Chinese Government Tightens the Screws Ahead of National Day

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Chinese Government Tightens the Screws Ahead of National Day

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, September 30, 2009) – On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese government has implemented a number of drastic repressive measures to increase its control over citizens’ expression and personal liberties. Officials have stepped up efforts to control internet usage, blocking the use of proxy servers, a popular means of accessing overseas websites which are otherwise restricted on the mainland. Dozens of activists and dissidents have been detained, threatened, monitored, forced to leave the capital, or kidnapped ahead of the anniversary. Petitioners in the capital have been rounded up and forced to return home, and those who attempt or are suspected of attempting to travel to Beijing to petition have been detained and threatened.

Internet censorship

Beginning on September 8, activists and netizens across China have reported that they have been unable to use the proxy servers Freegate (自由门), Wu Jie (无界), Garden Networks (花园网), and TOR to access websites based outside of China. These popular services have been used successfully in the past to circumvent internet censorship and reach sites otherwise blocked by internet authorities (the “Great Firewall”), and have been critical to the free dissemination of and access to information.

Harassment of Activists and Dissidents

Across the country, dozens of activists and dissidents have been forced to leave their homes, subjected to “soft detention[1] (软禁) or otherwise threatened or monitored by police. The cases below are by no means a comprehensive list; the network of activists connected to CHRD has been operating at sharply reduced capacity due to government interference, and many more individuals are believed to have been similarly affected.

  • Chen Tianshi (陈天石), a dissident and Christian house church leader, was forced to leave Beijing on September 26 with his family and return to his hometown of Rong County, Yulin City, Guangxi Province. He has been told by police that he will not be allowed to return to the capital until October 3.
  • Chen Wei (陈卫), a human rights activist from Sichuan Province, was prevented from traveling to Geneva, Switzerland to attend a training workshop on international human rights. Police from Suining City, Sichuan Province visited Chen three times between September 8 and 10, telling Chen that he would not be allowed to leave the country due to the anniversary.
  • Guo Yongfeng (郭永丰), democratic activist and organizer of the Citizens’ Association for Government Oversight (公民监政会) based in Shenzhen, disappeared around September 19. Guo’s friends suspect that Guo has been detained by the Shenzhen police. Guo was subjected to “soft detention” before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre this year.
  • Hu Shigen (胡石根), a Beijing democracy activist recently released from prison following a 1992 conviction for organizing the China Freedom and Democratic Party, has been under house arrest since September 25. On September 29, he was taken from his home by police and forced to “travel” to Miyun County, on the outskirts of Beijing, where he remains under the watch of three officers.
  • Li Hai (李海), student activist during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and former political prisoner based in Beijing, disappeared in mid-September. Prior to his disappearance, Li informed his friends that National Security police from Beijing PSB had warned him that he would be forced to leave his Beijing home on September 20. Li was subjected to “soft detention” during the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre this year.
  • Li Tie (李铁), Guo Yongfeng (郭永丰) and Zhao Dagong (赵达功), based in Shenzhen, have been repeatedly “invited for chats” in mid-September by the local and national security police under Shenzhen PSB and warned against “meeting each other, organizing activities and printing clothes with slogans”. The police have also exerted pressure on their families and landlords.
  • Li Zhiyou (李志友), a Guangxi-based organizer of the banned China Democracy Party, has been monitored and followed since September 23. Li has been threatened repeatedly by Guangxi police that if he dare venture out of his hometown during the 60th anniversary, he would be detained.
  • Liu Anjun (刘安军), a Beijing-based activist concerned about rights of petitioners based in Beijing, was prevented from leaving his home by policemen from Beijing PSB’s Xuanwu District Subdivision on September 10. Liu was to attend a scheduled meeting with officials at the U.S. embassy responsible for human rights. Since then, Liu has been subjected to “soft detention” at his home—he is being detained and is only allowed outside under with permission from, and under escort of, the guards.
  • Mao Qingxiang (毛庆祥), a Hangzhou-based organizer of the banned China Democracy Party, and his wife, Hu Xiaoling (胡晓玲), have been monitored and followed by policemen and security guards since September 15
  • Mu Jiayu (穆嘉峪), a human rights activist from Chongqing Municipality, was visited by police from Baishiyi Police Station, Chongqing, on September 25. Mu was warned against holding gatherings during the anniversary and that he would face detention if he dared to defy their warning.
  • On September 11, Wang Xue’e (汪雪娥), wife of imprisoned Hangzhou writer Lu Gengsong (吕耿松), was told by officials at the local sub-district office that she will be monitored and followed round the clock until the end of the National Day celebrations, and that she must report to the local authorities every time she goes out.
  • Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), Beijing activist who was shot during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and left disabled, was asked to leave Beijing on September 16 by National Security police under Beijing PSB. Although Qi said he did not want to leave Beijing because he is receiving treatment for his disability, the police said he must leave or else he would be forced to do so.
  • Wang Debang (王德邦), a human rights activist from Guilin City, Guangxi Province, was forced to leave his home in Beijing and return to his hometown by National Security Policemen under Guilin and Beijing PSBs on September 14. Despite Wang’s protests that such actions “violate the law and human rights” as well as “damage China’s national image”, the police insist that they have to carry out “orders from above”—that Wang must not be in Beijing during the national day. Wang is currently subjected to “soft detention”.
  • Wang Guangze (王光泽), scholar and political commentator based in Beijing, has been subjected to “soft detention” since September 15 by members of the Beijing PSB and security guards.
  • Wen Kejian (温克坚), a Hangzhou-based rights activist, has been ‘invited for chats’ by the Hangzhou police and warned against “going out, writing articles, or hosting guests from outside”. Wen is now subjected to close monitoring by the police.
  • Xie Qiang (谢强), a writer and intellectual from Loudi City, Hunan Province, was taken away from his home in Beijing on September 11 and forcibly returned to his hometown in Loudi by a dozen Loudi and Beijing policemen. Xie continues to be subjected to monitoring and surveillance.
  • Zan Aizong (昝爱宗), a Hangzhou-based writer, has been notified by local police that he is barred from leaving Hangzhou on September 11. Zan has since been followed closely by the police.
  • Zhang Hui (张辉), the director of the Mr. Democracy Research Institute (德先生研究所) in Beijing, was forced to leave the capital and return to his hometown in Shanxi on August 31. Zhang has been told by the police responsible for monitoring him that he is not allowed to return to Beijing until October 10.
  • Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦), intellectual and activist based in Beijing, has been told to leave Beijing or else face close surveillance; Jiang Qisheng (江棋生), dissident writer and vice-chairman of the Independent Chinese PEN; and Liu Xia (刘霞), wife of detained intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), Ding Zilin (丁子霖), leader of the Tiananmen Mothers, and Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) have been forced to leave Beijing to visit relatives or “travel”. They continue to be subjected to surveillance by National Security officers under Beijing PSB, which they have been enduring since Liu Xiaobo was taken into detention on December 8, 2008.
  • Zhao Hui (赵晖), publisher and participant in the 1989 protests, was forced to leave his Beijing home by the National Security Police under Beijing PSB and returned to his hometown in Leishan, Sichuan Province in early September.
  • Zhong Shengniu (钟声牛), an activist from Chongqing, was seized by Beijing police in the capital on September 25. After being held in a black jail for three days, Zhong was forcibly returned to Chongqing under the escort of Chongqing officials. He is now being held in a rural location outside of Chongqing, and has been informed that he will not be released until October 15.
  • Zhu Jindi (朱金娣), a petitioner-turned-activist from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, has been subjected to close monitoring since September 15 by a total of fifteen policemen and security guards.
  • Zhu Xinxin (朱欣欣), a writer in Hebei Province, was told by the local National Security Police on September 9 that he should not accept interviews by foreign journalists or publish articles online until October 10.
  • Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫), a human rights activist and member of the China Democracy Party from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, has been monitored round the clock by the police who are stationed on the rooftop, corridors and main entrance of his apartment block. Zhu has been warned against leaving Hangzhou during the 60th anniversary.
  • Zhu Zhengming (祝正明), a Hangzhou-based organizer of the banned China Democracy Party, has been asked about his whereabouts everyday by the local police

