China Human Rights Briefing November 1-15, 2008

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China Human Rights Briefing

Reporting human rights development from the grassroots

November 1-15, 2008

Please click here for the full China Human Rights Briefing in PDF


  • · While village elections have long been regarded by some in the international community as signs of gradual “democratization” in China, recent elections indicate otherwise. The experiences of villagers in Hubei and Shaanxi Provinces, documented in the current issue of China Human Rights Briefing, illustrate the ease with which the government can bend the rules and manipulate “elections”. The villagers have spoken out against the government’s violations of election procedures, but to little avail. A grassroots democracy activist, Yao Lifa, was even kidnapped and secretly detained in a “black jail” to stop him from providing further legal advice to the villagers.
  • · While the world’s attention has moved on from the Olympics, the Chinese government is still settling scores with those who “created trouble” during the Games. Ji Sizun and Liu Xueli, two applicants to the “Protest Zones” during the Beijing Games, have been incarcerated for applying to protest. Liu has been sent to 21 months of Re-education through Labor while Ji has been formally arrested and charged with “forging an official seal”.
  • · The government’s tendency to break its human rights promises does not bode well for the “national action plan” announced on November 4. The 2-year plan, currently being drafted, is said to include measures to promote human rights. CHRD has called on the government to adopt concrete measures, such as involving independent members of civil society in the drafting process, to bring about genuine and effective advancement of human rights.


Freedom of expression. 3

Authorities Delete Petitioner’s Website. 3

Villagers Sentenced for Criticizing Cadres. 3

Freedom of association. 3

Workers Summoned and Monitored for Applying to Protest and Petitioning. 3

Lawyers Dismissed for Calling for Democratic Election of Beijing Lawyers Association. 3

Right to participate in government 4

Villager Threatened for Petitioning against Fraudulent Election. 4

Shaanxi Villagers Demand End to Delay in Village Election. 4

Persecution and harassment of rights activists. 4

Activist Formally Arrested for Applying to Protest during the Olympics. 4

Courts Refuse to Accept Lawsuit by Detained Applicant to Olympics “Protest Zones” 4

Nanjing Political Activist Guo Quan Detained on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion” 5

Democracy Activist Yao Lifa Released following Illegal Detention. 5

Imprisoned Journalist Beaten and Subjected to Hard Labor 5

Persecution and harassment of petitioners. 5

Petitioner Sent to Re-education through Labor for Complaining about Forced Eviction. 5

Petitioner Advocate Detained in ‘Black Jail’ 6

Forced Evictions and Land Appropriation. 6

Developer and Government Collude to Demolish Jiangsu Home. 6

“Nail Households” Demolished in Hubei Province. 6

Labor Rights. 6

Labor Activist Beaten and Barred from Lecturing on Labor Law.. 6

Citizens Action. 7

China Should Ensure that its “National Action Plan” Amounts to More than a Publicity Stunt 7

Chinese Citizens Release Public Letter Addressing Deutsche Welle. 7

Workers of Bankrupted Factory Petition the Government 7

Laws and Regulations Watch. 7

Supreme People’s Court: Use of Death Penalty Continues to Strike Hard on Crimes. 7

Suzhou Procuratorate Checks Health of Detainees. 8

Legal Daily: There is an Urgent Need for Professional Lawyers. 8

Freedom of expression

Authorities Delete Petitioner’s Website

On November 5, “Redress Injustice Supermarket” (, a website on Baidu created by Zhao Jingzhou (赵景洲), was closed by the authorities. Zhao, a petitioner from Heilongjiang Province, was not notified prior to the closure. When Zhao logged into the account, a message appeared stating that due to violations of user agreement, the website was closed or access to it restricted. The website, which was over a year old, collected several dozens case files of veteran petitioners. (CHRD)[i]

Villagers Sentenced for Criticizing Cadres

CHRD learned on November 1 that three villagers, Qui Lichen (邱利臣), Song Yunqiu (宋运秋) and Feng Xiangwei (冯湘伟), from Jinnan Village, Yijiawan Township, Yuetang District, Xiangtan City, Hunan Province, were sentenced on September 3 to one to one-and-a-half years in prison for “gathering crowds to disturb traffic order”. On February 25, in the midst of the huge snowstorm that blanketed large parts of China, Jinnan villagers were angry that the village cadres held a big feast, instead of joining the villagers in combating the disaster. The villagers confronted the village cadres and photographed the cars parked outside the home of the cadre who played host to the feast. A month later, on March 31, the villagers were taken into custody by the local police. They were detained without legal procedures for half a year until their secret trial on September 3. (CHRD)[ii]

