China Human Rights Briefings December 31, 2009- January 6, 2010Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefings December 31, 2009- January 6, 2010
China Human Rights Briefing
December 31, 2009- January 6, 2010
According to his lawyers Shang Baojun (尚宝军) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎), imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) has filed an appeal of his 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” Lawyers Shang and Ding met with Liu at Beijing Number One Detention Center on January 4, at which point they learned that Liu had formally requested an appeal with Beijing Municipal Higher Court on December 29. According to Shang, the court now has one month to complete its inquiry into Liu’s trial. Liu Xiaobo told his lawyers that he believed his trial would not stand up to a thorough examination under the Chinese Constitution or international human rights conventions, nor would it stand the test of history. He added, “the day will come when China becomes a free, democratic country… for an intellectual fighting for that freedom, prison is the first threshold, and I have already crossed that threshold.” Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009, following a brief trial on December 23, 2009. (CHRD)[i]
On the morning of January 3, Hunan dissident Zhang Shanguang (张善光) lost internet service at his Xupu City home. When service was not restored by the next day, Zhang went to inquire at the local telecommunications office and was told that his service had been disconnected on the orders of the Ministry of State Security. Furious, Zhang went to the local State Security Department, where staff members denied any knowledge of the action. Zhang returned once more to the telecommunications office and, after threatening to sue, had his service restored on January 5. However, problems remain with Zhang’s internet service, and he has made it clear that he may pursue legal action against the Ministry of State Security if restrictions are not lifted on his internet access. (CHRD)[ii]
On January 6, former Czech President Václav Havel, actor Pavel Landovský (who, along with Havel, was arrested in 1977 for drafting Charter 77) and Bishop of Prague Václav Malý visited the Chinese Embassy in Prague to deliver an open letter demanding the immediate release of imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), who was sentenced to 11 years in jail on December 25, 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power.” For the full text of the letter, please click here.
As of 9 am on January 3, CHRD volunteers discovered that an introduction of Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) on the Chinese social networking website Douban.com (http://www.douban.com/subject/2085430/) had been deleted. Instead of the original page, an error message was displayed which stated “the entry does not exist. The entry has been deleted due to incorrect data or inappropriate content. Please delete it from your collection. Thank you!” A few days ago, the Chinese portal website Sohu.com also deleted Liu’s blog liulaoxia.blog.sohu.com. (CHRD)[iii]
On December 31, ten days after submitting a request to visit his critically ill brother Wang Rongqing (王荣清) in a prison hospital, Wang Rongyao (王荣耀) was informed that the Hangzhou City Jianggan District Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials were “too busy to arrange” a visit. According to the relevant regulations, inmates who are hospitalized in prison medical facilities are allowed two visits per month; however, Wang’s family has not been able to visit him for more than three months. Wang Rongyao is concerned that the authorities’ refusal to arrange a visit might indicate that Wang Rongqing’s health is very poor. Wang suffers from terminal uremia and must undergo hemodialysis three times per week; in recent weeks, his health has declined steadily and on December 20 he told friends that he had lost the will to live. Wang Rongqing, a longtime democracy activist and member of the banned China Democracy Party, Zhejiang Chapter, was sentenced to six years in prison for “subversion of state power” on January 7, 2009. (CHRD)[iv]
Around midnight on January 5, a group of plainclothes police officers from the Hunan Public Security Bureau (PSB), under the leadership of a uniformed Beijing police officer, seized Luo Qian (罗茜), Lü Kaihua (吕开化), and Liu Yuehong (刘月红) from a guesthouse in Beijing’s Daxing district. Luo and Lü are relatives of Yang Kuansheng (杨宽生), the former vice-mayor of Wugang City, Hunan Province, and Liu Yuehong was Yang’s wife. Yang died under mysterious circumstances on November 26, 2009, and though local officials declared his death a “suicide,” the injuries Yang sustained before his death have led many to believe that he was in fact murdered. Luo, Lü, and Liu were planning to hold a press conference in Beijing on Yang’s death before they were seized; Luo and Lü were forcibly returned to Hunan after being seized to be “handled” by local authorities, while Liu’s whereabouts remain unknown. (CHRD)[v]
Update: We have since learned that three of the petitioners—Zhu Mingqing, Zhang Yugui, and Cao Guo—were able to escape on the evening of December 30, 2009.[vi]
