China Human Rights Briefings October 5-9

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China Human Rights Briefing

Reporting Human Rights Developments from the Grassroots

Highlights from the Past Week

  • Scale of Pre-October 1st Crackdown Unprecedented: CHRD now estimates that over one thousand (and possibly several thousand ) activists, dissidents, and petitioners were detained in relation to the October 1 celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The involvement of local governments across the country distinguishes this sweep from that conducted ahead of the Beijing Olympics last year, which was restricted mainly to the capital.

  • Official Attitude Towards Petitioners Continues to Harden, With Tragic Results: The pre-National Day crackdown was also characterized by cruelty on the part of local officials, especially towards petitioners, some of whom were mistreated or tortured. Li Shulian (李淑莲) and Liu Fengqin (刘凤芹), petitioners from Shandong and Hebei, respectively, died after being mistreated while detained in relation to the October 1st anniversary. Concern is growing that local governments may be increasing their efforts to prevent petitioners from voicing their grievances following a memo from the CCP Central Committee Political-Legal Committee in early August which encouraged local governments to take a more firm stance on petitioners and “solve problems locally”.

  • Internet Once Again Focal Point of Dispute over Freedom of Expression: As a group of Chinese intellectuals issued a “Declaration of Netizens’ Rights” this past week highlighting the critical role of the internet and free expression in protecting citizens’ rights, the government has increased its efforts to restrict citizens’ ability to receive and disseminate information online. For example, a number of proxy servers, blocked during the National Day period, continue to be under assault by internet censors, while blog postings by activists who travelled to Shandong to report on the death of petitioner Li Shulian (李淑莲) were deleted.

Persecution of Activists

Detained Environmentalist Sun Xiaodi Denied Family Visit, Has Administrative Appeal Rejected

CHRD learned today that Gansu environmentalist Sun Xiaodi (孙小弟), recipient of the 2006 Nuclear-Free Future Award for reporting on dangers associated with uranium production at a Gansu mine and current Re-education through Labor (RTL) detainee, has had his appeal for administrative redress rejected by the Gansu Public Security Bureau. Since Mr. Sun was sent to two years of RTL this past July, he has only been able to receive two visits- one from his wife, Hu Jianhong (胡建红), and one from his lawyer. Hu’s recent request to visit her husband at Gansu Number One RTL Camp was rejected by RTL camp officials, who cited “special” circumstances surrounding Sun’s case. Sun’s daughter, Sun Haiyan (孙海燕), who was sent to RTL for assisting her father, is now detained at the Anning District RTL Camp in Lanzhou City.

The continued detention of Sun Xiaodi raises troubling questions about the Chinese government’s attitude towards domestic environmental rights activists. The use of RTL to silence critics like Sun greatly hinders the ability of civil society actors to monitor the government’s conduct. While the Chinese government is expected to take a more cooperative stance internationally during President Obama’s upcoming visit and the Copenhagen talks on climate change, without oversight from civil society, there is little hope of holding the government accountable to any promises it may make. (CHRD)[i]

Xi’an Activist Ma Xiaoming Forced to Travel for One Month

Beginning September 7, Xi’an, Shaanxi activist Ma Xiaoming (马晓明) was taken on a “tourist” trip to Southwestern Shaanxi, Guangdong, and Fujian by officers from the National Security Unit of the Xi’an Public Security Bureau (PSB), ending on October 5. It is believed that the travel was orchestrated to prevent Ma from speaking with foreign media, including a reporter from Hong Kong who had contacted Ma for an interview, as well as to ensure that Ma would not cause any trouble during the 60th anniversary celebrations. (CHRD)[ii]

Torture and Other Cruel and Inhumane Treatment

Official Press Acknowledges Serious Problems with Torture and Lack of Independent Oversight

On Tuesday, Xinhua, the official press agency of the Chinese government, published a story documenting the case of Wang Xilian (王希连), a Dingyuan County, Anhui Province man in his 60’s who died in February 2009 after being tortured by police seeking to extract a confession in a robbery case. Investigators determined that six officers had been involved in depriving Wang of food, water, and sleep, physically abusing him, and shoving lit cigarettes into his nostrils. This story comes close on the heels of two reports recently released on the internet concerning deaths, also reportedly following torture and mistreatment, of petitioners in detention facilities, (for more information on these cases, and a third case of a prisoner who died under suspicious circumstances while in detention, please see CHRD’s recent press release, Deaths Highlight Continued Problem of Torture, Poor Oversight in Detention Facilities). The official press has reported on a number of similar cases in recent months and government officials have spoken about the need to increase oversight in detention centers; however, the timing of this report indicates that little progress has been made by local officials. (Xinhua)[iii]

