Nanhai farmers abducted by plainclothes officials, trumped up charges likely to followComments Off on Nanhai farmers abducted by plainclothes officials, trumped up charges likely to follow
The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
For immediate release
June 12, 2006
Nanhai farmers abducted by plainclothes officials, trumped up charges likely to follow
CRD condemns the abduction of six villagers by men in plainclothes presumed to be security personnel in Sanshan Township, Nanhai, Guangdong Province, on June 8-9, 2006. CRD obtained and has confirmed the information about the detentions.
The six include one woman, Shao Xiaobing, and five men, Cui Yongfa, Guo Jianhua, Chen Ningbiao, Chen Zhibiao, and Liu Dehuo. They are representatives of local farmers, who have been involved in a long campaign of legal and administrative appeals against illegal land appropriation by local authorities.
According the activist Zhao Xin, who is in touch with villagers, the 200 or so officials in plain clothes who came to take the group away were likely public security officers. They did not produce 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 procedural safeguards, this detention was tantamount to kidnapping of the farmer representatives, and is reminiscent of the disappearances that have been a common tactic against activists in Latin America.
There was, however, an acknowledgment in the local government-run newspaper, the Pearl River Daily (Zhujiang Ribao). On June 9, the paper reported on a “police action,” claiming the detainees were members of a “black society evil group,” who were put into criminal detention for investigation on suspicion of “extortion.”
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.
Although more than 24 hours has now passed since the six were taken away, the local public security bureau has still notified the detained people’s families about the cause and location of the detentions.
These arrests are only the latest measures by local authorities to suppress rural protests in the area. In December 2006, police detained activist Chen Huiying. She was sentenced to one-year imprisonment in Reeducation Through Labor (RETL) camp without trial or any chance to consult a lawyer and defend herself against any charges against her. When a lawyer hired by her family arrived in Nanhai to provide legal counsel, the lawyer was harassed by local police and then forced to leave. Authorities thus deprived Chen of her right to legal counsel.
CRD urges the Nanhai Public Security Bureau branch office to immediately clarify the status of the detainees, by complying with the law and notifying their families about the cause and location of the detention, allowing detainees or their families to appoint lawyers, and permitting families and lawyers to visit detainees. The detainees should otherwise be freed as the circumstances of their detention clearly violated legal provisions.
CRD demands the immediate release of Chen Huiying from unconstitutional and arbitrary detention in the RETL camp without trial.
We ask local authorities to work with representatives of local farmers on the basis of democratic participation, consultation, and rule of law, to find fair solutions to long-standing land disputes.
The land dispute between farmers and the local government in Sanshan Township, Nanhai, has escalated as authorities used force to requisition farm land and sell it to commercial developers for their own profit. On May 30, 2005, several thousand armed police officers arrived with bulldozers and tried to forcibly take the land, but farmers formed a human wall in front of them. Eventually, the crops were destroyed and several hundred mu of farm land was appropriated by the government. Up to that day, farmers had resorted to administrative and legal means to settle the disputes without success. They did not accept what they saw as unfair compensation for their land, upon which they had depended for livelihood for generations. The incident attracted international attention as the incident was reported in international media. This did not deter local authorities, who began harassing and punishing the leaders and activists. In December 2005, they arrested Chen Huiying.
June 12, 2006
For more information, contact:
Renee Xia firstname.lastname@example.org +852 8125 7553
Zhao Xin: +86-10-82162653