China Breaks Promises of Freedoms of Assembly and the Press during Olympics

Comments Off on China Breaks Promises of Freedoms of Assembly and the Press during Olympics

IOC, US and EU Leaders Must End Silence on China’s Games Abuses

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Beijing, August 16, 2008) – China has punished people who give interviews or apply for permits to protest, thereby breaking its promises to allow press freedom and demonstrations at “Protest Zones” during the Olympics. CHRD has documented cases of individuals who have been criminally detained for being interviewed by foreign journalists. CHRD has also learned that applicants for protests have been systematically denied permission, some forcibly sent back to their home towns and put under monitoring and residential surveillance (house arrest).

“The Chinese government has not only failed to keep its promises to the International Olympics Committee (IOC), in exchange for hosting the games and to the US and the EU in exchange for their show of support, it has also gone out of its way to hunt down and punish people who put the government’s promise to test. Should the IOC, the US and the EU leaders continue their silence, trading talk of ‘freedom’ for broken promises, they will lose credibility and become complicit in China’s Olympic abuses,” said CHRD’s Chinese co-director.

Detained for Press Interviews

Foreign journalists who have been roughly handled for reporting on “sensitive” issues are not the only victims of China’s hollow promise of press freedom during the Olympics. Chinese citizens have been criminally detained for speaking with them:

  • On August 6, Zhang Wei (张薇) and Ma Xiulan (马秀兰), were detained on suspicion of “disturbing social order” for accepting interviews by foreign journalists on August 4. The two are currently being held at Chongwen District Detention Center. Zhang’s family has been told by the police that she will be held for a month. Zhang and Ma are part of a group of petitioners who have been seeking redress from higher authorities regarding the forcible demolition of their traditional Beijing homes in Qianmen district, an area renovated for the Olympics. On August 4, the group of petitioners was on their way back from petitioning the Letters and Visits Office of the Beijing Municipal Government when they met a group of foreign journalists. The petitioners told the journalists of their experience. Two days later, Zhang and Ma were detained.
  • On July 29, Wang Guilan, a petitioner and activist from Enshi City, Hubei Province, was criminally detained on suspicion of “disturbing social order”. Wang is believed to be detained for answering a phone call from a foreign journalist on July 27. At the time she took the call from the journalist, Wang had been detained in a “black jail”—an illegal and secret detention facility– since April 17 to prevent her from “making trouble” during the Olympics. It appears that she has been criminally detained in retaliation for the interview.

Punished for Applying to Protest

On July 23, the Beijing Olympics Committee announced that three Beijing parks had been officially designated as “Protest Zones”. To protest, individuals have to apply for permission to the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) Law and Order Corps (北京公安局治安总队) five days in advance. However, CHRD has not yet heard of any successful applications for permits for anti-government protests. Instead, many have had their applications denied:

  • On July 31, He Xiuli (何秀丽), a villager from Qiuwu Village, Dubu Township, Yangshan County, Guangdong Province applied to protest against the Yangshan County government, which had forcibly appropriated her land and demolished her home. After He handed in her application, police at the Beijing PSB notified interceptors from Guangdong Province stationed in Beijing. The interceptors convinced her to return to her hometown, promising her that the local government will solve her problems. He returned home but the promised solution has not yet materialized. He has received no response to her application from the Beijing PSB.
  • On August 1, Ge Yifei (葛亦菲), from Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province, applied to protest against the collusion of developers and local government in Jiangsu Province. While Ge was at the Beijing PSB handing in her application, four Jiangsu interceptors in Beijing rushed to the PSB. Ge was forcibly sent back to Suzhou City, where she is now under tight monitoring.
  • On August 3, Chen Yunfei (陈云飞), from Wenjiang District, Chengdu City in Sichuan Province, submitted an application at Sichuan PSB to stage a protest in Beijing against police misconduct and violence in Chengdu City. Chen’s application was denied because, according to the police, it was “inadmissible”. Following the failed application, Chen has been subjected to tight monitoring.
  • On August 5, Tang Xuecheng (唐学成), a villager from Liujiadong Village, Furong Township, Beihu District, Chenzhou City, Hunan Province submitted an application to protest to the Beijing PSB. Tang wanted to protest against official corruption and the persecution of petitioners. Tang was then briefly detained by the Beijing PSB, which notified interceptors from Chenzhou in Beijing. Tang was thereafter forcibly sent back to his hometown where he is under residential surveillance (house arrest).
  • On August 7, Dan Chun (单春), a representative of dismissed soldiers, was told by the Beijing PSB that her application had been rejected after she handed in the application with the required documents. Police failed to give her a clear answer when she asked why her application was not accepted. The police also refused to give her a written explanation when Dan requested it. Three policemen (police ID 003460, 004162 and 004022) tried to convince Dan to abandon attempts to obtain permission, telling her that protests are too “radical”.
  • In early August, Li Jincheng (李金成), a petitioner from Xinjiang Province, and Liu Xueli (刘学立), a petitioner from Henan Province, submitted an application to protest. They were told that their application had been approved, and that they could return in nine days’ time to obtain a written permit. However, on August 6, Liu was seized by the Beijing police while he was asleep. Beijing police handed him over to Henan interceptors in Beijing, who forcibly sent Liu back to his hometown in Chong County, Henan. Liu is now under residential surveillance (house arrest). Li “disappeared” on August 8 near the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, and nobody has been able to contact him since.
  • On August 9, Ji Sizun (纪斯尊), from Yananbei Road, Xiangcheng District, Zhangzhou City, Fujian Province applied for a permit to protest against social and political problems at Beijing PSB. Ji, accompanied by a dozen domestic and foreign journalists, was told by the police that since it was Saturday and outside of their office hours, Ji’s application could not be approved. On August 11, Ji returned to the same office at Beijing PSB to hand in his application again, but he has since “disappeared”.


CHRD is appalled that despite the promises of freedom of the press and of association at the officially designated “Protest Zones”, the Chinese government is actively barring individuals from exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. These rights are guaranteed in Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed (but not yet ratified). These rights are also enshrined in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.

CHRD urges the Chinese government release unconditionally individuals who are being detained or are under residential surveillance or police monitoring for exercising their human and constitutional rights to express themselves, to associate and demonstrate.

CHRD urges the International Olympic Committee to investigate China’s failures to keep its promises to promote human rights in its 2001 bid to host the Olympics.

CHRD urges U.S. President George W. Bush and French and current E.U. President Nicolas Sarkozy to inquire about individuals punished for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.

  • Back to Top