China Human Rights Briefing August 17-23, 2009

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China Human Rights Briefing

Reporting human rights development from the grassroots

August 17-23, 2009

To download this edition of CHRB as a PDF file, please click here


Persistent torture: Ten months after the UN Committee against Torture recommended the Chinese government “take immediate steps to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment throughout the country”, the use of torture remains widespread in China, as evidenced by the harrowing tales of five ordinary individuals, Zhang Qingsong, She Shouliang, Li Yufang, Yang Qi, Wang Jiuyun, documented in this issue of CHRB. Their stories revealed that, not only are officials accustomed to using torture to extract confession and to punish those who dare challenge their authority, but victims’ calls for accountability and redress are also invariably ignored.

Gongmeng Xu Zhiyong Released, Zhuang Lu Still Missing: The release on August 23 of Xu Zhiyong, director of recently-banned legal aid center Gongmeng, came as a welcome surprise to many as he was formally arrested for “tax evasion” just days before his release. However, Xu is not yet cleared of the charge of “tax evasion” and Gongmeng remains shut down. Zhuang Lu, a staff member at Gongmeng who disappeared on the same day as Xu, remains missing. Her family, friends and colleagues still have not heard from her at the time of writing.

Beijing Rids Itself of Petitioners as Anniversary Approaches: As October 1, the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, approaches, the Chinese government has stepped up its unacknowledged campaign to drive petitioners out of Beijing. Petitioners staying near Beijing South Train Station have been rendered homeless as hostel owners are no longer willing to host them due to threats by Beijing police. The CCP Central Committee Political-Legal Committee has just issued a formal document encouraging “the solution of petitioners’ problems at the grassroots level”, which essentially give the local authorities a green light to prevent petitioners from entering the capital at all cost.


Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment 2

Liaoning Man Tortured for Hours to Extract Confession. 2

Man Dies in Detention Covered in Wounds; Police Claim Suicide. 3

Man Beaten to Internal Injuries after Refusing to Vote Bully for Village Chief 3

No Explanation Month after Old Man Died as Result of Official Violence. 3

Victim of Forced Eviction Mistreated in Detention for Petitioning. 4

Freedom of Expression. 4 Closes Account for Selling Xu Zhiyong Badges. 4

Freedom of Association and Assembly. 4

Petitioners Briefly Detained for Gathering outside Residence of Zhejiang Party Secretary. 4

Persecution and Harrassment of Rights Activists. 4

Gongmeng Director Released. 4

Guangxi Village Representative Imprisoned for Leading Protest against Corruption. 5

Henan Activist Disappeared, Feared Detained. 5

Beijing Housing Rights Activist Reportedly Criminally Detained. 5

Guangzhou Rights Lawyer Stripped of License. 5

Beijing Writer Subjected to Residential Surveillance. 5

Persecution and Harassment of Petitioners. 6

Three Detained and Beaten in Black Jail for Petitioning. 6

Petitioners Forced out of Beijing Hostels following Police Pressure. 6

Forced Eviction and Land Appropriation. 6

Farmland Forcibly Appropriated for Electricity Poles in Hebei Province. 6

Local Governments Find “Creative” Ways to Forcibly Evict Families. 6

Citizens’ Rights Actions. 7

Six Intellectuals Call for Xu Zhiyong’s Release. 7

Harbin Factory Workers Stage Sit-in Protest 7

Laws and Regulations Watch. 7

China Announces Punishment against Misappropriation of Agricultural Funds. 7

Chinese Government Releases Document on the End to Petitioning. 7

Supreme Court: Crimes Endangering State Power Will Continue to be Punished Harshly. 8

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Liaoning Man Tortured for Hours to Extract Confession

