Sichuan Authorities Strike Hard on Rights Activists to Maintain “Stability”

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(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, March 24, 2009) – CHRD learned today that police in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, have detained four Sichuan activists and summoned (chuanhuan) more than ten in an effort to punish local human rights defenders for taking part in and reporting on two recent demonstrations. In Chongqing Municipality, authorities formally arrested two workers’ rights advocates who had been part of a group of five detained in late February for organizing a sit-in at a closed factory.

“At the time of the politically sensitive 50th Anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising, nearly one year after the disastrous Sichuan earthquake, and amid continued unrest in Sichuan and its neighboring Tibetan regions, government authorities seem extremely concerned with ‘stability’ in Sichuan. We have noted a coordinated effort in silencing dissent in Sichuan Province and its neighboring areas on the part of national and local authorities. This is troubling,” said Songlian Wang, CHRD Research Coordinator.

Huang Xiaomin (黄晓敏), Xin Qingxian (辛清贤), Lu Daqun (陆大椿), and Yan Wenhan (严文汉) were seized in Chengdu between February 28 and March 1 and are currently being criminally detained by the National Security Unit of the Chengdu Public Security Bureau (PSB) on suspicion of “disturbing social order.” According to family members, the police have not followed proper legal procedures in detaining these citizens, as Huang’s family reports that they have not yet received notice of his detention and only learned of his whereabouts after a fellow activist saw Huang at a detention center while he was being questioned by police.

Huang, Lu, and Yan all volunteered for the human rights group Tianwang Human Rights Center (www.64tianwang.com), while Xin volunteers for the nascent Chengdu-based human rights group Rights Defense in Action.

CHRD believes that Huang, Xin, Lu, and Yan have been detained in retaliation for reporting on two separate events which took place in late February in Chengdu. First, a victim of forced demolition, Yuan Xinggen (袁行根), injured six policemen when he resisted his impending eviction with kerosene and firecrackers on February 20. The other involved about thirty Chengdu citizens who chained themselves together outside of Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court on February 23 and 24 to protest what they believed to be unfair rulings handed down by the court over the years.

News of both Yuan’s actions and the courthouse protest were picked up by domestic and international media sources after being publicized by local activists and garnered significant public attention. CHRD learned that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection sent a work team to Chengdu to criticize the local government and municipal party committee’s handling of the incidents and to launch an investigation to determine the organizers of the courthouse protest as well as the methods through which the news was disseminated. Local police, acting on these orders, have summoned more than ten activists who they believe were present at a meeting prior to the protest. Those summoned by the police, including writer Xian Qi (鲜崎), workers’ rights advocate Zeng Rongkang (曾荣康), and others, were released after being questioned and threatened against further action.

In a separate incident nearby in Tongliang County, Chongqing Municipality, Hu Weimin (胡卫民) and Tang Aimin (唐爱民) were formally arrested on March 20 on suspicion of “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order”. The two, who are now detained in Chongqing’s Hechuan District Detention Center, were originally seized on February 15 along with three other workers’ representatives after organizing a sit-in outside of a closed silk factory. The other three representatives were released after being administratively detained for between 10 and 15 days. Family members report they have not been able to visit Hu or Tang since their detention began more than a month ago.

“Since last May, Sichuan authorities have been aggressive in detaining activists for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. These individuals have broken no laws and should be released immediately,” said Wang.

In May 2008, Chengdu police detained Chen Daojun (陈道军), an activist and online writer, for posting a number of articles, including one that showed sympathy towards Tibetan monks killed or arrested for participating in the large March 2008 protests. Chen has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. Last June, Chengdu police detained Huang Qi (黄琦), an activist and director of the Tianwang Human Rights Information Center, for assisting families of victims of the Sichuan earthquake in seeking justice through the legal system. Huang is still held in pre-trial detention at the Chengdu City Detention Center.

For more information, please see:

“Sichuan Activist Detained for Reporting on Protests and Clashes” (March 3, 2009), https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200903/20090303165728_14040.html

“Five Detained for Organizing Factory Sit-in in Chongqing; Six Injured during Workers Demonstration in Sichuan Province” (February 25, 2009), https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200902/20090225202636_13905.html

“Cyber Activist Sentenced to 3-Years for Expressing Support to Tibetan Protesters” (December 4, 2008), https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200812/20081204164426_12184.html

“Human Rights Defender Huang Qi Formally Arrested” (July 19, 2008), https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200807/20080719105359_9496.html

Media contacts

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +852 8191 6937
Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +852 8191 1660

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