China Human Rights Briefing April 27- May 3, 2010Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing April 27- May 3, 2010
China Human Rights Briefing Weekly
April 27- May 3, 2010
To download this week’s CHRB as a .pdf file, please click here
- Detentions, Harassment Continue as World Expo Opens: As CHRD reported in an April 28 press release, officials in Shanghai and around the country have been detaining, harassing, and threatening activists, dissidents, and petitioners to prevent them from speaking out during the Shanghai World Expo. We have continued to receive reports of individuals who have been affected by police or government pressure related to the World Expo, which opened to the public on May 1, and stories collected this past weekend are included in this edition of CHRB.
- Officials Move to Curb Efforts to Memorialize Lin Zhao: April 29, the anniversary of the death of Lin Zhao (林昭), is rapidly becoming another “sensitive” date for Chinese activists. Lin, who was arrested during the Anti-Rightist Campaign and executed in 1968, has become an important figure for China’s activist community as more people learn of her life story and read works she composed while imprisoned. This year, the 42nd anniversary of her death, a number of activists and dissidents were detained or prevented from traveling to Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province to pay respects to Lin at her tomb.
- Amended State Secrets, State Compensation Laws Adopted: The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted revisions to the State Secrets Law and the State Compensation Law in this past week. While the specific impact of these revised laws with regard to the rights of Chinese citizens remains to be seen, after reviewing the texts of these laws CHRD is not optimistic. We believe, in the case of the State Compensation Law, that the amended law is unlikely to have any effect on citizens’ success in obtaining compensation for rights violations. As for the State Secrets Law, none of the revisions will do much to restrict the government’s ability to arbitrarily define pieces of information as state secrets, or to use this designation to deny citizens their right to due process.
Arbitrary Detention. 3
- Shanghai World Expo Update. 3
- Four Guangxi Villagers Detained For Attempting to Meet with Officials Regarding Housing Issues. 4
- Chongqing Democracy Activist Missing After Administrative Detention. 4
Freedom of Assembly. 5
- Plan for Workshop Organized by Beijing NGO Yirenping Disrupted. 5
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 5
- Imprisoned Dissident Zhang Jianhong Reportedly in Critical Condition. 5
Harassment of Activists. 5
- Police Detain, Restrict Movement of Activists Seeking to Pay Respects to Lin Zhao. 5
Forced Eviction and Land Expropriation. 6
- Heilongjiang Villagers Injured in Clash with Police during Land Protest. 6
Citizens’ Rights Actions. 6
- Female Jiangsu Lawyer Loses Appeal in Lawsuit against Family Planning Bureau. 6
- Three Lawyers Hold Symposium to Discuss Fujian Netizen Case. 7
- Aizhixing Announces Internet Symposium on Two-Year Anniversary of Government Information Disclosure Regulations 7
Law and Policy Watch. 7
- Revised State Secrets Law Falls Short of Minimum Protections for Chinese Citizens. 7
- Revised State Compensation Law Adopted. 8
Shanghai World Expo Update
CHRD has received the following reports of individuals detained or harassed in connection with the Shanghai World Expo, which opened to the public on May 1:
- On May 1, Shenzhen labor activists Xiao Qingshan (肖青山) and Qi Na (齐娜) were seized while preparing to stage a demonstration in Shanghai against government corruption. The two were briefly detained in the Waitan (the Bund) police station in Shanghai’s Huangpu District. They were released later in the evening and told to leave Shanghai immediately.[i]
- CHRD learned on May 2 that Shanghai petitioner Zhou Jinhong (周锦洪) has been criminally detained for “gathering crowds to disrupt the order of a public place” since April 15. Zhou, who was seized in Beijing and forcibly returned to Shanghai, has been detained on numerous occasions since September 2009 for petitioning and filing lawsuits against Shanghai officials regarding the forced demolition of his family’s home to make way for the Expo.[ii]
