China Human Rights Briefings December 24-30, 2009

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China Human Rights Briefing

December 24-30, 2009

Arbitrary Detention

Legal Rights

Freedom of Expression

Harassment of Activists

Citizens’ Actions

Law and Policy Watch

Arbitrary Detention

More than 50 Days after Trial, No Verdict for Fujian Activists as Fan Yanqionq’s Health Worsens

On December 30, lawyers Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) and Jiang Yunfu (姜运福) visited detained activists Fan Yanqiong (范燕琼), and You Jingyou (游精佑) in the Mawei District, Fuzhou City Detention Center. The lawyers report that Fan Yanqiong’s health remains extremely poor (she is having difficulty walking and her kidney disease is worsening) despite improved care in the detention center. The authorities continue to refuse to grant her a release on bail for medical treatment. Fan and You, along with Wu Huaying (吴华英), were taken into custody between June 26, 2009, and July 5, 2009, after they posted articles online in which they accused local officials of misconduct in handling the suspicious death of Yan Xiaoling (严晓玲), a young woman from Minqing County, Fujian. They were tried for “making false accusations” on November 11, but the court has yet to issue a verdict. According to Jiang, a judge at the Mawei District Court told him that the verdict would be delivered by January 7. Three separate requests for the activists to be released on bail to await the verdict have been rejected. (CHRD)[i]

Sentences Upheld for Activist Duan Chunfang and Dissident Guo Quan Following Closed Appeals

On December 25, the Jiangsu Province Higher Court upheld the sentence of Nanjing dissident Guo Quan (郭泉) in a closed hearing. Guo, a former professor at Nanjing Normal University who organized the Xinmin Party, a political party, was sentenced to ten years in prison for “subversion of state power” on October 16, 2009.

On December 24, Shanghai activist Duan Chunfang (段春芳) was notified by her lawyer that the Shanghai Intermediate Court had upheld her sentence in a closed hearing on December 15. Duan was sentenced to a year and a half in prison on October 23, 2009, for “obstructing official business” after police alleged she attacked a police officer. It is believed that Duan’s conviction stems from efforts by officials to punish her for persistent petitioning and organizing other petitioners to defend their rights. (CHRD)[ii]

Liu Xiaobo Meets with Lawyers for First Time since Sentence, Plans to Appeal

On the afternoon of December 28, imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) met with his lawyers Shang Baojun (尚宝军) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) for the first time since he was sentenced on December 25. The meeting, which took place at Beijing Number One Detention Center, lasted approximately one hour. According to his lawyers, Liu Xiaobo hesitated, then decided to appeal his sentence. The lawyers left Liu with the proper forms to begin the appeals process. (CHRD)[iii]

Legal Rights

Li Zhuang, Lawyer for Alleged Mob Boss, Tried for ‘Forging Evidence’

On the morning of December 30, Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang (李庄) was tried for “forging evidence and impairing testimony” in Chongqing’s Jiangbei District People’s Court. Li, who entered a plea of not guilty, was represented in court by lawyers Chen Youxi (陈有西) and Gao Zicheng (高子程). More than 40 reporters and lawyers were able to attend the hearing. Gao Zicheng had earlier requested that the Jiangbei District Court move the trial to a different location, a request which was rejected by the court.

Li was criminally detained on December 12 and later arrested after his client, alleged Chongqing mob boss Gong Gangmo (龚刚模) told police that Li had instructed him to lie in court that he was tortured during interrogation by police officers. None of the eight witnesses sought by Li and his lawyers, including Gong Gangmo, agreed to appear in court, and officials at the Jiangbei District Detention Center, where Li met with Gong, reported that recordings of the meetings in which Li allegedly instructed Gong to lie were not available. It is not currently known when the court will announce a verdict. According to Article 306 of the Chinese Criminal Law, 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.” (CHRD)[iv]

Fujian Officials Suspend License of Lawyer for Defending Activist in “Sensitive” Case

On December 17, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province Department of Justice officials suspended the license of Fuzhou lawyer Lin Hongnan (林洪楠) for one year. Lin Hongnan, a longtime human rights lawyer, most recently represented Fujian activist Wu Huaying (吴华英) during her trial for “making false charges” in connection with articles Wu and others wrote accusing local officials of misconduct in handling the suspicious death of Yan Xiaoling (严晓玲), a young woman from Minqing County, Fujian. Ahead of that trial, Department of Justice officials had warned Lin that he may be punished for providing copies of documents containing “state secrets” to Wu’s family, and of leaking information about the trial to overseas websites. (CHRD)[v]

