China Human Rights Briefings November 21-27, 2009

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China Human Rights Briefing

November 21-27, 2009


Arbitrary Detention

Torture or Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment

Freedom of Association

Forced Eviction and Demolition

Citizens’ Actions

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of Expression

Harassment of Petitioners

Law and Policy Watch

Arbitrary Detention

Despite Scheduled Surgery, Police Detain Activist during Obama’s Visit

Beijing activist Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇) was detained by Beijing police on the morning of November 9 after he and a fellow activist applied for permission to hold a demonstration protesting police harassment during Obama’s visit. Qi was taken to the outskirts of Beijing by officers from the National Security Unit of the Beijing PSB and held until November 18. As a result, Qi missed a scheduled thyroid surgery at Beijing’s Youyi hospital. Qi was able to undergo the procedure, which was completed successfully, after he was released. (CHRD)[i]

Qianjiang Police Detain One, Injure at Least Two in Clash with Villagers

At 9 in the evening on November 20, uniformed and plainclothes police officers from the Qiangjiang City, Hubei Province PSB seized villager Ye Rongxin (叶荣新) from his home in Shenhe Village, Qianjiang. Neighbors demanded that police produce legal documentation authorizing their detention of Ye, who is handicapped. In the ensuing commotion, Ye was able to escape, but police seized another villager, Yan Jun (晏军). Villagers continued to quarrel with police, who responded violently, injuring at least two before driving away with Yan. Ye Rongxin has been missing since fleeing from the police; it is not known whether he has been detained or if he is in hiding. Yan’s family had not received any formal notice regarding his detention. In recent days, Shenhe Village residents have been protesting over claims of inadequate compensation and illegal requisitioning of village land. (CHRD)[ii]

Shenzhen Police Detain Workers Petitioning over Workplace-Related Illness

Police in Shenzhen briefly detained a group of 50 construction workers on November 18 for petitioning the local government, CHRD learned recently. According to one of the workers, surnamed Wang (), hospital tests have confirmed that they have all contracted silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by inhaling silica dust, while working on a construction project. Wang added that one worker, Peng Huiping (彭辉平), has died of the disease. The workers, who are originally from Zhangjiajie, Hunan, are asking the government to perform an official health examination and provide them with compensation for workplace-related illness. However, on November 18, Shenzhen police seized the group while they were petitioning and detained them for two days in a Shenzhen “relief station.” They were released, but are yet to have their situation adequately addressed by local officials. (CHRD)[iii]

Hubei Petitioner Released after Fourth Detention in Psychiatric Hospital

CHRD has learned that forty-nine year-old petitioner Huang Cuihua (黄翠华), of Hanchuan City, Hubei Province, was released from the psychiatric ward of Wudong Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei, on October 20. Huang, who was seized on July 23, 2009, while petitioning in Beijing and later detained in the psychiatric hospital on the orders of local officials, was forced to take unidentified medicine and receive injections while she was held. Hanchuan officials have detained Huang in psychiatric institutions on four occasions since 2006. She has been petitioning for close to 20 years after her child was left disabled following an injury while attending kindergarten. According to Huang, guards told her upon her release that if she continued to petition, they would “lock her up in the psychiatric hospital until death.” (CHRD)[iv]

Former Tiananmen Prisoner Released from Psychiatric Hospital

CHRD learned today that Wang Lianxi (王连喜) has been released from Pingan Hospital, a mental institution run by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Xicheng District, Beijing, in early November. Wang, who served 17 years in prison for “arson” during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, had been involuntarily incarcerated at a couple of psychiatric hospitals since July 3, 2008.

When Wang was released from prison in 2007, his responsibilities fell on the Xicheng District Judicial Bureau and his Neighborhood Committee in Beijing, because his parents passed away and his wife and children left him during his imprisonment. The local authorities first accommodated him in a small apartment. But when space ran out and the Olympics approached, Wang was sent to a psychiatric institution to prevent him from “making trouble” during the Games. (CHRD)[v]

One More Hebei Villager Detained Following Resistance against Land Requisition

CHRD learned today that local police has seized Dong Bei (懂辈), a villager in South Liugezhuang Village, Nandayuan Town, Baoding City, Hebei Province yesterday. Residents of Liugezhuang Village have been active for years in opposing the illegal requisition of village land by local officials and the construction on the disputed land. On November 9, more than a hundred Nandayuan policemen and government officials entered the construction site and started beating the villagers. Over a dozen villagers were injured as they tried to resist the violence. In addition to Dong, three other villagers, Zhong Jiucheng (种九成), Zhong Qing (种庆) and a woman whose name has not been verified, have been detained since November 7 in connection to the villagers’ resistance. (CRLW)[vi]

