China Human Rights Briefing March 15-31, 2008Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing March 15-31, 2008
Reporting human rights development from the grassroots
On March 24, the same day the Olympic flame was lit in Olympia, Greece, Chinese human rights defender, Yang Chunlin, was sentenced to five years in prison for collecting signatures to endorse an open letter entitled “We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics”. Today, another prominent human rights defender, Hu Jia, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power,” the same charge of which Yang was convicted, for speaking up against human rights abuses prior to the Olympics. The imprisonment of Hu and Yang has shattered any remaining illusions that China would honor its commitment to promote human rights prior to the Olympic Games.
In the name of Olympic “security”, the government has continued to tighten its control over other potential “troublemakers”: Beijing police have just announced that spectator groups from outside of the capital have to be accompanied by local police officers when they attend the Games.
Meanwhile, at least three village elections in Guandong Province have been rigged in the past two weeks. In at least one village, 2000 villagers boycotted the rigged election, refusing to acquiesce to the infringement of their right to vote.
Editor: Wang Songlian
- Freedom of expression
- Right to vote
- Persecution of Rights Activists
- Hu Jia Sentenced to 3.5 Years in Prison
- Hu Jia’s Family Speaks Out
- “Olympics Prisoner” Yang Chunlin Sentenced to Five Years in Prison
- Lu Gengsong Appeals
- Reporter Qi Chonghuai Still Detained Without Prosecution Nine Months after Arrest
- Court Held Hearing on the Decision to Send Oilfield Workers Representative to RTL
- First Telecommunication Consumer Rights Advocates Tried; One Sentenced
- Husband of Petitioner Zhang Shufeng under House Arrest
- Democracy Activist Yao Lifa Under Surveillance and House Arrest
- Democracy Activist Zhu Yufu Retried by Hangzhou Court
- Wife Continues to be Barred from Visiting Jailed Rights Defender Chen Guangcheng
- Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
- Right to Health
- Olympics Watch
- Persecution of Petitioners
- Citizens’ Actions
- Laws and Regulations Watch
On March 26, journalists from the British television station, Channel 4, arrived in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, to report on Wuhan Psychiatric Hospital. The next day, police from Wuhan “welcomed” the journalists to the city and followed them wherever they went. Ms. Zhu, a Wuhan petitioner well-connected to individuals held at the psychiatric institution, met the journalists. She was summoned by the local Party committee and questioned about the meeting. Around the same time, those held at Wuhan Psychiatric Hospital were warned against being interviewed and were subjected to increased monitoring by the police. (CRLW)[i]
On March 27, CHRD learned that the independent website, China Voice of Ordinary People (www.daixn.com), was closed. According to the owner of the website, Dai Huaming (戴华明), he received no prior notification regarding the website’s closure. Upon enquiry, the website’s server in Tianjin told Dai that it was closed because it was “maliciously attacked”. However, Dai suspected that the closure was related to articles posted on the website that exposed government corruption in Hunan Province. Several weeks earlier, Tianjin Public Security Bureau (PSB) told Dai to delete an article on government misconduct in Hunan Province. (CRLW)[ii]
Democracy activist and veteran election observer, Yao Lifa (姚立法), reported that three village elections in the past two weeks have been rigged in Guangdong Province.
On March 19, in Tashi Village, Tungchung Township, a number of election regulations were reportedly violated and nine candidates pre-determined by the incumbent Tashi Village Committee and the Taishi branch of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were all “elected” as members of the Tashi Village Election Committee. (CHRD)[iii]
On March 26, Yu Tongan (余同安), a villager from Beikeng Village, Gujing Township, Jiangmen City, was summoned and interrogated for seven hours by local police after telling foreign journalists that the local election was rigged and that there was vote-buying. (CHRD)[iv]
On March 27, in Rongli Village, Shunde District, Foshan City about 2,000 out of the 6,000 voters did not turn up and boycotted the village committee election which they believed was rigged. (CHRD)[v]
On April 3, human rights defender Hu Jia (胡佳) was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and one year’s deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power.
Hu was tried on March 18 at the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. Although the trial was supposed to be public, several family members and supporters of Hu were barred from attending the trial. The lawyers, Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵), Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), and three other lawyers were taken to a police station, threatened and beaten for attempting to attend the trial. (CHRD)[vi]
On March 19, the mother of Hu Jia (胡佳), the imprisoned human rights defender, released a public letter in which she described the unfairness of the trial.