Petitioners Wang Youhua (王有华), Zhu Mingping (朱明平), Mao Yun (毛云), Tu Yingchang (涂应昌), Zhao Kefeng ( 赵克凤) and Zhang Yugui (张玉贵) and her daughter Cao Guo (曹果), were detained at a black jail in the Friendship Hotel on Daqing East Road in Xiangfan City, Hubei Province beginning December 10. On the evening of December 30, Zhu Mingping, Zhang Yugui, and Cao Guo were able to escape, but the other petitioners remain in detention as of January 5. The seven individuals were taken into custody after petitioning against legal injustices and government malfeasance. They told CHRD that they had been held against their will with only basic sustenance and had been denied medical treatment. (CHRD)[vii]
On December 30, officers from the Zhabei PSB in Shanghai arrived at the home of debarred human rights lawyer Zheng Enchong (郑恩宠) to summon him for questioning on suspicion of “economic and taxation” crimes. According to Zheng, this marked the 76th occasion since his release from prison on June 5, 2006 that he was summoned. Police also searched his home for approximately one hour but did not confiscate any items. Zheng was questioned for approximately five hours, which he stated was shorter than the 10-12 hour interrogations to which he had become accustomed. Zheng, who provided legal assistance to victims of forced evictions and housing activists in Shanghai, was imprisoned for three years for “leaking state secrets” in 2003. He has been unable to practice law following his release because Chinese law bans individuals convicted of any crime from acting as lawyers. However, Zheng continues to provide legal consultation to victims of housing property rights abuses, which has earned him the continued harassment of local officials. (CHRD)[viii]
On the morning of January 1, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province activist Xie Yihui (谢怡卉) was taken from her home by police and questioned for approximately three hours about her involvement with investigations related to the collapse of schools in the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Together with imprisoned activist Tan Zuoren (谭作人), Xie is the co-author of a report on the student casualties and collapsed school buildings in the earthquake.[ix] (CHRD)[x]
Late at night on August 25, 2009, approximately 400 law enforcement officials, some of them armed, stormed the Jining Blue Sky Clothing Company in Jining City, Shandong Province to carry out a forced eviction of the factory. According to Wang Meili (王美丽), a Blue Sky Clothing Company worker who spoke with CHRD, the police did not display any legal documents authorizing their actions when they arrived, and instead began beating the workers, injuring 26 women, two seriously. Police also confiscated 22 truckloads of goods, worth approximately six million RMB. To date, no government officials have taken responsibility for the eviction or inquired about the injured women, no legal documents have been produced to justify the eviction, and no property has been returned to the company’s owners. (CHRD)[xi]
On December 30, 2009, a group of close to 2,000 local thugs, armed with pickaxes and other weapons, descended on Jianling Village in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province. Jianling Village is the site of a major construction project being undertaken by the Wanda Group, a national real estate company, but some villagers have refused to sign demolition and eviction agreements because they believe they are not being offered adequate compensation. The thugs, allegedly hired by the Wanda Group, smashed windows and doors of homes belonging to these villagers, and seriously beat and injured one resident who stood up to the intimidation. He remains hospitalized. The villagers called the police but the latter did not come. According to villagers, they have been told that their water and electricity will be turned off if they continue to resist the demolition of their homes. (CHRD)[xii]
A group of Chinese citizens, including a number of lawyers and legal scholars, have signed a public letter to the Supreme People’s Court regarding the case of Gan Jinhua (甘锦华), asking the court to consider carefully the decision to execute Gan. Gan was arrested in 2004 and convicted of robbing and killing two nuns in Guangdong Province, and despite being granted a reprieve in 2006 and appealing his conviction twice, Gan’s sentence was upheld in December 2009 following his final appeal. The letter describes numerous flaws in the handling of Gan’s case, including the failure of the prosecution to produce critical evidence, such as the murder weapon, and states that Gan was tortured into confessing following an interrogation which lasted more than three days. If the Supreme People’s Court approves the execution, as it usually does, Gan may be executed within the week. The public letter, which has been signed by more than 50 lawyers, civil servants, and other concerned citizens, is available here (in Chinese).
On January 5, CHRD released a report on freedom of assembly in China, entitled “How Citizens’ Freedom of Assembly Exists in Name Only (公民的集会自由权利何 以名存实亡),” an investigation into the restrictions on Chinese citizens’ right to freedom of assembly and analysis of recent actions taken by both defenders of this right and authorities seeking to further limit its exercise. For the complete text (in Chinese), please click here.
