China Human Rights Briefing February 1 – 15, 2008

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China Human Rights Briefing
Reporting human rights development from the grassroots

February 1-15, 2008


In the first half of February, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were unable to go home for Chinese New Year due to a snowstorm that swept across large portions of south-central China. However, human rights activists, unable to go home to their families for a different reason—because of being detained for peacefully exercising and advocating for human rights—were much less visible in the media.

“Inciting subversion of state power”—a crime routinely used to persecute those exercising their right to freedom of expression—continues to be invoked by authorities. On February 5, Hangzhou writer, Lu Gengsong, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. Yang Chunlin, a Heilongjiang farmers’ representative, is currently awaiting trial and may be convicted of the same charge on February 19. And Beijing-based human rights defender, Hu Jia, was formally charged with the same crime on January 29.

Imprisoned human rights activists, Guo Qizhen and Liu Jie, suffer from serious illness and are seeking release for medical treatment. The authorities have either delayed processing or rejected their requests for release and continue to delay provision of appropriate treatment, leading to further deterioration of their health.

CHRD welcomes the release of journalists, Ching Cheong, Yu Huafeng and Li Changqing, and activists, Xu Zhengqing and Huang Yixuan. Although this is good news, it only highlights the recent arrests and imprisonment of other writers and activists.

Editor: Wang Songlian

Table of Contents

Freedom of Expression

Cyber Censors Block Dissemination of CHRD/RSF Report on Internet Censorship

On February 1, CHRD and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) obtained a copy of a directive issued by the Beijing Information Office, which is responsible for internet censorship, to websites and Internet Service Providers in China, instructing them to block online circulation of the report, “Journey to the Heart of Internet Censorship”, published by the two organizations on October 10, 2007. (CHRD)[i]

Former Nanfang Daily Editor Yu Huafeng Released

On February 8, former editor of Nanfang Daily, Yu Huafeng (喻华峰), was released after serving nearly four years of his eight-year sentence. Yu was convicted of “corruption” and sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment on March 19, 2004. His sentence was reduced to eight years in June 2004. Nanfang Daily is a government newspaper that had been operating at a loss. Under Yu’s management, the paper started to turn a profit, report on important social issues and improve its reputation. (CHRD)[ii]

Harrassment and persecution of activists

Heilongjiang Activist Yang Chunlin to Be Tried on February 19

Yang Chunlin (杨春林), a Heilongjiang human rights defender arrested on August 13 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”, is to be tried on February 19 by Jiamusi City Intermediate People’s Court in Heilongjiang Province. Yang’s trial is to be closed because, according to the authorities, the case involves “state secrets.”

Yang is currently incarcerated at the Heitong Detention Center, Heilongjiang Province. Police at the Detention Center have denied his family’s repeated requests to visit Yang and refused to let them know about his situation. The authorities have also repeatedly harassed Yang’s family, including wire-tapping their phone to prevent them from calling attention to Yang’s situation. Although Yang was allowed to meet with his lawyers once on October 25, 2007, no further meetings have been permitted. (CHRD)[iii]

Workers’ Representative Allowed Family Visits After Hunger Strike

On January 28, Li Guohong (李国宏 ), a laid-off workers’ representative at Zhongyuan Oil Field sent to Re-education Through Labor (RTL) for “gathering crowds to cause trouble” in November 2007, staged a hunger strike protesting that RTL authorities had barred his family from visiting him. Since his detention, the authorities had allowed only one visit from Li’s wife. On February 1, days after the hunger strike, his father was able to visit him. According to his wife, Li endures hard labor in the camp and there is poor food. (CHRD)[iv]

Shanghai Housing Rights Activist Xu Zhengqing Released

On January 29, Xu Zhengqing (许正清), a Shanghai housing rights activist, was released after serving three years in prison for “provoking and making trouble”. His family and supporters waited outside the prison, while about a dozen policemen escorted Xu through the prison’s backdoor and sent him home in a police car.

Since 2003, Xu had campaigned against forced evictions carried out by the Shanghai government. He was arrested on January 29, 2005, when he attempted to attend the funeral of Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳), the late Chinese Communist Party Secretary. A group in which he was travelling was intercepted and escorted back to Shanghai by the police. Xu was formally arrested after he shouted while in the custody of the police that he had been beaten. (CHRD)[v]

Consumer Rights Activist Huang Yixuan Released

On February 4, consumer rights activist, Huang Yixuan (黄义轩) was released from Nanchang Detention Centre in Jiangxi Province. Huang was formally arrested on suspicion of “extortion and blackmail” on December 3, 2007. From Liuzhou, Guangxi Province, Huang had complained about and sought compensation from telecommunications providers that had cheated consumers. (CRLW)[vi]

Imprisoned Writer Guo Qizhen Suffers Necrosis As a Result of Beatings

Guo Qizhen (郭起真 ), a Hebei internet writer sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power” in October 2006, has been confirmed to have a necrotic thigh after a physical check-up at Shijiazhuang No. 260 Hospital.

