China Human Rights Briefing August 10-16, 2009

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China Human Rights Briefing

Reporting human rights development from the grassroots

August 10-16, 2009


  • Xu Zhiyong Reportedly Arrested: According to one unconfirmed source, Xu Zhiyong (许志永), the detained director of the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng), has been formally arrested on the charge of “tax evasion.” Xu’s lawyer, Zhou Ze (周泽), reported that Xu had been arrested and that the arrest warrant had been sent to his work unit, the University of Post and Communications. However, no one that CHRD has spoken with has seen the arrest warrant, and CHRD has been unable to confirm Xu’s arrest with other sources.
  • Authorities Expand Harassment against Beijing NGOs: In the wake of the closure of Gongmeng, two more public interest organizations in Beijng have been singled out by government officials for scrutiny and harassment. On August 13, officials from the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) arrived at the offices of Yirenping and Aizhixing in Beijing to conduct official inspections. This is the second time in two weeks that Yirenping has been subjected to such an inspection. Adding to this general atmosphere of tension among Beijing NGOs was the forced closure on August 11 of the website of Mr. Democracy Research Center, a legal aid group, because it contains “fake information and too many political topics”.
  • Tan Zuoren Tried Amid Myriad Legal Abuses by Officials: The trial of Tan Zuoren, a Sichuan environmentalist and human rights activist, for “inciting subversion of state power”, demonstrated a complete disregard of the rule of law by the Chinese government. The three witnesses called by Tan’s lawyers were prevented by Chengdu police from attending the trial, and one witness, architect Ai Weiwei, was punched in the face; Tan’s lawyers were repeatedly and rudely interrupted at the trial; and hundreds of Tan’s supporters were barred from entering the courtroom.


Freedom of Expression. 2

Chengdu Police and Court Flout Law in “Truly Disgraceful” Trial of Tan Zuoren. 2

Anhui Writer Zhang Lin Released from Prison. 3

Hackers Attack Websites for Victims of Tainted Milk Scandal 3

Freedom of Association and Assembly. 3

Two Beijing Organizations Subjected to Inspection. 3

Lawyer Finally Allowed to Meet with Gongmeng Director Xu Zhiyong. 4

Beijing Legal Aid Center Website Closed. 4

Searches for “Xu Zhiyong” Turn up Empty in China’s Cyberspace. 4

Freedom of Religion. 4

Members of Two Henan House Churches Harassed, Detained. 4

Persecution and Harassment of Activists 5

Beijing Housing Rights Activist Zhou Li Disappeared, Feared Detained. 5

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment 5

Petitioners Beaten and Detained for Reporting Embezzlement 5

Petitioner Tortured in Shanghai Detention Center 5

Released Zhejiang Activist Exposes Shocking Details of Inter-Prisoner Violence. 6

Nine Policemen Charged with Torture; Two Sentenced. 6

Labor Rights 6

Five Hundred Teachers of Citizen-Managed Schools Demonstrate in Hubei 6

Thousands of Workers Protest in Hubei and Henan following Privatization. 6

Housing Rights 7

Zhejiang Authorities Detain Family, Forcibly Demolish Home. 7

Citizens’ Rights Actions 7

Three Hundred Protest over Pensions in Wuhan. 7

Law and Policy Watch. 7

New Regulations Prohibit Officials from Hindering the Work of the Media. 7

New Wuhan Regulations Give Police Wide Discretion in Involuntary Hospitalizations 8

Henan High Court to Issue Guidelines on Probation for Minor Criminals 8

Chengdu Police and Court Flout Law in “Truly Disgraceful” Trial of Tan Zuoren

Tan Zuoren (谭作人), a Sichuan activist detained for “inciting subversion of state power”, was tried on August 12 by the Chengdu City Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan Province. The court is yet to announce its verdict. Tan Zuoren’s defense team had originally intended to call three witnesses during their defense, but they were all prevented from attending the trial by Chengdu police. One of them, Beijing architect Ai Weiwei (艾未未), was detained at the hotel where he was staying, and was punched in the face when he asked the police holding him to show their identification. Tan’s lawyers Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) and Xia Lin (夏霖) reported that, during the trial, they were frequently and rudely interrupted by the judge. About five hundred activists, dissidents, victims of the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake, friends and supporters arrived at the court demanding to attend the trial, but were prevented from entering the courtroom by an overwhelming police presence. (CHRD)

Anhui Writer Zhang Lin Released from Prison

On August 12, Zhang Lin (张林), an internet writer from Huaiyuan County, Anhui Province, was released six months early from prison due to poor health. Zhang will still subjected to four years’ deprivation of his political rights. Zhang was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power” on July 28, 2005. The verdict from his trial cites 192 articles Zhang published on websites outside the country and interviews with foreign radio stations that “directly disseminated false facts and made up rumors” as evidence of his crime. (CHRD)