Activists Blocked From Investigating Case of Death Following Mistreatment

CHRD continues to monitor developments surrounding the suspicious death of Longkou City, Shandong Province petitioner Li Shulian (李淑莲) on October 2. Li’s case has drawn widespread attention within China as fellow petitioners and netizens point to abuse and mistreatment she suffered after she was detained for petitioning on September 3. Beijing-based activists, including Wang Lihong (王荔蕻) and Liu Dejun (刘德军), recently attempted to investigate the case, which has been classified a “suicide by hanging” by officials. Wang, Liu, and two other activists reached Longkou on October 5, but their plans to meet with Li’s family members the following day were disrupted by local officials: first, Li’s younger sister and brother-in-law were pressured to cancel an appointment to meet with the investigative group, and then a petitioner who was detained along with Li, Li Chunhua (李春华, no relation), who was also scheduled to meet with the group, was detained by local police. Many questions surrounding Li Shulian’s death, including the extent of abuse she suffered and the role of torture in causing her death, remain unanswered. (CHRD)[iv]

Update- Authorities Violated Regulations by Detaining Gravely Ill Elderly Petitioner, Resulting in Death

CHRD continues to monitor developments in the case of Liu Fengqin (刘凤芹), the Tangshan City, Hebei Province petitioner who died in an RTL camp on September 25, and today learned that the Tangshan RTL Committee violated national guidelines regulating RTL by detaining Liu. According to Article 11 of the 2002 “Guidelines for the Handling of Re-education through Labor Cases by Public Security Organs”, no individual who is over the age of 60 or seriously ill may be sent to an RTL camp; Liu, born on December 26, 1944, was 64 years old and suffering from serious heart conditions when her detention began on August 14, 2009. (CHRD)[v]

Arbitrary Detention

Lawyer for Detained Activist Liu Xueli Voices Concerns about Difficulties in Challenging RTL Decisions

CHRD learned today from the lawyer of a detained petitioner/activist about a new Henan provincial regulation barring courts from accepting lawsuits challenging Re-education through Labor (RTL) decisions. In a letter dated August 29, 2009, and recently received by CHRD, detained Henan petitioner-turned-activist Liu Xueli (刘学立), who was sent to 21 months of Re-education through Labor in late 2008 for applying to demonstrate at one of the two official “Protest Zones” during the Beijing Olympics, requested further legal assistance in his efforts to challenge the decision to send him to RTL (full text available here). CHRD responded by contacting his lawyer, Yue Luxian (岳路献). In an interview with CHRD, Yue reported that, according to Henan Court officials with whom he spoke, Henan provincial government authorities, including the Provincial Political-Legal Committee, have issued explicit guidelines instructing courts not to accept administrative lawsuits brought by petitioners challenging RTL decisions. This action directly violates the administrative regulations governing RTL, and deprives RTL detainees of one of only two methods of challenging the decision to send them to RTL. (CHRD)[vi]

Shandong Activist Zhou Mengxin Released after Abduction & Detention

Shandong activist Zhou Mengxin (周梦新), from Heze City, was released today after being detained for nine days. Zhou had been taken from his home on September 30 by ten Heze City police officers and driven, hooded, to a hotel where he was then held. Police reportedly believed Zhou was responsible for organizing a 100,000 person demonstration across a number of cities in Shandong and Henan Provinces on September 27 calling for an end to official corruption and a rectification of the government’s official verdict on the Tiananmen massacre. Mr. Zhou has been involved in organizing local rights-protection activities, for which he was detained in February 2008 and then released awaiting trial. (CHRD)[vii]