Detention and Intimidation of Petitioners

As with other events of political sensitivity, individuals from across the country who have travelled, or planned to travel, to Beijing to petition for redress of grievances have been the target of a particularly focused campaign on the part of local and Beijing officials. These petitioners have been detained in “black jails”, barred from leaving their hometowns, or forcibly removed from the capital ahead of National Day. The following are a small sample of representative cases:

Petitioners Detained in Beijing or Forced to Return Home

  • Gu Zhongmei (顾中妹), a petitioner from Shanghai, was seized in Beijing by interceptors from her hometown on September 23. She is currently detained in the Lintong Guesthouse, a black jail for female petitioners in the capital.
  • On the afternoon of August 29, a group of 15 Shanghai petitioners in Beijing travelled to Tiananmen Square to watch rehearsals for the National Day celebrations planned to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. However, when they arrived at the square they were seized by police from the Tianamen PSB station and taken to Majia House, a centralized black jail for petitioners in Beijing, before being forcibly returned to Shanghai the next day.
  • Jiang Zhanchun (蒋湛春), a petitioner from Jiangsu Province, was seized by interceptors from Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, in Beijing on September 24. He was forcibly returned to Nanjing, where he is currently being detained in the Sipailou PSB station on the outskirts of the city.

Petitioners Detained to Prevent Travel to Beijing:

  • Liu Junchun (刘俊春), a petitioner from Bijie City, Guizhou Province, was taken from his home on September 4 by PSB officers from Bijie City. His family later received a notice stating that he had been criminally detained in the Bijie City Detention Center.
  • Zhu Jindi (朱金娣), a petitioner from Pudong District, Shanghai, was seized off the street near her home by police on the morning of September 10. She was then placed under criminal detention for “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” in the Pudong PSB Detention Center, a charge fellow petitioners believe was constructed as a pretense to detain her during the anniversary.
  • Li Zhongying (李忠英), a petitioner from Gaozhai Village, Qinfeng Town, Lufeng County, Yunnan Province, was seized by local police on September 1 and is currently detained in a black jail.
  • Gao Yingshou (高英寿), Zhang Daxue (张大学), Xu Shenglin (徐胜林) and a number of other petitioners in Wanzhou District, Chongqing City, have been detained since September 18 to prevent them from travelling to Beijing during National Day. The petitioners, who have been displaced by rising waters from the Three Gorges Dam, have also been intimidated and threatened by local police.

Those that manage to evade local officials and leave their hometowns face a daunting task in attempting to reach Beijing during this period. According to a September 6 Xinhua report, top government officials from Beijing, Tianjin City, Hebei Province, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning Province, Shanxi Province and Shandong Province have agreed to unify their efforts to provide increased security around the capital in the buildup to 60th anniversary celebrations on October 1. The seven provinces and cities will share information, set up checkpoints on all roadways leading towards the capital, and work to “solve problems locally”, all initiatives designed to prevent petitioners from travelling to Beijing.

Media Contacts for this release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +852 8191 6937

Jiang Yingying, Researcher (English and Mandarin): +852 8170 0237

[1] Individuals subjected to “soft detention” (软禁) are guarded by police stationed at their homes. Though individuals may be allowed to leave their homes during soft detention, they are closely followed and monitored by police or asked to travel in police vehicles, and often barred from meeting other “sensitive” individuals.

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