Freedom of association

Workers Summoned and Monitored for Applying to Protest and Petitioning

On October 28, 5,000 workers from Xiangtan City, Hunan Province applied to the city government to protest in support of its decision to penalize a number of officials for corruption. The local authorities, who have not responded to the application, issued a document in early November calling for tightened monitoring of those who took the lead in submitting the application. On November 10, at least two labor activists from Xiangtan City were summoned by the local police for applying to protest. (CHRD)[iii]

Lawyers Dismissed for Calling for Democratic Election of Beijing Lawyers Association

On October 27, Beijing lawyers, Li Subin (李苏滨), Yang Huiwen (杨慧文), Li Jianguo (李建国), Wen Haibo (温海波) and Cheng Hai (程海), were asked to leave their law firms for issuing a public letter on August 26 calling for democracy in the upcoming “election” of the Beijing Lawyers Association. It is believed that the law firms were pressured by the Beijing Lawyers Association to dismiss the lawyers. Other signatories to the public letter have been “invited for chats” or asked to admit wrongdoing by the Beijing Lawyers Association. (CHRD)

Right to participate in government

Villager Threatened for Petitioning against Fraudulent Election

On October 28, Dong Jiapei (董家培), a villager from Shenhe Housing Committee under the jurisdiction of Yunlin Office, Qianjiang City, Hubei Province, was summoned on suspicion of “fraud” by the local police. It is suspected that the summons was an act of intimidation as Dong and other villagers have been vocal in complaining about fraudulent village elections. On October 27, about fifty villagers from four housing committees under Yunlin Office petitioned the Qianjiang Civil Affairs Bureau about alleged procedural violations during the election of the committees that will oversee village elections in their villages. The committees were “elected” in meetings at which the number of villagers present was fewer than required in the relevant regulations. (CHRD)[iv]

Shaanxi Villagers Demand End to Delay in Village Election

On October 29, about 300 villagers from Mujiangwang Village, Hongqi Street Office, Baqiao District, Xian City, Shaanxi Province, petitioned the city government. According to the villagers, the local governments in Hongqi Street Office and Baqiao District have barred the scheduled village election, stating that an election would disrupt a number of important projects currently underway in the village. Villagers, who allege that the current village leadership has forcibly appropriated their land, have repeatedly petitioned the relevant offices to demand an end to the delay, but to no avail. (CHRD)[v]

Persecution and harassment of rights activists

Activist Formally Arrested for Applying to Protest during the Olympics

CHRD learned on November 11 that Ji Sizun (纪斯尊), an activist detained since August 11 after he applied to protest at the “Protest Zones” in Beijing, has been formally arrested for “forging an official seal” by Fuzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Fujian Province. CHRD also learned that Fuzhou PSB appointed a lawyer to defend Ji. The PSB had earlier rejected a lawyer hired by Ji’s friends because the lawyer did not have the authorization of Ji’s family, whom no one has been able to contact since Ji’s detention. Ji’s friends and fellow activists are worried that the appointed lawyer will not defend the activist in good faith. (CHRD)[vi]

Courts Refuse to Accept Lawsuit by Detained Applicant to Olympics “Protest Zones” CHRD learned on November 12 that Liu Xueli (刘学立), a petitioner and activist sent to Re-education through Labor (RTL) after he applied to protest at the “Protest Zones” in Beijing, was refused a court hearing against the RTL decision. On November 12, Liu’s lawyers were told by both Xigong District People’s Court and Luoyang City Intermediate People’s Court in Luoyang City, Henan Province that they could not accept Liu’s administrative lawsuit against Luoyang RTL Management Committee, which had made the decision to send Liu to RTL. According to “regulations” by “higher authorities”, the courts said, all administrative lawsuits filed by individuals challenging the decision to send them to RTL due to petitioning “cannot be accepted”. When the lawyers confronted the court officials, the officials refused to give them a written refusal or a copy of the cited “regulations” or to name the “higher authorities” who had made the decision. (CHRD)[vii]

