China Human Rights Briefing September 1-15, 2008Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing September 1-15, 2008
China Human Rights Briefing
Reporting human rights development from the grassroots
September 1-15, 2008
· Jiamusi Intermediate People’s Court upheld the five-year sentence of Yang Chunlin, the Olympics Prisoner imprisoned for collecting signatures for the petition “We Want Human Rights, not the Olympics”. The Court, which announced the decision on September 19, acted in defiance of protests by international human rights organizations.
· As feared, authorities are settling scores in the aftermath of the Olympics. One casualty of reprisal is freedom of expression on the internet. Baoding Baixing Yuanan Wang, a website which documents cases of injustices in Hebei Province, was forcibly closed by Beijing Communications Administration. Meanwhile, the websites of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Independent Chinese PEN, Citizens’ Rights and Livelihood (minsheng guancha) and other activist groups were disrupted for days due to unidentified attacks.
· In the lead-up to the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, Guizhou police have confiscated a copy of the Declaration from an activist, referring to it as an “illegal publication”. In a separate incident, border police in Shanghai barred a journalist from leaving the country for a training course on UN human rights mechanisms in Geneva, where the UN Human Rights Council is in session.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Rights Website Forcibly Closed by Beijing Authorities
On August 29, Baoding Baixing Yuanan Wang (or “Baoding People’s Cases of Injustice Web”), a website which documents cases of alleged injustice in Baoding City, Hebei Province, was forcibly closed. Xing Jingsheng (刑景生), a human rights activist from Baoding, was notified by the website’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) located in Beijing that the website was ordered closed by the Beijing Communications Administration for “failure to enter [the website] into record”. Xing contended that the website was registered and that it was closed for exposing local injustice. (CRLW)[i]
On September 7, Guizhou police seized a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from Chen Jinyou (陈锦友), a rights activist from Guangdong Province. Chen Jinyou from Guangdong Province was visiting Chen Xi (陈西), a fellow activist in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, to solicit his advice in preparation for a court case Chen Jinyou has brought against a Guangdong court. Hours after Chen Jinyou arrived in Guizhou, local police forcibly sent him to the airport where he was put on a flight to Guangzhou. The police also confiscated from Chen Jinyou a copy of the Declaration, a gift from Chen Xi, referring to it as an “illegal publication”. (CHRD)[ii]
Between September 15 and 19, Chinese Human Rights Defenders’ website, www.crd-net.org, could not be accessed due to a malicious attack on its server. It is unclear who attacked the server, but it is believed the website was targeted for its reporting on human rights violations and on civil society’s actions to defend rights. (CHRD)
Between September 10 and 12, Zhao Yan (赵岩), a reporter at the New York Times Beijing Bureau, disappeared while interviewing petitioners from Guangxi Province in Beijing. After the New York Times reported Zhao’s disappearance to the police on September 12, Zhao was released. It is believed that Zhao was taken into police custody.
