wants to ensure she can properly hand over her work to others who can continue what she has been doing well, especially regarding the AIDS orphans.
Dr. Gao was the first to expose the spread of HIV/AIDS through the sale of blood in rural Henan Province as well as the irresponsibility of local hospitals in using infected blood for transfusions. After she publicized this situation, the authorities subjected her to harassment and intimidation—including by hiring thugs to follow her—and tried to block her from treating infected people. But her persistence led to growing awareness about the scale of the problem, as well as wider efforts to help infected people and the AIDS orphans. In the last three years, Dr. Gao has written and edited five books, three of which have already been published. She said people in China still lack knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and much greater efforts in public education are needed to help prevent it, she hopes her writings will contribute to that.
(CRD’s 2005 submission to the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders documented Dr. Gao Yaojie’s work and the harassment she faced. See Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=879)
May 25: Authorities organize election of NGO representatives to Global Fund, excluding most independent groups
On April 24, Chinese officials ran an election to select representatives of patients and NGOs to the board of the China country coordination mechanism for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Many NGOs protested against the election, since the government only allowed registered NGOs to participate. Beijing Aizhixing Institute director Wan Yanhai said: “We all know that in fact many NGOs who do the real work on the ground in China are not registered due to political reasons. The government’s election was unfair. Grassroots NGOs should have their representative.” In the patients’ group, the NGOs discovered that the government-elected candidate was not a real patient.
Nine NGOs started the protest against the election, and invited grassroots NGOs to run another election in line with the Global Fund’s election procedure guidelines and standards on May 17-19. Eighty-five NGOs sent in applications, and 75 were found to be qualified to participate in the election, a much larger number than had participated in the government-run election. The elected representatives will have the right to monitor and vote to decide how to use funding from the Global Fund in China.
Arguments broke out when, on May 24, when Wan Yanhai went to meet the Qiang Zhengfu, general secretary of the Global Fund China Coordinating Committee Secretariat and director of the international department of the China Center for Disease Control, to discuss the election problem and seek a solution. Wan challenged the official election, saying it lacked transparency and was controlled by government, and in response Qiang accused Wan of making trouble on purpose.
Wan Yanhai complained that the official attitude meant that there was a lack of monitoring of how international funds were used, and thus some funds were misused. “For example, funds from a clinic in Henan Shuangmian Village were used to send 40 officials from the Health Bureau to Yunnan and Thailand for a tourist trip; while some money was used to set up three cameras in a small clinic to monitor patients, which was a violation of their privacy. The clinic also used funds to hire police to harass, detain or tail HIV/AIDS activists who have been trying to set up independent services for villagers. In our opinion, money from the Global Fund has often been used, not to help people, but to violate human rights.” Wan Yanhai said.（More details on：http://www.aizhi.net/）
May 19: After refusing to “cooperate” with State Security Police, Li Weiping is harassed and forced to leave Beijing
Democracy advocate Li Weiping told CRD that since he returned to Beijing from Guangdong in February this year, Beijing State Security police have repeatedly approached him and asked him to “cooperate” in monitoring the activities of other human rights activists, otherwise he would be forced to leave Beijing. Li refused. In March he invited a scholar from the Philosophy Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to give a talk on the authorities’ “the Marxist construction project.” The talk was canceled under police pressure. At the end of April, he made appointment to meet a photographer who had been forced to cancel his exhibition of photographs about the Cultural Revolution, but this appointment was also canceled due to police harassment. On May 18, the State Security police met him and gave him a last warning that he would either have to work with them or leave Beijing, saying that he had to respond within a month, and if his answer was “no,” to leave before June 11. However, the same night his landlord came to ask him to leave immediately as his lease contract expired on May 18. Li suspects the landlord has been under pressure from the State Security.
Li Weiping, 42, graduated from Nankai University, and used to work as a civil servant. He resigned after witnessing the June Fourth crackdown in 1989. He opened an advertising company, but this was closed down due to his participation in the founding of the China Democracy Party. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in 1995. Since his 1998 release, he has worked as a freelance writer and continued to promote democracy and human rights.
