Police Detain Organizers of Open Letter to 17th Party CongressComments Off on Police Detain Organizers of Open Letter to 17th Party Congress
Police Detain Organizers of Open Letter to 17th Party Congress
Government must fulfil pledge to protect human rights defenders
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, October 22 , 2007)- Liu Jie (刘杰), of Beian City, Heilongjiang Province, was detained on October 13 for suspicion of “gathering crowds to disturb social order.” She was the lead organizer of a public letter signed by 12,150 petitioners calling on leaders at the 17th Party Congress to implement political and legal reforms.
Ms. Liu’s family obtained Liu’s formal detention order from the Public Security Bureau of the Beian City Military Farm Bureau (nong ken) in Heilongjiang Province. Liu Jie, 55, is currently detained at the Beian Nongken Detention Center. The detention order cites Article 61 of the PRC Criminal Procedure Law. The article pertains to the initial detention of “major suspects” or “active offenders” and thus does not address the substance of any supposed crime committed by Liu.
Liu’s husband, Fu Jingjiang (付景江), is believed to have also been in detention by the same police force. He has not been seen since petitioners saw him being taken away in a police vehicle in Harbin on October 15. He is believed to have been sent to the detention center in Beian City.
Another organizer of the petition, Wang Guilan (王桂兰), female, from Enshi City, Hubei Province, was detained on October 14 under suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” She was first detained in the Enshi City Liaison Office in Beijing and reportedly sent to Hubei Province on October 15 for detention. “6.4 Tianwang” reported that Wang called from the place of her detention in Hubei and said she would be released on October 22.
CHRD believes that Liu Jie is detained solely for peaceful expression of opinion and organizing others to express their opinions. Her detention violates the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association guaranteed, respectively, in Articles 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed. These rights are also enshrined in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.
CHRD calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Liu and others detained in connection with the same activities. CHRD also calls on the government to protect human rights defenders as China promised to do so when it endorsed the Declaration to Protect Human Rights Defenders at the UN General Assembly in 1999.
In the early 1990s, Ms. Liu signed a contract with the state-run Xunke Farm, part of a military agricultural brigade, in Heilongjiang Province to take over a dairy business. In 1997, after Liu’s family had turned the dairy into a profitable business, the brigade broke the contract and repossessed the dairy. After having exhausted all legal avenues to reclaim the farm, she began petitioning the central government. Since 2003, Liu has annually organized petitioners to submit open letters advocating legal and political reforms including abolition of the Re-Education Through Labor detention system and constitutional review of the Letters and Visits administrative adjudication process. The letters are addressed to Chinese leaders attending important meetings, such as the annual National People’s Congress. In March 2005, Liu and supporters set up an informal group, Home of Petitioners, to assist petitioners, monitor and investigate harassment and rights abuses that petitioners face, and provide them with legal consultation. Ms. Liu, a farmer by profession, has taught herself Chinese law. She is devoted to defending fellow petitioners’ rights through use of the law, holding authorities accountable for violating China’s Constitution and obligations to international human rights treaties.
Liu’s contracted dairy business is part of a state farm that is a remnant of the military system in China’s border regions. Before the economic reforms in the late 1970s, China heavily deployed soldiers along the border with the former USSR, and military farms were established to provide food for the army. After the 1970s, these farms were contracted out to former soldiers and their families, one of which was Liu’s. These farms are not under local government jurisdiction, but under that of the Nongken Bureau, a parallel administration. Nongken Bureau has its own Public Security Bureau, prosecutors and courts and can only be overruled by the Chinese Communist Party’s Political and Legal Work Committee.
Click here for a previous CHRD briefing on Liu Jie.