Submission to UN on Wang Keqin, Chen Wei, Xie Qiang – September 21, 2009

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Human Rights Defenders Prevented from Attending Training on UN Mechanisms in Geneva – Chinese Authorities Violate Right to Participate in International Human Rights Activities

For the fourth consecutive year, Chinese officials have prevented Chinese human rights activists from leaving the country to attend a training program on the UN Human Rights mechanisms organized by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), a Geneva-based organization.  In early September, journalist Wang Keqin (王克勤) and rights activists Chen Wei (陈卫) and Xie Qiang (谢强) all separately encountered official interference as they prepared to leave the country.  ISHR had previously arranged for the three to travel to Geneva as part of a larger group to take part in the workshop, which was scheduled to take place from September 14-24.

WANG Keqin (王克勤), male, 40

Mr. Wang was pressured to abandon his plan to apply for a visa by officials at his newspaper, the China Economic Times.  Officials cited “busy schedule” at work when refusing to give Mr. Wang the permission to leave for two weeks.  ISHR had issued a written invitation on his behalf to the Swiss embassy in Beijing requesting that they grant him a travel visa, as they did for all invited participants.

Mr. Wang is a journalist and scholar living and working in Beijing.  He is currently the investigative reporting bureau chief at the China Economic Times and holds a number of academic posts in Beijing and Hong Kong.  Renowned for his groundbreaking investigative work, Wang was named one of the “ten most important rights defenders in 2003” by a number of prominent publications.

CHEN Wei (陈卫), male, 40

On September 7, officials at the National Security Unit of the Suining City Public Security Bureau (PSB) received a memo from their superiors at the Sichuan Provincial PSB asking them to investigate Mr. Chen’s plans to travel to Geneva.  Suining Municipal National Security officers then “invited” Chen to “have tea” and interrogated him for three consecutive days, September 8th to the 10th, demanding details of the plan.   The officers began by advising Chen not to leave the country, but eventually revealed that his personal information had already been transmitted to border patrol officials in charge of entry and exit procedures, and that he would be unable to leave the country at any border crossing or board any international flight departing from China.  The National Security officers did not provide any explanation for the restrictions against Chen’s freedom of movement except to say that it may compromise security during the upcoming 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1.  The officers concluded by informing Chen that the head of the National Security Unit had already ordered local police to place him under strict surveillance in order to ensure he did not attempt to leave Suining City.

Mr. Chen an activist from Suining City, Sichuan Province.  He has been active in rights-defense activities in Sichuan since 2003, providing local reporting on a variety of rights abuses taking place in the province.  Previously, Mr. Chen was a Beijing-based democracy activist, having been a leading figure during the 1989 student movement.

XIE Qiang (谢强), male, 30

At 11pm on September 11, the night before he was due to depart for Geneva, activist Xie Qiang was seized at his temporary residence near Xiangshan Park in Beijing’s Haidian District by a group of ten police officers.  Four of five of the police were from Mr. Xie’s hometown of Loudi City, Hunan Province, while the rest were local Beijing officers.  The group forced Mr. Xie into a police vehicle and drove him to the Beijing Liaison Office of the Hunan Provincial Government, where he was held overnight.  The next day, September 12, Mr. Xie was forced to board a bus to return to Hunan, accompanied by the Loudi police officers.  Upon returning home, he was placed under residential surveillance by local police.   While the officers who seized him in Beijing did not explain their actions, Mr. Xie was interrogated at length once he returned to Loudi and told that officials knew of his plans to travel to Switzerland.

Mr. Xie is an activist and internet writer from Loudi City, Hunan Province, who has been active in the rights-defense movement since 2007.  He has written articles for rights-focused organizations including Minzhu Zhongguo (民主中国), Boxun (博讯), and CHRD, and in 2008 completed a report on freedom of association in China which was published on CHRD’s website.  Mr. Xie has also established the “Chinese Human Rights Emergency Relief Action Committee”, which provides funding to human rights defenders persecuted by the government.  Most recently, Mr. Xie has been working with Beijing lawyers to call for direct elections for the leadership of the Beijing Lawyers’ Association, and organizing a public petition calling attention to individuals who have been deprived of their working rights for exercising their freedom of speech.  He has also recently worked on a research project involving “black jails”, illegal detention facilities found throughout China.

 

Background

The cases of Mr. Wang, Mr. Chen, and Mr. Xie are the latest in a continuing pattern of action by Chinese authorities to arbitrarily and unlawfully restrict the freedom of movement of Chinese human rights defenders and prevent them from taking part in training exercises designed to improve their ability to defend human rights.  CHRD has reported on the following cases of Chinese human rights defenders who were similarly prevented from attending an ISHR training on UN human rights mechanisms in Geneva in previous years:

  • In September 2008, Wen Kejian (温克坚) and Zan Aizong (昝爱宗), both Hangzhou-based internet writers and human rights defenders, were barred from attending an ISHR training in Geneva. Zan was prevented from leaving by the border police at Shanghai Pudong Airport while Wen was stopped at the Shenzhen border as he tried to cross into Hong Kong en route to Geneva. The police did not issue any written or verbal explanation regarding the incident or compensate Zan and Wen for having to cancel their tickets.
  • In 2007, democracy activist and elections expert Yao Lifa(姚立法) and human rights/AIDS activists Hu Jia (胡佳) and Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) were barred from attending the training.  Mr. Hu was detained by police while his wife, Ms. Zeng, was stopped by officials at the Beijing airport who prevented her from leaving the country and confiscated her passport.
  • In June 2006, rural rights activist and farmers’ representative Liu Zhengyou (刘正有), of Zigong City, Shandong Province, was stopped by policemen at the Beijing airport and prevented from boarding his flight to Geneva to attend an ISHR conference.  He was forcibly returned to Sichuan on the grounds that he was under criminal investigation for his role in leading protest by Shandong villagers who had lost their land or housing to developers without being properly compensated.  Lawyer and law lecturer Teng Biao (滕彪) was also warned by his university, the Chinese Politics and Law University against coming to the training program.

 

This report is submitted by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a non-political, non-governmental network of grassroots and international activists promoting human rights and empowering grassroots activism in China.  CHRD’s objective is to support human rights activists in China, monitor human rights developments, and assist victims of human rights abuses.   CHRD advocates approaches that are non-violent and based on rule of law.  CHRD conducts research, provides information, organizes training, supports a program of small grants to human rights activists and researchers, and offers legal assistance.

 

See more UN work on case of Chen Wei:

Communiqué on behalf of Chen Wei, citizen of People’s Republic of China, Alleging Arbitrary Arrest or Detention and Prosecution of Human Rights Defenders, July 6, 2011

See more UN work on case of Xie Qiang:

Harassment of Human Rights Defenders affiliated with the NGO CHRD, June 10, 2008

Communique on Harassment of Human Rights Defenders Affiliated with the NGO CHRD, June 6, 2010

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