- As of May 1, petitioner Feng Yongji (冯永记), of Shihezi City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was detained in the Shanghai Liaison Office of the Shihezi City Government. It is believed that Feng, who was seized after she posted an article online announcing that she planned to visit the Expo, will be forcibly returned to her hometown in Xinjiang.[iii]
- On April 13, CHRD reported that Shanghai petitioner-turned-activist Chen Jianfang (陈建芳) had been sent to 15 months of Re-education through Labor (RTL). On May 2, CHRD obtained a copy of the RTL notice, and learned that she has been detained for “acts which disrupt social order,” in relation to an incident which took place outside of the Beijing University on April 17, 2009. It is believed that the authorities were referring to a peaceful protest Chen participated on that day. The fact that officials chose to punish Chen almost exactly a year after her alleged offense dovetailed with the belief of many fellow activists that Chen was detained to keep her from causing trouble during the Expo. According to Chen’s family members, they have been unable to visit her since she was sent to RTL and they have been threatened by government officials. Chen started petitioning when her farmland was expropriated and her home demolished without compensation by the Shanghai government in 2005. (CHRD)[iv]
- On the evening of April 29, CHRD received a text message from Shanghai activist Ma Yalian (马亚莲) stating that she was being illegally detained in a guesthouse. While CHRD was unable to contact Ma for further information, conversations with other local activists indicated not only that it was likely she was being detained, but that police pressure ahead of the Shanghai Expo has made it extremely dangerous for anyone to speak about “sensitive” issues, including detention in black jails. Activists contacted by CHRD stated that they knew very little about each others’ whereabouts, as the authorities have effectively closed off established lines of communication through aggressive surveillance and control measures. (CHRD)[v]
- On April 30, a group of 20 petitioners was intercepted by police and prevented from boarding a train in Beijing bound for Shanghai. The group, which included petitioners from Liaoning Province, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and other areas across the country, had planned to attend the Shanghai Expo. Their current whereabouts are unknown. (CHRD)[vi]
- Shortly after midnight on May 1, CHRD learned from Enshi City, Hubei Province petitioner-turned-activist Wang Guilan (王桂兰) that she may be facing restrictions on her movement. According to Wang, 10 police officers arrived at her home beginning on the afternoon of April 30 along with local government officials, and as of the time of writing the officers were still positioned outside of her home. She believes that the police are planning to keep her under soft detention to ensure that she does not travel to Shanghai. (CHRD)[vii]
- On the afternoon of April 30, CHRD learned from family members of Hubei Province petitioner Xu Chunjing (徐春静) that Xu has been detained since April 14. According to the family, Xu is being held in a black jail in Yinji Township, Xiangfan City. (CHRD)[viii]
Four Guangxi Villagers Detained For Attempting to Meet with Officials Regarding Housing Issues
On April 6, four villagers in Xinxing Village, Nanning City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were seized after they attempted to meet with village committee officials. According to eyewitnesses, approximately 80 police and security guards came to cordon off the office and take away the four, who were criminally detained on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” the next day. The villagers were representing their neighbors in a dispute which dates back to 2002, when the Nanning government requisitioned village land for development. Villagers were upset with the low quality of replacement housing they were provided, and also believed that the head official in the village had sold collective property to a development corporation without their consent. Villagers have been petitioning for years regarding their situation, but have so far been unable to resolve their grievances. The current whereabouts of the four detained on April 6 are not known. (CHRD)[ix]
Chongqing Democracy Activist Missing After Administrative Detention