CHRD learned on August 24 that Zhang Qingsong (张庆松), a 39-year-old man from Dongzhou District, Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was pulled off the street on May 13, 2008 and tortured for hours by members of the Fushun City Public Security Bureau (PSB) Dongzhou District Subdivision. The police alleged that Zhang sold and used drugs. When Zhang denied the charges, police tortured him to force him to admit to his “crimes”. Zhang was beaten on the head with a leather shoe, hacked and pinched in the neck and throat, his chest beaten with a hammer, his genitals kicked, he was forced into a cage and hung up by the handcuffs. Eventually, Zhang’s family found him unconscious at the detention center and they sent him to the hospital. After Zhang recovered, he has complained repeatedly to the local authorities. However, Zhang’s complaints were ignored. Although Fushun City Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Political-Legal Committee setup a special unit on March 24 promising to investigate, it has not released its results. Zhang’s torturers remain free and they have repeatedly threatened Zhang and his family to drop their calls for accountability. (CHRD)[i]

Man Dies in Detention Covered in Wounds; Police Claim Suicide

On August 18, family of She Shouliang (佘守亮), a 50-year-old mine worker, was notified by the police that She had died while detained in Jiulishan Police Station under Zhanhe District Subdivision of Pingdingshan City PSB, Henan Province. She was taken into custody on August 16 after he got into a fist fight with another man at a wedding banquet. Two days later, She’s family was told that She had killed himself. However, She’s body was covered in bloody wounds, and there were also bloody footprints on his chest and burns on his wrists. She’s family suspected that he was tortured to death. His family has complained to the local authorities but their request for investigation and accountability has so far been ignored. (CHRD)[ii]

Man Beaten to Internal Injuries after Refusing to Vote Bully for Village Chief

CHRD learned on August 22 that Yang Qi (杨奇), a 46-year-old villager from Group 3, Xiaochen Village, Xiaotun Town, Ruzhou City, Henan Province, was badly beaten on May 29 after he refused to vote for Chen Shouxu (陈守续), a newly-elected head of village committee. Chen, whose brother is a high-ranking police officer in Ruzhou City, reportedly forced fellow villagers to vote for him in the recent election. When Yang told Chen that he would report his vote-rigging to higher authorities, Chen called his policeman brother, who arrived with three plainclothes policemen. Yang was tied up and forcibly sent to Ruzhou City PSB where he was repeatedly beaten and kicked by Chen and the four policemen. Chen fainted, and after some time he was sent to Ruzhou City No.1 People’s Hospital for emergency treatment. Chen was diagnosed with injuries to his chest, abdomen, spleen, gall bladder, lungs and a serious loss of blood. Yang is now destitute with a large loan after he paid for his expensive medical treatment. Yang and family has complained to Ruzhou City PSB, but no action has been taken against the alleged torturers. (CHRD)[iii]

No Explanation Month after Old Man Died as Result of Official Violence

CHRD learned on August 19 that a 84-year-old man from Shuocheng District, Shuozhou City, Shanxi Province died after the police pushed him to the ground on July 3. The old man, Wang Jiuyun (王九云), was sitting at his daughter’s grill shop when a group of twenty men arrived and announced that they were going to demolish the shop’s mat-awning. The crew was led by the director of the Sub-district Office of Shentou Dianchang Road, where the shop is located. When Wang and his family protested, one of the men pushed Wang to the floor and proceeded to demolish the awning. Wang did not get up and his family immediately rushed him to the hospital. Wang died the next day. When his family went to the Sub-district Office to seek an explanation, fifteen of them were taken into custody and Wang’s body was forcibly seized from them. Later the police told Wang’s family that his body has been taken in for an autopsy. However, more than a month after his death the police has not returned his body nor released the result of the promised autopsy. (CHRD)[iv]

Victim of Forced Eviction Mistreated in Detention for Petitioning

CHRD learned on August 23 that Li Yufang (李玉芳), a victim of forced eviction from Shanghai, was subjected to degrading treatment in a detention center in Shanghai in July. Li was walking near Tiananmen Square when a policeman discovered that she was a petitioner. Li was immediately sent to Ma Jia Lou, a centralized black jail. Li was then forcibly sent back to Shanghai where she was administratively detained for 10 days in Yangpu District Detention Center under Shanghai PSB. Between July 7 and 10, Li was handcuffed behind her back and forced to stand facing the wall for three days. Li was not allowed to move and she had to urinate and defecate standing in front of other detainees. After Li was released from the detention center, she went back to petitioning in Beijing. On August 19, Li was once again intercepted, scolded and humiliated, sent to a black jail and forcibly returned to Shanghai. (CHRD)[v]