On December 28, the Beijing News published a report detailing the three major problems with the revised draft of the Urban Housing Demolition and Relocation Management Regulations currently open for comments from local governments. According to the Legal Office of the State Council, the first issue remains how to define “public interest” (with regards to the demolition of existing housing “for public interest”). Second was the issue of how to begin the procedure of land expropriation and housing demolition. And finally, the question of compensation for homeowners remains at the center of demolition and eviction debates. The Beijing News singles out these issues as the primary reason why new regulations governing demolition and eviction have yet to be completed. (Beijing News)[xiii]
The issues discussed in this article are only difficult to resolve so far as the government seeks to continue the existing practice of favoring profits and development over the basic rights of its citizens. Without a draft of the demolition and evictions law that is in keeping with the Chinese Constitution and that guarantees legal protection against forced evictions as stipulated in Article 11.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, these issues will remain unresolved regardless of the language used by officials.
According to a December 31 Xinhua report, the Shaanxi Province courts will begin publishing verdicts and court rulings online beginning in January 2010. The regulations state that courts will have up to 10 working days in each month to complete the publishing of all of the previous month’s formal verdicts and adjudications online, where they must remain for at least six months. Rulings in cases which involve state or business secrets, minors, or were tried in private for other reasons, as well as rulings in a number of other private matters (including marriage or domestic disputes, medical disputes, etc) do not have to be publicized. Courts will be expected to determine whether or not to publish a given ruling in accordance with relevant provisions or at the requests of the parties to the lawsuits. (Xinhua)[xiv]
While this is an important step towards making the justice system more transparent, courts are given considerable leeway in deciding what should and should not be made public, and courts may make use of this freedom to avoid publicizing cases involving infringements on citizens’ rights. In addition to formal verdicts, courts should also make publicly available lawyers’ statements made in a client’s defense, so that citizens can have a more comprehensive understanding of the case.
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] “Breaking News: Liu Xiaobo Submits Appeal on December 29, Issues Opinion on Trial (快讯：刘晓波于12月29日提起上诉 对审判发表看法),” January 4, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/lxb/201001/20100104174800_19283.html
[ii] “Hunan Dissident Zhang Shanguang Protests Ministry of State Security’s Disruption of His Normal Internet Service (湖南异议人士张善光抗议国家安全局干扰其正常上网),” January 6, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201001/20100106170056_19313.html
[iii] “Douban Net Deletes Introduction to Liu Xiaobo (豆瓣网删除对刘晓波的介绍),” January 3, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/lxb/201001/20100103141511_19266.html
[iv] “Critically Ill Zhejiang Prisoner of Conscience Wang Rongqing Unable to Meet with Family (病危中的浙江 良心人士王荣清无法与家人会见),” January 2, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/wangrongqing/201001/20100102191719_19253.html
[v] “Family of “Suicide Victim’ and Former Vice-Mayor Yang Kuansheng Seized in Beijing (被自杀副市 长杨宽生亲友在北京被抓),” January 6, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201001/20100106105942_19304.html
[vi] “Three Petitioners Detained in Hubei Black Jail Able to Successfully Escape (湖北被关“黑监狱”的三位访 民已成功越狱),” January 5, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201001/20100105170901_19294.html
[vii] “Hubei Petitioners Detained in Black Jail Appeal to Outside World for Help (湖北关“黑监狱”访民向外发呼救信),” December 28, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200912/20091228204022_19166.html
[viii] “Zheng Enchong: My 76th Summons (郑恩宠：我的第76次被传唤),” January 3, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class43/201001/20100103220652_19272.html
[ix] Tan Zuoren and Xie Yihui, “An Investigative Report of the Student Casualties in the Earthquake by Tan Zuoren et. al. <谭作人等人就地震 死难学生的调查报告>”, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class1/200904/20090427094857_15145.html
[x] “Urgent Alert: Sichuan Activist Xie Yihui Taken Away by Police (紧急关注：四川维权人士谢怡卉被警察带走),” January 1, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201001/20100101104000_19231.html
[xi] “Shandong Violent Eviction Leads to Injuries for 26 Female Workers (山东暴力拆迁导致26位女工受伤害),” January 5, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201001/20100105180123_19295.html
[xii] “Villagers Suffer Violence in Shijiazhuang Forced Eviction (石家庄强迁村民遭受暴力),” January 5, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201001/20100105182037_19296.html
[xiii] “Three Major Problems Facing New Demolition and Eviction Regulations (新拆迁条例制订存三大难题),” December 28, 2009, http://epaper.bjnews.com.cn/html/2009-12/28/content_48693.htm?div=-1
[xiv] “Shaanxi: Provincial Courts Required to Publicize Rulings Online Beginning January 2010 (陕西：2010年1月起全省法院判决书上网公开),” December 31, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2009-12/31/content_12735905.htm