China Human Rights Briefing August 13 – September 13, 2006Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing August 13 – September 13, 2006
China Human Rights Briefing (Aug. 13 – Sep. 13, 2006)
September 12: Rights activist Guo Qizhen tried for sedition
The activist Guo Qizhen, based in Changzhou City, Hebei Province, was tried on the charge of “sedition to overthrow state power” by the Changzhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court on September 12. Mr. Guo told the court he was tortured and forced to confess during detention. He told of being made to sit on a “tiger chair” against the wall and was once deprived of sleep for four days in a row. His lawyer Li Jianqiang argued in court for a non-guilt verdict. He told the court that exercising the right to free speech, even if the speech is critical of the government, did not constitute sedition crime. The lawyer argued that their client did not advocate violence or overthrowing the government. Guo’s wife, who attended the trial, said her husband looked rather frail.
Mr. Guo became a right activist after he was repeatedly harassed by local officials when he tried to petition the government about his and others’ grievances in the mid-1990s. He posted numerous articles online reporting on rights violations. Early this year, he participated in the hunger strike call for by the Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Guo was detained in May and charged in June. For the lawyer’s court defense argument (in Chinese), please visit https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=2156
September 12: Police harass independent candidates for local People’s Congress elections
In the run-up to the district and county levels elections for deputies to the People’s Congress, which are underway from July 2006 to the end of 2007, independent candidates in several provinces have faced harassment. Those running under the Nationalist Party principles of “People’s livelihood, people’s rule, and people’s rights”, who have called themselves members of the Internet virtual political party, “the Nationalist Party” or “Pan-Blue Alliance” (fan lan lian meng) have been specifically targeted. The virtual party was established in August 2004 and it claims to have thousands of registered members all over the country. The group’s slogan was to uphold the “three people” principle, to learn from Taiwan’s demoractization, and to promote a one-China unification.
One candidate, Wen Yan (nickname Sun Erwu), who is running as a member of the Pan-Blue Alliance in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was beaten by unidentified men on the evening of September 12. Wen Yan said his campaign and those of two other Pan-Blue members have been closely monitored and often disrupted by National Security guards. When Mr. Wen distributed his campaign flyers, security guards would take most of the copies. Reportedly 105 Pan-Blue members in several provinces, including Hunan, Hubei, and Sichuan, are seeking seats on local People’s Congresses in the upcoming election. There have been many reports of their registration for candidacy running into obstacles, themselves being monitored or detained by local officials.
September 8-August 31: Hong Kong journalist appeals sentence of 5 years on spy charge
On September 8, Ching Cheong’s family filed an appeal to the higher court, though reduction of sentence on appeal is unlikely to be granted in an espionage case. The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court delivered the judgement on August 31 of its trial of Ching Cheong, the chief China correspondent for the Singaporean newspaper, the Straits Times. Ching was found guilty of “espionage” and sentenced to five years in prison and deprivation of political rights for one year. The court also confiscated 300,000 yuan of Ching’s personal property.
September 7-8: HIV/AIDS activist Hu Jia taken into police station for questioning
As part of a new round of crackdown on human rights defenders since mid-August, on September 7 and 8, police detained the AIDS activist Hu Jia twice for questioning in relation to his activism on behalf of detained Henan AIDS activist Li Xige, Shandong activist Chen Guangcheng and Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng.
Beginning July 17, Hu and his wife Zeng Jinyan were under residential surveillance for more than 50 days. On September 6, their Internet access was suddenly cut and the next morning around 7:00am, Zeng and Hu Jia noticed that their house was surrounded by police and a district level public and state security team. At 8:00am, officers knocked on their door but Zeng and Hu refused to let them in. Half an hour later, officers showed a warrant for Hu Jia’s detention for questioning and forcibly took him to the police station. Twelve hours later, he was released. The next day, he was taken in again for questioning for several hours. For more information about Hu Jia, please visit: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=692
September 4 – August 18: Convicted Shangdong activist Chen Guangcheng files appeal
Following his sentencing for 4 years and 3 months in jail on August 24, Shandong-based blind activist Chen Guangcheng formally requested his lawyers Li Jingsong and Li Fangping to appeal his sentence on August 30, 2006. The Yinan County People’s Court sentenced Chen for “willfully damaging property” and “organizing a mob to disturb traffic.”
When the two lawyers arrived in Yinan County, local officials again attempted to block them from meeting with Chen, including following and intimidating them. After many efforts to negotiate with court officials, two lawyers were only able to get the verdict on August 30 and were only allowed to meet Chen for around 40 minutes. During the meeting they were interrupted many times and surrounded by police in order to prevent them from discussing the case and the defense strategy.
Before and during the August 18 trial, local authorities beat and detained Chen’s lawyers and legal advisers and blocked them from meeting with him. They assigned two other lawyers to represent Chen without his agreement. Xu Zhiyong, one of the legal advisers authorized by Chen to represent him, was accused of stealing and detained at Jiehu police station, Linyi city, until after Chen was sentenced.