CHRD learned on April 29 that Chongqing democracy activist Hu Guanghui (胡光辉) has gone missing following a period of administrative detention. Hu was sent to 10 days of administrative detention on March 29 after he pasted a proposal to found the China Social Justice Party (中国社会正义党) on a wall near a busy shopping street in Chongqing. Family members and friends do not have any information regarding his whereabouts or whether he was released following his administrative detention. (CHRD)[x]
Freedom of Assembly
Plan for Workshop Organized by Beijing NGO Yirenping Disrupted
On April 30, Beijing-based NGO Yirenping was informed that a hotel conference center they had booked two weeks earlier for a training workshop in Guangdong Province was “closed for safekeeping” after being looted and vandalized. According to Yirenping, this is the sixth such occasion on which their plans to hold a workshop have been similarly disrupted by last-minute cancellations on the part of their hosts. It is unclear whether the workshop, which was designed to improve the ability of NGOs to provide legal assistance to victims of discrimination, will be held. (Yirenping)[xi]
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Imprisoned Dissident Zhang Jianhong Reportedly in Critical Condition
CHRD received reports on April 28 that the health of imprisoned dissident writer Zhang Jianhong (张建红, also known as Li Hong [力虹]) is rapidly declining. Zhang, who was sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” in 2007, suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy. He is currently receiving treatment in Qingchun Hospital, a prison hospital in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. It has been reported that Zhang is no longer able to eat on his own and relies on an IV drip, but CHRD was unable to reach members of Zhang’s family to confirm this information. His family has appealed for his release on medical parole on numerous occasions, but has been refused by local officials each time. Zhang, who is 52 years old, was the founder of the banned literary website Aiqinhai.org (http://www.aiqinhai.org/). (CHRD)[xii]
Harassment of Activists
Police Detain, Restrict Movement of Activists Seeking to Pay Respects to Lin Zhao
On April 29, the 42nd anniversary of the death of Lin Zhao (林昭), netizens, dissidents, and activists from across the country traveled to Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province to pay their respects. While many were able to successfully reach Lingyan Mountain Cemetery, the site of Lin’s tomb, CHRD has received reports of netizens and activists being prevented from traveling by police or detained once they reached Suzhou.
- Among those barred from traveling to Suzhou were Tang Jingling (唐荆陵) and Liu Shihui (刘士辉), from Guangzhou, as well as Teng Biao (滕彪) and Zhang Hui (张辉) from Beijing.
- Jiangxi netizen Dong Chaozhong (董超中) was seized in Suzhou on the morning of April 29 by National Security officers who had trailed him from his hometown. At the time of writing, Dong was being forcibly returned to Jiangxi.
- Also on the morning of April 29, Zhejiang netizen Xu Zhenhao (徐震昊) and Yunnan netizen Zhu Chengzhi (朱承志) were seized in Suzhou by local police and are currently in detention.
Lin Zhao was a Beijing University student arrested during the Anti-Rightist Campaign and executed in 1968. While imprisoned and repeatedly tortured, she wrote hundreds of pages of political commentary and poems critical of the government using her own blood, and following a documentary about her life produced by an independent filmmaker in 2003, she has become an important figure symbolizing defiance against dictatorship for activists and dissidents in China. (CHRD)[xiii]
Forced Eviction and Land Expropriation
Heilongjiang Villagers Injured in Clash with Police during Land Protest
On the afternoon of April 29, thousands of villagers from Changchunling Village, Fujin City, Heilongjiang Province gathered to protest the expropriation of their farmland. An estimated 2000 police officers arrived to disperse the protestors, who blocked traffic on area highways and railroads. Protestors fought back by throwing bricks at the police and damaging a number of police vehicles. There were no serious injuries. Local internet as well as cell phone service was reportedly interrupted. In 2007, local officials expropriated over 4000 hectares of land from about 3000 villagers. Since then villagers have petitioned, filed administrative lawsuits and protested peacefully to defend their right to the land, but to no avail. In February two village representatives, Zhang Wenshuang (张文双) and Yu Changwu (于长伍) were imprisoned for giving interviews to overseas media.