At 5am on August 11, two websites containing information about victims of the tainted milk scandal ( and were rendered inaccessible by hacker attacks of unknown origin. The websites, founded by Zhao Lianhai (赵连海), have their servers in Japan. They have since returned to service. Between August 1 and 3, a number of websites promoting civil and human rights in China and whose web servers are based abroad also suffered attacks by hackers. (CHRD)

At around 9:30 am on August 13, three members of the Ganjiakou Office of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce from Haidian District, Beijing, arrived at the offices of Beijing NGO Yirenping to conduct a “review of their annual inspection”. The officials, who arrived without previous announcement, claimed that the investigative actions were “routine”, but members of Yirenping, an organization that focuses on the rights of hepatitis patients and other health-related discrimination issues, believe that they are being singled out by the authorities for harassment. This was the second official inspection in as many weeks for the organization. (CHRD)

Shortly after Yirenping was inspected, at around 10:45am on the same day, two staff members of the Balizhuang Office of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce in Haidian District, Beijing, arrived at Aizhixing, a prominent HIV/AIDS organization, and announced that they were going to conduct a “regular inspection”. (CHRD)

On August 14, Xu Zhiyong (许志永), detained director of recently banned legal aid center Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng), was allowed to meet with his lawyer for the first time. The lawyer, Zhou Ze (周泽), said Xu looked well. Xu disappeared on July 29 and it later emerged that he had been taken into police custody. His lawyer’s repeated requests to meet with the activist had been ignored until now. (CHRD)

Legal Aid Center Website Closed

On August 11, Zhang Hui (张辉), the head of Mr. Democracy Research Center (北京德先生研究所), a Beijing legal aid organization, was notified by the group’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Shanghai that the Mr. Democracy Research Center website has been permanently closed because “it has too much fake information and too many political topics”. It is believed that the ISP closed the website due to pressure from the authorities. (CHRD)

Since August 12, searches for the name “Xu Zhiyong” on Baidu and, two of China’s largest search engines, have returned no results. Instead, the phrase “search results are not shown because they may not be in line with the relevant laws and regulations or policies” appears, a generic message which is displayed when internet users search for information which has been ordered blocked by internet authorities. Xu’s personal blog, which was hosted by the web portal Sina, was deleted on August 12 as well. (CHRD)

On August 13, a group of policemen from Chongming County in Shanghai barged into a hall where members of three house churches had congregated. The police took away two church organizers and warned them against attending similar gatherings in the county. They were then released. On the same day, during a gathering at a house church in Sanggu Township, Xiayi County in Henan Province, police took away Li Guangren (李广仁) and Zheng Xiancai (郑先才), two of the church’s organizers. Li and Zheng have not yet been released. (CHRD)

Beijing Housing Rights Activist Zhou Li Disappeared, Feared Detained

Zhou Li (周莉), a housing rights activist based in Beijing, has disappeared since August 12. Zhou was summoned by the Beijing police at 8am on that day and she has not been seen since. It is feared that she could be taken into police custody. (CHRD)

CHRD learned on August 16 that eight village representatives from Tuban Town, Lin County in Shanxi Province were beaten and detained for petitioning in Beijing about embezzlement of public funds by their local government. On August 4, just one day after they arrived in the capital, the representatives were caught by Beijing police and sent to Ma Jia Lou, a centralized black jail. They were briefly held there before interceptors from Tuban Town were notified and came to forcibly return them to their hometown. The petitioners were beaten and otherwise mistreated on the journey back to Shanxi. After they returned home, five of the petitioners went to the town government demanding that the interceptors be held accountable. Instead, local police arrived and began to beat the petitioners. The five were handcuffed and taken away. They have not yet been released. (CHRD)

Shanghai Detention Center

On August 16, CHRD published the account of a victim of forced eviction from Hongkou District, Shanghai, who was tortured in a Shanghai police station. The victim, Lu Xianzhu (陆贤柱), was petitioning in Beijing on June 3 when he was intercepted by the Beijing police and forcibly returned to Shanghai. Upon arrival on June 5, Lu was detained without proper legal procedure at the Zhapu Road Police Station in Shanghai. There, several co-detainees repeatedly beat, kicked and stomped on Lu. When guards arrived to check on the detainees, Lu reported the beating, but was ignored. Lu fell unconscious and when he woke up he found himself covered in blood, wounds and bruises. The detention center eventually called a doctor, who stopped Lu’s head from bleeding. Although Lu was also sent to the hospital, where the doctors examined and operated on his serious lower back injuries, he was required to pay for the expensive hospital treatment and he is still unable to sit up properly. Lu was forced to borrow 62,000 RMB from his Neighborhood Committee to pay for the treatment. (CHRD)

