China Human Rights Briefings November 14-20Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefings November 14-20
China Human Rights Briefing
November 14-20, 2009
In a press release earlier today, CHRD reported that Beijing police had seized human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong(江天勇)and were holding him in the Yangfangdian police station. We have since learned that Jiang was released at 9:30 pm on November 19 after police interrogated him for nearly twelve hours, during which Jiang was verbally abused. Police accused him of beating the policemen who prevented him from walking his daughter to school and interrogated him as a suspect for “beating others” (殴打他人). About 10 lawyers arrived at the police station while Jiang was being questioned and stood outside, demanding his release. Meanwhile, two policemen went to the school which Jiang’s daughter, 7, attends, and told leaders there that her father “hit policemen.” The school’s vice-principal interrogated the child for two hours. (CHRD)[i]
Former 1989 pro-democracy movement student leader Zhou Yongjun (周勇军) was tried in a rushed trial for “fraud” on the morning of November 19 in Shehong County, Sichuan, CHRD learned today. Zhou has been detained since September 30, 2008, when he was seized by the Hong Kong Immigration while crossing into Hong Kong and transferred to mainland authorities. He was formally arrested on suspicion of “fraud” in May 2009 after being transferred to Sichuan, where he was held in the Suining City Detention Center. Zhou’s parents, sister, and brother-in-law attended the trial, which was officially “open,” but police barred other friends and relatives, as well as members of the media, from attending. The court did not announce a verdict. (CHRD)[ii]
CHRD has learned that the Wuhou District Court in Chengdu City, Sichuan, will announce a verdict in the case of activist Huang Qi (黄琦) next Monday. Huang was tried behind closed doors for “illegal possession of state secrets” on August 5 after being detained in June 2008 for reporting and giving interviews to foreign journalists about protests staged by families of schoolchildren killed in the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008. Family members have been concerned about Huang’s health, which has deteriorated rapidly in recent months. (CHRD)[iii]
CHRD learned today that Beijing police have released activist Li Hai (李海), who was detained on November 12 to keep him from speaking out during Obama’s visit. Officers from the Xinyuan police station in Beijing held Li for one night in a building near his home before taking him outside of Beijing to Mianyun County, where he was held in a resort area used as a detention facility by police. Li was not allowed to contact the outside world during his detention. (CHRD)[iv]
This week, CHRD learned of the following cases of detention related to Obama’s visit to China:
· Liu Anjun (刘安军), a Beijing-based advocate for the rights of the handicapped and victims of forced eviction, was shuttled between a series of hotels used by authorities as detention houses in the capital during Obama’s visit. Prior to Obama’s arrival, police had detained Liu in his home, but decided to keep him on the move so that he could not speak with foreign journalists.
· Beijing activists Li Hai (李海) and Wang Debang (王德邦) were taken on forced “tourist trips” outside of the city by police chaperones; Wang has since been released and allowed to return home in the evening of the 18th. (CHRD)[v]
· The forty-two petitioners seized outside of the Diaoyutai Guesthouse in Beijing on November 16 have been forcibly returned to Shanghai. Of those petitioners, at least one, Li Huifang (李慧芳), has been detained for 10 days, while at least two, Zhu Libin (朱利斌) and Zhao Lingdi (赵玲娣), have been detained for 5 days. Because of difficulties reaching other petitioners, CHRD has so far been unable to ascertain the precise number of petitioners detained in Shanghai. (CHRD)[vi]
· In our press release on detentions related to Obama’s visit, CHRD reported on the disappearance of Hubei activist and elections expert Yao Lifa (姚立法). We have since learned that Yao was forced to take a “tourist trip” with local officials and was ferried between a number of cities in Hubei and Hunan Provinces before being returned to his home in Qianjiang on the evening of November 18. (CHRD)[vii]
· Beijing human rights lawyer Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵), who was among the lawyers whose licenses were not renewed under pressure from judicial authorities in May of this year, was placed under house arrest during Obama’s visit. Three plainclothes police officers have been posted outside of Li’s home since November 15, and have not permitted him to leave their sight. Three other Beijing-based human rights lawyers—Mo Shaoping (莫少平), Li Fangping (李方平), and Li Heping (李和平)—have also had their movements restricted during Obama’s visit. (CHRD)[viii]
· Beijing-based dissident activist Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦), who has been under residential surveillance for almost one year, were taken out by police for “tea” on the 18th after he repeatedly refused to accept police “invitations” in the past few days. He was warned to “behave” during Obama’s visit.