Freedom of Expression

Online Messaging Account of Hubei Activist Blocked

In the days following Liu Xiaobo’s conviction, netizens have used a variety of internet services, including Twitter and the Chinese internet chat room/bulletin board and messaging service QQ, to discuss and spread information about the case. One netizen, Hubei-based activist Liu Yiming (刘逸明, real name Xiong Zhongjun [熊忠俊]), is concerned that officials are taking steps to limit his use of QQ. When Liu attempted to log into his QQ account on December 30, he received a message stating that his edition of the QQ program was no longer working, and asking him to download an updated version. However, when Liu used his friend’s usernames to log in on the same version of the program, he experienced no problems. (CHRD)[vi]

Authorities Close Rights-Defense Site under Pretext of ‘Anti-Pornography’ Campaign

On December 22, the server hosting the website China Voice of the People Net (中国民声网, http://www.chinavoice.org/ ) was shut as part of the “anti-pornography” campaign run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Based on the experiences of similar websites closed recently, China Voice of the People Net may be out of service for as long as one week. The website’s manager protested the closure, noting that China Voice of the People Net is a legally-registered website, and that the government is infringing upon their constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of expression. (CHRD)[vii]

Harassment of Activists

Sichuan Democracy Activist Summoned by Police, Questioned about Support for Liu Xiaobo

Sichuan democracy activist Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌) was summoned by Suining City National Security officers on December 30, CHRD has learned. Police questioned Liu for approximately one and a half hours about articles he had published on the overseas websites “Democratic China (民主中国)” and “Beijing Spring (北京之春)” as well as a statement on Liu Xiaobo’s recent sentence which Liu Xianbin had signed. Police had visited Liu Xianbin’s home prior to Liu Xiaobo’s trial to warn him against participating in any activities in support of Liu. (CHRD)[viii]

Citizens’ Actions

Activists Plan to Turn Themselves in to Police in Solidarity with Liu Xiaobo

A group of Charter 08 signatories and supporters of Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), including Yang Yong (扬勇), of Jiangxi, Li Ding (李定), of Hunan, Chen Xi (陈西), of Guizhou, and Duan Xixian (端启宪), of Guangxi, were released on December 29 after being seized by police in their hometowns on December 25 and detained for four days to prevent them from travelling to Beijing. The four, along with six others, had planned to turn themselves in to police as “accomplices” to Liu Xiaobo in a show of support during his trial. Other members of the group had been placed under surveillance by local police. The ten now plan to turn themselves in at courts in their respective cities and ask to be imprisoned along with Liu Xiaobo for signing Charter 08. (CHRD)[ix]

Updates on Popular Support of Liu Xiaobo, Trial Documents Now Available

A fellow Charter 08 signatory, Wen Kejian (温克坚) of Hangzhou, has asked to be allowed to testify at Liu’s appeal trial since the court’s verdict paper has listed him as a witness for the prosecution.[x]

College students at Liu Xiaobo’s alma mater, Jilin University, have actively spoken out in support of Liu Xiaobo in recent days, circulating a song and writing messages of support on a classroom blackboard.[xi]

CHRD has obtained copies of selected documents from Liu Xiaobo’s trial, and they are now available (in Chinese) on our website. The documents currently available include:

Handicapped Citizens Gather in Hubei, Protest Outside of Government Offices

On the morning of December 22, a group of approximately 60 handicapped residents of Qianjiang City, Hubei Province gathered outside of city government offices, demanding that officials honor their guarantees to provide social security, medical insurance and unemployment insurance. Members of the group had operated electric bicycles as taxis before the government banned the use of these vehicles in June 2006. This is their tenth demonstration since May 2009; according to reports, government officials held talks with representatives of the group and promised to handle their grievances before the Chinese New Year. (CHRD)[xii]

Banner in Support of Liu Xiaobo Hung on College Campus

Following the conviction and sentencing of prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), a banner appeared on the campus of Southwest University of Political Science and Law reading “Support Charter 08, Support Mr. Liu Xiaobo.” Though the banner was quickly removed, netizens posted pictures online which were widely spread and commented on. (CHRD)[xiii]

Law and Policy Watch

NPC Adopts Tort Law, Codifying Liability and Compensation for Rights Abuses

The Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress adopted the Tort Law on Saturday, December 26. The law, which is designed to assign responsibility and ensure compensation for victims of rights abuses, is set to go into effect on July 1, 2010. While the law covers liability in cases of infringements on personal rights, promises equal compensation in equivalent cases of rights abuses, and explicitly states that citizens who suffer mental distress as a result of an unlawful infringement of their rights should be compensated, it also includes a clause (Article 36) which states that “internet users and service providers who infringe on others’ civil rights should be held liable.” (Xinhua) [xiv]

Though the inclusion of compensation for mental distress as well as the principle of equal compensation for equal abuses represent positive developments in the government’s attitude towards rights abuses, this law does not go far enough in addressing rights abuses related to the internet. For example, the clause singled out above (Article 36) could be used to punish citizens who attempt to hold public officials responsible for rights violations online, a step backward in the recent trend of online activists and netizens using the internet as a means to report on corruption, illegal actions, and rights abuses by officials.

