China Human Rights Briefing December 15-31, 2008Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing December 15-31, 2008
China Human Rights Briefing
Reporting human rights development from the grassroots
December 15-31, 2008
· The crackdown on Charter 08 continues to widen as more activists are harassed by the police for signing the public appeal. Since December 8, CHRD has documented the cases of at least 86 signatories who have been questioned, summoned and intimidated in nineteen municipalities and provinces.
· Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 signatory and prominent intellectual, is being held at an undisclosed location in a Beijing suburb under “residential surveillance”. The police have not informed Liu or his wife of the crime for which Liu is detained for investigation nor of the duration of residential surveillance. According to Chinese law, Liu cannot meet with others, including his wife and lawyer, without police permission. Therefore, Liu is essentially subject to secret, incommunicado and– as far as CHRD is aware– solitary confinement.
Major Search Engines in China Help Censor Charter 08
On December 25 and 27, CHRD conducted internet searches for Charter 08 on Baidu, Sina and Google, major search engines in China, and found that all three had blocked and deleted content related to Charter 08.
On December 25, a search on Baidu returned 36,000 results. Out of the first twenty results, 70% (14 websites) had been deleted. CHRD conducted the same search two days later. Although the search engine claimed to have returned 4,050 results, it displayed only one website irrelevant to the Charter.
On December 27, a search for Charter 08 on Google.cn, Google’s search engine in China which has an admitted policy of self-censorship, returned 118 results. None of the first ten results were related to the Charter. However, when the same search was conducted using a proxy server (thus circumventing the Great Firewall which blocks sites based outside of China), 362,000 results were returned. CHRD checked the first ten results and they were all relevant to the Charter.
Earlier, on December 12, CHRD conducted a search for Charter 08 on Google.cn. When researchers tried to access the first twenty-one websites the search returned, 86% of them (18 websites) displayed messages reading “cannot be displayed” or “content cannot be found.”
On December 25, a search for Charter 08 on Sina’s blog homepage, http://blog.sina.com.cn, produced no results. (CHRD)[i]
Since December 24, Law World (fatianxia), a blog managed by Beijing-based lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), has been inaccessible. It is believed that the blog was forcibly closed by the Beijing internet authorities. On December 16, Liu was notified by the Beijing internet authorities that Law World was closed due to its posting “articles inconsistent with the relevant government laws and policies.” Law World focuses on legal analysis of sometimes “sensitive” social issues. (CHRD)[ii]
On December 15, Xiao Changhai (肖昌海), from Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was apprehended by Wuhan police at an internet café in Yichang City, Hubei Province. Xiao is being held at an illegal “black jail”[iii] in Yujiatou, Wuchang City, Hubei Province.
Xiao is a representative of activists (jingzu fangzhu) whose property was expropriated by the state in earlier periods, decades ago, and who are now disputing ownership with the government. On December 13, Xiao, who was visiting other representatives in Changsha City, Hunan Province, was stopped by local police but managed to escape. On December 14 and 15, Wang Jiyong (王季勇), a representative from Changsha, was detained at a local police station on suspicion that he assisted Xiao in his escape. (CHRD)[iv]
On December 18, Ni Yulan (倪玉兰), a Beijing-based housing rights activist and former lawyer, was sentenced by the Xicheng District Court in Beijing to two years’ imprisonment for “obstructing official business.” Only four people– Ni‘s daughter and three court officials– were allowed to attend the trial.. Without legal counsel, Ni defended herself at the trial and was repeatedly interrupted by the judge. (CRLW)[v]
On December 27, a friend and fellow petitioner received a postcard sent by Ji Sizun (纪斯尊), an activist detained since August 11 after he applied to protest in the “Protest Zones” supposedly set up by the government during the Olympics in Beijing. The postcard says Ji was tried by Taijiang Court in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province in a secret trial closed to the public on December 23. CHRD has been unable to verify this information with Ji, his friends or family. His friends have been barred from visiting him. It is believed that Ji has had no contact with his family ever since he was detained nearly five months ago. (CHRD)[vi]
The crackdown on Charter 08 continues to widen as more activists are harassed by the police for signing the public appeal. By December 31, CHRD has documented the cases of at least 86 signatories who have been questioned, summoned and intimidated in a wide variety of locations including Beijing and Shanghai Municipalities and Zhejiang, Fujian, Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Hebei, Hubei, Shaanxi, Yunnan, Liaoning, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Sichuan, Shandong and Heilongjiang Provinces.
