China Human Rights Briefings December 12-18, 2009Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefings December 12-18, 2009
China Human Rights Briefing
December 12-18, 2009
On December 16, friends of imprisoned Shandong rights activist Zhang Jinfeng (张金凤) were barred from meeting with her by officials at the Shandong Province Number One Women’s Re-education through Labor (RTL) Camp. Zhang has not been able to meet with her family, friends, or lawyers since being sent to RTL on March 14. Zhang was sent to RTL for participating in an “illegal assembly” and “disturbing social order” after being detained while taking part in a protest with victims of the Shandong Jizheng Healthcare Products Company pyramid scheme in Shandong’s Jinan City on March 5. She has attempted to file an administrative litigation lawsuit challenging the decision, but courts in Jinan have so far refused to accept her case without explanation. (CHRD)[i]
On the morning of December 17, Chongqing lawyer Zheng Jianwei (郑建伟) was allowed to meet with his client, detained Sichuan land rights activist Liu Zhengyou (刘正有), for the first time since Liu was detained on November 11. Two police officers were present in the room during the meeting. According to Zheng, Liu has not been mistreated in prison and his mental health remains good, but he continues to suffer from high blood pressure. Liu Zhengyou and his wife Hu Yulan (胡玉兰) were formally arrested on suspicion of “fraud” on December 7. (CHRD)[ii]
CHRD learned today that Sichuan democracy activist Chen Yunfei (陈云飞), missing since December 9, was released from police detention on the afternoon of December 15. According to Chen, he was taken from his home by police from the Qingliu Town police station in Xindu District, Chengdu City, and held in the Qingliu Town police station without ever being provided with legal documentation authorizing his detention. Chen also stated he was denied medical attention and beaten while he was detained. (CHRD)[iii]
On the morning of December 10, nine petitioners from Xiangfan City, Hubei Province were seized by police in Beijing’s Sanlitun District and briefly detained in the Sanlitun police station before being forced into a van by a group of unidentified individuals and driven directly back to Xiangfan. Upon returning to Xiangfan the next morning, they were locked in a black jail in Yinji Township by local officials, who threatened to hold them “until death.” At the time when this report was filed, the petitioners remain in detention. (CHRD)[iv]
The second part of the trial of twenty-year old Xue Mingkai (薛明凯) for “subversion of state power” was held in Shenzhen on December 14. The Shenzhen Intermediate Court began Xue’s trial on September 10, 2009. This hearing, which lasted only 20 minutes, consisted solely of the court reading the mental health appraisal of Xue issued by the Shenzhen Department of Justice. The appraisal stated that Xue did not suffer from a mental illness at the time of his alleged crime; according to Xue’s mother, Xue was diagnosed with serious depression and features of schizomania in July 2006. The court has yet to announce a verdict. Xue, a migrant worker originally from Shandong Province’s Qufu City, was charged with “subversion” after allegedly planning to organize a political party called the “China Democratic Workers’ Party” with online friends in the summer of 2006 and then contacting and joining an overseas democracy organization in early 2009. He has been detained since May 9, 2009. (CHRD)[v]
CHRD learned on the evening of December 14 that Sichuan land rights activist Liu Zhengyou (刘正有) and his wife Hu Yulan (胡玉兰) have been formally arrested. According to Hu’s sister, the family received an arrest notice stating that Liu and Hu had been arrested on suspicion of “fraud,” the same charge used to criminally detain them on November 11 and 27, respectively. The date on the arrest notice was December 7, though it was not delivered to the family until December 11. For more information on the detention of Liu Zhengyou and Hu Yulan, please see here and here. (CHRD)[vi]
The first Sino-American Dialogue on Rule of Law and Human Rights, jointly organized by the China Foundation for Human Rights Development and the US-based National Committee on United States-China Relations, took place this past weekend in Nantong City, Jiangsu Province. While a group of more than 30 Chinese and US legal professionals and scholars met to discuss topics including government transparency, pretrial detention, and labor disputes, police in Nantong increased security efforts to prevent local petitioners from interacting with the attendees. Two Nantong residents who had hoped to expose “black jails” in Nantong, Wang Qin (王琴) and Xia Ping (夏萍), were seized by police and detained in the Luhongzha Detention House. During the same period, seven Nantong petitioners were seized in Beijing and forcibly returned to Nantong, where they were then detained in a black jail operated out of the Ruyi Guesthouse. (CHRD)[vii]
Last week, CHRD reported that Chengdu democracy activist Chen Yunfei (陈云飞) had been seized by police at his home on the morning of December 8 without explanation or legal documentation. Friends of Chen’s report that they have been unable to contact him since that morning, and, as of the afternoon of December 12, he had not returned home. At the time of writing, Chen’s whereabouts remain unknown. (CHRD)[viii]
Anhui democracy activist Zhang Lin (张林), administratively detained by the Bangbu City PSB for 10 days for receiving interviews from foreign media during his deprivation of political rights as part of his sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” was released from the Bangbu City Detention Center on December 13. According to his wife, Fang Cao (方草), a computer and cell phone confiscated from Zhang’s home have not been returned. Zhang was released from prison on August 12, 2009, after serving more than four years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” (CHRD)[ix]
In other news, Guizhou human rights activist Chen Xi (陈西), seized by police on December 7, was released by police the same day, while Zheng Dajing (郑大靖), the Yunxi County, Hubei petitioner-turned-activist seized during Legal Publicity Day events in Beijing and detained in a “black jail” on December 4, was released on December 8.