Freedom of Expression Closes Account for Selling Xu Zhiyong Badges

On August 20, Zhang Yang (张扬), a Shenzhen businessman who sells his products on the online shopping site, discovered that his account has been closed. After Gongmeng was banned for “tax evasion” and its director Xu Zhiyong (许志 永) was detained, Zhang and several concerned netizens designed batches featuring Xu. They gave these batches for free to Xu’s supporters, as well as selling them on After his account was closed, Zhang called and was told that his account was closed for selling “illegal products”. (CHRD)[vi]

Freedom of Association and Assembly

Petitioners Briefly Detained for Gathering outside Residence of Zhejiang Party Secretary

In the morning on August 17, about 30 petitioners were “taking a walk” outside the residence of the CCP Secretary of Zhejiang Province when the police noticed them and took ten petitioners into custody in Hangzhou City PSB Xihu District Subdivision. The petitioners were forced to sign a letter guaranteeing that they would not show up again in Baoshi Sinong, an area reside by Zhejiang government officials, before they were released at 5pm. The petitioners were taking a walk in Baoshi Sinong with the hope of petitioning the Party secretary. (CHRD)[vii]

Persecution and Harrassment of Rights Activists

Gongmeng Director Released

On August 23, Xu Zhiyong (许志永), director of recently-banned NGO Gongmeng, was released on bail to await trial (取保候审) for “tax evasion”. Police told Xu that Zhuang Lu (庄璐), a staff member at Gongmeng, was also released on bail the day before on August 22. However, it appears that Zhuang remains missing, as her family and close friends still have not heard from her at the time of writing. Activists released on bail usually will not be tried. Days before Xu was released, on August 18, he was formally arrested for “tax evasion” by the Beijing Municipal Haidian District Procuratorate. (CHRD)[viii]

Guangxi Village Representative Imprisoned for Leading Protest against Corruption

On July 15, Liang Yonghong (梁勇宏), a villager and former soldier was convicted of “illegal gathering of individuals to protest” and sentenced to three years of imprisonment in Tanhe Village, Liuwang Town, Rong County, Yulin City, Guangxi Province. Liang’s family was not informed of his sentence until August 13. Liang is reportedly retaliated against for leading a group of villagers to protest against corruption among Tanhe village cadres on November 12, 2008. Prior to the protest, Liang had repeatedly submitted to the local government applications to hold demonstrations, but they were either denied or ignored. (CRLW)[ix]

Henan Activist Disappeared, Feared Detained

Since August 19, Cai Aimin (蔡爱民), a Henan activist and one of the organizers of the Pan-Blue Alliance of Chinese Nationalists, has not been able to be contacted and his cell phone has been switched off. The day before, Cai called his friends and told them that the national security police from Zhengzhou City, Henan Province had been looking for him because of his endorsement of Charter 08, and that if he disappears, it means that he has been taken into police custody. A longtime activist and petitioner, Cai was sentenced to one year and nine months of Re-Education through Labor in the summer of 2007 for “disturbing social security.” (CHRD)[x]

Beijing Housing Rights Activist Reportedly Criminally Detained

On August 19, CHRD learned that Zhou Li (周莉), a housing rights activist based in Beijing, had been criminally detained for “disturbing social order” and held in Chongwen District Detention Center in Beijing. Zhou disappeared on August 12, after she was summoned by the Beijing police. It is unclear why Zhou is detained but it is believed that she might have offended the Beijing authorities with her recent activism in many parts of the country, which includes drawing attention to the case of Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇), an employee at a Hubei leisure center who became a cause célèbre after she was charged for killing a government official trying to rape her at her workplace. (CHRD)[xi]

Guangzhou Rights Lawyer Stripped of License

On August 15, Liu Shihui (刘士辉), a Guangzhou human rights lawyer, learned that his lawyer’s license has been stripped after the law firm he works for was pressured to do so by the Guangzhou City Bureau of Justice. Liu represented Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄, aka Yang Maodong [杨茂东]), a Guangzhou activist currently imprisoned for “operating an illegal business”. It is believed that the Guangzhou authorities are retaliating against Liu for defending Guo. (CHRD)[xii]