(CRD’s 2005 submission to the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders documented Li Weiping’s work: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=905)
May 17: Zhang Lin’s health in prison takes alarming turn for the worse
The health of Anhui prisoner of conscience and writer Zhang Lin has taken an alarming turn for the worse, with a doctor saying he may become paralyzed. His wife, Fang Cao, who is also a writer, visited him on May 15, 2006. She said she could see that even moving his mouth to talk was painful. He told his wife that for the last six months his head and body were always painful and he could not eat or move normally, could not handle simple instruments and sometimes even had difficulty talking and sleeping. The prison management had once taken him to the city hospital to see a doctor, but they reportedly didn’t do detailed tests but only told him his cervical vertebra was protruding 0.7cm and that that may have been causing the pain. But he was not given any treatment except some pain killer tablets.
Fang Cao went to a private doctor and asked about his symptoms, and the doctor said Zhang Lin could face paralysis, and he needed an operation immediately. Fang Cao requested that the prison to allow Zhang Lin to be released on bail for treatment, but has not yet had a reply.
Zhang Lin was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and four years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power.” The trial was held in camera without even informing his lawyer and his family, a clear violation of the Criminal Procedure Law. Zhang Lin was imprisoned for two year after 1989, and served a term of “Re-education through Labor” for his promotion of democracy in China. (For background see：Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=203, Article_Class.asp?ClassID=20)
May 14-17: Harassment of internet writer Xiong Zhongjun forces him out of residence
In the last issue, we reported that Xiong Zhongjun, a member of Independent Chinese Pen Association, had been repeatedly evicted by Shenzhen police from his home and forced out of a series of jobs. The harassment continues.
On May 15 Xiong moved to a new address. Two days later, police found his new address and pressured his new landlord to ask him to leave. The landlord said that though he understood Xiong’s situation and realized he was not a bad person, as a business man he was afraid to have trouble with the police. Xiong is tired of moving, and has finally decided to leave Shenzhen where he has been staying for the past six years.
Xiong Zhongjun, male, 26, writes under the pen-name “Yanbo yuze” (fisherman in smoky waves), and has published literary reviews, poetry, and political commentary online. He set up several online literary magazines since 2004, and is an active member of the Chinese Independent PEN.
Xiong is not the only internet writer who has faced this kind of harassment. Apart from the case of Li Weiping, mentioned above, CRD has received reports from other activists who have faced similar harassment by police in other places. CRD is deeply concerned about police use of forced eviction and deprivation of livelihood as a tool to suppress freedom of expression. (“Briefing” documented this case in the previous issue: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1199)
May 16: Independent writer Yang Tianshui sentenced to 12 years imprisonment
Independent writer Yang Tianshui (original name Yang Tongyan) was tried in closed court and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for “subversion of state power.” Yang decided not to appeal, as he believed an appeal would not change the result. Yang’s sister called for international pressure on the Chinese government to protest against this serious suppression of freedom of expression.
Yang’s lawyer Li Jianqiang argued that his client had not violated any Chinese law, and that his exercise of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution could not be considered subversive behavior. The prosecution had not presented clear facts or sufficient evidence, and had misused the law, Li said. “For example, the claim that Yang Tianshui participated in the so-called ‘Swan Action’ and was elected as ‘Democratic New China temporary government’s first secretary’ is totally made up. Yang Tianshui himself doesn’t even have a clue what ‘Swan Action’ is,” Li Jianqiang said. “The alleged ‘evidence of Swan Action’ was a name list ‘found’ on the internet, and Yang doesn’t even know how his name had been put there. Thus to interpret this evidence as proving that Yang committed subversive acts is without any legal logic.”
Yang Tianshui, 45, original name Yang Tongyan, graduated in history from Beijing Normal University in 1982. In 1990 he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on charges of “counter revolution” due his participation in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. After his 2000 release from prison Yang continued to promote democracy in China. He was held under house arrest since December 23, 2005, and formally charged with subversion on January 22, 2006. (CRD protests the sentence: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1208. For more details see：Article_Class.asp?ClassID=23 )
(Unless otherwise attributed, all the information in this Briefing is collected and verified by CRD)
Managing editor: Zhong Yan