China Human Rights Briefings December 19-23, 2009

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China Human Rights Briefing

December 19-23, 2009

Freedom of Expression/Right to a Fair Trial

Harassment of Activists

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Association and Assembly

Arbitrary Detention

Legal Rights

Citizens’ Actions

Freedom of Expression/Right to a Fair Trial

Liu Xiaobo Tried for “Inciting Subversion of State Power;” Verdict Expected on Friday

The trial of Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), for “inciting subversion of state power” took place on December 23 at the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. The hearing, which lasted approximately three hours, from 9 am until noon, ended without a verdict, though Liu’s lawyer Shang Baojun (尚宝军) reported that the court said the verdict would be announced on Friday. However, more details about the court proceedings are not currently available; following the hearing, Shang and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎), Liu’s other lawyer, were led away from the courthouse by an official from the Beijing Lawyers’ Association who ordered them not to speak to the media until the verdict was announced.[i] According to a lawyer contacted by CHRD, there is no law prohibiting lawyers from discussing a case with the media. He called the actions of the Ministry of Justice (which supervises the Beijing Lawyers’ Association) “illegal interference with the rights of lawyers as well as the public’s right to learn the facts regarding Liu’s case.”It is believed that the Chinese government is attempting to minimize international reaction to Liu’s sentencing by announcing the verdict on Christmas, when many foreign diplomats and members of the media will have left Beijing for vacation. Some activists have also pointed out that police have instructed them not to leave their homes for a period of three days (December 23, 24, and 25), suggesting that the verdict will be announced within that time frame. Supporters are concerned that these actions may indicate that Liu will be given a lengthy sentence. (CHRD)

Over One Hundred Gather Outside Courthouse, Trial Followed Closely on Twitter

Outside the courthouse, over one hundred supporters gathered to show their solidarity with Liu Xiaobo. While many prominent Chinese dissidents and activists were already under house arrest and were unable to travel to the courthouse (for a list of supporters barred from attending, please see the December 22 edition of CHRB as well as our pre-trial press release, available here), well-known artist and activist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) was able to reach the courthouse around 11 am. He left after a few minutes, without speaking to reporters or supporters.[ii]

Members of the media were restricted to an enclosed area by police, though pictures taken at the scene show that some journalists were able to record the crowd outside the courthouse and conduct interviews. Foreign diplomats, including representatives of Canada, the United States, and several EU nations arrived at the courthouse despite having been denied permits to attend the trial. At least a dozen citizen journalists provided running updates on developments at the scene via Twitter, the microblogging service. Tweets with the hash mark #freeliuxiaobo ran into the thousands as information circulated across the internet. (CHRD)

Police Seize Supporters and Petitioners; Total Numbers Unknown

While there were no reports of violence outside the courthouse, there was a sizable police presence and many, perhaps dozens, of citizens were seized by police, some while en route to the courthouse. While CHRD cannot give a definite number of individuals detained over the course of the trial, we can confirm the following cases:

  • Internet activist Liu Di (刘荻, aka “Stainless Steel Rat”), who was previously placed under residential surveillance, managed to leave her home in the early morning hours but was seized by police shortly after 9 am.[iii]
  • Columnist Mo Zhixu (莫之许) and lawyer Teng Biao (滕彪) were seized from the crowd by police.
  • The wife of dissident writer Jiang Qisheng (江棋生) was taken away from the courthouse; Jiang was under house arrest and unable to attend.
  • Jiangxi petitioner-turned-activist Zhu Juru (朱菊如) was taken to Babaoshan police station, and later transferred to Majialou, a central black jail for petitioners, before being released. According to Zhu, other petitioners, Charter 08 signatories, and supporters wearing yellow ribbons were being held.[iv] It is believed that dozens of petitioners were seized throughout the day.[v]