On August 18, Sichuan activist Deng Yongliang and Xi-an lawyer Zhang Jiankang were also detained by police in Yinan, Shandong, when they arrived there to protest the trial. Several days later, they were released but told to keep quiet. On August 20, Internet writers Li Jianhong and Ouyang Xiaorong, both members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, were beaten by police in Qingdao, Shandong and forcibly taken back to Shanghai and Yunnan, apparently to punish them for their participation in a protest of the trial. Beijing based activist Zhao Xin was escoted by police to his home province Yunnan, but he has not been seen again since he was taken away on August 19.
Three other villagers supporting Chen Guangcheng were detained on March 11, 2006, and were sentenced to seven months in prison with a one year suspension on August 18 with the same charges as Chen Guangcheng. Their families believe they were mistreated and forced to testify against Mr. Chen, but their lawyers have not been able to meet them to confirm this.
For more information on Chen Guangcheng, visit: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1562
September 5-August 15: Lawyer Gao Zhisheng detained, pre-trial underway, family under residential surveillance
On August 15, police officers from Beijing detained human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng in Shandong Province, and he was held incommunicado at an unknown location for several days. Gao’s wife, who only heard from police that Gao was arrested and being held somewhere in Beijing, was not told the exact location and no formal documentation of his arrest has been provided. However, Xinhua News Agency reported Gao’s detention by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau “for suspected involvement in criminal activities,” suggesting top-level involvement in the decision to detain him.
Beijing police contacted Gao’s assistant, lawyer Wen Haibo, and told him that the case had entered a pre-trial process. Meanwhile, police have freezed Gao’s family’s assets and his wife and two children have lost any source of provisions. Police officers standing guard outside Gao’s apartment have confined them to their home. They are prohibited from receiving visitors or contacting anyone. His wife may have been pressured to release a statement to the effect that she wished not to seek to arrange for his legal defense.
On August 20, the lawyer Teng Biao and writer Jiao Guobiao attempted to visit Gao’s wife and daughter. They managed to talk to his daughter briefly but she was quickly taken back into the house by a police officer. Immediately afterwards, the police took both Teng Biao and Jiao Guobiao to Xiaoguan Police Station in Chaoyang District for questioning. They were released about one hour later.
Lawyer Mo Shaoping has agreed to represent Gao Zhisheng, but Gao’s family has not been permitted to meet the lawyer and sign authorization papers. Gao Zhisheng was detained while visiting his sister’s house in Dongying City, Shandong Province, after he tried to attend the July 20 trial of Chen Guangcheng, which was eventually cancelled. His sister has reportedly been warned not to tell anybody about his detention.
For more information about Gao Zhisheng, please visit: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=894
September 2-August 28: Shanghai activist Mao Hengfeng faccing trail; family can’t afford lawyer
Shanghai-based activist Mao Hengfeng, who was detained in May 2006, is now facing trial. Ms. Mao has fought against the one-child policy since the 1980’s and continues to advocate for people defending their human rights, including the rights of those who were forcibly evicted in Shanghai.
Her husband Wu Xuewei received a notice from Shanghai Yangpu District police bureau that prosecutors have started the formal court proceedings on August 28, 2006. The trial is likely to be held soon. She was charged with the criminal offence of “willfully damaging property” on June 30 2006. Police claimed that she broke a lamp in a government-run Communist Youth League guesthouse, where she was detained incommunicado from March 8 to May 11, 2006.
Mao Hengfeng wrote from the detention center to his family to ask them to find human rights lawyers to represent her. Her husband Wu Xuewei is also being held under bail for disturbing social order, so he could not represent Mao Hengfeng. Wu Xuewei said the family is too poor to afford the transportation and accommodation costs for a pro bono lawyer.
Mao Hengfeng has been previously detained on numerous occasions – including in psychiatric facilities, Re-education Through Labour camps, etc. She has reportedly been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during detention. For more information about Ms. Mao, please visit: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=888.
September 2: Shanghai Bar Association calls for an end to violence against lawyers
The Shanghai Bar Association issued a letter to the Shanghai Bureau of Justice calling for investigation into the attack on a Shanghai lawyer Mao Liequn when he was investigating a case at a dock in Shanghai. The Bar Association called for a review of laws in order to guarantee lawyers’ safety in carrying out their work without fear for their lives. On August 26, 2006, Mao Liequn was allegedly attacked by ten men who broke his nose among other injuries at a dock in Pudong, while he was trying to investigate a case on behalf of a Hong Kong company. The Hong Kong company wanted a pair of brothers surnamed Shen to vacate the dock, which they had illegally occupied to store cargo.
August 25: Zhao Yan sentenced after allegedly unfair trial
On August 25, former New York Times Beijing bureau researcher Zhao Yan was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for fraud by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court. An additional charge of leaking state secrets was dismissed. Zhao, 44, was detained on September 16, 2004, but was not tried until almost two years later. The charges against him were dropped twice, prior to Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States. However, Zhao was again charged with fraud and leaking state secrets. However, the court had postponed his trial, following international pressure, several times before he was finally tried and sentenced. For more information on Zhao Yan, please visit: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=893
August 25: Journalist Zan Aizhong detained for 7 days for reporting house church demolition
Zan Aizhong, a reporter from China Ocean Newspaper, a government-run paper, was given 7 days detention under the new Social Security Punishment Law. Mr. Zan published a report based on interviews he conducted about the demolition of a house church in Xiaoshan District, Dangshan County, Hangzhou City, on July 29, 2006. The official news agency Xinhua had reported that the demolition was carried out peacefully and that the church was illegally built on land appropriated by the government for a county rebuilding project. However, Zan disclosed a different story based on his own investigations.
