China Human Rights Briefing January 1-15, 2009

Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing January 1-15, 2009

China Human Rights Briefing

Reporting human rights development from the grassroots

January 1-15, 2009

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


  • As Charter 08 continues to spread across the internet and its signatories and supporters refuse to back down under pressure, Chinese authorities continue to harass and intimidate signatories. Some individuals have been summoned on multiple occasions. Within one month of the Charter’s launch on December 9, 2008, CHRD documented over 106 such cases. By January 9, the Charter had been signed by over 7,000 people, more than 5,000 of whom reside in mainland China.
  • There has been no discernible improvement in the situation of torture since the UN Committee against Torture reviewed China’s implementation of the Convention against Torture in November 2008. The Committee’s conclusion was highly critical of China. In the last two weeks alone, CHRD received reports that four activists and petitioners have been subjected to torture and cruel and inhuman punishment. Yuan Xianchen, Sun Yonggui, and Cao Yibao all suffered serious injuries after being beaten by police or other authorities, and Chen Guangcheng has been denied proper medical care while incarcerated, causing his health to decline rapidly.
  • As the UN Human Rights Council prepares to conduct its Universal Periodical Review (UPR) of China’s human rights records in February, Chinese police summoned and interrogated Beijing activist, Wang Debang, raided his home, and confiscated his computer. Police harassed Wang apparently under the orders of high-level authorities. Wang was accused of having drafted a report on human rights defenders in China which authorities feared would be submitted as evidence to the UPR.


Freedom of Expression. 2

Blog portal Shut Down. 2

Persecution of Rights Activists. 3

Charter 08 Update. 3

Sichuan Signatory Liu Xianbin Summoned, Deprived of Political Rights. 3

Olympics Protest Applicant Sentenced to Three Years after Secret Trial 3

Shanghai Activist Detained Seven Days for Protesting. 4

Beijing National Security Police Summon Wang Debang, Search His Home. 4

Wang Rongqing Sentenced to Six Years in Prison. 4

Chen Qitang Quietly Sentenced after Long Delay. 4

Democracy Activist Li Tie Released. 4

Hunan Dissident Detained in a Psychiatric Hospital for 68 Days. 5

Wuhan Resident Detained in Psychiatric Hospital during Olympics. 5

Pan-Blue Alliance Member Charged With “Illegal Possession of State Secrets”. 5

Rights Activist Detained in Beijing. 5

Persecution of Petitioners. 5

Hunan Petitioner Liao Kaihui Detained for the Third Time. 6

Group of over Ten Petitioners Locked in “Black Jail”. 6

Freedom of Association. 6

“Gnu Club” Member Li Yu Harassed by Police. 6

Guangzhou Residents Stage Large-Scale Protests against Substation Construction. 6

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment 6

After Torture in Detention, Legal Activist Yuan Xianchen Goes on Trial 6

Imprisoned Human Rights Defender Chen Guangcheng Denied Medical Care. 7

Cao Yibao Seriously Injured following Beating by Shanghai Officials. 7

Petitioner Sun Yonggui Beaten Inside Supreme Court 7

Housing Rights and Forced Evictions. 7

Violence Erupts during Forced Eviction in Hangzhou; Ten Injured and Arrested. 7

Four Villagers Hospitalized during Fight over Forced Eviction. 7

Changsha Activist Detained, Beaten for Attempting to Observe Court Proceedings. 8

Law and Policy Watch. 8

Letters and Visits Bureau Establishes Office to Accept Written, Email Petitions. 8

Notable CHRD Publications. 8

CHRD Submits Recommendations to the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. 8

Freedom of Expression

Blog portal Shut Down

On January 9, 2009, the Chinese blog portal, (牛博网), was shut down by internet authorities. was well-known for hosting the blogs of many intellectuals and independent thinkers. The site had been suspended once before, in May 2008, after soliciting donations for earthquake relief funds. According to those with knowledge of the situation, this time the portal was closed because some blogs hosted on the site reprinted or discussed Charter 08 and related materials. (CHRD)[i]

Persecution of Rights Activists

Charter 08 Update

More than one month since Charter 08 was issued on December 9, 2008, Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers show no signs of ceasing their harassment and interrogation of signatories of the Charter. Though it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of individuals summoned (chuanhuan), threatened, or questioned by police, CHRD has independently verified 106 such cases. In most cases, police demand from signatories information about the authors and organizers of the Charter, as well as information about its spread and how citizens came to sign it. In many cases, signatories are asked to remove their names from the Charter and threatened if they do not comply.