Guo is in poor health and has a crippled leg, the result of an accident in 2005 during Guo’s petition to the Cangzhou City government in Hebei Province. The prison authorities have denied him treatment, citing their view that he is “an important political prisoner”. While in prison, Guo has been beaten several times. It is believed that the lack of treatment while in prison and the beatings have caused the necrosis.[vii]

RTL Management Committee Delays Decision over Liu Jie’s Application for Release for Medical Treatment

On February 5, Heilongjiang Nongken Re-education Through Labor (RTL) Management Committee was scheduled to decide on Liu Jie’s (刘杰) application for release for medical treatment. However, the Committee, citing the Chinese New Year holiday, said it was unable to respond to the application.

Liu is a veteran rural campaigner and human rights defender currently serving 18 months of Re-education through Labor in Qiqihaer, Heilongjiang province. According to a doctor who examined her on December 20, Liu will go blind if she does not receive proper treatment immediately. Liu’s eye injuries require treatment unavailable in Heilongjiang Province, so she must be sent to Beijing for treatment. Since then, Liu’s family has demanded her release for medical treatment but has not received a response from the authorities. (CHRD)[viii]

Housing Rights Activist Ye Guoqiang Can’t Afford Medication After Release

Ye Guoqiang (叶国强), Beijing-based human rights activist released on bail on January 9, said he cannot afford medication for cerebral and heart diseases.

Together with his brother, Ye Guozhu (叶国柱), Ye had petitioned the government to compensate them for forcibly demolishing their home and restaurant to make way for construction for the Olympics. After spending two years in jail for ‘provoking and making trouble’, Ye was again taken into custody by police after he staged a protest in front of the Xuanwu District government building on September 29, 2007. (CHRD)[ix]

On Eve of 6-Month Countdown to Olympics, Police Step up Harassment of Zeng Jinyan

On February 7, CHRD learnt that Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), HIV/AIDS and human rights activist and wife of arrested activist, Hu Jia (胡佳), had been put under increased surveillance. National Security Unit officers moved into the apartment directly above hers to eavesdrop on Zeng. Zeng is now barred from even taking her baby for a walk downstairs and is also threatened with imprisonment for speaking out about her own or her husband’s situation. No visitors, apart from Hu and Zeng’s parents, are allowed. Even one of Hu’s lawyers, Li Fangping (李方平), has been denied access to Zeng. (CHRD)[x]

Writer/Activist Lu Gengsong Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

Lu Gengsong (吕耿松), a Hangzhou-based freelance writer and human rights defender detained since August 24, 2007, was sentenced to four years in prison and one year of political rights deprivation for “inciting subversion of state power” by the Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court on February 5. Lu’s wife, daughter and two friends were present when the verdict was read but other supporters and friends were barred by the Hangzhou Public Security Bureau from attending the hearing. (CHRD)[xi]

Olympics Watch

Victims of Beijing Olympics: Villagers’ Rights Abused in Preparations for the Game

On February 3, Citizens’ Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), a Hubei-based grassroots organization, released an investigative report exposing corruption and human rights abuses connected to the appropriation of land and clearing of villages by the Beijing government to make way for main venues of the 2008 Olympics. According to the report, violence was involved in the demolition process, villagers were not compensated fairly or adequately, and villagers defending their rights have been detained and sent to RTL. (CRLW)[xii]

[i] CHRD, “Cyber Censors Block Dissemination of CHRD/RSF Report on Internet Censorship,” February 1, 2008, available here on CHRD website.

[ii] CHRD, “Former Nanfang Daily Editor Yu Huafeng Released”, February 12, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[iii] Radio Free Asia (RFA), “Yang Chunlin to Be Tried Next Tuesday; Human Rights Defenders Call the International Olympic Committee’s Attention to Yang’s Case”, February 15, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[iv] RFA, “Human Rights Defender Li Guohong Allowed Family Visits After Hunger Strike,” January 30, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[v] RFA, “Shanghai Housing Rights Defender Xu Zhengqing Released After Serving Full Sentence,” January 30, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[vi] Citizen’s Rights and Livelihood Watch, “Guangxi Telecommunications Rights Defender Huang Yixuan Released,” February 5, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[vii] 64tianwang, “Imprisoned Human Rights Defender Guo Qizhen’s Health Deteriorates; His Leg Suffers Necrosis,” January 31, 2008, available here in Chinese on 64tianwang website.

[viii] RFA, “Heilongjiang Nongken RTL Management Committee Delay Decision over Liu Jie’s Application for Release for Medical Treatment,” February 7, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[ix] RFA, “Housing Rights Defender Can’t Afford Medication after Release” January 31, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[x] CHRD, “On Eve of 6-Month Countdown to Olympics, Police Stepped up Harassment on Zeng Jinyan”, February 7, 2008, available here on CHRD website.

[xi] CHRD, “Writer/Activist Lu Gengsong Sentenced to Four Years in Prison”, February 5, 2008, available here on CHRD website.

[xii] CRLW, “An Investigative Report on Villagers whose Land is lost to the Beijing Olympics,” February 4, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

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