China Human Rights Briefing June 15-21, 2009Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing June 15-21, 2009
China Human Rights Briefing
Reporting human rights development from the grassroots
- Author and environmentalist Tan Zuoren (谭作人), detained since March 28, was prevented from meeting with his lawyers by National Security authorities in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province. Beijing lawyers Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) and Xia Lin (夏霖), hired by Tan’s wife Wang Qinghua (王庆华), had their request to meet with Tan denied on June 12 and have yet to be provided with an explanation why officials continue to act in violation of the Lawyer’s Law.
- Police in Zhejiang Province cracked down a group of rural activists on June 19, detaining fourteen residents of Xiaosanpan Village in Dongtou County, Wenzhou City. The villagers have been fighting against government construction and seeking compensation in recent years after village land was expropriated without proper compensation.
- CHRD learned that 23-year-old Chongqing activist and Charter 08 signatory Chen Yang (陈杨) was sent to one year of RTL on June 18. According to available information, it seems that the only reason for Chen’s detention was his plan to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre with friends.
On June 1, Ning Wenzhong (宁文忠), a Zhengzhou City, Henan Province internet writer who frequently used the penname “Woodcutter” (砍樵人) to post online articles and commentaries, left Zhengzhou to visit Liu Shasha (刘沙沙), the Nanyang worker recently released from extended surveillance after she distributed copies of Charter 08 on the street. He returned the same day, following an agreement he had made with local National Security officers, but on June 4 friends lost contact with Ning. It is believed that Ning was taken away by the Zhengzhou PSB and is being detained. Calls to Ning’s mother did not yield any further information, as she refused to help internet friends of Ning’s, believing that the internet was the cause of her son’s troubles. According to friends, Ning’s disappearance may be related to the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. (CHRD)[i]
According to his father, 23-year-old Chongqing activist and Charter 08 signatory Chen Yang (陈杨) was sent to one year of RTL on June 18. Chen, who was being detained at Chongqing’s Jiulongpo District Detention Center, was in transit at the time of the report and it was not immediately clear where he would be serving his RTL term. Chen was originally detained on the afternoon of June 3 after making plans with friends to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. (CHRD)[ii]
Henan Activist Li Chaoxun Detained 11 Days for Involvement with Citizens’ Association for Government Oversight
CHRD learned on June 15 that Yuzhou City, Henan Province activist Li Chaoxun (李朝勋) had returned home following 11 days of detention. According to Li, he had been seized by plainclothes policemen on the morning of June 4 and taken to the Yuzhou City Public Security Bureau. While he was held, officers from the National Security Unit of the Yuzhou PSB questioned him about the Citizens’ Association for Government Oversight (公民监政会), telling him that it was an “illegal organization” and that he could be detained for 15 days for his participation. Officers refused to display their identification despite repeated requests by Li, who refused to sign a detention notice as police were unable to prove that the Citizens’ Association had in fact been officially declared “illegal”.
The Citizens’ Association for Government Oversight was first proposed in December 2008 and an application for its establishment was later signed by over 10,000 citizens. Police have been active in harassing its organizers, including Liu Yiliang (刘义良), a Shanghai activist who was interrogated for nearly 20 hours on April 29. (CHRD)[iii]
Fourteen Zhejiang Villagers Charged with “Damaging Public Property” for Fighting for Land Rights
In the early morning hours of June 19, officers from the Dongtou County PSB and the Shuangpu police sub-station arrived in Xiaosanpan Village, Dongtou County, Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province and 14 village activists. According to witnesses, the police did not present detention warrants or follow other legal procedure while taking the villagers into custody. The activists were later divided into two groups: six villagers (Nan Guangliang [南光亮], Lü Ailuan [吕爱銮], Nan Guangqin [南光芹], Lin Qinglian [林青莲], Zhang Fuchang [张孚长] and Lin Yapi [林亚丕]) were released to await trial on the charge of “damaging public property.” Eight others (Yang Yuxiu [杨玉秀], Zhang Fuduan [张孚端], Du Deran [杜德燃], Zhang Huacai [张花菜], Huang Minghua [黄明华], Fang Donghua [方冬花], Zhang Yuda [张玉达] and Zhang Xiaoying [张晓英]) are currently criminally detained in Wenzhou City’s Longwan District Detention Center, also for “damaging public property”. Two other villagers are missing and thought to be detained, though this information could not be verified.