Zhao was imprisoned for three years between 2004 and 2007 for “fraud”. Initially, he was charged with “revealing state secrets” after the publication of a New York Times article that predicted that then-President Jiang Zemin was to retire. (CHRD)[iii]
On September 8, about 300 villagers from Zhuantang Village, Taiyuan Township, Hengyang County in Hunan Province petitioned the county government about alleged vote-buying by the newly “elected” secretary of the village committee, Liu Yuanya (刘远亚). They demanded an explanation from the county government about Liu’s appointment because, according to the petitioners, Liu got the position despite receiving fewer votes than other candidates in the election on July 6. (CHRD)[iv]
CHRD has learned that since July 30, Zou Wei (邹巍), a rights activists from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, has been detained in a “black jail”, a farmhouse hostel (nongjiale) outside of Shenlongchuan, Linan in Zhejiang. Zou was allowed to briefly visit his seriously ill mother in Hangzhou on July 31 and September 5. It is believed that Zou will not be released until after the end of the Paraolympics. (CHRD)[v]
On September 9, National Security police from Taiyuan City Public Security Bureau (PSB) broke into the home of Deng Taiqing (邓太清), a rights activist from Taiyuan City in Shanxi Province. They beat Deng and then took him away for interrogation. Deng was released six hours afterwards. During interrogation, Deng was asked about Xie Changfa (谢长发), a member of the banned China Democracy Party arrested for “inciting subversion of state power” as well as about a website in which Deng is involved that monitors government conduct. (CRLW)[vi]
On September 19, Jiamusi Intermediate People’s Court upheld the sentence of Yang Chunlin (杨春林), a Heilongjiang farmers’ representative sentenced to five years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” on March 24. Yang is being punished for collecting signatures endorsing an open letter entitled “We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics”. Yang’s wife, mother and sister attended the verdict hearing. According to Yang, who insisted that he is innocent, he has not been allowed out of his cell for three consecutive months and has been given food and drinks that have gone bad. (CHRD)[vii]
On September 1, Zan Aizong (昝爱宗), a journalist and internet writer from Zhejiang Province, was barred by the border police at Shanghai Pudong Airport from leaving for Geneva. Zan had been invited to attend a training workshop on human rights mechanisms organized by international NGOs. Zan’s online column on current affairs, meizhou dianping (Weekly Comments), has also been blocked by the authorities since September 16. The column was blocked two days after its last post on the alleged cover-up of toxic milk powder produced by Sanlu Group, a Chinese dairy company. It is unclear who ordered the blockade, but it is believed that “higher authorities in Beijing” asked the departments responsible for internet censorship in Guangzhou, where meizhou dianping is hosted, to block the column. (CHRD)[viii]
On September 4, Wang Yuping (王玉平), a retired worker from Wulian County, Rizhao City in Shandong Province, was sent to two years of Re-education through Labor. Wang has been petitioning for years after his flat was forcibly appropriated by a relative of the Assistant Secretary of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Committee in Wulian County. It is believed that Wang is being punished for persistent petitioning. (CRLW)[ix]
On August 26, Sun Yongbiao (孙永标), a farmer from No.5 Committee, Ma’anshan Village, Xinjie Township, Jiayu County, Hubei Province, was beaten by five Urban Inspection Officers (changguan). Sun was on his way to sell watermelons in town when he briefly parked his motorbike loaded with the fruit on the roadside in order to buy plastic bags. The Officers, who accused Sun of illegal hawking, confiscated Sun’s scale. When the Officers proceeded to take Sun’s motorbike, Sun resisted and was beaten and pushed to the ground. (CRLW)[x]
On August 26, a group of thirty-five mostly Beijing-based lawyers such as Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵) and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) issued a public letter calling for democracy in the upcoming “election” of the Beijing Lawyers Association. The signatories argue that because the current Beijing Lawyers Association “representatives” were not directly elected, the Association lacks legal basis and fails to represent its members’ interests. On September 5, the Beijing Lawyers Association issued a public rebuttal of the lawyers’ letter, accusing the signatories of “creating rumors to confuse people’s minds in an attempt to draw the support of lawyers who know nothing of the truth…which is illegal”. On September 6, the group of thirty-five lawyers issued another public letter in response to the rebuttal. (CHRD)
On September 12, a group of about thirty lawyers volunteered to provide legal assistance to parents of infants who ingested tainted milk products produced by Sanlu Group, a Chinese dairy giant whose milk powder was found to contain a chemical that results in kidney stones. The lawyers also drafted a guide to compensation for the victims which explained how victims can gather evidence and protect their rights through legal means. (China Rights Mailing Group).