Though most signatories are released after a few hours of questioning, some have faced more serious harassment. Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), detained on the eve of the Charter’s launch, remains under residential surveillance at an undisclosed location in Beijing.

Another disturbing trend is the repeated questioning of some signatories and the confiscation of computers and other personal property by the police. Wan Fengzhi (万凤芝) of Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province was summoned twice, on December 24, 2008, and December 26.[ii] Qin Geng (秦耕) of Haikou City, Hainan Province was summoned for the second time on January 10, 2009. Qin was first summoned on December 10, 2008. Xian lawyer, Zhang Jiankang (张鉴康), had his home searched and personal belongings confiscated by police in addition to being questioned on January 6, 2009.

CHRD reiterates its protest against the authorities’ ongoing harassment of Charter 08 signatories and calls for the authorities to respect all citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of speech without exception.[iii]

Sichuan Signatory Liu Xianbin Summoned, Deprived of Political Rights

Sichuan dissident, Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌), a member of the original group of 303 Charter 08 signatories, was summoned (chuanhuan) by the Suining City, Sichuan Province, PSB on the afternoon of December 29, 2008. After questioning him about the Charter, officers informed Liu that he was “suspected of forming an illegal association” and demanded he withdraw his name from the list of signatories. When he refused, the officers declared that he would henceforth be subjected to deprivation of political rights. Accordingly, he is not allowed to speak publicly on the matter, accept interviews, or leave the area of his residence. (CHRD)[iv]

Olympics Protest Applicant Sentenced to Three Years after Secret Trial
CHRD learned on January 16 that Ji Sizun (纪斯尊) was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “forging documents and seals of national agencies” by Taijiang District Court, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province in a reportedly secret trial on December 23, 2008. Ji is an activist who was detained on August 11 after he applied to protest in the “Protest Zones” supposedly set up by the government during the Olympics in Beijing. Ji is currently being held at Fuzhou City No.2 Detention Center. (CHRD)[v]

Shanghai Activist Detained Seven Days for Protesting

CHRD learned on January 15, 2009 that Mao Hengfeng (毛恒凤), a Shanghai reproductive rights activist recently released from jail, was detained by Shanghai police for shouting slogans advocating freedom outside of Shanghai Exhibition Center, the venue of the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (Shanghai Committee). Mao was given seven days of administrative detention for “disrupting public order”. (CHRD)[vi]

Beijing National Security Police Summon Wang Debang, Search His Home

At 11 p.m. on January 10, more than twenty policemen, led by the head of the National Security Unit of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB) summoned activist and writer Wang Debang (王德邦) for questioning, taking him from his home. Wang was taken to a PSB office and interrogated for six hours before being released. The police questioned Wang about his alleged involvement in drafting a report on human rights defenders. The police also asked Wang about his involvement in Charter 08, to which he is a signatory. His home was searched, and his computers and other personal belongings were confiscated in the presence of his wife and young daughters. (CHRD)[vii]

Wang Rongqing Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

Wang Rongqing (王荣清), a member of the China Democracy Party, Zhejiang Chapter, was sentenced to six years of imprisonment for “subversion of state power” by Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province on January 7, 2009. In a 15-minute sentencing hearing, Wang was found guilty of “subversion of state power” because he was the main organizer of the China Democracy Party (CDP) in Zhejiang Province; because he continued to “actively participate in, organize and develop” CDP after the Ministry of Public Security declared the party “an enemy organization”; because, prior to the Olympics, he organized the first national meeting of the CDP; and because Wang edited the publication, The Opposition Party, and published many articles online about the CDP. Wang was tried and convicted on December 9, 2008. (CHRD)[viii]

