China Human Rights Briefing January 1 – 15, 2008Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing January 1 – 15, 2008
China Human Rights Briefing
1-15 January 2008
The start of 2008 saw the authorities continue to tighten control over freedom of expression, especially in the “new” media. In late December, the Beijing municipal government issued regulations that punish SMS users for “endangering public security” and “spreading rumors.” In early January, the Chinese government approved regulations controlling video hosting and sharing on the internet. Confronted with the increasing use of the internet by human rights advocates and other civil society activists, the authorities are responding with repressive measures, with an example being an attack on the 64tianwang.com website at the beginning of the year.
The repression also extended to prominent human rights defenders. The jailed Zhejiang writer and poet Li Hong is seriously ill and has been denied release for medical treatment. Detained Beijing human rights defender Hu Jia is being held without access to legal counsel, and even his lawyers have been put under house arrest. Hubei petitioner and human rights defender Zheng Dajing remains incarcerated in a “black jail,” and despite his visibly deteriorating health, his jailers have intensified the maltreatment to which he has consistently been subjected. In good news, Ye Guoqiang and Jing Zhu, both earlier detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” have both been released on bail.
Editor: Wang Songlian
The Department of Broadcasting, Television and Film and the Department of Information Industry have just approved the Internet Audiovisual Programs Service Management Regulations, stipulating that only government-approved internet companies can host videos (including videos uploaded to be shared publicly) on the internet. According to the Regulations, the government-approved companies must report “problematic” videos to the government. The Regulations enter into effect on January 31. It is unclear whether or not attempts will be made to apply the regulations to videos hosted by foreign websites and viewable in China. (Xinhua)[i]
64tianwang.com, a website that focuses on human rights and social justice, was “attacked” for eight consecutive days beginning on December 28, 2007. Dozens of the website’s volunteers in Chengdu, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guangzhou and Denmark reported that their computers were maliciously attacked. As a result of the coordinated attack, in many parts of the world it was difficult to browse 64tianwang.com properly. (64tianwang)[ii]
The Department of Broadcasting, Television and Film published a prohibition dated January 3 of the distribution and screening of the film, “Pingguo (Lost in Beijing).” The Department penalized the film’s producer, Beijing Laolei Film Culture Limited, by cancelling its two-year license to film and prohibiting its owner and “Pingguo (Lost in Beijing)” filmmaker, Fang Li (方励), from working in the film industry for the next two years. The Department asserts that the film contains “unauthorized pornographic content”. “Pingguo (Lost in Beijing)” was shortlisted for the 2007 Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Award and was awarded a Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival. (Xinhua)[iii]
On January 3, two reporters from Sidney Pioneer Morning Post interviewing villagers about a local land dispute were taken to the police station for questioning in Dongnangang Village, Changan Township, Fujin City, Heilongjiang Province. Lu Guangliang, Fujin City’s vice-mayor, told the reporters that they could not interview villagers without government authorization.
In December 2007, 40,000 villagers in Fujin City released a public declaration of their rights to 100,000 hectares of land in their villages. Fujin City’s land disputes have generated much interest in the domestic and international media, making the local government very sensitive towards foreign reporting in the villages. In late 2007, three journalists from The Washington Post were also barred from interviewing villagers by the Fujin City Public Security Bureau. (Canyu)[iv]
On January 3, the police took Shanghai writer and activist, Li Jianhong (李剑虹,also known as Xiaoqiao (小乔)), from her home. She was detained at Bairuijia Hotel in Shanghai and released the following day after she staged a day-long hunger strike.
Li continues to be under house arrest. According to Li’s mother, since December 29, Li has been under close police monitoring and has not been allowed to leave her home without police authorization. The reason for Li’s house arrest is unknown. Reportedly, though it may be related to the detention of Beijing-based human rights defender, Hu Jia. (CRLW, ZYZG)[v]
On December 26, Liu Xiaoqun (刘小群), whose property was forcibly demolished in Laohekou City, Hubei Province, brought over a thousand copies of a protest letter entitled, “A Harmonized Society in Disharmony: Under the Mountain of Peace, We do not Live in Peace,” to the People’s Congress and People’s Court in Xiangfan City, Hubei Province with the intention of distributing the letter to passers-by. He was seized by the Xiangfan City Public Security Bureau (PSB). The PSB handed him to Laohekou City authorities, who criminally detained him at the Laohekou City Detention Center. On January 5, Liu was removed from criminal detention, but he continues to be detained in Room 105 of the Jiaotong Inn in Laohouke City. As many as nine local government officials guard Liu at a time. (CRLW)
CHRD learnt that jailed Zhejiang writer and poet, Li Hong (力虹), who is ill with a serious form of muscular dystrophy, has just been denied release for medical treatment. According to a letter by the Zhejiang Provincial Prison Management Bureau dated January 3, Li’s application was denied on the grounds that he is already receiving appropriate treatment at the Zhejiang Prison General Hospital. (CHRD)[vi]
On January 14, Li Jingsong (李劲松), lawyer of the detained Beijing-based human rights activist, Hu Jia, submitted an application for Hu Jia’s release on bail on medical grounds. Hu was diagnosed in 2006 with cirrhosis of the liver. According to Li, Hu’s medical situation is serious and warrants his release on bail.
