Human Rights Defender Liu Jie Sentenced to Re-Education through LaborComments Off on Human Rights Defender Liu Jie Sentenced to Re-Education through Labor
Human Rights Defender Liu Jie Sentenced to Re-Education through Labor
Chinese authorities must stop using Re-Education through Labor camps and arbitrary detention to penalize activists
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, November 12, 2007) – Veteran rural campaigner and human rights activist, Liu Jie (刘杰), 55 years old, of Beian City, Heilongjiang Province, has been sentenced to Re-Education through Labor (RTL) for 18 months by the Heilongjiang Provincial Nongken (Military Farm Bureau) Public Security Bureau. Accused of “instigating trouble” and “disturbing social order,” Liu Jie was the lead organizer of a public letter signed by 12,150 petitioners calling on leaders at the 17th Chinese Communist Party Congress to implement political and legal reforms.
“When the authorities lack evidence to file charges against Ms. Liu, like in so many other cases where the authorities made up their mind to punish activists, they throw her into the RTL camps without any legal procedures,” said one activist who has been following the case.
On October 13, Liu was detained and charged with “gathering crowds to disturb social order.” On October 26, Liu’s husband was told by officers at the Beian City Nongken Detention Center, where Liu is detained, that she would be released today. However, when he went to the detention center this afternoon, he was told by Beian City Nongken that they have decided to send Liu to RTL.
RTL is an administrative detention measure, according to which, without any proper legal procedures or court proceedings, the Public Security Bureau can send individuals to detention facilities for a maximum of four years. Detainees sent to RTL are deprived of their rights to legal counsel and appeal.
CHRD believes that Liu has been detained and sent to RTL solely for peaceful expression of opinion and organizing fellow citizens to voice their concerns. The authorities have abused Liu’s rights to freedom of expression and of association guaranteed in, respectively, 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.
Liu has been sent to RTL without trial or access to lawyers, violating her rights to due process, free and fair trial and legal counsel, which are protected under the PRC Criminal Procedure Law, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9), which China has signed but not yet ratified, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 9-11).
CHRD calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Liu.
CHRD also calls for the abolition of the RTL system, as it violates the PRC Constitution, myriad national laws and international human rights laws. The Chinese government should also immediately and unconditionally release all detainees of RTL camps or prosecute them for internationally recognizable crimes through open and fair legal procedures.
CHRD urges the government to protect human rights defenders as China promised to do 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 RTL 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 voice petitioners’ concerns, monitor and investigate harassment and rights abuses that petitioners face, and provide them with legal consultation.
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 Soviet Union, 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 be overruled only by the Chinese Communist Party’s Political and Legal Work Committee.
Click here for a previous CHRD briefing on Liu Jie.
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.
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