He posted online his findings, which reported detention and torture of house church members by police. After the report was circulated widely, inside and outside China, Zan was questioned by police from the Hangzhou City PSB’s Internet monitoring squad. Zan’s office computer was confiscated. On August 11, the same police searched his house and questioned him for a second time. He was charged with “Intentionally disturbing the social order” and put under 7 days detention. He was also dismissed from his job after being released 7 days later.
August 24: Policeman Wu Youming punished for exposing problems with China’s residential registration system
Policeman Wu Youming was fined 20,000 yuan after he published an article exposing China’s residential registration (hukou) system in Southern Weekend Newspaper. Wu was a new police recruit stationed in a village in Huangshi City, Hubei Province. Since February 2006 when he began working there, he discovered that more than 40 deaths and more than 30 births had not been registered. Wu decided to write about the problem of the residential registration system in general, including the fees police charge for registration of births and deaths, and punishment for births outside official birth quota, as well as discrimination against unregistered people. This under-registrition has caused problems of inaccuracy in China’s demograraphical data. Many unregistered people have no access to welfare.
After the article was published, Wu received an administrative punishment decision, which did not directly target his article, but claimed that a poetry magazine he runs is illegal and fined him almost one year’s salary. Wu is now appealing the decision.
August 23: HIV/AIDS activist Li Xige released under international pressure; another beaten by security guard
HIV/AIDS activist Li Xige, together with seven women and a five-year-old girl who have HIV/AIDS, was detained by police on July 18 in Beijing while trying to lobby the national Ministry of Health for compensation for those who contracted HIV/AIDS from blood transfusions. They traveled to Beijing from their homes in Ningling County, Henan Province, to call on the Ministry to help them obtain compensation from the local government.
While the others were released shortly after, Li Xige and two other women were charged with “gathering people to assault a State organ” under article 290 of the Chinese Criminal Code after they refused to disclose details of their complaint to the Ministry of Health. The other two were later released on bail, but Li Xige was not released until August 10, under international pressure in the run-up to the 14th World AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, which began on August 13. However, Li Xige is still under close surveillance and not allowed to leave her hometown.
Li Xige’s nine-year-old daughter died of AIDS in 2004. Both Li Xige and her younger daughter were infected with HIV through a blood transfusion when Li Xige gave birth by caesarean section. In the wake of her daughter’s death, Li Xige discovered that there were more than 40 local women and 10 children who had became infected with HIV in similar circumstances. She founded an organization called Kanglejia (“Healthy Happy Home”) to provide support and legal assistance to those living with HIV/AIDS.
According to Beijing AIZHIXING Institute, on August 23, another woman, an HIV/AIDS patient, Wang Qiuyun, was severely beaten when she went along with four other HIV patients to the city government in HeBi city, Henan province, to request a meet with the mayor.
August 23: Rural teachers protest in different provinces; many are reportedly detained
Over the past few months, dozens of village teachers from Hubei and Guizhou provinces protested against corruption in the education system and demanded better salaries and benefits. Several have been detained. One teacher from Siuzhou City, Hubei province, Xu Peifa, was sentenced on August 17 to 7 days detention under the Public Security Punishment Law. Authorities claimed that Xu led nearly 60 teachers to surround the government office building in protest and caused interference with government work for nearly two hours on August 7.
Rural teachers, paid by locally-collected funds, not by government, are discriminated against in that their salaries are not guaranteed. Since the government concentrates resources to develop free education in urban areas, rural education has been left behind due to under-funding. Rural teachers receive very low salaries or even work on a volunteer basis.
In 1997, former Prime Minster Zhu Rongji and the State Council issued a document to recognize these teacher’s contributions and launched an examination system. Those who pass will receive governmental teacher status and could enjoy equivalent compensation and benefits including pension fund as teachers in urban schools. Some experienced rural teachers who passed the exam, however, have not received the compensation and some are forced by local officials to retire early or leave the job without compensation.
Hundreds of rural teachers who were treated in these ways protested and asked for help with their basic subsistence. However, their demands were not heard by the government; instead authorities have cracked down on protesters. To dates, dozens of rural teachers were beaten during protests or detained for disturbing public order.
August 22: Sichuan activist leading rural protest against land appropriation seriously injured from police beating
Liu Zhengyou, a rights activist in Zigong City, Sichuan Province and representative of villagers fighting land loss without fair compensation, was badly beaten by unidentified individuals right in front of police and suffered multiple injuries. Liu has petitioned the government on behalf of the farmers and urged the government to negotiate with peasants to settle the land dispute fairly. He has participated in peaceful demonstrations with the farmers. For more information about Liu Zhengyou and the Zigong farmers’ struggle, please visit: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=885, https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1601.
Editor: Zhong Yan