Changchunling Village is one of a number of villages in Fujin City the land of which was forcibly expropriated by local authorities. A number of activists, notably “Olympics prisoner” Yang Chunlin (杨春林), have been imprisoned for defending the rights of these Fujin farmers. (CHRD)[xiv]
Citizens’ Rights Actions
Female Jiangsu Lawyer Loses Appeal in Lawsuit against Family Planning Bureau
On April 27, Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province lawyer Wang Ying (王莹) lost her appeal in a lawsuit against the Quanshan District Family Planning Bureau. The Xuzhou Intermediate Court announced that it would not overturn the Quanshan District Court’s February 12 ruling against Wang, who sued the Family Planning Bureau after she was barred from obtaining a civil service position by the Tongshan County government on the grounds that she had violated family planning regulations by having a child before marriage. During the period of 13 months between Wang’s wedding and when she and her husband were able to obtain a marriage registration, Wang had a baby, and the suit was to determine whether the Quanshan District Family Planning Bureau acted properly in decreeing that Wang’s baby was born out of wedlock. Her case, which touched on issues of discrimination, right to privacy, and the right to work, was called one of the “top ten constitutional cases of 2009,” and continues to be closely watched domestically. (CHRD)[xv]
Three Lawyers Hold Symposium to Discuss Fujian Netizen Case
On April 28, lawyers Lin Hongnan (林洪楠), Li Fangping (李方平), and Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) held a symposium at the Law School of the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. The three were among the lawyers who represented Fan Yanqiong (范燕琼), Wu Huaying (吴华英), and You Jingyou (游精佑) as they were prosecuted for “making false accusation” and slander.” Lin, Li, and Liu discussed their experience handling the case as well as their opinions on various aspects of the netizens’ actions and the government’s reaction. The symposium was chaired by CUPL Law School professor Wang Yong (王涌), who had published an article critical of the Fujian authorities in the wake of Fan, Wu, and You’s conviction. Hundreds of students attended the talk. (CHRD)[xvi]
Aizhixing Announces Internet Symposium on Two-Year Anniversary of Government Information Disclosure Regulations
On April 30, Beijing NGO Aizhixing is convening an online symposium to mark the two-year anniversary of the Chinese government’s latest regulations regarding the disclosure of government information.[xvii] The symposium, which will be held via Skype, QQ, and MSN messaging services, will cover topics including the relationship between government information disclosure regulations and the State Secrets Law and how to request government information. For further information, including how to participate in the symposium, please see here.
Law and Policy Watch
Revised State Secrets Law Falls Short of Minimum Protections for Chinese Citizens
On April 29, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted revisions to the State Secrets Law, bringing a close to the latest series of reviews, which began in June 2009.[xviii] The amended law, which will go into effect in October, contains previously-discussed revisions, which include (1) bringing “electronic data” under the scope of materials considered as possible “state secrets;” (2) bringing the “networks” (including mobile communications and the internet) used to store and transmit such data under the scope of “state secrets;” and (3) administrative concerns, such as fixing time limits on state secrets, outlining the functions and responsibilities of the administrative departments involved in the protection of state secrets and identifying the officials within departments responsible for determining what constitutes a state secret.
However, the revised law continues to fail to provide precise and narrow definitions for what constitutes a “state secret.” None of the revisions will do much to restrict the government’s ability to arbitrarily define pieces of information as state secrets, or to use this designation to deny citizens their right to due process, as it has done so since the law came into effect in 1989.
Revised State Compensation Law Adopted
According to an April 29 Xinhua article,[xix] the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has adopted amendments to the State Compensation Law. The amended law will go into effect on December 1. Significant amendments include the following:
1. Individuals who are criminally detained (拘留) are now only compensated if the detention violates relevant procedures or if the detention was longer than the period stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) (Article 17.1);
2. Citizens can now claim apology and compensation for psychological injury (Article 35);
3. Citizens who have not received a response from the department who they seek to hold responsible can now apply to the department at one level higher (Article 24). If the applicant again receives no response within the stipulated time period or is dissatisfied with the decision, then s/he might seek an administrative review of the decision by the court (Article 25);
4. When a detainee or prisoner dies or is incapacitated, the burden of proof now lies with the authorities—they are required to provide evidence proving that they are not responsible (Article 26);
5. Individuals who suffer injuries or who die from beatings or mistreatment by others, whose behavior is sanctioned by an official, are now entitled to state compensation (Article 3.3).
The impact of the above amendments on the protection of the rights of citizens can be described as mixed at best. Points 2, 4 and 5 are certainly small steps towards the right direction. But point 3, in the absence of judicial independence, will achieve little in pushing government departments to respond to requests for state compensation. Point 1 is a cause for concern, as the CPL allows for up to 37 days for criminal detention, and under the amended law detainees who are subsequently released without charge would not be eligible for compensation. More importantly, the revised law continues to restrict compensation to certain categories of rights abuse by administrative organs. Overall, the amended law is unlikely to have any effect on citizens’ success in obtaining compensation for rights violations.
Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang
*** CHRD’s Human Rights Yearbook 2009 is now available. For a free copy, please contact us with your mailing address at email@example.com. ***
Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2009)
[i] “Activist Xiao Qingshan Arrested after Arriving in Shanghai to Protest Corruption” (维权人士肖青山等到上海抗议 腐败遭抓捕), May 1, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100501172059_21045.html
[ii] “Shanghai Petitoner Zhou Jinhong Detained Before World Expo” (上海访民周锦洪在世博召开期间被拘留), May 2, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100502210101_21058.html
[iii] “Xinjiang Petitioner Feng Yongji Illegally Detained for Going to Attend Shanghai Expo” (去参观世博会的新 疆访民冯永记被非法拘禁), May 1, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/fmzj/201005/20100501143520_21044.html
[iv] “Shanghai Activist Chen Jianfang’s RTL Decision Notice” (上海维权人士陈建芳的劳教决定书), May 2, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/chenjianfang/201005/20100502232642_21062.html
[v] “Shanghai Activist Ma Yalian Detained in Black Jail Because of Shanghai Expo” (上海维权人士马亚莲因为世博会被关黑 监狱), April 30, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100430001415_21015.html
[vi] “Petitioners Intercepted en Route to Shanghai for Opening of World Expo” (前往上海迎世博会开幕的访民被拦截), April 30, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100430202300_21031.html
[vii] “Home of Hubei Petitioner Wang Guilan Surrounded by Police” (湖北访民王桂兰住所被警方包围), May 1, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100501005138_21035.html
[viii] “Hubei Petitioner Xu Chunjing Detained in Black Jail Because of Expo Opening” (湖北访民徐春静因世博会召开被 关黑监狱), May 1, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100501005637_21036.html
[ix] “Nanning, Guangxi PSB Detains Four Activist Villagers” (广西南宁公安拘捕四名维权村民), April 28, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100428001223_20975.html
[x] “Chongqing’s Hu Guanghui Detained for Proposal to Found Party, Now Missing” (重庆胡光辉因倡议组党被拘留后失踪), April 29, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100429234516_21013.html
[xi] “Training on Anti-Discrimination Law Run by NGO Distrupted” (NGO反歧视法律培训会场突遭“打砸抢”), April 30, 2010, http://chinarights2.blogspot.com/2010/04/3198-ngo.html
[xii] “Zhejiang Dissident Li Hong Critically Ill in Prison” (浙江异议人士力虹狱中病危), April 29, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class18/Class70/201004/20100429082049_20997.html
[xiii] “Netizens From Across the Nation Gather in Suzhou to Pay Respects to Lin Zhao, Some Obstructed by Police” (全国网友集聚苏州祭奠林昭，一些人被警方阻拦), April 29, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class71/201004/20100429141533_21004.html; “Netizens Across the Country Pay Respects to Lin Zhao, Many Seized” (各地网友祭拜林昭，多人被抓走), April 29, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100429131000_21001.html
[xiv] “Fujin, Heilongjiang Villagers Gather to Collectively Defend Rights, Protest” (黑龙江省富锦失地农民集体维权抗议), May 1, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100501190407_21046.html
[xv] “Female Lawyer Wang Ying’s Babygate Appeal Wraps Up” (女律师王莹婚育门案件二审结案), April 28, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100428121429_20979.html
[xvi] “Lawyers for Three Fujian Netizens Hold Symposium at CUPL” (福建三网民案代理律师在法大举行座谈会), April 28, 2010, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class71/201004/20100428222036_20993.html
[xvii] Regulations on Government Information Disclosure (政府信息公开条例)
[xviii] “Authorized Announcement: Law of the People’s Republic of China on Guarding State Secrets” (授权发布：中华人民共和国保守国家秘密法), April 30, 2010, http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2010-04/30/c_1264717.htm
[xix] Xinhua, “Reading the Revised State Compensation Law” (解读修正后的国家赔偿法) April 29, 2010, http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2010-04/30/c_1264716.htm. The amended law is available here: “PRC State Compensation Law” (中华人民共和国国家赔偿法),http://www.dffy.com/faguixiazai/xzf/200311/20031110203350.htm