Beijing Writer Subjected to Residential Surveillance

On August 18, well-known Beijing writer Mo Zhixu (莫之许 aka Zhao Hui [赵晖]), was summoned by the Beijing police. At the end of the summons, Mo was escorted back to his home by the police, who warned him against leaving his home, essentially putting him under residential surveillance. It is unclear why Mo, who is often subjected to residential surveillance during “sensitive” periods, has his movement restricted again. Mo believes that it is related to the approach of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC on October 1. (CHRD)[xiii]

Persecution and Harassment of Petitioners

Three Detained and Beaten in Black Jail for Petitioning

On August 13, three petitioners from Zhejiang Province, Liu Xunlian (刘训连), Wang Liming (王丽明) and Xu Jie (许杰) were intercepted in the capital by staff from the Zhejiang Provincial Beijing Liaison Office. The three were first taken to Zhejin Hostel, a “black jail” run by the Liaison Office. On August 18, Liu managed to reach his family on his cell phone. Liu’s family then called the Zhejiang police, who refused to help and asked them to call Beijing police. When the family called the Beijing police, they were told that the three had been sent back to Zhejiang. On August 19, Liu called his family again, telling them that he is now detained in Fangjiatang, an area in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, which houses the Special Police Force Battalion. Liu also told his family that he was beaten in Zhejin Hostel because of their calls to the police. The family rushed to Fangjiatang, but was denied access to Liu. The three are reportedly on hunger strike to protest their detention and are in poor health. (CHRD)[xiv]

Petitioners Forced out of Beijing Hostels following Police Pressure

Since the beginning of August, petitioners staying near Beijing South Train Station have been forced out of their hostels by the owners. The hostel owners said they have been threatened by the Beijing police, who warned them verbally that they would be fined or detained for renting out to petitioners. On August 12, about 200 Beijing policemen raided the hostels near Beijing South Train Station for petitioners. Many petitioners are now living on the streets due to these new measures. (CHRD)[xv]

Forced Eviction and Land Appropriation

Farmland Forcibly Appropriated for Electricity Poles in Hebei Province

On August 15, villagers in Xiwei Village, Chengan County, Hebei Province were told by their village CCP Secretary that electricity poles would be erected on their land, and that for each pole they would be given RMB 100 in compensation. The villagers opposed to the idea, saying that the poles would make it difficult to farm. Despite protests, on August 16, the assistant director of the office of the people’s government of Chengan County led about 30 policemen and staff from the electricity department to the village and started erecting the poles. When the villagers demanded that the officials show the relevant official documents, they were forcibly dragged to the side. (CHRD)[xvi]

Local Governments Find “Creative” Ways to Forcibly Evict Families

In the past week, CHRD learned of various “creative” ways with which local governments in Hunan and Hubei Provinces are using to force reluctant families to vacate their homes. Since April 4, villagers in Group 5, Shouyi Village, Economic Development Zone, Cengdu District, Suizhou City, Hubei Province, has had their electricity cut off, making life in the village miserable due to the mid-summer heat which could get up to 37 degrees Celsius. Ten households in Group 5 continue to refuse to leave because they believe that they have not been given appropriate compensation. In Chaling County, Hunan Province, CHRD learned that since December 2007, to force reluctant villagers to move to make way for a reservoir, the county government has been punishing the villagers’ family members who work in the local government by suspending their jobs, salaries and/or pensions. (CHRD and CRLW)[xvii]

Citizens’ Rights Actions

Six Intellectuals Call for Xu Zhiyong’s Release

On August 19, six intellectuals including legal scholar Jiang Ping (江平) and economist Mao Yushi (茅于轼) released a public letter on CHRD’s website calling for the release of Xu Zhiyong (许志永), the detained director of the recently-banned legal aid center Gongmeng. The letter calls for Xu’s release and the removal of the charge of “tax evasion” against him as well as to cancel the decision to ban Gongmeng. (CHRD)[xviii]

