China Human Rights Briefing June 1 – June 30, 2007Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing June 1 – June 30, 2007
China Human Rights Briefing
A monthly update of human rights news
Like the past 18 years, there is no dull moment in the month of June, as “6.4” marks the anniversary of the 1989 military suppression of student protests.
Activists take the opportunity to mobilize when many commemorated victims of Tiananmen massacre privately, while a few tried to do it in public. Activists tried to pressure the government to investigate the killings and rally support for other causes of justice. For instance, on this special occasion, about 2,900 villagers in Heilongjiang Province wrote an open letter to the government saying, “We don’t want the Olympics; we want human rights.” Officials from the Fujin City government had forcibly taken over the villagers’ farmland for development and provided grossly meager compensations for confiscated land. In the letter, the villagers stated that as long as they have no land and no means of subsistence, it does not matter how many gold medals China wins in the Games. Housing rights petitioners in Shanghai are also gathering signatures on a petition “[We] Want Human Rights, Not Olympics,” which has so far gathered 800 plus signatures since June 27. The petitioners cited the fear that during the Beijing Olympics in Summer 2008, petitioners for various grievances will be locked up.
Without exception, then, June has seen more detentions and arrests:
Scholars, dissidents and activists were put under heightened pressure around the June 4 anniversary. From May 30 until June 6, Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), who was injured in the 1989 crackdown, was held under house arrest in Changping County and not allowed any contact with the outside world.
On June 3, Beijing police held lawyer Pu Zhiqiang （浦志强） at the Tiananmen Square and took him and two others to the PSB precinct for questioning for three hours. Police prevented him from visiting the site and honoring the students and protesters killed on June 4. Pu tries to go to Tiananmen Square every year on the night of June 3rd. in an act of commemoration. Police accompanied him all day the next day. https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200706/20070605093439_4543.html
Tiananmen is not “a thing of the past.” The Chinese government still refused to reverse its verdict on the 1989 pro-democracy movement as “counter-revolutionary riot.” It continues to jail political prisoners for participating in the 1989 protests and refuses to apologize to families of those killed or injured in the military crackdown. As Chinese Human Rights Defenders disclosed, at least thirteen Beijing civilians sentenced to life in prison or a suspended death sentence for their roles in the 1989 protests are still imprisoned in Beijing or its surrounding areas. CHRD demanded their immediate release and asked authorities to permit independent investigations of the massacre 18 years ago and releasing all Tiananmen prisoners. Details about the thirteen cases can be found here: https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class15/200706/20070603152843_4535.html
It is a crime, however, to make such calls publicly in China. A man (only his family name is know as Feng) was arrested on suspicion of placing a small classified advertisement in the Chengdu Evening News, Sichuan Province, on June 4th to salute the mothers of those killed in the Tiananmen massacre. Police in Chengdu confirmed that they had apprehended the man but refused to give any other information about Mr. Feng. Seven employees were dismissed from the Chengdu Evening News after the incident. The deputy editor of the paper, Li Shaojun, was suspended from work for several days. For more information, please view http://www.msguancha.com/Article/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=495
On May 31, police in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province detained Fu Tao (傅涛), a reporter for the “Civil Privacy Rights Web” without undergoing any legal procedures, and confiscated his computer, camera and cell phone from his home. When his family asked about his whereabouts, the police told them he would be held for 15 days for investigation. On June 12, police sent his family an arrest warrant, accusing him of “attempting to subvert state power,” and ordering his detention be extended 15 more days. Fu had reported a number of stories that angered local officials.
On June 4, after spending more than four months in detention, Beijing petitioner and Christian Hua Huiqi （华惠奇）was sentenced in a secret trial to six months in prison. Neither his lawyer nor family was notified of the trial and were prevented from entering the court after finding the time of the trial by searching online themselves.
On June 18, Guo Qizhen’s wife, sisters and brother visited him in prison and discovered that he had received many injuries, and was unable to hold his neck up straight or walk due to severe beatings. Guo Qizhen (郭起真) told his family that fellow prisoners had been instructed to beat him, but Guo did not know by whom. Guo was sentenced to four years in prison last October on charges of subversion after he exposed local corruption in Hebei. For more information about Mr. Guo’s case, please see https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class65/Index.html
On June 19, Ms. Yuan Weijing, wife of Chen Guangcheng （陈光诚）, visited Chen at the Linyi City Prison in Shandong Province. Mr. Chen told his wife that he had been beaten by six other prisoners, who had been instigated to do so by prison guards. On June 16, Chen said, the six inmates hit and kicked him hard. The beating came after Mr. Chen had refused to have his head shaved. Ms. Yuan saw wounds on Mr. Chen’s legs during her prison visit. CHRD protested the beating and reiterated its demand for his immediate and unconditional release: https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class15/200706/20070620081900_4707.html
Zhang Zilin (张子霖), male, 21, the provisional head of the China Pan-Blue Alliance was formally arrested on suspicion of “bribery and extortion”. Mr. Zhang, an artistic designer of advertisements, was originally the head of the Hunan branch of the China Pan-Blue Alliance, an online virtual alliance, but was later named provisional head of the group after head Sun Bu’er disappeared on May 24. In recent years Zhang has actively participated in local rights defense actions. He was arrested on May 29 after calling for the release of imprisoned fellow China Pan-Blue Alliance members.
On June 26, Chongqing Pan-Blue Alliance member Xiong Jiahu （熊家瑚）was given a two-year term in a “Re-education Through Labor” camp on charges of “soliciting prostitution” by local police. Two weeks earlier, on June 13, he had been given a 15-day detention order and then sent to the Re-education Through Labor camp once that time was served. Xiong’s girlfriend does not accept the charge and believes it stems from Xiong’s participation in the Pan-Blue Alliance. She plans to hire a lawyer to apply for administrative review of the case.