Villagers in Xiaosanpan have been fighting against government construction and seeking compensation in recent years after village land was expropriated without proper compensation. (CRLW)[iv]
Qianjiang City National Security Officers Place Wife of Yao Lifa and Newborn Baby under Surveillance
On June 1, the wife of Hebei democracy activist Yao Lifa (姚立法) gave birth in a Qianjiang City hospital. Yao, who had been placed under police surveillance on May 28, moved into the hospital to be with his wife during this time. In a complete violation of her privacy, an official from the National Security Unit under the Qianjiang PSB was stationed in Yao’s wife’s room in the gynecology and obstetrics ward from June 1 until June 4, keeping the mother and the newborn baby, as well as Yao, under 24-hour surveillance. Once the couple and their child left the hospital to return home on June 4, police resumed surveillance outside of their home.
Yao was kept under surveillance by the police until June 8, after which point he was placed under surveillance by his employer at his workplace, a school. The school has always been responsible for watching Yao while he’s at work, but according to Yao, their efforts have increased since June 8. In addition to locking the school gate during school hours, something they have always done to prevent Yao from “making trouble”, the school has dispatched people to follow him around during school hours. (CHRD)[v]
According to reports, Wang Qinghua (王庆华), the wife of detained Chengdu author and environmental activist Tan Zuoren (谭作人), has enlisted the services of Beijing lawyers Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) and Xia Lin (夏霖) to represent Tan. On the morning of June 12, the two travelled to the Chengdu National Security offices to request a meeting with their client. They were refused that afternoon, but were not given a reason why they could not meet with Tan. Wang has written four letters to Tan in detention explaining the situation but has yet to receive a response, leading her to wonder if her husband is receiving her letters. Tan Zuoren remains in detention since he was seized on March 28 on suspicion of “inciting state power” after mobilizing volunteers to conduct an independent investigation of the causes of the collapsed school buildings which killed thousands of schoolchildren during the May 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. (CHRD)[vi]
On June 17, the trial of Guangxi rural activist Liang Yonghong (梁勇宏) for “illegally assembling a crowd to demonstrate” was held in Guangxi’s Rong County Court. Local officials placed other village activists under surveillance to prevent them from attending the trial or organizing protests; however, nearly 100 supporters still gathered outside the courthouse before the trial. Liang entered a plea of not guilty, and the trial ended without reaching a verdict. Liang, from Yulin City, Rong County, Liuwang Town, Tanhe Village, has been active in fighting corruption among village officials since May 2006. On November 22, after twice submitting an application to hold a demonstration without receiving an answer, Liang and other activists led a group of nearly 300 villagers in a march protesting the illegal acts by the local government. On December 20, officials questioned and beat a group of 13 individuals for taking part in the protest, eventually detaining Liang and five others for “illegally demonstrating.” The other five have since been released. (CRLW)[vii]
At 7:30 in the evening on June 17, 23-year old Tu Yuangao (涂远高), a cook at the Yonglong Hotel in Shishou City, Hubei Province, was found dead after an apparent fall from a third-story window. Based on a note reportedly found by police, the death was declared a suicide; however, Tu’s family suspected that Tu had been murdered, based on injuries to his face and questions about the scene of his death. The family was offered 35,000 yuan in compensation if they would allow the body to be cremated swiftly, but they refused, with the father going so far as to strap canisters of gas to his body, threatening to blow up anyone who tried to take away his son’s corpse. According to unconfirmed reports, Tu may have been murdered because of information he uncovered exposing a drug-trafficking scheme involving the director of the local PSB, the wife of a local court official, and the owner of the Yonglong Hotel. Reports also noted there were five previous mysterious deaths at the hotel.