Three Sichuan villagers have been arrested after coming to the aid of fellow villagers seeking to expose local corruption, CHRD has learned. In October, villagers Li Weiping (李维平) and Li Weiyong (李维勇) from Changle Village, Yongchang Town, Beichuan Qiang Autonomous Region, confronted a local official over the failure of the government to properly notify villagers about the extent of land requisition in areas which were razed following the May 12, 2008 Beichuan earthquake. As a result, they were summoned by police on October 18, 2009. Over 100 of their fellow villagers gathered outside of the police station in protest, and burst into the interrogation room when it was reported that Li Weiyong was being beaten. Villagers Wen Jianju (温建菊), Chen Wenyi (陈文义), and Ren Biqun (任碧群), who were among those present at the scene, were arrested between November 11 and 18, all on suspicion of “impairing official business.” They are currently detained in the Mianyang City Detention Center. (CHRD)[x]
Ning Jiuming (宁久明), a migrant worker from Sanhe Town, Jiangyou City, Sichuan Province, died after a fall while working on the construction of a cement factory in Shaanxi’s Hanzhong City on December 11. When his family members arrived in Hanzhong the next day, representatives from the factory denied any responsibility for his death, and refused to provide the family with compensation as required by law. Family members returned to the factory offices on December 14, where they were met not by factory officials, but by hired thugs who attacked and beat them. Police called to the scene dispersed the individuals responsible for the violence but did not investigate the incident. (CHRD)[xi]
On the morning of December 18, Guangzhou Public Security officers once again arrived at the home of internet activist Bei Feng (北风), where they remained for more than two hours. Police questioned Bei Feng for the second time this week about discussions posted on Twitter regarding bomb-making, and searched his home for explosive materials. Bei Feng reported that police confiscated his cell phone and personal computer. (CHRD)[xii]
In the past few days, police in cities across China have begun contacting signatories of a public letter in support of detained activist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), asking them to “have tea.” Shenzhen activist Zhao Dagong (赵达功), Hangzhou activist Wen Kejian (温克坚), and Guangzhou activist Ye Du (野渡) have all been questioned by National Security officers in their respective cities in the past few days about their involvement with the letter “We Are Willing to Share Responsibility with Liu Xiaobo,” which was published on the internet on December 10 and has been signed by over 500 supporters. Authorities have threatened these activists not to take further actions in support of Liu, whose trial on “inciting subversion of state power” is expected to begin sometime in the next few weeks. To view the letter (in Chinese) as well as the lists of signatories, please see here. (CHRD)[xiii]
On the evening of December 15, Guangzhou blogger and internet activist Bei Feng (北风) and two friends were interrupted while eating dinner by eight plainclothes police officers, who took them away for questioning. According to Bei Feng, police asked him about his use of Twitter, the micro-blogging service, saying they had recently observed Twitter users discussing how to make bombs. Bei Feng was released shortly after midnight, though police warned him to keep in touch for the next five days as they may summon him again for further questioning. The other two individuals were released around 11:20 pm. Bei Feng has been involved in online human rights activism and helping others to use the Internet as tool for sharing information. (CHRD)[xiv]
Visitors to a Sina.com blog which hosted the open letter “We Are Willing to Share Responsibility with Liu Xiaobo” reported yesterday that the blog had been shut down. In place of the letter, which was drafted by Charter 08 signatories in support of detained activist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), the message “Sorry, the page you have requested does not exist or has been deleted,” was displayed. The address of the blog, which also posted a list of individuals who had signed the letter, was http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4a4473a80100gvug.html. The letter and list can still be accessed here. (CHRD)[xv]
On the afternoon of December 14, detained activist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) was able to meet with his lawyers Shang Baojun (尚宝军) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) for the first time since his case was transferred to the Beijing Municipal Procuratorate. This is the sixth time overall that Liu has been allowed to meet with his lawyers since his detention began more than one year ago. According to his lawyers, Liu appeared to be in good mental and physical health. The three discussed the charges included in the indictment against Liu, which he steadfastly refutes. For more information on Liu’s case, please see here. (CHRD)
A collection of lawyers and activists calling themselves the “Support Group of Concerned Citizens about the Case of Li Zhuang” released a public letter to official media outlets, demanding abolition of Article 306 of the Criminal Law and decrying the “trial by press” which they believe is being conducted against Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang (李庄), currently detained on suspicion of “forging evidence.” Article 306 outlines actions (including “forging evidence”) for which lawyers can be prosecuted, and has been used in the past as a tool to persecute lawyers whose work angers or threatens officials. The letter, which also lists instances of biased or incorrect reporting on Li Zhuang’s case and offers suggestions designed to protect the legal rights of both Li Zhuang and other lawyers facing persecution and harassment in similar circumstances, is available here (in Chinese).