Chen Qitang Quietly Sentenced after Long Delay

On December 31, 2008, Chen Qitang (陈启棠, a.k.a. Tianli (天理)), an internet writer and activist from Guangdong Province, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for “impersonation and fraud”. Taken into custody on October 26, 2007, Chen had been detained for more than a year before he was secretly tried. Chen is believed to have been detained while helping villagers in Sanshan Village, Nanhai District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province draft legal documents to appeal the confiscation of their land by the local government. [ix]

Democracy Activist Li Tie Released

Shenzhen-based democracy activist, Li Tie (李铁), was released on January 15, 2009 following 15 days of administrative detention. Li Tie was detained in Shenzhen after returning from Shanghai, where he, along with internet writer, Pan Gang (潘刚), and others organized a public opinion poll on government reform and distributed copies of a book entitled Suggestions for National Reform. (CHRD)[x]

Hunan Dissident Detained in a Psychiatric Hospital for 68 Days

CHRD learned on January 6 that Pang Liduan (庞立端), a dissident whose home is under the jurisdiction of Jinfeng Office, West Dongting Administrative District, Changde City, Hunan Province, was seized from his home on August 8, 2008 and forcibly detained in the Changde City Third People’s Hospital for 68 days. Officers from the Changde City PSB West Dongting Administrative District Sub-division and Jinfeng Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Secretary Cao Rongle (曹荣乐) were present when Pang was detained. Though no precise reason for his detainment has been given, it is thought that it may have been in retaliation for his activism, which included organizing voter activities and distributing pamphlets protesting elections for People’s Congress Representatives. (CHRD)[xi]

Wuhan Resident Detained in Psychiatric Hospital during Olympics

CHRD learned on January 6 that Jiang Hansheng (江汉生), of Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was apprehended by police on June 4, 2008 after hanging up a poster reading “Don’t Forget the June 4th Massacre” on the same day. After interrogation, Jiang was sent to Wuhan City Number 2 Mental Hospital, where he was held for more than four months. He was released on October 10, 2008. In the hospital, he was tortured using electroshock devices upon his arrival and thereafter forced to take daily medication. His family was unable to locate him for more than half a month after his disappearance. (CHRD)[xii]

Pan-Blue Alliance Member Charged With “Illegal Possession of State Secrets”

On January 2, 2009, CHRD obtained documents detailing the detention and arrest of Zhang Qi (张起), a member of the China Pan-Blue Alliance Chongqing City Branch. The documents confirmed that Zhang, who disappeared in May 2008 in Sichuan Province after the earthquake, was formally detained by local authorities on May 16, 2008 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. On June 20, 2008, he was formally arrested for “possession of state secrets”. Because Zhang’s family had been warned by police not to divulge information about his case, little was known about it before now. [xiii]

Rights Activist Detained in Beijing.

On January 14, 2009, Cao Shunli (曹顺利) was apprehended by Beijing police for contacting the State Council Information Office regarding a proposal he submitted in regard to the government’s “National Human Rights Plan of Action”. After Cao presented the proposal to the Foreign Ministry on December 10, 2008, he was told by the Foreign Ministry to contact the State Council Information Office. However, Cao was warned by the Beijing police against visiting the office. Cao ignored the warning and was apprehended when he was in the lobby of the office. Cao was released the next day. (CRLW)[xiv]

Persecution of Petitioners

Hunan Petitioner Liao Kaihui Detained for the Third Time

On January 2, 2009, Liao Kaihui (廖开慧), a petitioner against forced eviction, was sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention by the Jiangyong County PSB, Hunan Province, for “disturbing social order”. The detention followed his capture in Beijing at the end of December by interceptors from Hunan Province. He had traveled to the capital to petition the government. On the morning of January 2, 2009, he was forcibly returned to Jiangyong County, Hunan to begin his administrative detention.[xv]

Group of over Ten Petitioners Locked in “Black Jail”