NPC Solicits Input on New Law Governing Village Committee Elections

On December 26, the National People’s Congress website published the revised text of a draft of the Village Committee Organization Law and announced that it was soliciting input from the public on the draft law. Included among revisions to guidelines regarding the election of village committee members are new regulations regarding the recall of elected members by voting members of the village. The draft law also includes revised provisions regarding supervisory mechanisms for village affairs as well as procedural guidelines for village committee meetings and official business. (National People’s Congress)[xv]

This revised draft includes a number of improvements over the current version of the law, particularly related to increases in villagers’ autonomy and elections reform. However, all actions taken by villagers to elect their leaders and govern themselves still takes place only with the consent of the party and under party officials’ strict supervision. Furthermore, the draft leaves concrete regulations regarding elections up to the delegates in local People’s Congresses, raising the possibility that villagers will be prevented from fully exercising their ability to choose their leaders.

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

https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class11/200908/20090810214902_16733.html

CHRD Yearbook 2007-2008:

https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class11/200808/20080807093200_9888.html


[i] “Fan Yanqiong and Others Kept in Extended Detention, Lawyers Apply for Release on Bail to Await Trial for Third Time (范燕琼等被严重超期羁押,律师第三次提取保候审), December 30, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/yanxiaoling/200912/20091230221857_19207.html

[ii] “Sentences for Activists Guo Quan, Duan Chunfang Upheld in Appeals Hearings (维权人士郭泉、段春芳二审被维持原判),” December 26, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/duanchunfang/200912/20091226121610_19124.html

[iii] “Liu Xiaobo Meets with Lawyers for First Time Since Sentence (波被判刑后首次会见律师),” December 28, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/lxb/200912/20091228193652_19164.html

[iv] “Beijing Lawyer Li Zhuang Tried for Enticing Client to Give False Testimony, Forging Evidence (北京律师李庄涉嫌伪造证据、妨害作证案今日开庭审理),” December 30, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091230175913_19202.html

[v] “License of Fujian Human Rights Lawyer Lin Hongnan Suspended for One Year(福建维权律师林洪楠被停止执业一年),” December 26, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091226122000_19125.html

[vi] “Tencent Company Creates Special QQ Editiion Directed at Monitoring Dissidents (腾讯公司疑推出QQ特别版本针对异议人士实施监控),” December 30, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091230115919_19193.html

[vii] “MIIT Closes Legitimate Rights-Defense Website in Name of ‘Anti-Pornography Campaign’ (工信部以扫黄为名关闭合法维权网站),” December 25, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091225113301_19089.html

[viii] “Sichuan Democracy Activist Liu Xianbin Summoned by National Security Officials (四川民运人士刘贤斌被国保传唤),” December 30, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class35/200912/20091230210624_19204.html

[ix] “Liu Xiaobo Case ‘Surrender Team’ Encounters Obstacles, But Continues Support Activities (刘晓波案“自首团”遇阻,但声援活动仍在延续),” December 30, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/lxb/200912/20091230133211_19198.html

[x] “Wen Kejian (He Yongqin) Issues Statement Regarding Request to Appear in Court as Witness (温克坚(何永勤)关于要求出庭作证的声明),” December 28, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/lingbaxianzhang/200912/20091228112401_19154.html

[xi] “Jilin University Classroom Blackboard Carries Message in Support of Liu Xiaobo (吉林大学教室黑版上出现声援刘晓波口号),” December 31, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/lxb/200912/20091231001916_19208.html

[xii] “Qianjiang, Hubei Handicapped Group Blocks Road Outside of City Government Offices (湖北潜江残疾人集体封堵市政府),” December 22, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091222104206_19019.html

[xiii] “Southwest University of Political Science and Law Hangs ‘Support Charter 08, Support Liu Xiaobo’ Banner (西南政法大学打出“支持《08宪章》,声援刘晓波先生”的横幅 ),” December 25, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class71/200912/20091225173100_19103.html

[xiv] “Tort Law: Clearly Stipulate Compensation for Mental Distress, Establish Principle of Equal Compensation in Equal Cases 侵权责任法:明确精神损害赔偿 确立同命同价原则),” December 27, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2009-12/27/content_12708036.htm

[xv] “Public Comments Solicited for Revised Draft of Village Committee Organization Law (村民委员会组织法修订草案向社会公开征求意见),” Dcember 26, 2009, http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/xinwen/syxw/2009-12/26/content_1533006.htm

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