CRD Protests Detention of Cai Aiming

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In China’s Arbitrary Detention System – “Reform Through Labor”

CRD, for immediate release
March 27, 2007

CRD Protests Detention of Cai Aiming:
In China’s Arbitrary Detention System – “Re-education Through Labor”

The utterly arbitrary nature of the detention system – Re-education Through Labor (RTL, lao jiao) system – is accentuated this week by the case of Cai Aiming.

On Sunday morning, March 25, 2007, police in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, took into custody Cai Aiming, male, a local activist who ran for election for a seat in the local People’s Congress last year and repeatedly petitioned the government for grievances against officials. By 6pm on Sunday, after being questioned by police, he was sent to a RTL camp. Zhengzhou police called Cai’s wife around 6pm to tell her that the local RTL Administration, a government agency, decided to jail Cai for one year in the local RTL camp for “the crime of joining illegal organization.”

Mr. Cai is active in the Henan chapter of the online virtual group Fan Lan (a group of self-proclaimed followers of the Nationalist Party in Taiwan). Activists have operated on the Internet to call for multi-party political reform, support local democratic elections, and post information on abuses of citizens’ rights. Police questioned another member, Li Tianxiang, accusing him of joining “illegal organization,” in Wuhan, Hubei Province, on March 26 and threatened Li, male, with arrest unless he left the group. It is unclear whether the online virtual group has been declared by central government authorities a “reactionary” (fan dong) organization, a label used to brand opposition political groups, which would give police nationwide the green light to arrest all members.

CRD condemns the swift sentencing of Cai Aiming to one-year deprivation of freedom without court hearing or any judiciary review. It is yet another blatant violation under the RTL system of the right to freedom from arbitrary detention and the right to fair trial. CRD believes that Cai only acted to exercise his right to free association and free expression as well as his right to help protect fellow citizens’ rights. CRD calls for the immediate release of Cai Aiming and the abolition of RTL.

The RTL is an administrative detention system, where anyone can be incarcerated and forced to labor by police officials for up to 3-4 years. Police only need to get permission from the RTL Administration (lao jiao guan li jue), an office under the local government, before taking away a person’s freedom. The RTL system has come under increasing criticisms by activists and intellectuals in China. During the recent National People’s Congress annual session, which ended on March 13, some citizens urged deputies to push for legislations or constitutional review procedures to end this arbitrary detention system.

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