Some have been repeatedly harassed due to their endorsement of the charter.
On December 26, Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦), a prominent Beijing-based intellectual, was summoned and interrogated by the National Security police of the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) for three hours, during which time he was warned that if he continued to give media interviews or engage in other activities to promote the Charter, there would be “severe consequences” for his family and friends. Zhang was first summoned on December 8, the day before the Charter was publicly launched.
After over twenty human rights activists attended a teach-in on December 19 on Charter 08 in Hebin Park, Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, police summoned three of the participants, Chen Xi (陈西), Du Heping (杜和平), and Liang Zhuangyuan (廖双元). Chen and Liang refused the summons, but Liang complied and was asked about the Charter. This was the second time the three were summoned by the police about the Charter.
At the time of writing, more than 7,000 people from around the country have signed the Charter. (CHRD)[vii]
Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), a prominent intellectual and signatory to Charter 08, is being held under “residential surveillance” (jinshi juzhu) by the National Security police under the Beijing PSB at an undisclosed location in Beijing. On January 1, police arranged a meeting between Liu and his wife. According to Liu Xia, Liu appeared to be healthy and in good spirits. Liu is interrogated daily during the day and is barred from reading, watching TV or listening to the radio. The police have not informed Liu or his wife of the crime for which Liu is detained for investigation nor of the duration of residential surveillance.
“Residential surveillance” is a form of pre-trial detention. According to Article 57 of China’s Criminal Procedural Law (CPL), a suspect subjected to residential surveillance must be held either in her/his home or a designated dwelling if s/he has no permanent residence. Detaining Liu, who has a home in Beijing, in an undisclosed location therefore breaches this legal provision. According to Article 58 of the CPL, the maximum limit for residential surveillance is six months. Because the PSB, the Procuratorate and the Court all have the authority to impose residential surveillance on the same individual consecutively, Liu faces the possibility of being subjected to a maximum of 1.5 years of residential surveillance without charge or trial. (CHRD)[viii]
CHRD learned on December 28 that Hu Jia (胡佳), an imprisoned human rights activist, continues to be denied access to adequate medical care and is barred from family visits.
Since his transfer to Beijing City Prison on October 8, Hu, a sufferer of liver cirrhosis, was given two physical check-ups on October 15 and November 11. According to the incomplete results of one of the check-ups, Hu’s liver function is poor. Hu is given Lamivudine, a drug that treats Hepatitis B. However, Hu has not been allowed to meet with liver specialists regularly to evaluate his situation and provide him with an appropriate course of treatment. Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), is concerned that his current treatment is ineffective and might even be harmful as Hu develops a resistance to the drug.
The National Security Police of the Beijing PSB has also barred Zeng and his family from visiting him since November 21. (CHRD)
On December 28, Ding Juying (丁菊英), a petitioner from Shanghai, was criminally detained by Shanghai PSB Pudong Sub-division on suspicion of “gathering crowds to disturb social order.” It is believed that Ding is being detained under suspicion of being the leader of a group of 38 petitioners who went to Hong Kong to register the petitioners’ advocacy organization, “The National Union of People who Have Suffered Injustice.” Other petitioners who travelled to Hong Kong have also been intimidated and harassed by the Shanghai police. The petitioners went to Hong Kong because they believe that it is impossible to register the organization in mainland China due to severe restriction on the establishment of civil society groups. (CHRD)[ix]
On December 20, a number of villagers were beaten and four were detained in two nearby villages, Nanbeiliugezhuang Village and Beiliugezhuang Village, Nandayuan Township, Nanshi District, Baoding City, Hebei Province.