Supporters of Liu Xiaobo wore yellow ribbons as a sign of solidarity with Liu, and some outside the courthouse distributed ribbons to those arriving at the scene. Liu Yanping (刘艳萍), Shi Jing (石婧), and Zhang Rui (张瑞), volunteers working with Ai Weiwei, were taken away for wearing yellow ribbons; phone calls to the Lugu Police Station, where they were being held, were answered by a police officer who said that wearing the ribbons in support of Liu was “a mistake” and that police had a responsibility to “educate” the supporters.[vi] Earlier, netizen Gu Chunxia (贾春霞), of Tangshan City, Hubei Province, was seized by police after exiting the Babaoshan Subway Station because she was wearing a yellow ribbon. (CHRD)[vii]

CHRD continues to learn of cases of activists across the country who have been harassed by police in the days surrounding Liu’s trial. On the afternoon of December 21, National Security officers in Yibin City, Sichuan Province arrived at the home of Yuan Juan (袁娟), a Charter 08 signatory, threatening her to “think of her child” and end her efforts to support Liu Xiaobo. Also on December 21, Guangxi activist Duan Qixian (端启宪) was called in for talks with local National Security officials, who warned him not to do anything in support of Liu Xiaobo during Liu’s trial.[viii]

Harassment of Activists

On Eve of Liu Xiaobo’s Trial, Police Threaten and Harass Supporters

In a press release on December 21, CHRD reported on a number of activists and supporters of Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) who had been contacted by police and threatened against organizing any shows of support online or in front of the court during the trial, scheduled for 9 am on December 23. Today, CHRD has learned of more cases of Liu’s supporters—including Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦), Gao Yu (高瑜), Yu Jie (余杰), Zhang Hui (张辉), Hu Shigen (胡石根), Zhang Lin (张林), Tian Yongde (田永德), Jiang Peikun (蒋培坤), Ding Zilin (丁子霖), Bao Tong (鲍彤), and others—being placed under tight surveillance or warned to stay home by police ahead of the trial.

Police warned some of these supporters not to leave their homes in the next three days, and explicitly forbade them from traveling to Beijing Number One Intermediate Court, where Liu’s trial will be held. One activist was told that police would block supporters “at all costs” from reaching the courthouse. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), who was denied a permit to attend her husband’s trial on the grounds that she was a “witness” for the prosecution, was told that National Security officers would visit her home this evening for “a chat.” (CHRD and CRLW)[ix]

On the morning of December 21, Suining City, Sichuan Province activists Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌) and Deng Yonggu (邓永固) were separately contacted by local National Security officers on December 21. Police warned both activists against participating in any activities to support detained activist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), whose trial for “inciting subversion of state” power is scheduled to be held on the morning of December 23. CHRD has received similar reports from activists across the country; for a list of individuals harassed and threatened on the eve of Liu Xiaobo’s trial, please see our press release, available here. (CHRD)[x]

Freedom of Expression

Philosopher Loses Research Position at CASS for Academic Visits Abroad

Noted philosopher and constitutional scholar Zhang Boshu (张博树) has been informed by the Institute of Philosophy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences that he must leave his position as a researcher within three months. According to Zhang, he has been dismissed by the Academy for taking part in two academic exchanges overseas, one with an American university and one with a Japanese university. Zhang was given notice on December 21, and must leave the Academy by March 20, 2010. (CHRD)[xi]

Beijing Activist and Founder of Website for Victims of Tainted Milk Scandal Formally Arrested

CHRD learned today that Zhao Lianhai (赵连海), Beijing activist, was formally arrested on December 17. Zhao is the founder of the website “Kidney Stone Babies” (Jieshi Baobao, 结石宝宝), which is dedicated to defending the rights of children who became ill after drinking tainted milk as well as their families. Zhao was criminally detained on November 14, 2009. According to Zhao’s wife, Li Xuemei (李雪梅), the family has yet to receive a formal arrest notice from the police. (CHRD)[xii]

Freedom of Association and Assembly

Beijing Police Bar Dissidents from Social Gathering

A group of Beijing dissidents including Cha Jianguo (查建国) and Gao Hongming (高洪明) were prevented from gathering for lunch on December 20 by local police, CHRD has learned. Officers stationed outside Cha and Gao’s homes would not allow them to leave, while other dissidents, including Yan Zhengxue (严正学) and Gu Jianying (贾建英) were warned by police not to take part in the gathering. Police left Cha and Gao’s homes around 6 pm on the evening of December 20. (CHRD)[xiii]