With the widely-covered death of Chengdu resident Tang Fuzhen (唐福珍), who set herself on fire to protest the demolition of her home, bringing the issue of forced evictions to the forefront of domestic and international attention once again, CHRD has issued a statement calling for the abolition of the Regulations for Management of Urban Housing Demolition, the administrative regulations governing forced evictions in Chinese cities. The statement demands that, in place of administrative oversight by local officials with ties to developers seeking to maximize their profits, forced evictions be carried out according to laws with “just, timely, and abundant” compensation for evictees as the guiding principal, and that local governments strictly differentiate between evictions carried out for public good and those carried out for commercial gain. For the full text of the statement (in Chinese), please click here.
December 10 marked the 61st anniversary of the publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to honor the occasion, CHRD issued a statement calling on the Chinese government to honor its commitment to “respect and safeguard human rights” by releasing activists and dissidents detained or imprisoned for exercising their freedom of speech, and to revise the Criminal Code of the PRC so that it can no longer be used to criminalize speech. For the full text of the statement (in Chinese), please click here.
On December 10, citizens in Shanghai began a hunger strike in support of Feng Zhenghu (冯正虎), the scholar and longtime rights activist who has been camped out in Tokyo’s Narita airport since early November in protest of the Chinese government’s refusal to allow him to return to China. Hunger strikers are taking turns participating in the protest one day at a time, and donating each day’s worth of money normally reserved for food to a fund in support of Feng. (CHRD)[xvi]
According to a Xinhua report, the Chongqing Procuratorate has approved the arrest of lawyer Li Zhuang (李庄) after his client, alleged mob boss Gong Gangmo (龚刚模), alleged that Li instructed him to lie in court. Li was criminally detained on December 12 on suspicion of violating Article 306 of the Chinese Criminal Law, which states that a lawyer can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if found guilty of “destroying or forging evidence, helping any of the parties destroy or forge evidence, or coercing the witness or enticing him into changing his testimony in defiance of the facts or giving false testimony.” Gong, who is on trial as part of the massive anti-organized crime crackdown in Chongqing, alleged that Li told him to state in court that he had been tortured during his interrogation, and that Li had asked Gong’s family to pay him 20 million to 30 million RMB if Gong escaped a death sentence. (Xinhua)[xvii]
Article 306 of the Chinese Criminal Law has already made practicing criminal law in China a risky business. While this law has been used to threaten, harass, and imprison lawyers in the past, Li Zhuang’s arrest marks the most high-profile case yet.
Beginning December 14, Chinese internet users will no longer be allowed to register individual domain names, announced the China Internet Network Information Center. Existing personal websites are set to be reviewed by internet service providers for “harmful” contents, a move that opens the door for the potential closure of some or all of the privately-owned websites in China. Going forward, only individuals with a business license will be permitted to register a domain name, the organization said. (China Internet Network Information Center)[xviii]
While officials claimed that this effort was designed to target “pornography,” it marks one of the widest-ranging initiatives to restrict the flow of information and censor citizens’ expression online to date. Following closely on the heels of the closure of popular file-sharing sites, it seems that fears raised by a December 1 article by Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱) are being realized. In that article, published in CCP Party School’s Qiushi magazine, Meng called the internet “a significant means of amplifying the destructive capabilities of anti-China forces,” which activists and observers took as a signal that increased censorship and restrictions on internet use were forthcoming.