A group of more than ten petitioners from Loudi City, Hunan Province, were seized by interceptors from the Beijing Liaison Office of Hunan Province in late December and locked in a “black jail” for more than ten days before their release on January 3, 2009. At least one petitioner, Liu Yuhua (刘玉华), was beaten while detained. (Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch)[xvi]

Freedom of Association

“Gnu Club” Member Li Yu Harassed by Police

On January 8, 2009, three policemen from the National Security Unit of Luojiiang County PSB, Sichuan Province questioned Li Yu (李宇) about his recent travels. Li is a member of the “Gnu Club” (角马俱乐部), an online social network where members discuss issues of political reform and constitutional democracy. He had recently returned home after travelling the country to meet other club members. The police officers demanded he refrain from future travels and threatened him with consequences if he did not comply. (CHRD)[xvii]

Guangzhou Residents Stage Large-Scale Protests against Substation Construction

On the evenings of December 30 and 31, 2008, more than 2,000 residents of Junjing Garden Village, Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province took to the streets to protest the construction of an electrical substation that they say would drastically affect their quality of life. According to Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), the protesters were marching peacefully when police used force to break up the crowds, arresting five individuals. They were released after they signed documents promising that they will cease demonstrating. (CRLW)[xviii]

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment

After Torture in Detention, Legal Activist Yuan Xianchen Goes on Trial

On January 12, Yuan Xianchen (袁显臣), a human rights activist and legal worker (falu gongzuozhe) based in Jixi City, Heilongjiang Province, was tried for “inciting subversion of state power” by Jixi City Intermediate People’s Court. CHRD learned from Yuan’s lawyers that between Yuan’s apprehension in Beijing on May 24, 2008 and his formal detention on May 29, he was repeatedly tortured to extract confession at the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau Detention Center. A guard hit Yuan’s head with handcuffs, which left more than ten bald spots and visible scars on his head. After Yuan was transferred to the Jixi City Detention Center, the beatings continued but became less frequent. (CHRD)[xix]

Imprisoned Human Rights Defender Chen Guangcheng Denied Medical Care

CHRD learned on January 14 that imprisoned human rights defender, Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), has been denied appropriate medical care and is in very poor health following months of digestive ailments. Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing (袁伟静), who visited her husband at the Linyi Prison in Shandong Province in late December 2008, reports that Chen has been suffering from diarrhea daily since July 2008. Seeing her husband for the first time in more than a year, Yuan discovered that Chen’s skin had become sallow and he appeared emaciated and frail. Chen has been given physical exams by a prison doctor but is being denied necessary diagnostic tests and specialized treatment.[xx]

Cao Yibao Seriously Injured following Beating by Shanghai Officials

Cao Yibao (曹义宝), a Shanghai petitioner against forced eviction, sustained serious injuries, including multiple fractures of bones in her face, after she was beaten on the orders of Shanghai Municipal government officials while in illegal detention between December 26 and 27, 2008. On December 26, 2008, Cao was taken into custody by police in Beijing. After being transferred to multiple sites, she arrived at the Beijing Liaison Office of Baoding City, Hebei Province, where she was beaten by subordinates of an employee of the Letters and Visits Office of the Shanghai Municipal Government. Cao and others detained with her were then kept overnight in a freezing room before being forcibly returned to Shanghai by train. (CHRD)[xxi]

Petitioner Sun Yonggui Beaten Inside Supreme Court

While petitioning inside the Letters and Visits Office of the Beijing Supreme People’s Court on January 8, 2009, petitioner Sun Yonggui (孙永贵) from Jilin Province was attacked by a group of police officers from Siping City, Jilin Province whose assignment it was to intercept petitioners. Sun suffered a fractured skull and three fractured ribs and was rushed to Beijing’s Youan Hospital for emergency treatment. His treatment, paid for by family members, risks being terminated due to lack of funds.[xxii]