Arbitrary Detention

Wife of Imprisoned Activist Hu Jia Visits Hu in Prison, Reports Health Remains Poor

On December 22, Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕)), wife of imprisoned HIV/AIDS and human rights activist Hu Jia (胡佳), was able to visit her husband at Beijing City Prison. Zeng, who also brought the couple’s young daughter, reported that a recent medical check-up showed that Hu’s health continues to be poor, as he is not receiving adequate treatment for Hepatitis B. As of December 27, Hu will have served two years of his three-and-a-half-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” (Zeng Jinyan)[xiv]

Beijing Activist Released after One Month of Detention for Photographing Petitioners

CHRD learned today that Beijing activist Yang Qiuyu (杨秋雨) has been released following one month of detention for “disrupting social order”. Yang was seized while photographing large groups of petitioners outside of a government office in Beijing on November 11. After an interrogation, police took Yang to the Dewai Police Station under the Xicheng Public Security Bureau (PSB), where he was criminally detained for 30 days. Yang remains on bail awaiting trial. (CHRD)[xv]

Guangxi Petitioner Reports Being Held in Beijing Black Jail

On December 20, Zhang Yaochun (张耀春), a petitioner from Beihai City, Guangxi Province, reported by text message that she was being held along with more than 50 other petitioners in a Beijing “black jail” operated by the Beijing Liaison Office of the Guangxi Provincial Government. According to Zhang, who stated she was seized on December 16, the black jail is located in a warehouse belonging to the Kaida Decoration Company, on East Hongfang Lane, near the South Fourth Ring Road in Beijing. Zhang also reported that guards at the “black jail” had beaten and abused the petitioners. (CHRD)[xvi]

Shanghai Activist Shen Peilan Detained Five Days in Black Jail

Shanghai petitioner-turned-activist Shen Peilan (沈佩兰) was seized on December 16 and detained for five days in a “black jail” in Shanghai’s Songjiang District. According to Shen, she learned from guards that she was detained because officials were concerned she may attempt to travel to Macau during a visit by President Hu Jintao (胡锦涛). Shen, a longtime petitioner, has been harassed and detained on numerous occasions for reporting on illegal collusion between local government officials and developers in land deals in Jiangsu Province’s Maqiao Town. (CHRD)[xvii]

Legal Rights

Lawyer for Li Zhuang Requests Trial be Moved out of Chongqing

After meeting with his client for the first time on December 20, Gao Zicheng (高子程), defense lawyer for Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang (李庄) submitted a request to the Jiangbei District Court in Chongqing on December 21, asking to move his client’s trial to a different location. Gao argued that, since the procuratorate responsible for investigating allegations against Li is responsible for investigating allegations that Li’s original client, Gong Gangmo (龚刚模) was tortured, a conflict of interest exists which may negatively impact Li’s case. Gao also pointed out that both cases may eventually be heard by the same court, the Chongqing Number One Intermediate Court. Court officials have yet to respond to this request. 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 Gangmo told police that Li had instructed him to lie in court that he was tortured during interrogations. (CHRD)[xviii]

Citizens’ Actions

Netizens Launch Yellow Ribbon Action as Show of Solidarity with Liu Xiaobo

As authorities increase their efforts to prevent citizens from supporting Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) during his trial for “inciting subversion of state power” on December 23, a group of netizens are fighting back, calling on all concerned citizens to attend Liu’s trial or protest outside of local government offices. As a show of solidarity, the organizers have asked that everyone wear a yellow ribbon as a show of support for Liu; twitter users can add a yellow ribbon to their profile by visiting (CHRD)[xix]

AIDS NGOs Issue Public Letter Protesting Closure of Websites Regarding Homosexuality

A group of Chinese NGOs working on AIDS issues has issued an open letter regarding the recent closure of a number of websites run by, for, and about homosexuals. According to the letter, the sites had been closed because authorities declared that websites about homosexuality were “illegal,” and their content “pornographic and obscene.” The letter points out that the Criminal Law of the PRC was revised in 1997 to remove articles which declared homosexuality illegal, and that discrimination against these sites clearly violates the constitutionally-guaranteed right to free expression. The letter, which calls for an immediate end to the crackdown on websites with content about homosexuality and a renewal of the operations of those sites already closed, is available in its entirety here (in Chinese).