Zhejiang Activist Exposes Shocking Details of Inter-Prisoner Violence

After Yan Zhengxue (严正学), a painter and rights activist from Zhejiang Province, was released from Zhejiang Provincial No.1 Prison on July 17, he issued a number of reports detailing the violence, torture and mistreatment of prisoners by “privileged inmates”, violent prisoners who have been given the task of disciplining and controlling fellow prisoners. Yan’s reports confirmed previous reports that prison guards tolerate and often encourage the behavior of such individuals. (CHRD)

On August 12, Nanchang City Intermediate People’s Court delivered its verdict on nine policemen charged with torturing to death a man, Wan Jianguo (万建国), who died on August 8, 2008, in an interrogation room in a Nanchang City police station. One officer was convicted of “inflicting intentional injury” and sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment and one was convicted of “using torture to extract confession” and sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment. However, the rest of the officers were not punished. Two officers were convicted of “torture to extract confession” but they were not given any criminal punishment. Five officers were not prosecuted because “they pleaded guilty, had good attitudes and their crimes were minor”. (CHRD)


At 8am on August 10, about 500 former teachers of citizen-managed schools from sixteen counties and towns in Songzi City, Hubei Province, demonstrated outside of the city government building. The teachers demanded that the city government implement the relevant State Council and provincial government decisions regarding teachers from citizen-managed schools, which included giving them subsidies and converting their status to government teachers. (CHRD)

In Wuhan City, Hubei Province: About 200 workers from No.4 Motor Transport Company in Wuhan protested outside of their company, and when the company’s management refused to come and meet them, they marched and blocked the main thoroughfare of the city for three hours. The workers were unhappy that the company’s management has taken no action to address their grievances as promised following an earlier demonstration on August 5. The workers are dissatisfied with the way the former state-owned company was privatized and the fact that many workers were laid off during the process. Those who lost their jobs were given meager compensation and stripped of social security and medical insurance. (CHRD)

In Anyang City, Henan Province: On August 14, several thousand workers from a steel factory in Linzhou, Anyang City, dissatisfied with the compensation they received after the company was privatized, occupied their factory and demonstrated. Many workers were laid off and were given only 1,000 RMB a year in compensation. (CHRD)

In the morning of August 13, a group of about 300 local policemen, Urban Inspection Officers (chengguan), security guards, and local officials arrived at a home in Pengbu Village, Pengbu Town, Jianggan District, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. The group forcibly removed the family of three from their house, detained them in a local hostel and then demolished their home. Reportedly, the home was demolished to make way for a train station. The villagers alleged that the Hangzhou authorities are clearing an area much bigger than that was approved, and that they did not go through proper legal procedures in appropriating the land and demolishing their homes. Many villagers refused to move but only twelve families have managed to remain. (CHRD)

On August 11, about 500 retirees protested outside the building which houses the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Committee of Hubei Province, demanding that the government provide them with adequate old-age insurance and health care. These old people were city dwellers who relocated to the countryside in the 1960s in response to the government’s campaign to move to rural villages. They moved back to the city in the 1990s and now find themselves worse off than those who did not leave the city, who generally enjoy some health care and old-age insurance provided by their former work units. They previously staged a protest on August 6, when two of the protestors were taken into police custody. Although the protest on August 11 successfully pressed the government to release the two protestors, the government has not yet responded to the protestors’ main demands. (CHRD)

According to a Xinhua report on August 14, the Kunming City, Yunnan Province government issued a set of regulations entitled “Kunming City Regulations to Prevent Job-Related Crimes.” One of the misconducts listed is “interference with and impediment of the news media trying to carry out supervision [of the authorities] in accordance with the law”. Since 2008, Kunming City government has implemented a number of other administrative regulations designed to protect media workers and hold accountable officials who interfere with media reporting. (Xinhua)

Without abolishing the many official and national measures which keep a tight rein over the media, such as the press cards system and the CCP Propaganda Departments at every level of the Party-state, it is unlikely that the issuance of administrative regulations can improve the working environment for journalists in Kunming.

According to an August 11 Chutian Metropolis Daily article, the standing commit of the Wuhan city government passed a set of regulations on involuntary hospitalization of mentally ill individuals. The regulations stipulate that the Public Security Bureau (PSB) will be the main agency involved in involuntary hospitalization of individuals, holding the power to decide when a certain individual requires such hospitalization. Other government departments, such as the Health Department, are required to cooperate with the PSB in the process. (Chutian Metropolis Daily)

As China lacks a comprehensive law to regulate the treatment of individuals with mental illnesses, local governments develop their own regulations on involuntary hospitalization, many of which, like this one in Wuhan, have few safeguards to protect the human rights of individuals incarcerated. The police are not required by law to arrange an independent mental health evaluation of the individual and can subject her or him to involuntary hospitalization following approval from a higher PSB, thus allowing involuntary hospitalization be used as a means to restrict civil liberties.