On March 29, Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), updated her blog, “Liao Liao Yuan”. In her blog entry, Zeng described her fear and anxiety living under house arrest, her gratitude to her supporters, and her hope that her husband would soon be released. (Hu Jia’s mother and Zeng Jinyan)[vii]
On March 24, human rights defender Yang Chunlin (杨春林) was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power.” Yang has decided to appeal. (CHRD)[viii]
On March 28, at a meeting between Yang and his lawyers, Yang reported having been beaten by guards at the detention center on March 5 after he had publicly directed attention to the misconduct of some prison officials. Yang was beaten so badly that the corner of one eye was injured. The authorities postponed Yang’s sentencing hearing to March 24 to ensure that his injury would disappear by then and that nobody would learn of the beating. (CHRD)[ix]
On March 23, CHRD obtained a copy of the appeal letter filed by Lu Gengsong (吕耿松), a Hangzhou-based freelance writer and human rights defender convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” on February 5. In the letter, Lu pleaded not guilty. He said he was merely peacefully exercising his freedom of expression, not inciting subversion, in the 20 articles which the court used to convict him. (Lu Gengsong)[x]
Qi Chonghuai (齐崇淮), detained Fazhi Morning Post reporter, is still being held without prosecution nine months after his arrest. Qi was detained on June 25, 2007 and arrested for “extortion and blackmail” by Tengzhou City Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Shandong Province. (CHRD)[xi]
On March 25, Hualong District People’s Court in Puyang City, Henan Province, held a hearing on the decision to send Li Guohong (李国宏), a laid-off workers’ representative at Zhongyuan Oil Field, to 18 months of RTL by Puyang City RTL Management Committee. The court is to announce the verdict at a later date. (CHRD)[xii]
On March 19, Ye Jian (叶剑), a telecommunications consumer rights advocate from Yongzhou City, Hunan Province, was convicted of “extortion and blackmail” and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment immediately commuted to three years’ probation by Lengshuitan District Court in Yongzhou City.
On March 18, the same court heard the case of Chen Shuguang (陈曙光), another telecommunications consumer rights advocate involved in the same case. Chen is also charged with “extortion and blackmail”. The court is to announce the verdict at a later date.
Ye and Chen were the first people tried for activities defending the rights of telecommunications consumers. They were both criminally detained on August 23, 2007, after China Mobile reported to the police that the two extorted money from the company. The so-called “extortion” refers to Chen and Ye’s demand for compensation after they had been reportedly charged for junk text messages. (CRLW)[xiii]
CHRD learned on March 20 that the husband of detained Beijing petitioner, Zhang Shufeng (张淑凤), has continued to be under house arrest. Zhang was sent to an RTL camp on March 11 for “spreading false information on the internet”. Her family has been preparing to sue the Beijing RTL Management Committee for this decision, but they have been unable to meet her defense lawyer because of her husband’s disability and house arrest.
In 2001, Zhang‘s husband was beaten for complaining about his child being beaten by teachers at school. The beating left him with a permanent debilitating injury. The dispute was brought to court. Zhang believed that the court made an unfair decision and started petitioning. (CHRD)[xiv]
Democracy advocate, Yao Lifa (姚立法), from Qianjiang, Hubei Province, is still under surveillance and house arrest. Yao has been closely monitored and followed since the beginning of March. Every day, members of a 24-person team made up of staff from the local government and the PSB take turns guarding his residence. When Yao goes out, the team insists that he travel in a police car. Yao believes that the police are trying to ensure that he cannot offer advice to candidates in local elections due to occur this year. (CHRD)[xv]
On March 28, Hangzhou democracy activist, Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫), and his son, Zhu Ang (朱卬), were re-tried by Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court. The father and son were originally tried on July 10, 2007, and convicted of “beating police and hindering public duty” and sentenced to, respectively, two years in prison and one year in prison with an 18-month delay of serving the term. Reportedly, the president of the court discovered mistakes in the trial of their case and decided to try it again. The court is to announce the verdict of the re-trial at a later date.
On April 18, while questioning Zhu and his son without showing any legal authorization outside of their apartment, policemen roughly handled and injured Zhu Ang. Upon seeing his son injured, Zhu Yufu pushed one policeman away from his son. This incident was used as “evidence” to convict them of their “crime”. (CHRD)[xvi]
On March 21, Yuan Weijing (袁伟静) was barred by those guarding her from visiting her husband, jailed human rights defender, Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚). She has been denied access to her husband for six months. Since August 2005, Yuan has been subjected to repeated police harassment and house arrest. (CHRD)[xvii]
On March 16, the wife and brother of imprisoned writer, Chen Shuqing (陈树庆), visited him at Qiaosi Prison. According to his wife, Chen has been made to glue boxes for about twelve hours every day. The glue has a strong, unpleasant chemical smell. Chen also has to “learn politics” every evening after work. A dissident writer and leading member of the Chinese Democratic Party from Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, Chen was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on August 16, 2007. (CHRD)
Since March 21, between 100 and 400 villagers of Muzhuang Village, Wangguadian Township, Feicheng City, Shandong Province, have been staging a sit-in in front of the township government building to protest against toxic gas emitted by Shandong Taishan Aluminum Company in Feicheng City. Reportedly, there has been an increased number of cases of cancer and skin and respiratory diseases, as well as reduced crop yield in the village. The villagers believe the occurrences to be directly related to the pollution from the company. (CHRD)[xviii]