Sixty-nine year-old petitioner Liu Shuoxiang (刘硕祥) has been sent to a Re-education through Labor Camp and is currently ill in detention, CHRD learned today. 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, of Liuguangtun Village, Liyuan Town, Kaiping District, Tangshan City, Hebei Province, petitioned on numerous occasions about the complicity of local officials in illegal logging of village trees. As a result, he was sent to RTL by the Tangshan City RTL Management Committee on July 31, 2009, though he was allowed to serve the detention period outside of an RTL camp. However, on September 23, Liu was seized by town police officers and sent to Hebei Number One RTL camp, where he is currently detained and forced to perform heavy manual labor. It is unclear whether the Tangshan City RTL Management Committee amended their original decision regarding Liu’s detention. (CHRD)[ix]
On the evening of November 16, about 90 petitioners from Shanghai arrived outside of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, hoping to welcome President Obama on his arrival to the capital. Around 10 pm that evening, police arrived, seizing 42 of the petitioners and taking them to the Ganjiakou police station. Later that night, they were transferred en masse to a “black jail” outside of Beijing’s South Train Station, where they were detained under the watch of 20 unidentified individuals. According to Li Huifang (李惠芳), one of the detained petitioners, they had not been mistreated, but she did not know how they would be treated when they returned to Shanghai. According to the group, they are all petitioning because their homes were forcibly demolished in preparation for the 2010 World Expo. (CHRD)[x]
Earlier on November 16, perhaps as many as 100 petitioners were detained following coordinated police raids outside the buildings housing the National Letters and Visits Office, the National People’s Congress Letters and Visits Office, and other locations where petitioners are legally permitted to submit their grievances to government officials. According to reports, the petitioners were taken to Ma Jia Lou, a central station for detaining and deporting petitioners in Beijing. Some have since been taken from Ma Jia Lou by officials from their home provinces, presumably to be returned to their local police or offices managing petitioning. These raids, given their timing and scale, were likely related to President Obama’s visit to the capital. (CHRD)[xi]
Vice President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping (习近平) arrived in Xi’an for a two-day “investigation and research” visit on November 14, and as a result police forced local petitioner Zhang Dalian (张大联) to leave the city. Zhang was detained in Hanzhong, Shaanxi for three days before being allowed to return home on November 16. Police also forced Zhang’s sister-in-law, Zuo Junying (左俊英), to leave the city during the same time period. Zhang, Zuo, and other family members have been petitioning since Zhang’s husband, Zuo Mingwei (左明炜) was beaten to death in April, 2009, allegedly by hired thugs under the direction of a property management company with which the couple had been in a dispute. (CHRD)[xii]
Police Detain or Warn Activists, Dissidents, and Petitioners to Prevent Them from Meeting Obama During His Visit
CHRD continues to receive reports of activists, dissidents, and veteran petitioners who have been detained, placed under residential surveillance, or otherwise harassed by local officials before and during President Obama’s four-day visit to China. For a list of cases compiled as of November 16, please see our press release, available here.
According to lawyer Ding Xikui (丁锡奎), a Shenyang court accepted cyber activist Zhang Huaiyang’s (张怀阳) administrative litigation lawsuit on November 14, though it has yet to set a date for a hearing. Shenyang authorities sent Zhang to one year and six months of Re-education through Labor on June 20 after he posted articles online which they claimed “incited disturbances and endangered national security.” Zhang is challenging this decision in his suit. (CHRD)[xiii]
On Friday, CHRD reported that Guizhou activist Liao Shuangyuan (廖双元) and his wife, fellow activist Wu Yuqin (吴玉琴), were seized by police following a meeting of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum. CHRD has since learned that the two were taken to the offices of the National Security Unit under the Guiyang Public Security Bureau and interrogated separately for more than 20 hours about the activities of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum. Wu Yuqin was not given any food or water for the duration of the interrogation, and neither Wu nor Liao was allowed to sleep during their detention. At around three in the afternoon on Saturday, they were released. (CHRD)[xiv]
On the morning of November 9, the Daxing District Management Committee of Xi’an City dispatched more than 600 workers to carry out the forced demolition of an apartment complex attached to a bankrupt foundry in Northeastern Xi’an. Some of the more than 2000 residents of the complex turned out to resist the forced demolition, which they claim is being pursued without providing fair compensation or reasonable arrangements for future accommodation. The workers responded to these protests with physical violence, throwing bricks and beating residents with iron and wooden clubs. Ten were injured, and one resident, Wang Jing (王晶), remains hospitalized and has not regained consciousness since the attack. Following the violence, hundreds of residents gathered at the Shaanxi Provincial Government Offices to petition. (CHRD)[xv]
