China Infringes Upon Rights to Take Part in Government through Free Election

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China Infringes Upon Rights to Take Part in Government through Free Election

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China Infringes Upon Rights to Take Part in Government through Free Election

– Widespread harassment on independent candidates in local races for People’s Congress

(Beijing, September 27,2006) During the county-district-township simultaneous elections for delegates to local People’s Congress, which have been underway in China for several months now, Communist Party and government authorities have targeted independent candidates seeking election in many parts of the country. Some candidates have been beaten, detained for questioning, threatened, or pressured by their employees to withdraw. CRD monitors of this election allege bribery, vote buying, refusal to register, behind-the-scenes selection, and other election irregularities. The increasing incidents of repression are indications of widespread violations of “the right to take part in the government of his [her] country, directly or through freely chosen representatives,” infringing upon the free expression of “the will of the people” “in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” (Article 21, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Incidents of harassment and intimidation of independent candidates are on the rise.

In March 2006, during the first round of votes, Feng Qiusheng, an independent candidate and leader in the Taishi villagers’ campaign to remove a corrupt village head in the summer of 2005 who was detained for several months, won far more votes than other candidates. Elections had started earlier in Panyu District, Guangdong Province. However, the government of Dongyong Township, a town in Panyu, controlled the process and maneuvered to have Mr. Feng removed from the list of qualified candidates.

On July 26, local PC incumbents Yao Lifa, Yan Liehan and four others were detained by police for questioning in Xiantao City, Hubei Province, when they were in a meeting sharing experiences with first-time candidates. Mr. Yao and the other four were forced to leave the city, while Mr. Yan Liehan was detained for 24 hours.

On July 30, Zuo Xiaohuan, a professor at Leshan Teachers’ College in Sichuan Province announced his decision to seek election to the local PC. Authorities at his college, apparently under pressure from the local government, pressured him to drop his bid and threatened to take away his position at the college.

In August, independent candidate Zhou Tao disclosed that, in Luohu District, Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, all district candidates had already been decided by the government. Independent candidates have no chance to participate in the election.

In September, independent candidates in all the districts in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, were detained for questioning in advance of the vote. They were accused of engaging in activities harmful to the election.

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. This virtual political party was established in August 2004. It claims currently to have thousands of registered members all over the country. The group’s slogan is to uphold the “three peoples principles” (san min zhu yi), to learn from Taiwan’s demoractization, and to promote the one-China unification policy.

On September 25, Cai Aiming, another Pan-Blue Alliance member in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, was detained by police around 11am. Mr. Cai was distributing election campaign materials with two other friends at the time of his detention. Mr. Cai is seeking election to the local PC. By 2pm on September 26, he had not yet been released.

One candidate, Wen Yan (nickname Sun Erwu), who is running as a member of the Pan-Blue Alliance in Wuhan City, 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, and they have been monitored or detained by local officials.

The elections of local delegates to the local People’s Congress are held now in different parts of the county, and are running from July 2006 to the end of 2007. This is the first round of nationwide local elections since the 2004 amendment of the PRC Constitution, the Election Law, and the Local Organization Law, which changed the length of terms for delegates to the county-township People’s Congress from three years to five years. More than 2,800 counties and 35,400 townships will hold elections during this time. More than 900 million people are supposed to vote. More than two million delegates are to be directly elected or re-elected to office. Anyone with more than 10 signatures of endorsement can seek election, according to China’s Election Law. The People’s Congress, China’s legislative body, though traditionally known as the rubber stamp for the one-party rule, is becoming increasingly assertive. Direct election is allowed only in the elections of delegates to the local PC. (Direct election is also practiced in the elections of Villagers’ Committee in rural China, but such communities are not part of the government and those elections’ political significance is thus much more limited.) Such elections are now becoming the hotbed of some truly competitive political campaigns, often contested by independent candidates. Outspoken critics, independent party organizers, NGO AIDS activists, and so on, have joined the local races in the past several months.

CRD demands the Chinese government to take effective measures to stop the harassment and intimidation of independent candidates, and guarantee Chinese citizens’ safety and freedom in exercising their constitutional and human right to political participation.

CRD also requests the UN Human Rights Council and relevant UN rights mechanisms as well as other international stakeholders – NGOs, the media – to monitor the degenerating situation very closely, doing what they could to protect the newly emerged, nevertheless marginal, space in the Chinese political culture for free and fair exercise of the right to political participation through periodical vote to express the people’s will.

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