Nanjing Political Activist Guo Quan Detained on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion”

On November 13, Guo Quan (郭泉), a political activist and an Associate Professor at Nanjing Normal University, was taken into police custody on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. The police from Nanjing City PSB also searched Guo’s home and confiscated a number of articles. The reasons for Guo’s detention are currently unclear. (CHRD)[viii]

Democracy Activist Yao Lifa Released following Illegal Detention

On November 12, Yao Lifa (姚立法), a democracy activist from Qianjiang City in Hubei Province, was released following twelve days of illegal detention. On October 31, Yao disappeared on his way to a village in Qiangjiang. It was later discovered that he was kidnapped and detained by local officials in a “black jail” outside of Qianjiang City.

Village elections are underway in many parts of Qianjiang, and villagers have been petitioning about local government violations of election procedures. Yao has been active in providing legal advice to the villagers and exposing violations. Yao was taken into custody to prevent him from further aiding the villagers. (CHRD)[ix]

Imprisoned Journalist Beaten and Subjected to Hard Labor

CHRD learned on November 15 that Qi Chonghuai (齐崇淮/齐崇怀), a journalist imprisoned for “extortion and blackmail”, has been beaten and forced to do hard labor in Jiangteng Township Prison in Tengzhou City, Shandong Province. According to Qi’s wife, Jiao Xia (焦霞), who visited him on October 19, Qi was beaten by fellow prisoners four times in the latter half of August. It is suspected that the assailants were instructed to do so by the prison authorities. Qi has also been forced to work in the prison mine and complains of pains in his waist and legs as a result of the hard labor. Jiao said Qi looked ill and thin. (CHRD)

Persecution and harassment of petitioners

Petitioner Sent to Re-education through Labor for Complaining about Forced Eviction

CHRD learned on November 11 that Chang Buling (常布领), a villager from Linqingdian Village, Muye District, Xinxiang City, Henan Province, was sent to one year of RTL on April 25, 2008. Dating back to 2007, Chang had been petitioning about a dispute with the local government over compensation following eviction. On February 27, 2008, Chang was intercepted while petitioning at the Letters and Visits Office at the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing and forcibly returned to Xinxiang City, where he was administratively detained by Muye District PSB before being sent to RTL. (CHRD)[x]

Petitioner Advocate Detained in ‘Black Jail’

CHRD learned on October 30 that Liu Yuping (刘玉萍), a researcher at Hengyang Management Academy in Hunan Province who came to Beijing to deliver petition materials on behalf of a friend, has been detained in a “black jail”. Liu was apprehended by Beijing police in Tiananmen Square. After police found petitioning materials in her possession, she was first sent to the police station at the Square and then taken away by men who claimed to be staff at the Beijing Liaison Office of Hunan Province. Liu is now guarded by a handful of unidentified men in a carwash in a Beijing suburb. (CHRD)[xi]

Forced Evictions and Land Appropriation

Developer and Government Collude to Demolish Jiangsu Home

On November 4, about 100 government officers from the Urban Inspection Office (chengguan), the PSB and the relevant planning departments demolished most of the house at No. 105, Committee Three, Rengang Township, Nantong City, Jiangsu Province. However, the owner of the home, Zhou Jie (周杰), had not agreed to the demolition; he had not even been informed. Zhou’s home is located in an area wanted for the expansion of a nearby ship engineering company. The company and the local government had asked Zhou to move without presenting any warrant. Although Zhou later allowed the company to measure the dimensions of his house, he never agreed to the demolition. (CHRD)[xii]

“Nail Households” Demolished in Hubei Province

On November 7, between seventy and eighty workers, Urban Inspection Officers (chengguan), and policemen forcibly demolished the homes of Deng Chunhua (邓春华) and Yi Qianguo (易千国) located at Wenfeng Housing Committee, Suizhou City in Hubei Province. Deng and her family, a total of twenty people, were sleeping when the demolition crew came. They were dragged out of their home, and their belongings thrown out of the house into the rain. Deng’s younger brother, son and elderly parents were injured in the process. The two families argue that the developer has offered inadequate compensation for their homes. (CRLW)[xiii]