About 60 to 70 households in Beiding Village, Datun Township, have received an ultimatum from the authorities to leave their homes by the end of March. Beiding Village lies at the heart of the Beijing Olympics Park, where many of the Games’ main venues are located, and is to be demolished. (CRLW)[xix]
A black jail holding 21 petitioners has been discovered in Mudanjiang City Children’s Relief Center, Heilongjiang Province. On March 7, Wang Fucheng (王福成), a 76-year-old dismissed soldier petitioning in Beijing about fair compensation, was intercepted and detained in the center. On March 14, Wang’s daughter met the same fate when she went to Beijing to petition about her father’s detention. (CRLW)[xx]
Housing rights activist, Wang Jiyong (王季勇), has been detained for over twenty days in a “law education class”—a secret, illegal detention facility—in Changsha, Hunan Province since he was sent there on March 6. Wang was going to meet other housing rights activists to petition in Beijing when he was intercepted. (CHRD)[xxi]
On March 14, Qu Guosheng (曲国胜), a worker and petitioner from Tanghe County, Nanyang City, Henan Province, was sent to Xuchang City No. 3 RTL camp in Henan Province. He was petitioning in Beijing during the “Two Meetings”[xxii] when he was intercepted, sent back to Tanhe County on March 13 and sent to RTL the next day. Qu started petitioning after his son’s murder about ten years ago. He was criminally detained in 2004 and sent to RTL for 57 days in May and June 2007. (CRLW)[xxiii]
On March 15, human rights activists in Guizhou distributed a thousand copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to fellow citizens to celebrate the year of the 60th anniversary of the UDHR. Several activists were taken to the police station by the National Security Unit under Guiyang City PSB, and one was put under house arrest for the day. They were all subsequently released. The declarations were distributed at the “Guiyang Citizens’ Rights Plaza”, a place where people gather and discuss civil and human rights issues every day. (CHRD)[xxiv]
30 prominent Chinese citizens released a public letter on March 22 entitled Twelve Suggestions for Dealing with the Tibetan Situation. Amongst other suggestions, the letter strongly urged the Chinese government to “end the propaganda” and news blockade surrounding incidents in Tibet and to “stop the violent suppression.” It also appeals to the Tibetan people “not to engage in violent activities.” (30 prominent Chinese citizens)[xxv]
According to Legal Daily, the Ministry of Public Security published the new “Management Methods for Criminal Penalties Enforced at Detention Centers” that will come into effect on July 1, 2008. According to the regulations, convicts cannot be subjected to degrading treatment, their personal safety and legal property must not be violated, and they have rights in accordance with the law which may not be denied or restricted. After a Detention Center has received the convict, the detention center should notify the convict’s family or guardian within five days of arrival to let them know where he/she is being held. The Detention Centers should be equipped with boxes for prisoners to report any misconduct at the center. “Methods” also stipulates that the prisoners are allowed to go home and visit their family one or two days every month, and when they are ill, the quality of food should be raised. Prisoners may also attend higher education examinations organized by the state. (Legal Daily)[xxvi]
According to a report dated March 28 on sina.com, groups from outside of Beijing who wish to attend the Olympics and Chinese Premier League soccer games in the capital must be approved by their local police and notify the Beijing police. The groups must be accompanied members of the local police when attending the games in Beijing. In addition, Beijing police will adopt stricter security measures during the Games so as to “minimize the possibility that things which could affect the games are brought into the venues.” People who disturb the order of the Games will be punished by being banned from similar sports venues for 12 months. (sina.com)[xxvii]
According to an article dated March 25 in Legal Daily, the Central Committee for Comprehensive Management recently issued “2008 Main Points Regarding the Assistance, Education and Resettlement of Released Convicts”. The document outlines measures to ensure that newly released prisoners are assisted when they are resettling and finding employment in their home areas. Prison, RTL camp and Detention Center authorities need to work with the relevant assistance and resettlement offices to provide training, placement or other transitional arrangements for the released convicts who have nowhere else to go and no employment. The measures aim to prevent former prisoners from committing crimes again. (Xinhua)[xxviii]
[vi] CHRD, “Hu Jia on Trial: Rights to Free Speech and Due Process Violated,” March 19, 2008, available here in English; CHRD, “Court to Announce “Olympic Detainee” Hu Jia’s Verdict on April 3″, March 31, 2008, available here in English.
[xvii] RFA, “Yuan Weijing Again Barred from Visiting Her Husband and Her Situation Even More Precarious; Call on the Authorities to Release Chen Guangcheng Prior to the Olympics,” March 25, 2008, available here in Chinese.
[xxii] The “Two Meetings” refer to the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March.
[xxvi] Beijing Morning Post, “Ministry of Public Security Publishes “Methods”: Humane Measures such as Allowing Prisoners to Apply to Visit Families Every Month Will be Implemented,” March 22, 2008, available here in Chinese; full text of the “Management Methods for Criminal Penalties Enforced at Detention Centers” are available here in Chinese.
[xxviii] Xinhua, “The Central Committee for Comprehensive Management Released ‘2008 Main Points Regarding the Assistance, Education an Resettlement of Released Convicts'”, March 25, 2008, available here in Chinese.