CHRD has learned that the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party Central Committee (中宣部) has issued an ordinance to ban Southern Weekend, a Guangzhou-based newspaper, from publishing its exclusive interview with Obama on the paper’s website. It is not clear whether the interview will run in the November 19 print edition of the paper as scheduled. (CHRD)[xvi]
Jianxing Maiduan (建行买断), a blog reporting on protests in Beijing by laid-off employees of the four major Chinese banks, has been shut down, CHRD learned today. The blog, which was hosted on Sina.com, had posted videos of the protests. Nearly 500 former employees, representing some 400,000 others across the country, took part in protests beginning on October 26, calling for insurance payments and retirement benefits which the banks have not provided since forcing the employees to retire years ago. (CHRD)[xvii]
On November 16, Shanghai police summoned former human rights lawyer Zheng Enchong (郑恩宠) and his wife Jiang Meili (蒋美丽) to the Zhabei police station. According to officials, Zheng and Jiang were to be questioned about “tax problems.” It is believed that the two were summoned to keep them out of sight and away from reporters during President Obama’s visit. Officials had earlier doubled the number of guards stationed outside of Zheng’s home, where he has been under house arrest since 2006. Zheng and Jiang were detained in separate rooms at the police station for twelve hours before being allowed to return home. (CHRD)[xviii]
Activist Feng Zhenghu’s Tokyo Airport Protest to Demand Right to Return to China Enters Thirteenth Day
Chinese authorities continue to bar Feng Zhenghu (冯正虎), a human rights activist, from returning to his Shanghai home after a visit in Japan. Feng has been prevented from returning to China on eight occasions since April, 2009, and most recently has spent his thirteenth day at Tokyo’s Narita airport, camping out in protest. A group of concerned Sichuan citizens released a public letter on November 16 protesting the government’s treatment of Feng; for the full text (in Chinese), please click here. (CHRD)[xix]
In our release on detentions related to President Obama’s visit to China (available here), CHRD reported on the criminal detention of Zhao Lianhai (赵连海), Beijing activist and founder of the website “Gallbladder Stone Babies” (Jieshi Baobao, 结石宝宝), dedicated to defending the rights of children who became ill after drinking tainted milk as well as their families. Netizens have issued and are currently gathering signatures for a petition protesting his detention and demanding his release; the text of the document, as well as a list of signatories, is available here.
In a separate action, a group of Shanghai petitioners collected more than 200 signatures for a public letter to President Obama drawing his attention to human rights issues in China; the full text of that letter, as well as a list of signatories, is available here.
On November 9, the Legal Office of the State Council issued a draft of a revised set of regulations for detention houses (拘留所) for public comment. Perhaps due to public outcry over a number of well-publicized cases of deaths in detention houses, the new regulations for the first time include such guidelines as “the improper deaths of detainees should be immediately examined by procuratorial organs.” Detention houses (拘留所) differ from detention centers (看守所) in that individuals detained in detention houses are those detained by Law and Order Corps of the Public Security Bureau, or on the orders of court officials, while detainees in detention centers are detained on suspicion of violating the PRC Criminal Law. Detainees in detention houses, therefore, are generally accused of less serious violations, such as petty theft, or being involved in a fight. (Beijing Youth Daily)[xx]
While the drafting of these regulations, which purport to defend the rights and interests of individuals detained in detention houses, is certainly a welcome development, the issue of how these regulations will be implemented and enforced still looms large. Without an independent judicial system or other means of oversight, there is little pressure on officials at detention houses to follow these new regulations any more closely than they do the existing set of guidelines.
According to a November 12 Guangzhou Daily report, the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, the Shenzhen Procuratorate, PSB, and Bureau of Justice have jointly issued a notice on “handling improper petitioning according to the law.” The document lists a number of fourteen actions which constitute “improper petitioning,” including gathering in public spaces outside of city government offices, shouting slogans, and unfurling banners during petitions. Petitioners who persist in “petitioning improperly” can be administratively detained, charged with a crime, or sent to Re-Education through Labor, according to the regulations. (Guangzhou Daily)[xxi]
These regulations will undoubtedly make it more difficult for petitioners to exercise their constitutional right to complain by bringing their grievances before government officials. As local authorities already employ violent and illegal measures to stifle petitions with impunity, they will now enjoy a “legal” tool for preventing petitions from being heard, and have yet another option at their disposal to detain petitioners.
Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang
[i] “Jiang Tianyong Illegally Summoned, Released After One Day (江天勇被非法传唤一天后获释),” November 19, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091120010929_18417.html
[ii] “Zhou Yongjun Tried in Shehong, Sichuan (周勇军一案今天在四川射洪县闪电式开庭审理),” November 19, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091119160014_18397.html
[iii] “Verdict in Trial of Sichuan Activist Huang Qi to Be Issued Next Week (四川维权人士黄琦案下周一宣判),” November 19, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/huangqi/200911/20091119180248_18404.html
[iv] “Beijing Activist Li Hai Regains Freedom After One Week of Detention (北京维权人士李海被监禁一周后恢复自由),” November 19, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091119125811_18394.html
[v] “Obama Visits China, Beijing Activist Liu Anjun Detained in Hotel (奥巴马访华 北京维权人士刘安军被软禁于酒店),” November 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091118114852_18368.html
[vi] “News Flash: Shanghai Petitioners Detained for Attempting to Welcome Obama outside of Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing (快讯：在北京钓鱼台欢迎奥巴马的上海访民被拘留),” November 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091118203857_18376.html
[vii] “Obama Leaves China, Hubei Elections Expert Yao Lifa Regains His Personal Freedom (奥巴马离开中国 湖北选举专家姚立法恢复人身自由),” November 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091118201059_18375.html
[viii] “Freedom of Beijing Human Rights Lawyer Li Xiongbing Restricted During Obama’s Visit (北京维权律师黎雄兵在奥巴马来访期间被限制自由),” November 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091118232302_18377.html
[ix] “Elderly Liu Shuoxiang Detained in Hebei Number One RTL Camp, Forced to Perform Heavy Labor (刘硕祥老人被关押在河北第一劳教所强迫劳动),” November 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091117230450_18362.html
[x] “Shanghai Petitioners Caught, Detained in Relief Station for Welcoming Obama (因欢迎奥巴马被抓的上海访民滞留在救济站),” November 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091117093814_18343.html
[xi] “Petitioners from Many Areas Detained in Ma Jia Lou (众多各地访民被关押到马家楼接济站),” November 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091117101504_18344.html
[xii] “Because of Xi Jinping’s ‘Investigation and Research,’ Petitioner Zhang Dalian and Others Forced to Leave Xi’an (因习近平“调研” 访民张大联等被带离西安),” November 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/fmzj/200911/20091117221124_18361.html
[xiii] “Zhang Huaiyang’s Case Enters Litigation Procedure (张怀阳案件进入诉讼程序),” November 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/zhanghy/200911/20091116204957_18338.html
[xiv] “Guizhou Activists Liao Shuangyuan and Wife Released after More than 20 Hours of Illegal Detention by by National Security Officers (贵州人权捍卫者廖双元夫妇被国保非法拘押20多个小时后放回),” November 15, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091115233717_18326.html
[xv] “Daxing District Management Committee Carries out Violent Forced Eviction in Xi’an Residential Area (西安大兴新区管委会暴力强拆居民区),” November 14, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091114214843_18303.html
[xvi] “News Flash: Publicity Department Orders Web Ban on Southern Weekend Coverage of Obama (快讯：中宣部下令网禁《南方周末》专访奥巴马一稿),” November 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091118171919_18371.html
[xvii] “Jianxing Maiduan Sina.com Blog Closed (建行买断的新浪播客被封杀),” November 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200911/20091116110926_18330.html
[xviii] “News Flash: Zheng Enchong and Wife Jiang Meili Summoned by Shanghai Police (快讯：郑恩宠、蒋美丽夫妇被上海警方传唤),” November 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class43/200911/20091116130414_18333.html; see also https://www.nchrd.org/Article/bzsf/200911/20091117122939_18353.html
[xix] “Feng Zhenghu Stranded for Thirteen Days, Calls on Shanghai Authorities to Allow His Return (冯正虎被困十三天，呼吁上海当局尽快准其归故土),” NOvember 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class7/200911/20091116231145_18341.html
[xxi] “‘Repeat Offenders’ May be Sent to RTL (多次“犯规”或被劳教),” November 12, 2009, http://gzdaily.dayoo.com/html/2009-11/12/content_761625.htm