CHRD Condemns Preemptive Strike against Protests

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Chinese Government Must Respect Freedoms of Assembly, Expression

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, February 21, 2010) – After anonymous calls for protests in support of pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and protection for human rights appeared online in the past week, Chinese officials responded with a sweeping crackdown on human rights activists, lawyers, and dissidents across the country. The whereabouts of at least six human rights defenders, last seen being taken away by police, remain unknown. Authorities also raided the residences of at least eight activists and lawyers, confiscating laptops, computers, cell phones, and books. More than 100 individuals reported that they were questioned, threatened, or had their movements restricted by police in recent days. Additionally, CHRD has learned that lawyer Liu Shihui (刘士辉) was severely beaten by unidentified men on his way to a demonstration in Guangzhou.

“The government’s swift reaction to nip these protests in the bud demonstrates once again the extent to which it fears its own citizens,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director. “The leaders in China should have learned their lesson from the recent uprisings in the Middle East: denying people a public outlet to voice their discontent over social injustices, corruption, and rights abuses is a recipe for unrest and instability sooner or later.”

CHRD has documented over 100 reports of activists whose movements were restricted ahead of February 20, the date proposed in an online posting calling for “Jasmine Revolution” protests in 13 Chinese cities. These activists were summoned for questioning, taken to police stations, subjected to “soft detention” at home, or forced to “travel” away from their homes. Many more activists and netizens across the country were questioned by the police and warned against leaving home on Sunday.

CHRD has confirmed the following six cases of activists and lawyers whose whereabouts are currently unknown:

  • Tang Jitian (唐吉田): Tang was seized on the evening of February 16 after attending a lunch meeting with a dozen activists to discuss ways in which they might provide assistance to human rights defender Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) and his family. Tang’s family also reported on February 17 that his home was searched.
  • Jiang Tianyong (江天勇): On the afternoon of February 19, Jiang was seized from his brother’s home and driven away by men identified by his family as Beijing policemen. Police returned that evening and confiscated Jiang’s computer.
  • Teng Biao (滕彪): Teng went missing after leaving his home to meet with friends on the afternoon of February 19. Reportedly, policemen from the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s National Security Unit searched Teng’s home the next day, confiscating two computers, a printer, articles, books, DVDs and photos of Chen Guangcheng.
  • Gu Chuan (古川): Two dozen policemen searched Gu Chuan’s home in Beijing on the afternoon of February 19 and then took him away. The police confiscated two computers, two cell phones and some books. His wife, Li Xinai (李昕艾), has been placed under “soft detention” and cut off from contacting the outside world.
  • Chen Wei (陈卫): Chen was called for “tea” on the morning of February 20 by police from Suining City in Sichuan Province. Around 5:30 that afternoon, a dozen policemen and security guards arrived and searched Chen’s home, confiscating a computer, two hard drives and a USB drive.
  • Ran Yunfei (冉云飞): Ran was called for “tea” by police officers in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, on the morning of February 20. Late that night, Ran was escorted home by police, who confiscated his computer. Police then once again led Ran away.

CHRD also confirmed reports that lawyer Liu Shihui (刘士辉) was brutally beaten and severely injured in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province. Around noon on February 20, Liu was waiting for a bus to People’s Park, one of the locations named by the online posting for the “Jasmine Revolution” protests, when five men put a sack over his head. The men then proceeded to beat Liu with bamboo rods, kick him, and stab his legs with knives. Liu was left bleeding on the roadside, and his legs appeared to be broken. He was able to crawl home and call for help. After Liu’s beating was reported online, attracting the attention of foreign journalists, Guangzhou police arrived at the hospital where Liu was being treated and took a statement regarding the attack. This beating follows a December 10, 2010, incident in which Liu was abducted and threatened by national security policemen.

CHRD condemns the government’s use of violence, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and other forms of harassment and intimidation of Chinese citizens in response to a call for peaceful demonstrations. The government is violating the Chinese Constitution, which promises to protect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed. CHRD demands that the Chinese government investigate the assault and beating of Liu Shihui, and hold accountable those responsible for injuring him.

CHRD calls on the Chinese government to immediately release Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Teng Biao, Gu Chuan, Chen Wei, and Ran Yunfei. We urge diplomats from the U.S. government, the E.U., and others with diplomatic presence in China to inquire into the whereabouts of these individuals. CHRD also calls on the U.N. Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to take urgent action and send communiqués to the Chinese government regarding these cases. We also demand that restrictions currently in place on the movements of other individuals be immediately lifted.

Finally, CHRD calls on President Obama, U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, and E.U. leaders to deliver strong, clear and consistent messages in support of Chinese human rights and pro-democracy activists, as they have in support of protesters in the Middle East.

Media Contacts

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 240 374 8937

Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 1660
David Smalls, Researcher (English), +1 347 448 5285

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