Hebei Petitioners Held in Psychiatric Institution

CHRD learned today that two sisters from Yunxi County, Hebei Province, have been illegally detained in a psychiatric institution for petitioning. Jin Hanyan (金汉艳) and Jin Hanqin (金汉琴), of Shiyan City, travelled to Beijing to petition about local corruption and police harassment on August 27. On September 18, they were seized by Shiyan police and government officials and forcibly returned to Shiyan. After being detained separately for four days, on September 22 the sisters were taken to Huanglong Pyschiatric Hospital in Shiyan, reportedly on the orders of County Party Secretary Ye Zhanping (叶战平). Psychiatric institutions are routinely used to detain petitioners as no judicial proceedings, or independent mental health evaluations, are required to admit individuals to these hospitals. (CHRD)[viii]

Sichuan Petitioners Released after 25 Days in Black Jail; Report Abuse, Poor Conditions

On the afternoon of October 7, a group of eight petitioners from Zigong City, Sichuan Province, were released following 25 days of detention in black jails in Beijing and Zigong. Seven of the eight – Ms. Wu Zhaoyu (吴昭玉), Mr. Luo Shimo (罗世模), Ms. Ceng Xiaofeng (曾孝凤), Ms. Gu Xueqin (古学琴), Ms. Zhang Yuhua (张玉华), Ms. Yan Yongjun (颜永君), and Mr. Deng Yingchun (邓迎春) – had travelled to Beijing to petition about corruption and rights abuses perpetrated by local administrative and judicial organs, and were detained on September 12. The eighth, Mr. Ye Shuyun (叶述云), was detained in Zigong. Ms. Ceng reported being physically and verbally abused, given insufficient food, and deprived of sleep while detained. (CHRD)[ix]

Updates on Detentions Related to the October 1st Anniversary:

  • Beijing democracy activist Li Hai (李海), a student activist during the 1989 democracy movement and former political prisoner, has been missing since September 16. According to friends, Li had been contacted by police prior to his disappearance and informed that they would take him on a “tourist trip” during the National Day period. (CHRD)[x]
  • On October 8, Hubei democracy activist and elections expert Yao Lifa (姚立法) returned home following 15 days of detention. Yao reported he had been taken away from his office on September 24 by officers from the Law and Order Corps of the Qianjiang City Public Security Bureau (PSB) and transported to the Yunlin police station, where he was interrogated and held before being transported to a guesthouse 50 km outside of the city. (CHRD)[xi]

Hubei Petitioner Huang Pofan Detained for Over Three Weeks

On the afternoon of September 14, petitioner Huang Pofan (黄猷凡), of Jiang’an District, Wuhan City, Hubei Province was seized by three Wuhan government and Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials. CHRD recently learned that she was forcibly returned to Wuhan, and has been detained in four different locations in Hubei; she is currently being held in a black jail on Baxian Island in Huangpi County. It is believed that Huang was detained as part of the efforts to remove petitioners from Beijing ahead of National Day. (CHRD)[xii]

Heilongjiang Petitioners Detained in National Day “Clean-up”

CHRD continues to learn of further cases of petitioners detained by local officials ahead of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. On September 17, petitioners Lu Wei (陆伟), Wang You (王有), and Miao Yuzhi (苗玉枝), from Yilan County, Heilongjiang Province, were seized by interceptors in Beijing and returned to Heilongjiang, ostensibly so that their problems could be “resolved locally”. However, upon their return, the three were administratively detained 15 days for “unreasonable and improper petitioning”. (CHRD)[xiii]

Liaoning Petitioner Stopped at Checkpoint, Alleges Beating by Police

On September 12, petitioner Liu Chunbao (刘纯宝), from Yingkou City, Liaoning Province, was stopped by policemen at a checkpoint in Xianghe County, Hebei Province while en route to Beijing. Liu, who did not have an ID card, alleges that he was beaten by an officer before being forcibly returned to his hometown by officials from the Beijing Liasion Office of the Liaoning Provincial Government. Liu is currently being held at a retirement home in Yingkou, under the watch of 8 guards. (CHRD)[xiv]

Shanxi Petitioner Detained after Traveling to Letters and Visits Office in Beijing

Xiaoyi City, Shanxi Province petitioner Bi Caizhen (毕彩珍) has been detained since she was seized outside of the National Letters and Visits Office in Beijing on September 23. Bi had travelled to the capital to petition about corruption at Shanxi’s Liuwan (湾煤) Coal Mine and the murder of her husband, which she believes was carried out by criminals hired by management at the mine. Bi was forcibly returned to Shanxi, and friends and fellow have been unable to contact her to determine her present condition. (CHRD)[xv]