According to an article dated September 6 on Sina.com, the Disciplinary Committee (jiwei) of Hunan Province announced that the Committee will soon accept complaints submitted via the internet. Currently, the Committee has telephone hotlines for complaints, but it is believed that internet reporting will, according to the authorities, enhance monitoring and effectiveness of major officials in the CCP and government of Hunan Province and help to combat corruption. (Sina.com)[xi]
According to a Legal Daily article dated September 11, the Yunnan Provincial High Court recently issued a notice declaring that officials will be held personally responsible for wrongful or illegal court judgments. That is, officials are responsible for wrongful judgments made due to incorrect understanding of evidence or the law. In serious cases, officials will be responsible even after they have changed jobs. (Legal Daily)[xii]
According to a Liberation Daily article dated September 8, although 80% of all criminal cases have witnesses, only 5% of criminal cases can make use of witness testimony. This is because most witnesses are unwilling to testify for fear of retaliation. The article suggested that the government put in place a better witness protection program. (Legal Daily)[xiii]
According to a Legal Daily article dated September 1, China has abolished all “miscellaneous fees” (za fei, on average RMB 190 to 350 per student) for students currently receiving compulsory education in cities. Students in the countryside are already exempted from “miscellaneous fees”. However, in addition to “miscellaneous fees”, students are often required to pay a variety other expenses such as “lunch fees”, “special contributions [to the schools]” and “book fees”. The government has schemes to help families of low income. For example, students from families receiving the Minimal Living Allowance are exempted from “book fees”. (Legal Daily)[xiv]
Editor: Wang Songlian
[i] Citizens’ Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), “Xing Jingsheng and His “Baoding Baixing Yuanan Wang Yuan”, which is Forcibly Closed Again <邢景生和他再次被封的“保定百姓冤案网”>”, September 5, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080905093600_10417.html.
[ii] CHRD, “Guizhou Police Confiscate Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Referring to it “Illegal” Publication <《世界人权宣言》被贵州公安以“非法”名义没收>”, September 8, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080908171147_10461.html
[iii] CHRD, “New York Times Beijing Bureau Assistant Zhao Yan Disappeared for Two Days <《纽约时报》北京分社新闻助理赵岩失踪两天>”, September 12, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080912112510_10551.html
[iv] CHRD, “Party Members and Villagers Collectively Petition against Vote-Buying <农村党员和农民集体上访抗议贿选>”, September 12, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080912232300_10559.html
[v] CHRD, “Hangzhou Rights Activist Zou Wei Continues to be under House Arrest in Linan <杭州维权人士邹巍至今仍被软禁在临安>”, September 9, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080909095242_10479.html
[vi] CRLW, “Well-known Rights Activist Deng Taiqing Arrested by Police <山西著名维权人士邓太清今被公安抓捕>”, September 9, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080909160206_10480.html
[vii] CHRD, “Human Rights Defender Yang Chunlin’s Sentence Upheld <人权捍卫者杨春林二审被维持原判>”, September 19, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080920080204_10619.html
[viii] CHRD, “Journalist Barred from Attending Training on UN Human Rights Mechanisms; Online Column Blocked”, September 18, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200809/20080920084245_10620.html
[ix] CRLW, “Shandong Worker Wang Yuping Sent to Two Years of Re-education through Labor; Shanghai Tong Guoqing Criminally Detained for a Month <山东工人王玉平被劳教两年 上海童国菁被刑拘一个月>”, September 11, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080911091007_10517.html
[x] CRLW, “Another Incident of Beatings by Urban Inspection Officers in Hubei Province <湖北省又发生城管执法人员打伤人事件>”, September 9, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200809/20080909091257_10471.html
[xi] Sina.com, “Hunan Provincial Disciplinary Committee Will Accept Complaints Submitted via the Internet <湖南省纪委将通过互联网接受举报>”, September 6, 2008, http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2008-09-06/093116243791.shtml
[xii] Legal Daily, “New Regulations Released by Yunan High Court Make Officials Personally Responsible for Illegal Judgment <云南省高院出台规定 对违法审判责任人终身责任追究>”, September 11, 2008, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/0705/2008-09/11/content_943579.htm
[xiii] Legal Daily, “Less than 5% of Witnesses in Criminal Court Cases are Willing to Testify; Experts Call for Better Witness Protection Mechanisms <不足５％刑事证人愿出庭作证 专家呼吁完善保护制度>”, September 8, 2008, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/0705/2008-09/08/content_941124.htm
[xiv] Legal Daily, “Education Department: Waiving ‘Miscellaneous Fees’ Does not Imply a Cancellation of all Fees Related to Compulsory Education in Cities” <教育部： 免除学杂费并不是取消城市义务教育的一切收费>, September 3, 2008, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/0705/2008-09/03/content_938289.htm