Retired Judge in Xinjiang Detained for Advocating Health Rights of Veterans

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Retired Judge in Xinjiang Detained for Advocating Health Rights of Veterans

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders—February 23, 2009) – CHRD learned today that Huang Yunmin (黄云敏), a retired judge in Xinjiang who has advocated for the health-related rights of veterans, has been detained on suspicion of “possession of guns” since February 10.

On February 10, about twenty local policemen took Huang away from his home in Kashgar City. They searched his home, copied the contents of his computer hard drive as well as personal correspondences, and confiscated an old air rifle, which was damaged and missing several pieces. After several hours of interrogation, Huang was criminally detained. He is currently being held at Tumuxiukeken District Detention Center

Huang, who is in his 50s and now retired, served as a judge at Tumuxiuke Court, Kashiken District, Xinjiang Military Corps, and had previously served in the army in Qinghai Province. Huang and fellow soldiers were responsible for protecting nuclear sites and conducting nuclear tests. In 2007, a notice issued by a number of government ministries decreed that dismissed soldiers who were involved in nuclear testing should be given medical tests and enjoy certain benefits provided by the government if tested positive for damages to their health. In 2008, Huang saw the notice for the first time on the internet and realized that local government officials had not implemented the measures stated in the regulation. Since then, Huang has led a group of 17 fellow veterans to complain to the Ministry of Civil Affairs at Kashgar, including submitting a petition dated August 18, 2008. Although the Ministry of Civil Affairs admitted that the notice is applicable to Huang’s team and that they should be given the tests and receive applicable benefits, so far there has been no result.

According to fellow activists, Huang has been detained because of his work leading fellow veterans in pressing the local government to fulfil its responsibility to these veterans and provide them with subsidies if they qualify.

Analysts believe that the government is very fearful about any collective actions by former soldiers in the restive Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where the government has ruthlessly suppressed activities they suspect may be related to “separatist” movements. Huang’s actions, though peaceful and having nothing to do with so-called “separatists,” may have struck a raw nerve with local authorities.

CHRD calls for Huang’s immediate release. The detainment of Huang for the peaceful activity of petitioning the government as part of a group of soldiers violates both his right to freedom of association, as guaranteed by Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution, as well as his right to bring complaints against government officials, as guaranteed by Article 41 of the Chinese Constitution.

Media contacts for this press release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +13015479286

Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +85281911660

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