Zheng Mingfang, Petitioner and Activist, Sent to Re-education through LaborComments Off on Zheng Mingfang, Petitioner and Activist, Sent to Re-education through Labor
Zheng Mingfang, Petitioner and Activist, Sent to Re-education through Labor
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, April 20, 2008)- Zheng Mingfang (郑明芳), petitioner turned activist from Ji County, Tianjin, has been secretly sent to Re-education through Labor (RTL) for two years.
According to Zheng’s family, who obtained information from a detainee released from the same RTL camp where Zheng is reportedly being held, Zheng’s health has deteriorated and she is going blind.
On February 29, 2008, under the pretext of “helping Zheng to solve her problems,” Tianjin police took Zheng away from her home. Since then, Zheng’s family has not been able to contact her. Her family has not received any formal (written or verbal) detention order and their requests to meet with Zheng have been repeatedly denied by police. On April 4, a dozen Tianjin police warned Zheng’s family against communicating with the outside world. Police made Zheng’s family change their phone numbers and has subjected her husband to tightened monitoring.
Zheng campaigned with, and protested the arrests of, “Olympics prisoners” Ye Guozhu (叶国柱) and Hu Jia (胡佳), for which she has suffered retaliation. She has become a victim of the “clean-up” operations to rid Beijing of potential protesters as it prepares to host the Games.
Zheng turned from a petitioner for her own rights to a human rights activist defending others’ rights after she suffered official harassment and abuses. Local authorities became jealous of the computer business she started in 1988 and repeatedly demanded illegal “fees” from her. In 2004, having petitioned in Beijing, she joined Ye Guozhu in requesting permission to organize the “Tiananmen 9.18 Ten-Thousand-People March.” The request was denied and she was imprisoned for two years for “illegally operating” her business. Her shop was demolished and parts of forty computers were confiscated by the authorities. Zheng was allegedly mistreated and tortured while in prison, which resulted in permanent eye injury and drastically reduced vision. She was released in September 2006 and has continued her petitioning and human rights defending activities, for which she has been beaten and closely monitored by the government. Before Zheng’s current detention, she had been collecting signatures to demand that authorities release recently imprisoned human rights defender, Hu Jia.