Torture or Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment

Jilin Man Dies in Detention, Wife Alleges Torture

Zhao Shoushan (赵守山), a Changchun City, Jilin Province resident, died while in detention in the early morning hours of October 31. His wife, Ci Haimei (慈海梅), believes that he was tortured to death. On the evening of October 30, Zhao was seized on suspicion of stealing a dog and taken to the Kaifa District police station in Changchun. He died after being interrogated, and police waited until November 1 to inform his wife, at which point they claimed that Zhao had committed suicide. When Ci saw Zhao’s body, however, she reported that he had bruises on his back and waist, injuries to his shoulder and neck, and a swollen face, suggesting he was tortured by police during his interrogation. Ci has been seeking justice for her husband for the past three weeks, yet at the time of writing, police have refused to provide Ci with notes from the interrogation or a copy of the videotape recording of the interrogation. The Changchun procuratorate has yet to act on requests that they perform an autopsy. (CHRD)[vii]

Freedom of Association

Shenzhen Labor NGO Targeted by Tax Authorities

According to Zhang Zhiru (张治儒), the founder of Chunfeng Labor Dispute Service, a workers’ rights NGO in Shenzhen, local tax officials have fined his organization over 48,000 RMB for underpaying their taxes for the past three years. Zhang reports that employees of the Baoan District Tax Bureau collected tax records and financial documents from 2006, 2007, and 2008 on July 21, and, after three months of investigation, determined that Chunfeng owed more than 16,000 RMB in back taxes. Combined with the fine for underpaying their taxes, Chunfeng owes a total of 63,571 RMB. Zhang believes that tax officials were pressured to levy the huge fine on Chunfeng by local Public Security officials, who have been closely monitoring the organization since the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs formally banned it in 2006. Similar to Gongmeng, the Beijing-based NGO closed by the authorities in July, Chunfeng is registered with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, one of the only options available to civil society organizations because of strict registration and oversight requirements associated with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. However, as these two cases demonstrate, officials are increasingly turning to selective enforcement of financial rules to punish groups who overstep their bounds, raising concerns that registration with the SAIC may no longer be a viable option for Chinese NGOs. (CHRD)[viii]

Forced Eviction and Demolition

Tent Village Torn down to Make Way for Guangzhou University Town

On November 25, the tent homes of about a hundred villagers were demolished to make way for the Guangzhou University Town. Guangzhou authorities dispatched between three and four thousands policemen, Urban Inspection Officers (城管), government officials and hired guards to Guolang Village to tear down the tents, setup by the villagers after their houses were demolished in December 2003. The villagers allege that their houses were demolished without proper legal procedures or appropriate compensation. (CRLW)[ix]

Citizens’ Actions

Activists Draft Public Letter to Canadian Prime Minister Urging Focus on Human Rights During Visit

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, is scheduled to make his first visit to China on December 2. Ahead of his visit, a group of international and domestic Chinese human rights activists have drafted a letter calling on him to “re-state Canada’s human rights policy to the Chinese leaders” and take a strong stand on the issue of human rights. For the full text of the letter (in Chinese and English) please click here. (CHRD)

Journalist Wins Landmark Lawsuit against Bureau of Press and Publication

On November 20, the Xuanwu District Court ruled in favor of veteran journalist Zhu Pengyuan (朱鹏元), handing him a landmark victory in his lawsuit against the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication. In 2007, Zhu travelled to Nanjing to report on the efforts of local workers to expose government corruption and illegal detention. A government official implicated in the story was able to influence the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication to fine Zhu 20,000 RMB on trumped-up charges. Zhu immediately challenged the decision, filing a lawsuit on October 26, 2007, asking the courts to rescind this fine. His victory marks a rare success for journalists suing a bureau of press and publication. (CHRD)[x]

Residents Demonstrate Against Plan to Build Garbage Incinerator in Guangdong

As many as one thousand concerned citizens gathered outside of government offices in Guangzhou, Guangdong on the morning of November 23 to protest the planned construction of a garbage incinerator in Panyu County, Guangdong. Thousands more followed the demonstration online, as netizens and citizen journalists used Twitter and other means to continuously post reports and images from the site. The protest was peaceful, as citizens staged a sit-in in front of the offices, carrying signs and shouting slogans. Many are concerned over the lack of dialogue with local residents about the project, and what they worry are efforts by the government to cover up potential health risks. (CHRD)[xi]

Discriminated Against by Family-Planning Law, Xuzhou Woman Challenges Decision in Court

The Quanshan District Court in Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province is set to hear an administrative litigation lawsuit brought by Wang Ying (王莹) against the Tongshan County Family Planning Department after she was the victim of discrimination in her application to join the civil service. Local officials told Wang, a 30-year old former lawyer, that she would not be allowed to join the government because she violated family planning regulations by having a child before marriage. Wang, who had passed all other required examinations, has filed another similar lawsuit against the Xuzhou Municipal Human Resources Department. That suit was rejected; Wang is currently appealing. (CHRD)[xii]