A crowd of up to 70,000, according to some reports, massed outside of the hotel on the morning of June 19 and succeeded in beating back police who attempted to retrieve the body. Riot police were called in and fired teargas at the crowd, which responded by throwing bricks and bottles at police. The Yonglong Hotel was set on fire the evening of June 20 before crowds dispersed early in the morning on June 21. According to China Daily, Tu’s body was taken to a funeral parlor for an autopsy, though results are not yet available. (CHRD)[viii]
On June 17, three thousand laid-off community-run (minban) school teachers gathered outside of the Henan Provincial Department of Education to petition officials to come out and discuss their plight with them. That evening, the teachers were surrounded by hundreds of riot police and interceptors. As the teachers tried to leave the scene peacefully, officers began pushing some elderly teachers, and some were struck by vehicles. A clash between the two sides soon broke out, and a number of petitioners were injured. (CRLW)[ix]
Five Thousand Taxi Drivers Strike in Qinghai over Change in Regulations
On the evening of June 13, roughly 5,000 taxi drivers in Xining City, Qinghai Province staged a strike to protest new guidelines set by the local government regarding managerial authority of the taxi industry. The drivers were upset over media reports stating that, as part of the new guidelines, their licenses would expire after 8 years, instead of 12 as before, at which point they will be subject to the managerial regulations of a centralized company. Hundreds of drivers staged a sit-in outside of government offices in an attempt to draw officials out for a dialogue. (CHRD)[x]
On the morning of June 16, 350 taxi drivers in Qianjiang City, Hubei went on strike, lining up their vehicles in an orderly fashion on both sides of Qianjiang’s long-distance bus station. This is at least the third taxi strike in Qianjiang since 2007. The drivers were protesting new regulations implemented by the Chiyu Taxi Company regarding the purchasing of new vehicles from the company and the terms of ownership for drivers. The existing contract between the drivers and management is still valid, and the drivers’ demands are simple: their employer should honor their contract, and if they seek to change the terms of the agreement, they should do so after this contract expires. (CHRD)[xi]
On the morning of June 16, the Badong County Court in Enshi City, Hubei Province heard the case of Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇), the Yesanguan Town leisure center employee who was charged with causing intentional injury after she killed a government official who tried to force himself on her during a visit to her workplace on May 10. The court, ruling that Deng had acted in self-defense, found her guilty as charged but freed her without sentencing her to any time in prison. Deng enjoyed overwhelming popular support in the past month as her case was widely discussed domestically, and it is believed that public opinion played a large role in her release. (CHRD)[xii]
Government officials in Beijing announced on June 18 that they were seeking to recruit ten thousand “volunteers” to help the relevant government agencies manage content on the internet. According to a Beijing Youth Daily report, the government is seeking people “from all walks of life” to assist in deleting “harmful” content and monitoring activity on Beijing’s 37,000 websites. The volunteers will be required to register under their real names. This comes as part of increasing efforts by Beijing municipal authorities to tighten control over internet use, and on the heels of a decision to require “Green Dam Youth Escort” internet-filtering software on computers nationwide by the beginning of next month. In addition to a smaller group of internet “volunteers” already working with the government, China also employs citizens to guide online discussions, a group given the nickname “fifty-cent gang” as they are allegedly paid fifty cents per web posting (for more information, see CHRD’s most recent report on internet censorship, Tug of War over China’s Cyberspace). (CHRD)[xiii]