Between four- and five-hundred villagers had resisted forcible land appropriation. The villagers clashed with about 3,200 members of the Baoding City Public Security Bureau (PSB) Nanshi District Sub-division, Nandayuan Township government and police, and Changcheng Automobile Company, who had come to demarcate the 300 mu (49.41 acres) land to be appropriated.
The villagers alleged that the compensation offered by the authorities was much lower than the market rate. They attempted to remove the markers the appropriation crew were installing, and a clash ensued.
Two of the villagers taken into custody are Shang Qiang (商强) and Wang Shumin (王淑敏). The other two are not yet known. The villagers are believed to have been arrested for being particularly outspoken during the confrontation. (CRLW)[x]
On December 12, Zhang (张), a 62-year-old pedicab driver from Liaocheng City in Shandong Province, died from injuries sustained from a fall inside the Liaocheng Urban Management, Administration and Legal Enforcement Bureau. Zhang was at the Bureau to petition for the return of his pedicab, which had confiscated by Urban Inspection Officers (chengguan). A dispute broke out between Zhang and an officer. In the ensuing struggle, Zhang was pushed down a staircase, the cause of the injuries which led to his death. The Urban Inspection Officers claimed that Zhang died due to a sudden onset of illness.
Urban Inspection Officers are responsible for enforcing a variety of regulations governing a range of areas such as illegal structures and illegal hawking. They are notorious for their use of excessive violence in carrying out their duties. (CHRD)[xi]
According to a Legal Daily article dated December 20, 2008, the mayor of Hangzhou, Cai Qi (蔡奇), said at a workshop that the city government will broadcast important events and plenary meetings live online and that district governments in the city may follow suit depending on circumstances. In addition, beginning in March 2009, the Hangzhou People’s Congress will release a number of its reports a month ahead of time so that the reports can be amended after members of the public have had a chance to give feedback. (Legal Daily)[xii]
According to an article published by Xinhua on December 20, 2008, the Supreme People’s Court announced that it will focus on ten major tasks to “deepen judicial reforms.” One of the tasks involves setting standards for sentencing (including death sentences) across the country to limit the wide discretion judges currently enjoy in determining punishments for those convicted. Other reforms include “optimizing” the allocation of power between courts at different levels of the hierarchy; setting standards for the role of judicial committees (shenpan weiyuanhui) in trials and perfecting the system of People’s Jurors (renmin peishenyuan). (Xinhua and Sina)[xiii]
According to a Legal Daily report of December 25, 2008, the Supreme People’s Court issued a legal interpretation in regard to cases in which lower courts decide to suspend the execution of death sentences. The interpretation states that if lower courts discover that, in accordance with Articles 211(1) and 212(4) of the Criminal Procedural Law, the individual should not be executed, the courts should immediately file a report to the Supreme People’s Court. The Supreme People’s Court will then review the case and make a final decision on whether or not to carry out the death sentence. (Legal Daily)[xiv]
Editors: Wang Songlian and Steve Gordon
[i] CHRD, “Ding Yue: Internet Censorship of Charter 08 <丁乙：《零八宪章》所遭遇到的网络封锁（补充）>”, December 27, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/lingbaxianzhang/200812/20081227231210_12676.html
[ii] CHRD, “Beijing Law World Closed Permanently <北京法天下网遭永久关闭>”, December 29, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081229004707_12716.html; CHRD, “Law World Closed again after It Became Accessible for One Day <法天下网开通一天后再遭关闭>”, December 23, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081223115215_12597.html
[iii] “Educational class” (xuefaban or xuexiban) or “black jail” (heijianyu) are illegal, secret and well-guarded locations where individuals are detained without legal procedures for an undefined period of time.