Freedom of Religion

Five House Church Leaders Sentenced to Prison in Shanxi

On November 25, the Linfen Court in Linfen City, Shanxi Province sentenced five house church preachers to between three and seven years in prison. The five—Yang Rongli (杨荣丽), Wang Xuaoguang (王晓光), Cui Jiaxing (崔家星), Zhang Huamei (张花梅), and Yang Xuan (杨旋)—were convicted on charges including “illegally occupying land” and “assembling a crowd to disrupt public order.” The case dates back to the early-morning hours of September 13, when four hundred Fushan County, Linfen City police and hired thugs raided a dormitory building used by the house church as a meeting place, injuring dozens of churchgoers and demolishing rooms. On September 23, Yang Rongli was seized and detained by local police while on his way to petition the provincial government about the incident, and in the following days police proceeded to detain more than 10 other individuals affiliated with the church. Other than the five sentenced today, they have all been released. (CHRD)[xiii]

Freedom of Expression

Beijing Police Extend “Investigation Period” of Liu Xiaobo’s Case for Third Time

On November 23, detained activist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) was notified that police had once again extended the “investigation period” of his case by two months. This is the third time police have extended the “investigation period” since Liu was formally arrested for “inciting subversion of state power” on June 23, and the last time the period can be extended, according to the Criminal Procedural Law. Liu met with his lawyers Shang Baojun (尚宝军) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) on November 25 at Beijing’s Number One Detention Center, again with police present during their conversation. For more information on Liu Xiaobo’s extended detention, please click here. (CHRD)[xiv]

Harassment of Petitioners

Interceptors in Beijing Seize Henan AIDS Petitioners

A group of petitioners from Henan who contracted AIDS as a result of tainted blood transfusions were seized by interceptors from their respective hometowns at the Ministry of Health in Beijing on Wednesday, CHRD has learned. Their current whereabouts are unknown. More than 30 petitioners had traveled to the capital from Henan to petition at the Ministry of Health, and those that were not taken away on Wednesday afternoon were being kept under close surveillance by police and security guards. (CHRD)[xv]

Law and Policy Watch

Xinhua Magazine Reports on “Black Jails” in Beijing

Outlook Weekly (《瞭望》新闻周刊), a publication of the Xinhua News Agency, ran a story on November 24 detailing the use of “black jails” by government interceptors to detain petitioners in Beijing, though the article referred to black jails by a different name. While the content of the story will be familiar to readers of CHRB, the fact that an official news agency has printed a report on the use of black jails—even as the Chinese government continues to officially deny their existence—may indicate a change in the attitude of officials towards these illegal institutions. Though the article does not use the term “black jails,” instead calling them “a chain of gray enterprises” (灰色产业链), some activists are hopeful that this story heralds relaxed restrictions with regards to black jails for the domestic media, and that papers and TV stations will be allowed to further report on abuses taking place in black jails around the country. (CHRD)[xvi]

Liaoning Court Convicts Four Police Officers of Torture, But Punishments Do Not Fit Crime

According to a Xinhua report, on November 17 the Baita District Court in Liaoyang City, Liaoning Province found four Henan police officers guilty of torturing to extract a confession after a suspect died in police custody. The officers were given suspended sentences and released. On April 3, 2009, the four officers drove the suspect, surnamed Zhai (), from Henan to Liaoyang, where, with the cooperation of local police, they detained and interrogated him in a local hotel. During the interrogation, the police tortured Zhai with electric shocks. Zhai began having trouble breathing and was rushed to a local hospital, where he died. In ruling on the case, the Baita judge noted the appraisal of medical experts at China Medical University, who stated that Zhai’s underlying heart condition, and not the torture, caused his death. (Xinhua)[xvii]

While it is an encouraging sign that Chinese courts are hearing and ruling on cases of torture, this particular case raises a number of troubling issues. Primarily, the fact that these four police officers were given such light sentences—either one or two years in prison, immediately suspended—when their illegal actions were directly connected to the death of a detainee is disheartening. Furthermore, this torture took place in a hotel room, rather than an interrogation facility (where videotaping of interrogations is now required), further limiting the amount of evidence that could be used in the trial.