The Shanghai government announced the launch of a “test measure” to allow Shanghai Residence Permit holders to apply for a permanent residence permit (hukou) in Shanghai. The measure, designed to lure skilled professionals to Shanghai, stipulates that a migrant must have held a Shanghai Residence Permit (a temporary residence permit) for at least seven years, though this requirement can be waived for individuals who have made a significant contribution to the local economy. According to the government, about 3,000 people currently meet the seven-year requirement. The “test measure” is set to run for three years, and officials have said there will be no limit on the number of permanent residence permits granted. (Legal Daily)[xiv]
According to a June 15 Guangzhou Daily report, criminals who are sentenced to death in Beijing will be executed using lethal injections by the end of the year, replacing the current method of death by gunshot. A facility is currently being built near Beijing’s Number One Detention Center to handle lethal injections. According to the 1997 revision of the Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC, “executions shall be carried out by shooting, lethal injection or other methods”, but authorities in Beijing have relied on gunshots up to this point because the cost, technology, and training requirements to perform lethal injections have been considered restrictive. Beijing is the latest in a growing number of cities, including Chengdu, transitioning to lethal injections as part of a national policy. (Legal Daily)[xv]
Editors: Wang Songlian and David Smalls
[i] “Henan Activist Ning Wenzhong Missing Half a Month; family Unwilling to Divulge Information (河南维权人士宁文忠失踪已半个月 家人不愿透露情况)”, June 19, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class2/200906/20090619131809_15911.html
[ii] “‘Charter 08’ Signatory Cheng Yang Sent to One Year of RTL《零八宪章》签署人陈杨被处劳教一年)”, June 20, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090620003746_15918.html
[iii] “Henan Activist Li Chaoxun Released after 11 Days of Illegal Detention (河南维权人士李朝勋被非法关押11天后释放)”, June 15, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090615185558_15857.html
[iv] “Fourteen Activist Villagers from Xiaosanpan Village, Dongtou County, Wenzhou City Detained (温州洞头小三盘十四位维权村民被抓)”, June 19, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090619234323_15923.html
[v] “Qianjiang National Security Officials Stay in ObGyn Ward During June 4 Period; Mother and Newborn Baby Laid Bare Under National Security Official’s Eyes (六四期间潜江市国保进驻妇产科病房 产妇及新生婴儿完全暴露在国保的眼皮底下)”, June 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class2/200906/20090618015245_15899.html
[vi] “National Security Officers Do Not Allow Lawyers to Visit Tan Zuoren (国保不许律师会见谭作人)”, June 21, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/tanzuoren/200906/20090621231224_15945.html
[vii] “Guangxi Activist Liang Yonghong Tried for ‘Illegally Assembling a Crowd to Demonstrate’ (广西维权村民梁勇宏被以”非法聚众游行罪”审判)”, June 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090617161640_15887.html
[viii] “Shishou Homicide Case Leads Tens of Thousands to Protest, Clash with Police; Latest News Complicated, Contradictory(石首命案引发数万群众与警方冲突 最新进展扑朔迷离)”, June 21, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090621140246_15942.html
[ix] “Hundreds of Police Encircle, Disperse Petitioning Teachers (河南数百警察强行包围驱逐请愿民办教师)”, June 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090618184636_15905.html
[x] “Five Thousand Xining Taxi Drivers Strike; Protest New Guidelines on Government-Related Managerial Authority Time Limit (西宁5千名出租司机罢运 抗议政府有关经营权期限的新规定)”, June 15, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090615224041_15861.html
[xi] “Qianjiang Taxi Drivers Again Go on Strike, Shut Down Transit (潜江市出租车司机再次罢工、罢运)”, June 19, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090619163543_15912.html
[xii] “Judgment in the Case of Government Official Stabbed to Death by Deng Yujiao: No Punishment (邓玉娇刺死官员案一审判决：免除邓玉娇处罚)”, June 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/dengyujiao/200906/20090616171514_15873.html
[xiii] “Beijing Plans to Recruit Ten Thousand Internet-Supervising ‘Volunteers'(北京拟招募一万名网络监控 “志愿者”)”, June 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200906/20090618142215_15902.html
[xiv] “Shanghai ‘Residence-Permit-to-Permanent-Residence-Transfer’ Rules Announced; Applications Accepted Beginning Today (上海”居住证转户籍”实施细则出台 今起可提出申请)”, June 18, 2009, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/0801/2009-06/18/content_1109907.htm
[xv] “Beijing Plans Comprehensive Implementation of Lethal Injections; Lethal Injection facility to Be In Use by Year’s End (北京拟全面实施注射死刑 注射室年内将投入使用)”, June 15, 2009, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/2007shyf/2009-06/15/content_1105188.htm