According to a People’s Daily article dated August 10, the Henan Provincial High Court is in discussion to issue a set of guidelines to lower courts for making sentencing decisions regarding minor criminals. Some types of minor criminals, such as juveniles and those who turn themselves in after the crime was committed, could be given probation instead of jail time. The article reveals that in the past three years, about 20% of those convicted of minor crimes were given probation instead of jail sentences. (People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang

CHRD, “Police Bar Public from Attending Trial of Earthquake Investigator Tan Zuoren”, August 13, 2009,; CHRD, “Chengdu Police and Court Flout Law in “Truly Disgraceful” Trial of Tan Zuoren”, August 13, 2009,

CHRD, “Anhui Democracy Activist Zhang Lin Released; His Family’s Difficult [Financial] Situation Makes One Worry <安徽民运人士张林获释,家庭窘境令人担忧>”, August 13, 2009,

CHRD, “China’s 911 and Stone Babies Websites Attacked and Paralyzed <中国911网站及结石宝宝网站双双被攻击瘫痪>”, August 11, 2009,

CHRD, “Beijing Yirenping Center Subjected to Selective Inspection by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce <北京益仁平中心遭遇工商行政管理部门选择性检查>”, August 14, 2009,

CHRD, “Beijing Aizhixing again Subjected to Selective Inspection by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce <北京爱知行研究所再遭工商管理部门选择性检查>”, August 13, 2009,

CHRD, “Lawyer Met Xu Zhiyong for the First Time <律师首次见到许志永>”, August 15, 2009,

CHRD, “Beijing Mr. Democracy Research Center Forcibly Closed <北京德先生研究所网站遭关闭>”, August 11, 2009,

CHRD, “Xu Zhiyong has Totally Become a Sensitive Term on China’s Internet <“许志永”彻底成为中国网络的敏感词>”, August 14, 2009,

CHRD, “Two House Churches Banned in Shanghai and Henan <上海河南两地家庭教会遭到取缔>”, August 16, 2009,

CHRD, “Beijing Rights Activist Zhou Li Lost Contact with the Outside World for More than 36 Hours <北京维权人士周莉与外界失去联系逾36小时>”, August 13, 2009,

CHRD, “The Entire Process of Interception Violence in Tuban Town, Lin County, Shanxi Province <山西临县兔坂镇暴力截访全过程>”, August 16, 2009,

CHRD, “A Documentation of Torture in Shanghai Hongkou District Detention Center <发生在上海虹口区看守所内的躲猫猫事件纪实>”, August 16, 2009,

CHRD, “Yan Zhengxue: Privileged Inmates and Bullies and their Torture of Fellow Prisoners <严正学:牢头狱霸、欺实马、躲猫猫、藏猫腻>”, August 14, 2009,

CHRD, “Two People Sentenced in a Case where Man was Tortured to Death in Jiangxi; His Family is Dissatisfied with the Verdict and Will Appeal <江西刑讯致死案2人获刑 死者家属不服称将抗诉>”, August 14, 2009,

CHRD, “Near 500 Teachers from Citizen-Managed Schools in Songzi City in Hubei Province Demonstrated outside of the City Government for their Rights <湖北省松滋市近500名民办教师到市政府维权示威>”, August 10, 2009,

CHRD, “Over 200 Wuhan Workers Block Major Thoroughfare to Demand for their Rights<武汉200余名工人为了维权封堵要道>”, August 12, 2009,

CHRD, “Thousands Demonstrated in a Steel Factory in Linzhou, Anyang City, Henan Province <河南安阳林州钢铁厂数千工人举行示威抗议>”, August 15, 2009,

CHRD, “A Forcible Demolition Incident in Pengbu Village, Jianggan District, Hangzhou <杭州江干区彭埠村发生强拆民房事件>”, August 13, 2009,

CHRD, “More than 300 elderly returnees over the age of 60 protested outside of provincial government to defend their rights <湖北省300余名60岁以上返城人员到省政府维权示威>”, August 13, 2009,; CHRD, 400 Went on the Streets in Wuhan City <武汉市400多市民上街维权>, August 6, 2009,

Xinhua, “Including Media Supervision into Law, Kunming Makes Breakthroughs <舆论监督入法,昆明破冰意义大 >”, August 14, 2009,

Chutian Metropolis Daily, “Wuhan to Involuntarily Hospitalize ‘Madmen’ Who Make Trouble <武汉拟强制收治闯祸“武疯子”>”, August 11,2009,

People’s Daily Overseas Edition¸“Henan to Make the System of Probation More Widely Available; Minor Criminals Might Not Have to Serve Jail Time <河南拟推广缓刑预告书 犯轻罪可能不用坐牢>”, August 10, 2009,

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