Labor Rights

Labor Activist Beaten and Barred from Lecturing on Labor Law

On November 12, Xiao Qingshan (肖青山), a labor activist from Dongguan, Guangdong Province, was violently barred from lecturing to dozens of workers on China’s Labor Law. Xiao was speaking to the workers about using the law to advocate for their rights at Dongguan Labor Bureau Dalang Sub-division when several staff members came out of the Bureau. They told Xiao he was speaking “nonsense”, pushed and beat him. Xiao called the police, but the police refused to accept the case. (CRLW)[xiv]

Citizens Action

China Should Ensure that its “National Action Plan” Amounts to More than a Publicity Stunt

The Chinese government announced on November 4 that it is to draft its first “national action plan to protect human rights”. CHRD released a statement on November 7 expressing its concern that the plan will fall short of its stated objective of protecting human rights. The facts that the plan as currently outlined is vague and that its drafting is to be led by government agencies involved in promoting China’s image abroad and advised by individuals who lack independence raise the suspicion that the Chinese government has initiated the plan not to promote human rights but to placate the international community. CHRD outlined five concrete recommendations to the Chinese government to ensure that the national action plan genuinely and effectively promotes human rights. (CHRD)[xv]

Chinese Citizens Release Public Letter Addressing Deutsche Welle

On November 3, a group of 53 Chinese citizens released a public letter addressing the Chinese department of Deutsche Welle regarding the firing of Zhang Danhong (张丹红), an editor of the German broadcaster. The letter was published in response to another public letter written by 49 German sinologists arguing that the firing of Zhang, who reportedly made comments in the media supporting the policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was a violation of her freedom of expression. The public letter written by the Chinese citizens criticized the German sinologists for only being concerned about the freedom of expression of those individuals who support the Chinese government, not those who are persecuted for criticizing the Chinese government. (CHRD)[xvi]

Workers of Bankrupted Factory Petition the Government

On October 28, about 100 workers from Huashan Metallurgy Car Factory in Huayin County, Shaanxi Province, petitioned the provincial government. The workers were part of 1,500 workers who received no compensation when the state-owned company went bankrupt in August 2007. The worker-petitioners complain that individuals tasked with selling the company’s assets have been profiting from the sale while no money has gone to the laid-off workers. (CHRD)[xvii]

Laws and Regulations Watch

Supreme People’s Court: Use of Death Penalty Continues to Strike Hard on Crimes

According to a China News Service article dated October 26, the Head of the Supreme People’s Court, Wang Shengjun (王胜俊), said in a report to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) that “at a time with a high crime rate”, the judiciary will continue to punish crimes with a heavy hand. Especially grave crimes will be punished with the death penalty. Crimes punishable by death include those endangering the market and economic order such as smuggling, fraudulent fundraising and violation of intellectual property; those related to the abuse of position such as corruption, bribery and dereliction of duty; and those which harm public health and security such as unsafe food and agricultural product. ([xviii]

Suzhou Procuratorate Checks Health of Detainees

According to a Legal Daily article dated October 26, since the beginning of 2008, Jinchang District Procuratorate in Suzhou Province has initiated a trial program to ensure the health of detained suspects of economic crimes during investigations. When individuals are first taken into custody, investigators at the Procuratorate are required to take a comprehensive medical history of the detainee and report it to superiors. Suspects who suddenly fall ill during investigations are sent to the hospital immediately, and investigators might even invite specialist doctors to stand by during the interrogation of suspects with “special medical conditions”. (Legal Daily)[xix]

Legal Daily: There is an Urgent Need for Professional Lawyers

According to a November 4 article in Legal Daily, a state-owned newspaper supervised by the Ministry of Justice, few suspects are defended by lawyers and this situation has persisted in recent years. Out of 140,000 lawyers and 10,000 law firms, only a handful dare to say they specialize in criminal law. There is, therefore, an urgent need for more lawyers specializing in criminal law. (Legal Daily)[xx]

Editor: Wang Songlian

[i] CHRD, “‘Redress Injustice Supermarket’, a Website by Petitioners, Blocked <访民自建的“伸冤超市”被封杀>”, November 6, 2008,