On January 11 and 12, Li Jingsong and Hu’s other lawyer, Li Fangping (李方平), were placed under house arrest by Beijing police. On January 11, the two planned to visit Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) to discuss Hu’s case, but the meeting was cancelled due to police harassment of the lawyers. On January 11, Li Jingsong was under house arrest for a whole day. On January 12, without explanation, police from the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB), Chaoyang branch barred Li Fangping from leaving his home. Teng Biao (滕彪), another lawyer who had planned to visit Zeng on January 11 was also barred from leaving his home by the police.
On January 4, the lawyers’ application to visit Hu was denied by the Beijing PSB on the grounds that Hu’s case involves “state secrets.” Hu has been detained since December 27, 2007. (CHRD)[vii]
On January 11, Zhang Qing (张青), wife of jailed human rights defender, Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄, a.k.a.Yang Maodong (杨茂东)), called international attention to Guo’s situation in jail. Guo is currently serving a prison term for “operating an illegal business” in Meizhou Prison, Guangdong Province. He has been on a 100-day hunger strike since December 13. While on hunger strike, Guo has been forced to work eight hours a day and to attend evening lessons. On December 18, Guo was beaten in front of 200 other prisoners. Guo is also barred from contacting other prisoners or read newspapers or books. (CHRD)[viii]
Ye Guoqiang (叶国强), Beijing-based human rights activist criminally detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” was released on bail on January 9. Authorities placed conditions on Ye’s release, including that he not to make contact with anyone overseas or petition and that he be prepared to report to the police whenever summoned. Reportedly, Ye was released because the authorities understood that he has legitimate grievances and also because of national and international attention to his detention. Ye was taken into custody by police after he staged a protest calling on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to help disabled people in front of the Xuanwu District government building on September 29, 2007. He was first detained at the Beijing Xuanwu District Detention Center and later, from October 30 to January 9, at a secret location where he was guarded by 6 policemen. (CRLW)[ix]
Guangxi dissident writer, Jing Chu, (荆楚,also known as Wang Dejia (王德佳), was released on bail on January 13. He had been detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” since December 14, 2007. Authorities placed conditions on Jing’s release, including that he not to write political articles that “attack leaders of the Party and the State” or that “incite and subvert state power.” Jing says that he temporarily accepts these conditions but he retains the right to write about such topics in the future. He thanks all the people who have expressed concern for him and supported him. (CRLW)[x]
On January 5, Citizen’s Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW) learnt that Wuhan petitioner, Yang Chunxiu (杨春秀), was released on December 21, 2007, after a year’s detention at a psychiatric hospital.
On November 7, 2006, while petitioning in Beijing, Yang was caught by interceptors from the Wuhan City Beijing Liaison Office. Two days later, Yang was sent to Liujiaoting Psychiatric hospital in Wuhan. She was then transferred to Wuhan City Psychiatric Hospital.
Yang denies that she is mentally ill and said she was punished for petitioning. Yang also said that during her detention, she was force-fed medication on many occasions which caused dizziness. She also witnessed the detention of many other petitioners at the two hospitals. (CRLW)
Another Wuhan petitioner, Wang Chunzhen (王春贞), from Zilixin Village, Hanyang District, has been detained since September 2006 at several psychiatric institutions in Wuhan. On December 9, 2007, Wang released a public letter addressed to President Hu Jintao to call his attention to her situation. Prior to her detention, Wang had petitioned in regard to the forced demolition of her property. (CRLW, 64tianwang)
Petitioner and human rights defender, Zheng Dajing (郑大靖), has been detained since September 2007, when he was intercepted in Beijing and sent back to Hubei Province. He continues to suffer beatings at an illegal black jail at Yancao Station, Hongtai Yuansigou Village, Hubei Province.
On January 5, Zheng’s wife Cao Xiangzhen (曹祥珍 ) said that when his family saw him last, Zheng’s health had visibly deteriorated and that the authorities had increased their mistreatment and beating of him. (64tianwang)[xi]
According to a recent report, 2008 China Social Situation: Analysis and Predictions, published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, children of migrant workers face serious discrimination in access to education. Due largely to their parents’ lack of residence (hukou) permits in the places where they live, 9.3% of them do not attend school at all. The report asserts that the key to redressing the discrimination is to lift restrictions linked to the residence system. According to a census conducted two years ago, there are about 120 million migrant workers throughout China, and 20 million children accompany these workers. (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee’s Organization Department and the Public Security Bureau have released a notice calling on all organization departments and Public Security Bureaus to strengthen their coordination in managing and collecting information about the migrant population in China. The notice requests that local police, when processing temporary residence (hukou) registrations and permits, also record temporary residents’ political status. By June 2008, the notice says, the political profiles of temporary residents registered before the notice came into effect will have to be recorded. (Xinhua)[xii]
[vii] CHRD, “Hu Jia Application for Release on Bail,” January 15, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website; CHRD, “Hu Jia’s Lawyers Li Jingsong and Li Fangping Under House Arrest,” January 12, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.
[xi] RFA, “Hubei Petitioner Zheng Dajing Beaten During Detention,” January 10, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website; RFA, “Hubei Petitioner Zheng Dajing Beaten and Illegally Detained After Being Intercepted in Beijing,” January 3, 2008, available here on CHRD website.
[xii] Xinhua, “The CCP Organization Department and the Public Security Bureau Release Notice Calling for the Registration of the Political Profile of Migrants,” January 5, 2008, available here in Chinese on Xinhua’s website.