Harbin Factory Workers Stage Sit-in Protest

On August 17, about 500 dismissed workers from a bearing factory in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province staged a sit-in to demand that the factory management explain the whereabouts of the workers’ shares in the factory and raise the amount of compensation for the dismissed workers according to the standards stipulated in the Labor Law. The workers were at first guarded by two dozen members of the Special Police Force, who left after a couple of hours. At 11:30am, the factory management said they would handle the workers’ grievances by consulting them in the coming week at the factory’s club. (CHRD)[xix]

Laws and Regulations Watch

China Announces Punishment against Misappropriation of Agricultural Funds

According to a Xinhua report dated August 23, the National Audit Office announced that ten provincial, district and cities in the country have been discovered to have misappropriated funds marked for supporting agriculture for other purposes. The Office has reported fourteen of these cases, which involve RMB 29.6 million and 26 officials, to the local Procuratorate and the disciplinary departments. Reportedly, two officials have been investigated while 23 have been punished according to CCP and government disciplines. (Xinhua)[xx]

Since the National Audit Office is a government department, it ability to effectively monitor other government departments is doubtful. Only when the government is supervised by the people in a genuine democracy can supervision over government funding be meaningful and effective.

Chinese Government Releases Document on the End to Petitioning

According to an article dated August 18, the CCP Central Committee General Office and the State Council General Office issued a document detailing the views of the CCP Central Committee Political-Legal Committee on the handling of petitions that involve complaints about the courts and the Procuratorate. The document suggests that the aim of the authorities involved in handling the petitions must be an end to petitioning by solving the petitioners’ problems at the grassroots level using the legal system. The CCP Central Committee Political-Legal Committee will send teams to provinces that receive the largest volumes of petitions to process them, local cadres will spend at least one day a month to handle petitions, and other measures will be taken in order to “make petitioning more convenient for the people”. ([xxi]

CHRD is skeptical about this document and we suspect that these measures are taken to make sure that Beijing is free of these potential “troublemakers” whose very presence contradicts the image of harmony and stability the government is trying to portray as the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC approaches. As with the buildup to the 2008 Olympic Games, the authorities are more interested in keeping the petitioners in their hometowns, rather than solving their problems.

Supreme Court: Crimes Endangering State Power Will Continue to be Punished Harshly

At an academic meeting on criminal law in Kunming on August 19, the vice-president of Court No.5 of Supreme People’s Court (SPC), Wang Yong (王勇), said the SPC will soon be issuing a document outlining its latest opinion on the punishment of crimes. Wang revealed that this document aims to rectify the tendency of China’s courts to err on the side of heavy sentencing. However, four types of crimes will continue to be harshly punished, which includes crimes that seriously endanger the stability of state power and social security, violent crimes, crimes that seriously affect the safety of the people such as rapes and robbery, and those related to smuggling and making of drugs. (Caijing)[xxii] State security crimes are currently frequently used by the Chinese government to punish activists for their efforts to promote human rights.

Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang

[i] CHRD, “The Use of Torture to Extract Confession by Fushun PSB in Liaoning <辽宁抚顺公安残酷的刑讯逼供>”, August 24, 2009,

[ii] CHRD, “Jie Huaping: My Husband ‘Was Suicide’ in Detention Center <解华平:我丈夫拘留所中“被自杀”>”, August 24, 2009,

[iii] CHRD, “Villager Protect Normal Elections but Was Beaten by Police to Serious Injuries to Internal Organs <村民维护正常选举,却被警察打破多处内 脏>”, August 22, 2009,

[iv] CHRD, “Wang Jiuyun, a Veteran of the Anti-Japanese War Died after He was Beaten by People Led by the Director of the Sub-District Office <抗日功臣王九云被街道办主任率人殴打致死>”, August 19, 2009,

[v] CHRD, “Shanghai Petitioner Li Yufang Talks about the Torture She Suffered Because of Petitioning <上海访民李玉芳讲述因上访遭受的酷刑>”, August 23, 2009,

[vi] CHRD, “ shop closed for selling Xu Zhiyong Batches <出售许志永徽章的淘宝网店遭关闭>”, August 21, 2009,