On June 6 and 9, police detained Pan-Blue Alliance members Xie Fulin （谢福林） and Li Dongzhuo （李冬卓）from their homes. Police have refused to respond to their families’ inquiries and legal procedures were not followed in the arrest. This follows the detention last month of two other members of the mainland Pan-Blue Alliance. Mr. Li was released on June 15, Mr. Xie on June 20, after being put under administrative detention for 10 and 15 days respectively.
On June 28, Beijing activist Gao Hongming （高洪明）was released from prison after completing his eight year sentence for organizing the China Democracy Party in 1998.
Domestic media uncovered the existence of forced labor at brick kilns in Shanxi Province after the fathers of children forcibly sold to the kilns posted an open letter online asking for help finding their children. Following investigations by domestic and international media, it was revealed that one kiln in Hongtong County, where workers， including children, were living in slave-like conditions, was run by Wang Bingbing, the son of the local Communist Party Secretary. Twelve people involved with running the kilns, including Wang Bingbing, are currently on trial. However, none is charged for illegal use of child/slave labor.
Freedom of movement denied
On the afternoon of June 10, customs officials at the Beijing Airport prevented grassroots democracy activist Yao Lifa (姚立法), of Hubei Province, from leaving the country. On June 11, Beijing activist Zeng Jingyan （曾金燕）was similarly intercepted at the airport and her passport was confiscated. Both Yao and Zeng were on their way to Europe to attend an international human rights training. https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200706/20070611232724_4628.html
The Beijing human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) was taken from his home to a location outside Beijing on June 24 to prevent him from leaving the country. He was scheduled to fly to the U.S. on June 30 to receive the American Board of Trial Advocates award at a ceremony in Santa Barbara, California.
Freedom of expression and press
On June 26, the Anhui-based news site “Zhongguo Baixing Wang” (中国百姓网) was ordered by authorities to shut down in retaliation for its reporting on the dismissal and detention of a former Shanghai policeman who became a whistle blower on local official corruption. Shanghai police accused the site for posting “illegal information” and the Shanghai PSB send people to Chengdu, Sichuan Province, to cut off the server for the site. The website was created by Mr. Niu Zhilin, a journalist at the Anhui Economic News agency.
On June 20, journalist Miao Wei (苗葳) was forced to resign from his post at the China County Regional Economic News (中国县域经济报) based in Shanxi Province. Mr. Miao was said to have made “anti-communist party and anti-socialism” speech after he criticized his paper for not focusing on good news reporting but pressuring journalists to attract profitable reporting contracts in an interview with Radio Free Asia.
Housing and land rights
On June 25, in Guyuan City, Ningxia Muslim Autonomous Region, armed police beat villagers who were protesting the government’s confiscation of their land in order to build an airport. More than 40 villagers were detained. Since then, every day several police cars have been patrolling the village. The men in the village who have not been detained have gone into hiding.
On June 24, Liu Shenggui (刘升贵), male, a representative of local farmers who have been negotiating with the government to cut unfair charges for utility, was arrested by police in Data Township, Yibin County, Sichuan Province. Police also arrested Liang Zengkui （梁曾奎）on June 25 and Wang Haiming （王海明） on June 26. Police searched Mr. Wang’s home. Mr. Liang was released later because he was seriously ill. On June 29, police took away two women and a man, the village chief, from Shiba village in the same township. Yibin County government called in more than 400 officials and policemen to cut electric wires and intimidate villagers. Many villagers have gone into hiding. Data villagers built the electric power plant themselves about forty years ago, but local government recently decided to take over the plant and charge villagers high fees for using the power. Villagers have tried to negotiate the terms and petition higher offices for adjudication, only to see their leaders sent to jail. Without seeing any hope for fair solutions, they decided to refuse paying utility charges. For more information on local villagers defending the power plant, see CHRD archives of individual cases: https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class66/Index.html
Laws and Regulations
According to the official Xinhua news agency, legislators deleted a provision in a draft of the Emergency Response Law (《突发事件应对法》) that could have imposed heavy fines on news organizations that publish “irregular” or “fraudulent” reports on sudden events. The new draft, which was presented to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on June 24, does not mention the media but states that “units and individuals are prohibited from fabricating or spreading false information regarding emergencies and government efforts to cope with emergencies.”
According to China.net, one official spokesman said at a press conference on June 19 that the State Council’s 2006 “Opinion Concerning Solution of Rural Migrant Laborers Problems” relaxed the requirements for rural migrants settling in cities, including allowing them to obtain residential registration in a city as long as they find legal permanent residencies in the cities. The Ministry of Public Security is revising documents regarding reform of the hu kou system, which is being sent to the PRC State Council for approval. Also, the State Council is guiding investigations of the legal basis for legislating Law on Residential Registration (《户口法》).
These are the major news from June. We apologize for the delay of this issue. Due to summer schedules, the next issue of China Human Rights Briefing will come out after the end of August as a special bi-monthly.
Su Hui, Zhong Yan
Editors, China Human Rights Briefing
A publication of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) is a non-political, non-government network of grassroots and international activists promoting human rights protection and empowering grassroots activism in China. CHRD’s objective is to build NGO capacities, monitor rights development, and assist victims of abuse. CHRD advocates non-violent and rule of law approaches. CHRD conducts investigation and research, provides information, organizes training, supports a program of small grants, and offers legal assistance.