A group of experts from the All-China Women’s Federation have drafted a proposal for a law aimed at curtailing domestic violence, according to a December 12 China National Radio report. While the 2001 revision of the Marriage Law as well as the 2005 revision of the Law for Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests include clauses stating that the government is responsible for handling cases of domestic violence and providing aid to victims, they remain unspecific about measures to be taken to punish offenders in these cases. The proposed legislation includes definitions of different categories of domestic violence as well as concrete procedures to be followed by government officials in dealing with allegations of domestic violence. (China National Radio)[xix]
Domestic violence is a serious issue in China and part of the reason it is so widespread is the lack of effective legal protection for victims and specific measures of punishment of offenders. Legislation alone is not enough to effectively combat this problem; along with promulgating this law, the government should implement social policies designed at preventing domestic violence and providing support for victims.
Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang
News updates from CHRD: https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/Index.html
Reining in Civil Society: The Chinese government’s use of laws and regulations to persecute freedom of association
CHRD Yearbook 2007-2008:
[i] “Shandong RTL Camp Refuses to Allow Visits by Family and Friends of Zhang Jinfeng (山东劳教所拒绝张金凤的亲友探视),” December 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091217101135_18919.html
[ii] “Lawyer Breaks Through Obstacles to Meet with Sichuan Activist Liu Zhengyou (律师冲破阻挠会见四川维权人士刘正有),” December 17, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091217235107_18933.html
[iii] “Chen Yunfei’s Six Days of Illegal Detention (陈云飞被非法囚禁六天的经历 ),” December 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091216102241_18901.html
[iv] “Hubei Petitioners in Beijing Seized by Unidentified Individuals and Detained in ‘Black Jail’ (湖北在京访民被不明身份人押回关“黑监狱”), December 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/fmzj/200912/20091216171105_18906.html
[v] “Mentally Ill Youth Tried for ‘Subversion of State Power’ (精神病青年被以涉嫌“颠覆国家政权”审判) ,” December 15, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091215182404_18885.html
“Sichuan Activist Liu Zhengyou and Wife Hu Yulan Formally Arrested (四川维权人士刘正有的妻子胡玉兰被逮捕),” December 14, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091214223043_18870.html[vi]
[vii] “Large Number of Petitioners Seized During Sino-American Dialogue on Rule of Law and Human Rights in Nantong (南通“中美法治与人权研讨会”期间大抓访民),” December 14, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091214110459_18858.html
[viii] “Breaking News: Sichuan Democracy Activist Chen Yunfei Missing for Four Days (快讯：四川维权人士陈云飞失踪4天),” December 12, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/article/Class53/200912/20091212202145_18837.html
[ix] “Anhui Democracy Activist Zhang Lin Completes Detention, Returns Home (安徽民主人士张林被解除拘留回到家中),” December 13, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class20/200912/20091213190554_18851.html
[x] “Beichuan Villagers Arrested over Outrage at Local Officials’ Abuse of Power and Land Grabs (北川村民因不满干部在征地中以权谋私被捕),” December 13, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091213232423_18855.html
[xi] “Sichuan Migrant Worker Dies in Workplace Accident, Family Beaten After Travelling Vast Distance to Defend Rights (四川农民工因工伤死亡 家属千里维权反遭殴打 ),” December 16, 2009,(https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091216175034_18907.html)
[xii] “Police Summon, Search Home of Network Engineer Bei Feng (网络工程师北风被公安抄家传唤),” December 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091218171217_18947.html
[xiii] “Some Signatories of ‘We Are Willing to Share Responsibility with Liu Xiaobo’ Called in for ‘Tea’ (一些联署《我们愿与刘晓波共同承担责任》者“被喝茶”),” December 18, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/lingbaxianzhang/200912/20091218235308_18952.html
[xiv] “Network Engineer Bei Feng Summoned for Using Twitter (因使用推特网络工程师“北风”被传唤),” December 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091216083803_18894.html
[xv] “Blog Hosting Petition in Support of Liu Xiaobo Shut Down (声援刘晓波联署声明的新浪博客被封杀 ),” December 16, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091216100245_18897.html
[xvi] “Shanghai Citizens Go on Hunger Strike in Support of Feng Zhenghu’s Right to Return Home (上海市民绝食声援冯正虎回国、回家),” December 11, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091211074209_18806.html
[xvii] “Arrest Authorized for Beijing Lawyer in Chongqing Organized-Crime Case (“重庆涉黑案”北京代理律师被批捕),” December 14, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2009-12/14/content_12642859.htm
[xviii] “Personal Registration of Websites Takes a ‘Winding Road’ (私人注册域名得走“曲线”了),” December 15, 2009, http://news.163.com/09/1215/02/5QHSPT00000120GR.html
[xix] “All-China Women’s Federation Organization of Experts Drafts Proposal for Anti-Domestic Violence Law (全国妇联组织专家草拟预防和制止家庭暴力法),” December 11, 2009, http://www.cnr.cn/allnews/200912/t20091211_505745656.html