[vii] CHRD, “Zhejiang Arrests Petitioners ‘Having a Walk’” <浙江抓捕散步访民>”, August 18, 2009,

[viii] CHRD, “Breaking News: Xu Zhiyong Formally Arrested <快讯:许志永被正式批准逮捕>”, August 18, 2009,; CHRD, “Breaking News: Xu Zhiyong Released on Bail Awaiting Trial, Xu Has Regained his Freedom <快讯:许志永被取保候审 已经获得自由>”, August 23, 2009,; CHRD, “Gongmeng Finance Officer Zhuang Lu Still Cutoff from the Outside World <公盟财务成员庄璐依然与外界失去联系>”, August 25, 2009,

[ix] Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), “Guangxi Rong County Villager Liang Yonghong Sentenced to Three Years for ‘Illlegal Gathering of Individuals to Protest’” <广西容县维权村民梁勇宏被以“非法聚众 游行罪”判刑三年>”, August 18, 2009,

[x] CHRD, “Cai Aimin Disappeared and Investigated by the National Security Police in Henan Province for Endorsing Charter 08 <因 签署《零八宪章》蔡爱民被河南国保追查而失踪>”, August 19, 2009,

[xi] CHRD, “Beijing Rights Activist Zhou Li Criminally Detained <北京维权人士周莉被刑事拘留>”, August 19, 2009,

[xii] CHRD, “Rights Lawyer Liu Shihui Stripped of Lawyers Qualification by the Beijing Bureau of Justice <维权律师刘士辉被广州市司法局剥夺执业 资格>”, August 18, 2009,

[xiii] CHRD, “Beijing Writer Mo Zhixu Escorted Home by National Security Police and Warned against Leaving His Home <北京作家莫之许被国保押送回家警告不许 出门>”, August 18, 2009,

[xiv] CHRD, “Three Zhejiang Petitioners Went on Hunger Strike for Resisting Being Held in a Black Jail <浙江三访民为抗拒黑监狱绝食5天>“”, August 20, 2009,; CHRD, “Three Zhejiang Petitioners Detained While They are on Hunger Strikes to Protest against their Detention in Black Jails <因抗拒黑监狱的浙江三访民在绝食中被 拘留>”, August 22, 2009,

[xv] CHRD, “Beijing Petitioners Forced to Live on the Streets <北 京访民被驱赶露宿街头>”, August 18, 2009,

[xvi] CHRD, “Hebei Province Chengan County Government Mobilized the Police to Forcibly Appropriate Farmers’ Land <河北省成安县政府动用公安强占农民土地>”, August 18, 2009,

[xvii] Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW), “About Ten ‘Nail Households’ Have Had Their Electricity Cut-off for Months in the Middle of the Hot Summer in Shouyi Village, Suizhou City, Hubei Province <湖 北随州首义村近十“钉子户”酷暑中被断电数月>”; CHRD, “Those Who Refuse to Sign Agreement to Move are Punished by Having their Jobs and Pensions Suspended in Chaling County, Hunan Province <湖南茶陵县强制拆迁 不签拆迁协议者遭“三停”处罚>”, August 22, 2009,

[xviii] CHRD, “Six Respected Predecessors Including Jiang Ping Call on the Government to Appropriately Handle the Case of Gongmeng <江平等六位德高望重的前辈呼吁政府妥 善解决公盟事件>”, August 20, 2009,

[xix] CHRD, “Harbin Bearing Factory Dismissed Workers Block Roads to Defend their Rights <哈尔滨市轴承厂内退职工封路维权>”, August 17, 2009,

[xx] CHRD, “China to Punish the Use of Agricultural Funds in Violation of the Relevant Regulations <中国惩治违规使用支农资金行为>”, August 23, 2009,

[xxi], “the CCP Central Committee Political-Legal Committee Releases its Opinion, Many Measures are Implemented to Make it More Convenient for the Masses to Petition <中央政法委出台意见 推多项措施方便群众信访>”, August 18, 2009,

[xxii], “The Supreme People’s Court to Release Document on Criminal Law Policy <最高法院拟出台“宽严相济”刑事政策文件>”, August 20, 2009,

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