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 2007-2008:

[i] “Special Alert: Verdict in Liu Xiaobo’s Case to be Announced Friday (特别关注:刘晓波案本周五宣判),” December 23, 2009,

[ii] “Ai Weiwei Arrives at Courthouse for Liu Xiaobo’s Trial (艾未未到达刘晓波案庭审现场),” December 23, 2009,

[iii] “‘Charter 08’ Signatory Liu Di Seized at Trial of Liu Xiaobo (《零八宪章》联署人刘荻参加刘晓波案开庭被抓),” December 23, 2009,

[iv] “Petitioner Xhu Juru Seized for Supporting Liu Xiaobo (声援刘晓波先生的访民朱菊如被抓),” December 23, 2009,

[v] “Trial of Liu Xiaobo Ends (刘晓波案庭审结束),” December 23, 2009,

[vi] “Police Call Yellow Ribbons a ‘Mistake,” Clear Photographs of Many Groups Outside of the Hearing (警察说佩带黄丝带错误 庭审现场多组清晰图片),” December 23, 2009

[vii] “Hebei Netizen Gu Chunxia Seized by Police Outside of Number 1 Intermediate Court (河北籍网友贾春霞在北京一中院外被警察带走),” December 23, 2009,

[viii] “Yibin, Sichuan National Security Officials Demand End to Support for Liu Xiaobo, Threaten Child (四川宜宾国保拿孩子威胁不要声援刘晓波),” December 23, 2009,

[ix] “Police Call Friends and Family of Liu Xiaobo for Talks, Place Restrictions on Freedom on Eve of Trial (刘晓波开庭前夕 家属亲友纷纷遭警方约谈,限制人身自由),” December 22, 2009, and “Many Domestic Dissidents Have Been Summoned For Talks, Tea, or Placed under Surveillance because of Liu Xiaobo’s Trial (国内多名异议人士因刘晓波案遭约谈喝茶限制自由),” December 22, 2009,

[x] “On Eve of Liu Xiaobo Trial, Liu Xianbin Called for ‘Tea’ (刘晓波开庭前夕 刘贤斌被国保约“喝茶” ),” December 21, 2009, and “Sichuan Activist Deng Yonggu Warned by National Security Officers (四川维权人士邓永固被国保警告),” December 21, 2009

[xi] “Constitutional Government Scholar Zhang Boshu Fired for Participating in International Academic Exchange (因参加国际学术交流宪政学家张博树被“解职”),” December 22, 2009,

[xii] “Zhao Lianhai, Founder of Kidney Stone Babies, Arrested (结石宝宝之父赵连海被逮捕),” December 21, 2009,

[xiii] “Beijing Police Obstruct Dissident Lunch Meeting (北京警方阻止异议人士聚餐),” December 20, 2009,

[xiv] “We Are All One Family (我们是一家人 ),” December 22, 2009,

[xv] “Beijing Activist Yang Qiuyu Detained Thirty Days (北京维权人士杨秋雨被拘留三十天),”

[xvi] “Beihai, Guangxi Petitioner Detained in ‘Black Jail (广西北海访民被关“黑监狱”),” December 20, 2009,

[xvii] “Hu Jintao Visits Macau, I Was Illegally Kidnapped and Detained in a Black Jail for Five Days 胡锦涛到澳门,我被非法绑架关黑监狱5),” December 20, 2009,

[xviii] “Defense Lawyer Requests Trial of Li Xhuang Be Held in Different Jurisdiction (辩护律师申请异地审理李庄案),” December 22, 2009,

[xix] “Netizens Launch Yellow Ribbon Action as Show of Solidarity with Liu Xiaobo (网友发起与晓波同行的黄丝带行动),” December 22, 2009,

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