Supreme People’s Court Issues Opinion Calling on Lower Courts to Hear Administrative Litigation Suits

On November 16, the Supreme People’s Court issued an opinion on “protecting the right of citizens to file administrative litigation lawsuits.” Aimed at addressing public furor over frequent instances of courts refusing to accept these suits, used to challenge decisions made under the administrative litigation law, the opinion called on courts at all levels to not use “arbitrary excuses” to limit the scope of administrative litigation lawsuits they choose to accept. Courts were instructed not to refuse lawsuits clearly permitted under present guidelines “without authorization.” (Beijing News)[xviii]

CHRD has, in the past, reported on numerous cases of citizens whose lawsuits have been categorically rejected: for example, petitioners sent to RTL who file administrative litigation lawsuits challenging that decision. While, on the surface, this opinion would seem to directly address these sorts of issues, one lawyer contacted for comment by CHRD noted that, without independent oversight, there is still little hope of ensuring that courts will follow the law; after all, this opinion only reinforces regulations presently in place under the current administrative litigation law. Furthermore, a number of loopholes still exist which courts can exploit to prevent citizens from filing their lawsuits: for example, if a court does not issue a formal document officially notifying a plaintiff that his or her suit has been rejected, there is no way for that individual to challenge the court’s refusal to act on their lawsuit.

Correction: Last Thursday’s CHRB inaccurately described the detention of former 1989 pro-democracy movement student leader Zhou Yongjun (周勇军). Zhou was seized on September 30, 2008 by Hong Kong Immigration officials while crossing into Hong Kong and transferred to mainland authorities, not while attempting to cross from Hong Kong into Shenzhen.

Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang

News updates from CHRD:

Reining in Civil Society: The Chinese government’s use of laws and regulations to persecute freedom of association

CHRD Yearbook:

[i] “Qi Zhiyong, Beijing Activist Handicapped Because of June 4, Prevented from Undergoing Surgery During Detention (北京六四伤残人士齐志勇在禁锢中做手术),” November 21, 2009,

[ii] “Clash Between Qianjiang Villagers and Police Late at Night (湖北潜江市深夜警察与村民发生冲突),” November 22, 2009,

[iii] “Shenzhen Workers with Silicosis in Difficult Position Because of Rights-Defense Activities (深圳矽肺病工人维权陷困境),” November 22, 2009,

[iv] “Hubei Petitioner Huang Cuihua Detained in Psychiatric Hospital Four Times by Government (湖北访民黄翠华被政府4次关精神病院),” November 24, 2009,

[v] “Mr. Wang Lianxi, a ‘Violent June Fourth Protestor’, was Released from Hospital (“六四暴徒”王连喜先生出院),” November 26, 2009,

[vi] “One Villager Taken into Custody following Fresh Conflict over Land Requisition in Liugezhuang Village, Baoding, Hebei (河北保定刘阁庄征地再 起冲突一村民被抓走),” November 26, 2009,

[vii] “Changchun City, Jilin Province Resident Dies Tragically in PSB Interrogation Room (吉林省长春市市民惨死公安局审讯室),” November 21, 2009,

[viii] “After the Inspection of Beijing’s Gongmeng, Shenzhen’s Chunfeng Faces Same Lot (北京公盟被查之后,深圳春风面临相同命运),” November 24, 2009,

[ix] “Several Thousands Participated in the Forced Demolition of Two Villages at the Site of Guangzhou University Town (广 州大学城郭朗村等二村遭数千人强拆),” November 25, 2009,

[x] “First Case of Journalist Successfully Suing a Bureau of Press and Publication (全国首起记者状告出版局维权案件获得成功),” November 21, 2009,

[xi] “Panyu, Guangdong Residents Opposed to Garbage Incinerator Construction Stage Sit-in Protest (广东番禺反对建垃圾焚烧厂的市民开始静坐抗争),” November 23, 2009,

[xii] “After Failing Political Examination for Having a Child Before Marriage, Wang Ying’s Administrative Litigation Lawsuit to be Heard (先育后婚未通过政审 王莹行政诉讼案将开庭),” November 24, 2009,

[xiii] “Five Christians Sentenced in Linfen, Shanxi Missionary Case (山西临汾教案五基督徒被判刑),” November 26, 2009,

[xiv] “Investigation Period Once Again Extended for Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波再被延长刑侦期),” November 25, 2009,

[xv] “Henan AIDS Petitioners Seized (河南艾滋病上访者被分别控制),” November 25, 2009,

[xvi] “Interceptors’ ‘Grey Properties’ Already Large-Scale Problem; Seriously Tarnishes Government’s Image (接访“灰色产业链”已成规模 严重损害政府形象),” November 24, 2009,

[xvii] “Four Henan Police Officers Sentenced in Liaoning Case of Torturing Suspect to Death (河南四民警因刑讯逼供致死案在辽宁被判刑),” November 17, 2009,

[xviii] “Supreme People’s Court Dispatch on Guaranteeing ‘Citizens’ Right to Appeal to the Government’ (最高院发文保障“民告官”),” November 16, 2009,

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