Housing Rights and Forced Evictions

Violence Erupts during Forced Eviction in Hangzhou; Ten Injured and Arrested

Claiming that long-time residents of buildings belonging to former state-owned enterprise, Honglei Silk Factory, in Gongshu District, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province had “no property rights” and were merely “renting their apartments”, local authorities authorized the demolition and forced eviction of their homes without any advance consultation or compensation. When the bulldozers arrived on December 26, 2008, a group of 40 to 50 residents gathered to resist the demolition and were attacked by a group of more than 100 police officers and 200 hired thugs. Ten residents were beaten and arrested. One remains in the hospital, three are still detained and one has been criminally detained. (CHRD)[xxiii]

Four Villagers Hospitalized during Fight over Forced Eviction

On January 11, 2009, Le Guoshan (乐国山), a villager from Liuge Village, Baoding City, Hebei Province, and other villagers were assaulted by thugs hired to carry out land appropriation. They threw bricks at the protesters. When the villagers responded in kind, they were set upon by a Nandayuan Village cadre, the son of a local party secretary, and goons wielding wooden clubs. Le Guoshan and fellow villager Li Zhiguo (李志国) were both beaten unconscious and rushed to a hospital along with two other villagers. Eyewitnesses confirm that government officials personally attacked Le Guoshan. (CHRD)[xxiv]

Changsha Activist Detained, Beaten for Attempting to Observe Court Proceedings

On the morning of January 14, activist Hou Ying (候映) from Kaifu District, Changsha City, Hunan Province and 25 or 26 other victims of forced eviction were prevented by a group of fifty police officers from observing a hearing for other displaced persons in a Changsha city courtroom. The officers dispersed the group and detained Hou, locking her in a small, dark room until 6:30 in the evening. Hou reported being kept in handcuffs, beaten by more than twenty police officers, and denied food and water. (CHRD)[xxv]

Law and Policy Watch

Letters and Visits Bureau Establishes Office to Accept Written, Email Petitions

On January 1, 2009, the National Letters and Complaints Bureau in Beijing opened a new office to accept written petitions submitted by post and email. According to the new guidelines, the office is especially dedicated to hearing “sannong” complaints from people in the countryside. Petitioners can submit complaints to the Letters and Visits Bureau by visiting their website and clicking on the “Write an appeal online” link, or by sending a letter. The website is

Although the authorities claim that the measure is to facilitate the submission of petitions, it is believed that this new office was designed to discourage petitioners from traveling to Beijing. Many petitioners are villagers and farmers who go to the capital to complain about problems in the countryside. (Legal Daily)[xxvi]

Notable CHRD Publications

CHRD Submits Recommendations to the Universal Periodic Review Working Group

CHRD has submitted a list of recommendations for the Universal Periodic Review Working Group to consider in preparation for its meeting with representatives from the Chinese government. On February 9, 2009, the UPR Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council will convene its review of China.

CHRD’s submission focuses on five main recommendations:

(1) China must take effective measures to implement the Convention against Torture.

(2) China must abolish all systems of arbitrary detention.

(3) China must end the criminalization of freedom of speech and of the press.

(4) China must cease Party and government control of the judiciary.

(5) China must honor its commitment to protect human rights defenders.

To read the full text of the submission, please visit

Editors: David Smalls and Wang Songlian

[i] CHRD, “Famous China Blog Site Once Again Shut Down <中国著名博客牛博网再次被封>”, January 9, 2009,

[ii]CHRD, “Hunan Zhuzhou Charter 08 Signatory Wan Fengzhi Summoned for the Second Time <湖南株州《零八宪章》联署人万凤芝被两次传唤>”, December 28, 2008,

[iii] CHRD, “Over One Hundred Signatories Harassed Since Launch of Charter 08”, January 8, 2008,

[iv] CHRD, “Charter 08 Signatories Liu Xianbin, Chen Wei Summoned <《零八宪 章》联署人刘贤斌、陈卫被传唤>”,

[v] CHRD, “Fujian Rights Activist Ji Sizun Detained in Detention Center <福建维权人士纪斯尊被关押在看守所>”, January 17, 2008,

