Shandong Officials Continue Harassing Wife of Jailed Human Rights Defender

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Shandong Officials Continue Harassing Wife of Jailed Human Rights Defender
Authorities must end illegal surveillance of Yuan Weijing

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, November 24, 2007)-Yuan Weijing (袁伟静 ), wife of imprisoned human rights defender, Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚 ), continues to be subjected to house arrest, surveillance, and restrictions of her movement.

In a public letter addressed to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, released on November 22, Yuan details the degrading treatment of Chen in jail and her own harassment at the hands of the Linyi government, Shandong Province, as a result of Chen’s efforts to defend human rights. Yuan calls the attention of President Hu and Premier Wen to the situation of her family, asking the leaders to put an end to the government’s illegal persecution and help Chen and her to regain their freedom.

Chen was convicted on December 1, 2006 of “intentional destruction of property and obstruction of traffic” and sentenced to four years and three months in prison. Early in his imprisonment, Chen was beaten and poorly fed. Yuan says that Chen’s treatment in prison has slightly improved after international pressure and the family’s repeated complaints to the prison authorities. However, the prison authorities still bar him from reading, writing and listening to the radio.

According to Yuan, earlier in September, half a dozen men followed her wherever she went, but she was able to go about her chores and visit her son who is being cared for by her parents in another village. However, on September 23, she was not allowed out to purchase warm clothes for winter. On October 29, she was violently barred from seeking medical treatment from a dentist. On October 23 and November 20, security guards used force to bar her from visiting Chen at Linyi Prison. For two months now, Yuan has not been allowed to visit her husband in jail or see her son.

The continuing arbitrary detention of Chen and sustained harassment of Yuan indicate that the Chinese government has either failed to keep its own promises made to the international community, or lost its control in governing the country – its inability to implement the rule of law in its vast provinces.

CHRD believes that Chen has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful activities of documenting and publishing human rights abuses and organizing fellow citizens to defend their rights. The authorities have abused Chen’s rights to freedom of expression and of association guaranteed in, respectively, Articles 19 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 also believes that Yuan has been penalized for her husband’s human rights activities. The authorities have violated Yuan’s rights to freedom of liberty and of movement guaranteed in, respectively, Articles 9 and 12 of the ICCPR. These rights are enshrined in Article 37 of the Chinese Constitution.

To the Chinese government:
CHRD calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen and an end to the prolonged harassment of his wife. Linyi County and Shandong Province officials suspected of ordering or carrying out the abuses of Chen and Yuan’s rights must be held criminally accountable according to the Chinese law and PRC Constitution.

CHRD urges the government to protect human rights defenders as China promised when it endorsed the Declaration to Protect Human Rights Defenders at the UN General Assembly in 1999.

To the international community:
CHRD asks the international community to pressure the Chinese authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen and to put an end to the prolonged harassment of his wife.

In his visit to China this week, French President Sarkozy should raise concern about the situation of Chen and Yuan. In the upcoming US-China strategic dialogue, American officials should ask for the immediate release of Chen and the end of the harassment of Yuan.

CHRD urges the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Representative on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to inquire into the Chinese government’s failure to protect human rights defenders, particularly those like Chen and Yuan at the grassroots level, who are vulnerable to corrupt and abusive local officials.

Chen has a long history of campaigning for the rights of farmers and the disabled. He is best known for documenting and exposing extensive violence in the implementation of the government’s population policy in Linyi.

Since Chen’s house arrest in August 2005, Yuan has been closely monitored and her freedom has been restricted by local police without any legal authorization. On August 24, 2007, she was intercepted at the Beijing international airport and prevented from leaving for the Philippines to receive the prestigious Magsaysay Award on behalf of her husband. She was forcibly sent back to her village in Shandong Province.

For more information, please see the following CHRD publications:
Wife of Jailed Human Rights Defender Barred from Seeking Medical Treatment (dated October 29, 2007)

Thanks speech by Yuan weijing on behalf of her husband Mr Chen GuangCheng (dated August 2, 2007)

A Comprehensive Update Communique to UN Special Procedures, alleging arbitrary detention, cruel and inhumane treatment, interference with independent lawyer, of Chen Guangcheng, P. R. China, on behalf of his wife, Ms. Yuan Weijing Part I, II and III (dated February 13, 2007)

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