[ii] CHRD, “Three Activists from Xiangtan City Sentenced for ‘Gathering Crowds to Disturb Traffic Order’ <湖南湘潭三位维权人士被以聚众扰乱交通秩序罪判刑>”, November 1, 2008,

[iii] CHRD, “Local Government Keep Close Eye on Wen Fengzhi and Other Rights Activists in Xiangtan City, Hunan Province <湖南湘潭对维权人士万凤芝等人的“人盯人”的稳控>”, November 7, 2008,; CHRD, “5,000 Workers Applied to Protest in Xiangtan City, Hunan Province; Protest Organizers Being Hunted <湖南湘潭5000职工申请游行,联系人被追捕>”, November 1,

[iv] CHRD, “Grassroots Election Activist Summoned in Qianjiang City <潜江基层民主选举活跃人士被传唤>”, October 29, 2008,; CHRD, “Villagers from Four Villages Petition Civil Affairs Bureau in Qianjiang <四村村民为选举上访潜江民政局>”, October 27, 2008,

[v] CHRD, “Mujiangwang Villagers Demand Village Election to be Held as Scheduled <穆将王村民要求如期进行村干部选举>”, October 31,

[vi] CHRD, “Activist Formally Arrested for Applying to Protest during the Olympics”, November 11, 2008,

[vii] CHRD, “Courts Refuse to Accept Lawsuit by Detained Applicant to Olympics ‘Protest Zones’”, November 12, 2008,

[viii] CHRD, “Nanjing Political Activist Guo Quan Detained on Suspicion of ‘Inciting Subversion’”, November 14, 2008,

[ix] CHRD, “Yao Lifa Protests Strongly the Illegal Kidnapping and Detention by Qianjiang Local Government <姚立法强烈抗议潜江地方当局非法绑架、软禁>”, November 12, 2008,

[x] CHRD, “Zhengzhou Villager Chang Buling Sent to Re-education through Labor for Petitioning about Land Dispute <郑州农民常布领因土地问题上访被劳教>”, November 11, 2008,

[xi] CHRD, “Hunan Hengyang Activist Liu Yuping Detained in Black Jail <湖南衡阳维权人士刘玉萍被关黑监狱中>”, October 30, 2008,

[xii] CHRD, “Sino-Japanese Venture is Suspected of Being Involved in Illegal Appropriation of Land; Forcible Demolition of Residential Home <中日合资企业涉嫌违法占地,强拆居民住房>”, November 5, 2008,

[xiii] Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), “Suizhou ‘Nail Households’ Forcibly Demolished by Several Hundreds; Many Injured and were Sent to the Hospital <随州“钉子户”邓春华等遭数百人强拆 多人被打伤住院>”, November 7, 2008,

[xiv] CRLW, “Dongguan Labor Activist Xiao Qingshan Beaten <东莞劳工维权人士肖青山被打>”, November 12, 2008,

[xv] CHRD, “China Should Ensure that its “National Action Plan” Amounts to More than a Publicity Stunt”, November 7, 2008,

[xvi] CHRD, “A Public Letter by Chinese Citizens on the Dispute of the Chinese Section of Deutsche Welle <中国民间人士关于德国之声中文部争议的公开信>”, November 3, 2008,

[xvii] CHRD, “Workers at Huashan Metallurgy Car Factory Has Not Received Any Living Allowance for Eight Months <华山冶金车辆厂职工已有八个多月未领到分文生活费>”, October 29, 2008,

[xviii], “Supreme People’s Court: Punishments that Do Not Involve Detention will be Applied Strictly to Corruption and Other Crimes <最高法:对贪污等犯罪严格依法适用非监禁刑>”, October 26, 2008,

[xix] Legal Daily, “Our Special Report: the First Healthy Investigation System in the Country Pioneered by Suzhou <本网特别报道:全国首个嫌疑人健康调 查制度亮相苏州>”, November 17, 2008,

[xx] Legal Daily, “The Rate of Criminal Suspects Defended by Lawyers Continues to be Depressed; Urgent Need for Lawyers Specialized in Criminal Law <中国刑事辩护率持续低迷 刑辩律师专业化迫在眉睫>”, November 2, 2008,

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