[iv] Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), “Wuhan and Changsha Join Forces to Arrest Representative of Property Rights Activist <武汉、长沙联合抓捕经租房维权代表>”, December 14, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081214204356_12377.html; CRLW, “Li Jiyong, Property Rights Activist from Hunan Province, Summoned <湖南经租房主王季勇被传唤>”, December 15, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081215013643_12378.html; CRLW, “Xiao Changhai, from Yichang in Wuhan City, Apprehended by Police <武汉肖昌海宜昌被抓 >”, December 15, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/fmzj/200812/20081215235003_12401.html
[v] CHRD, “Beijing Housing Rights Activist Ni Yulan Sentenced to Two Years”, December 18, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200812/20081218224147_12488.html ; CRLW, “Beijing Human Rights Activist Ni Yulan Sentenced to Two Years Imprisonment in a Trial where She Has no Defense Lawyer <北京维权人士倪玉兰在无辩护人的情况下被判刑两年>”, December 18, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081218141309_12481.html
[vi] CHRD, “Ji Sizun Secretly Tried <纪斯尊案秘密开庭>”, December 28, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081228212411_12710.html
[vii] CHRD, “Police Summon Beijing Intellectual Zhang Zuhua, China Continues Crackdown on Charter 08”, December 29, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class98/200812/20081229092309_12717.html; CHRD, “Guizhou Human Rights Defender Collectively Learn Charter 08 <贵州人权捍卫者集体学习《零八宪章》>”, December 24, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/lingbaxianzhang/200812/20081224135440_12618.html; CHRD, “Crackdown on Charter 08 Widens as More Activists are Interrogated and Intimidated”, December 16, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class98/200812/20081216212554_12417.html;
[viii] CHRD, “Liu Xiaobo under Residential Surveillance at Undisclosed Location”, January 2, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class98/200901/20090102142014_12798.html
[ix] CHRD, “Ding Juying Detained for Registering “the National Union of People who Suffered Injustice <注册“全国冤民大同盟”的丁菊英被拘留>”, December 28, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081228212231_12708.html
[x] CRLW, “Between Two and Three Hundred Villagers Protested against Forced Land Appropriation and Apprehension of Villagers in Baoding City, Hebei Province; <河北保定二、三百人集体抗议强行征地抓捕村民>”, December 25, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081225155947_12647.html; CRLW< “Thousands were dispatched to Forcibly Appropriate Village Land in Baoding City, Hebei Province; Villagers Beaten and Injured <河北保定出动数千人强行征地打伤农民>”, December 20, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081220235545_12533.html
[xi] CRLW, “Another Incident Where an Individual was Beaten to Death by Urban Inspection Officers in Liaocheng City, Shandong Province <山东聊城又发生城管打死人事件>”, December 15, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200812/20081215235905_12402.html.
[xii] Legal Daily, “Hangzhou Government Demands that Important Meetings be Broadcasted Live Such that Ordinary People Can Enjoy the Right to Information <杭州市政府要求重要会议进行视频直播 使百姓享有知情权>”, December 21, 2008, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/0705/2008-12/21/content_1005043.htm
[xiii] Sina, “Supreme People’s Court to Standardize Judge’s Discretion; Gradually Unify the Standards for Death Penalties <最高法将规范自由裁量权 逐步统一死刑标准>”, December 21, 2008, http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2008-12-21/032016888570.shtml; Xinhua, “Supreme People’s Court Proposes Ten Tasks to Deepen Judicial Reforms <最高法院提出将司法改革向纵深推进的10大任务>”, December 20, 2008, http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2008-12/20/content_1183631.htm
[xiv] Legal Daily, “Supreme People’s Court Issues Legal Interpretation to Standardize the Practice of Suspending Death Penalty <最高法院出台司法解释规范“枪下留人”>”, January 5, 2008, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/0705/2008-12/25/content_1008381.htm