[vi] RFA, “Several Thousands Demonstrate in Shanghai; Rights Activist Mao Hengfeng Detained <上海数千人请愿 维权人士毛恒凤被拘留>”, January 15, 2009,

[vii] CHRD, “Police Summon Activist for Allegedly Drafting Human Rights Report”, January 12, 2009,

[viii] CHRD, “Democracy Activist Sentenced to Six Years for “Subversion of State Power”, January 8, 2009,

[ix] CHRD, “Activist Quietly Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Prison after Long Delay”, January 6, 2008,

[x]CHRD, “Shenzhen Democracy Warrior Li Tie Released <深圳民主勇士李铁获释>”, January 15, 2008,

[xi] CHRD, “Yao Lifa: Citizen Pang Liduan Forcibly Incarcerated in Psychiatric Institution for 68 Days <姚立法:公民庞立端被强迫关进精神病 院68天>”, January 6, 2009,

[xii] CHRD, “During the Olympics, Jiang Hansheng Sent to Psychiatric Hospital <奥运期间,江汉生被送进精神病院>”, January 6, 2009,

[xiii] CHRD, “Chongqing City Pan-Blue Alliance Member Zhang Qi Arrested for ‘Possessing State Secrets’ <重庆市泛蓝联盟成员张起被以“涉嫌藏有国家机密罪”逮捕>”, January 2, 2009,

[xiv] CRLW, “Beijing Cao Shunli etc. Apprehended; Sichuan Zuo Xiaohuan Signed Charter 08 <北京曹顺利等被抓 四川左晓环签署《零八宪章》>”, January 14, 2008,

[xv] CHRD, “Hunan Jiangyong Liao Kaihui Detained for the Third Time for Petitioning <湖南江永廖开慧上访被第三次拘留>”, January 2, 2009,

[xvi]CRLW, “Over Ten Petitioners Detained in ‘Black Jails’ for Ten Days in Loudi, Hunan Province <湖南娄底十多位访民被关“黑监狱”已十天>, January 3, 2009,

[xvii] CHRD, Li Yu, “Member of Gnu Club Harassed by National Security Police of Sichuan <角马俱乐部”成员李宇被四川国保骚扰>”,

[xviii]CRLW, “Owners of Guangzhou Junjing Garden Stage Major Demonstration against the Construction of Substation <广州骏景花园业主继续大规模抗议建变电站>, January 2, 2009,

[xix] CHRD, “After Torture in Detention, Legal Activist Yuan Xianchen Goes on Trial”, January 15, 2009,

[xx] CHRD, “Imprisoned Human Rights Defender Chen Guangcheng Denied Medical Care”, January 15, 2009,

[xxi] CHRD, “Petitioner Seriously Injured following Beating by Shanghai Officials”, January 9, 2009,

[xxii]CHRD, “Petitioner Sun Yonggui Beaten by Group of Police in Supreme People’s Court, Where is Justice? <访 民孙永贵在最高法院内遭警察群殴,天理何在?>, January 11, 2009,

[xxiii]CRLW, “Hangzhou Gongshu District Forced Eviction Led to Violent Conflict and Arrest of Over Ten People <杭 州拱墅区强拆引发激烈冲突打伤抓捕十余人>, December 28, 2008,

[xxiv] CRLW, “Hebei Baoding Liujiazhuang Land Appropriation Led to Bloody Conflict; Three Sent to Hospital for Emergency Treatment <河北保定刘阁庄征地引发血案三人住院抢救>”, January 12, 2009,

[xxv]“Changsha Petitioner Detained for Attending a Trial; Will Commit Suicide to Protest the Illegal Behavior of the Relevant Authorities <长沙访民参加旁听被关押 将以自杀来抗议有关部门的非法作为> (Editor’s note: CHRD urges citizens to pursue non-violent forms of protest and does not encourage or condone violence against others or oneself.),” January 14, 2009,

[xxvi] Legal Daily, “Bureau of Letters and Visits Established a National Complaint Office, which will start its test run from January 1 <信访局设立国家投诉受理办公室 明年1月1日起试运行>”, December 30, 2008,

  • Back to Top