Hangzhou Activist Seized in Beijing, Returned to Detention in Hometown

On the evening of October 3, Hangzhou petitioner-turned-activist Zhu Yingdi (朱瑛娣) was seized by Beijing policemen at a guesthouse near Yongdingmen in the capital. By October 5, when she was able to contact her husband, she had already been forcibly returned to Hangzhou, where she is currently being detained in nearby Anji County. According to Zhu’s husband, Mr. Dai (), the couple’s home in Hangzhou had been guarded around the clock by five men since September 15, and beginning September 30, they were not allowed to leave their home. They managed to escape on the night of October 1, which is when Zhu travelled to Beijing. Zhu has been petitioning and assisting other petitioners since the forced demolition of her home many years ago, and has been repeatedly summoned and harassed by local officials. (CHRD)[xvi]

Freedom of Expression

Activists’ Blog Postings Deleted

Beijing-based activist Wang Lihong (王荔蕻), who has been investigating the suspicious death of Shandong petitioner Li Shulian (李淑莲; for more information see this story), has had more than 20 articles deleted from her personal blog ( hosted on According to Wang, who discovered the deletions when she returned to Beijing from Shandong Province, all of the posts she had written about Li’s case have been removed. Wang reported that fellow Beijing activist Laohumiao (老虎庙) and poet Ma Fei (马非) also had blog posts about Li’s case deleted from their personal blogs. (CHRD)[xvii]

CHRD Releases Report on Media Control One Year after the Beijing Olympics

Today, CHRD released its latest report, Developments in Media Control since the Olympic Games (后奥运期中国大陆舆论管制状况及其走向的观察报告), which documents changes in official approaches to media control and major media-related incidents which have taken place in China since the close of the Beijing Olympics in August 2008. For the full text (in Chinese) please click here.

Citizens’ Actions

Fifteen Chinese Intellectuals Issue “Declaration of Netizens’ Rights”

On October 8, a group of Chinese bloggers, writers, scholars, and lawyers published a document entitled “Declaration of Netizens’ Rights”. The declaration, available here, contains 10 principles designed to highlight the importance to the human rights movement of the dissemination of information via the internet. The authors call for strengthened protection of freedom of expression online. (CHRD)[xviii]

Migrant Workers Publicize Labor, Rights Abuses; Demand Back Pay

On October 8, sanitation workers, most of them migrant laborers, at Beijing’s South Railway station posted a letter online in which they publicized complaints about their working conditions and listed the various abuses they have been subjected to by the railway station management. The list, which includes examples of restrictions on the workers’ freedom of speech, contract violations, and violations of the Labor Law, ends with demands that management at the Beijing South Railway Station follow national labor regulations in their treatment of the workers, and compensate the workers for unpaid overtime hours. (CHRD)[xix]

Jiangsu Resident Waits 20 Years in Vain to Have Case Heard in Court

October 6 marked the 20th anniversary of the acceptance of a lawsuit brought by Liu Shunwu (刘顺武) by the Ganyu County, Jiangsu Province People’s Court. In his suit, Liu, a resident of Longhe Village, Haitou town, Ganyu County, seeks compensation for years’ worth of rights abuses perpetrated by the local government. Though the court allowed him to file the lawsuit twenty years ago, they have yet to set a trial date or hear the case. Access to justice remains a critical issue for Chinese citizens, and Liu’s case highlights one of the numerous obstacles citizens face when seeking their day in court. (CHRD)[xx]

Protests Continue over Lead Contamination in Henan Province

Villagers from a number of villages in Jiyuan City, Henan Province, continue to protest over what they believe is an inadequate response by local governments to widespread cases of lead poisoning as a result of pollution from nearby Yuguangjin Lead Company. According to Ms. Fan (), a resident of Shibin Village, nearly 80% of students under the age of 14 in Shibin have tested positive for moderate lead poisoning, and over 100 were diagnosed with severe lead poisoning. The government is responding to the situation by forcing Shibin elementary and middle school students to relocate to a former Jiyuan City High School building, and offering nutritional therapy to the children most seriously affected. Local officials have offered living stipends totaling 720 RMB per month for families with small children who wish to move away from the most heavily polluted areas, which residents say is insufficient. Adult villagers are being tested as well, but there are concerns that medical professionals are being pressured to underreport cases of adult lead poisoning. A local website, the Jiyuan Discussion Forum, has recently been blocked and posts by villagers have been deleted. (CRLW)[xxi]

Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang

[i] “Anti-Nuclear Waste Activist Sun Xiaodi’s Appeal for Redress Rejected; Family Members Barred from Visit (反核污染人士孙小弟行政复议被驳回 家人探望被禁止)”, October 8, 2009,

[ii] “Activist Ma Xiaoming Forced to ‘Tour’ for One Month (维权人士马晓明被强迫“旅游”一个月)”, October 6, 2009,

[iii] “Anhui Man in His 60s Dies After Torture to Extract Confession; 90 Cigarettes Forced into Nose (安徽6旬老人遭刑讯逼供致死 鼻孔被插90支香烟)”, October 6, 2009,

[iv] “Wang Lihong, Liu Dejun and Others Blocked From Investigating Li Shulian Case (王荔蕻、刘德军等调查李淑莲事件遇阻)”, October 7, 2009,

[v] “Tangshan RTL Committee Violates RTL Guidelines in Detaining Liu Fengqin, Causing her Death (唐山劳教委违反劳教规定将刘凤芹迫害致死)”, October 9, 2009,

[vi] “Henan Petitioner Liu Xueli Sends Letter to Mo Shaoping Law Firm from RTL Calling for Legal Aid (河南访民刘学立在劳教所里致信莫少平律师要求法律援助)”, October 9, 2009,

[vii] “Shandong Activist Zhou Mengxin Regains Freedom (山东维权人士周梦新重获自由)”, October 9, 2009,

[viii] “Yunxi County Locks Jin Hanyan and Sister in Psychiatric Institution (郧西县将访民金汉艳姐妹关入精神病院)”, October 8, 2009,

[ix] “Zigong Residents Detained in Black Jails for Reporting in Beijing Released (自贡进北京举报人被关黑监狱全部获释放)”, October 8, 209,

[x] “Li Hai Missing for 22 Days (李海失踪逾22)”, October 8, 2009,

[xi] “Yao Lifa, of Hubei, Illegally Detained 15 Days (湖北姚立法被非法拘禁15)”, October 8, 2009,

[xii] “Petitioner Huang Pofan Secretly Detained Following Kidnapping (访民黄猷凡被绑架后遭秘密关押)”, October 7, 2009,

[xiii] “Heilongjiang Petitioners Detained Because of National Day (黑龙江省访民因十一被拘留)”, October 6, 2009,

[xiv] “Petitioner Liu Chunbao Beaten by Police, Detained (访民刘纯宝遭警察殴打关押)”, October 6, 2009,

[xv] “Urgent Appeal for Liuwan Coal Mine, Shanxi Province Petitoner Bi Caizhen (山西柳湾煤矿上访人毕彩珍的紧急求救)”, October 6, 2009,

[xvi] “Hangzhou Activist Zhu Yingdi Stopped in Beijing, Returned Home and Detained (杭州维权人士朱瑛娣在北京旅游被截回关押)”, October 6, 2009,

[xvii] “Wang Lihong and Others Have Blog Postings Deleted for Reporting on Li Shulian Case (王荔蕻等人博客因报道李淑莲事件被删贴)”, October 9, 2009

[xviii] “Fifteen Chinese Intellectuals Issue ‘Declaration of Netizens’ Rights’ (中国知识界15人发表《网络人权宣言》)”, October 8, 2009,

[xix] “Who Will Protect Our Labor Rights? (谁来保障我们的劳动权益)”, October 8, 2009,

[xx] “A Note on a Case Registered, But Not Heard, for Twenty Years (20年只立案不审理 法院创造纪录)”, October 8, 2009,

[xxi] “Jiyuan, Henan Lead Pollution News: Schools Forced to Relocate, Villagers Continue Protests (河南济源铅污染最新进展:学校被迫搬迁 村民继续抗议)”, October 7, 2009,


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