China Human Rights Briefing May 23-28, 2012Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing May 23-28, 2012
China Human Rights Briefing
May 23-28, 2012
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- Chen Guangcheng’s Relatives, Family Supporters in Tough Straits: Chen Guangfu, Chen Guangcheng’s brother tortured by Shandong police in April, recently fled Dongshigu Village for Beijing to seek legal help for his son, Chen Kegui, who is being held for “intentional homicide.” Also, human rights lawyer Liang Xiaojun has been prevented from visiting legal advocate Song Ze, detained in early May after reportedly trying to help Chen Kegui’s wife seek refuge and assistance in Beijing.
- Fujian Ship Captain-Turned-Rights Defender Imprisoned for Helping Crewmen’s Families: Li Xiangmou, who captained a ship involved in a deadly 2008 maritime accident, has been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after being convicted of “organizing others to secretly cross the national border.” Li’s sentence is likely retaliation for his efforts to help families of crewmen who died in the accident seek compensation as well as accountability from the shipping company involved.
- CHRD Issues Statement on Illegal Phenomenon of House Arrest: CHRD released a statement on May 24 about the illegal practice of “house arrest” in China, an extreme form of “soft detention” that has received worldwide attention of late because of the case of activist Chen Guangcheng. The statement focuses on the house arrest of activist and legal advocate Feng Zhenghu, who has been forcibly held inside his home since late February, and touches on the situations of other activists and their family members who have suffered from forms of arbitrary detention and retaliation for their activism.
- Tortured and Threatened, Chen Guangcheng’s Brother Flees to Beijing, Seeks Legal Aid for Son
- Ship Captain Sentenced to 3 Years, 9 Months in Prison for Demanding Justice for Dead Crewmen’s Families
- Democracy Rights Activist Hu Mingjun Released
- Anhui Activist Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for “Fraud” for Helping Local Petitioners
- Liaoning Woman Sent to RTL for One Year After Pursuing Relief From Extreme Poverty
- Netizen Xu Lin Held Under “Residential Surveillance” in Unknown Location
- Hubei Rights Defenders Arrested in “Secret” Case Involving Local Mine
- Heilongjiang Rights Defender Issued Detention After Being Duped by Authorities
- Guangdong Democracy Activist Missing Two Weeks After Violating Bail Terms
Harassment of Human Rights Lawyers
- Lawyer Twice Blocked From Meeting Detained Legal Advocate Song Ze
Freedom of Religion
- Authorities in Tibet Ban Certain Groups From Taking Part in Religious Activities
Forced Eviction and Demolition/Land Expropriation
- Violent Demolitions in Henan Lead to Death & Other Injuries, Tight Monitoring
Law & Policy Watch
- Yunnan Officials Enforce “No Passport” Policy for Young Women
- CHRD Releases Statement on Endemic Problem of Illegal House Arrest, From Chen Guangcheng to Feng Zhenghu
Tortured and Threatened, Chen Guangcheng’s Brother Flees to Beijing, Seeks Legal Aid for Son
Just days after activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) arrived in the United States, the harassment of his family members in Shandong has only continued, with another Chen family member escaping the tight monitoring around Dongshigu Village and seeking refuge and assistance in Beijing. On May 22, one of the activist’s older brothers, Chen Guangfu (陈光福), fled the village as guards slept, and made his way to the capital to seek legal assistance for his son, Chen Kegui (陈可贵), who is being detained on a charge of “intentional homicide.” In Beijing, Chen Guangfu met Ding Xikui (丁锡奎), one of two lawyers hired to defend Chen Kegui who has encountered interference that he and the other attorney, Si Weijiang (斯伟江), have challenged (see CHRD special report). On April 27, Chen Kegui grabbed kitchen knives to defend his family against local officials and thugs who had entered his family’s home. Chen was subsequently seized by police, and officers from the Yinan County Public Security Bureau formally arrested him on May 9.
Chen Guangfu himself had recently been threatened by Linyi authorities after he revealed torture at the hands of police in late April (see CHRD special report). Authorities warned him that, due to his revelations, Chen Kegui would receive a harsher punishment in retaliation, and officials also told Chen Guangfu that he would not be allowed to talk about the torture again. (CHRD)
Ship Captain Sentenced to 3 Years, 9 Months in Prison for Demanding Justice for Dead Crewmen’s Families
Li Xiangmou (李祥谋), a ship captain-turned-rights defender from Fujian Province, has reportedly been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison in likely retaliation against his efforts to seek justice for families of crewmen who died in a maritime accident in 2008. On May 22, the Shishi City People’s Court convicted Li on a charge of “organizing others to secretly cross the national border.” The court delivered the verdict nearly seven months after trying Li on October 28, 2011, in clear violation of the Criminal Procedure Law (article 168), which stipulates that a court must issue a judgment within, at most, two-and-a-half months after accepting a case. At the recent hearing, only one person—Li’s younger brother—was allowed to attend in his support, while various law-enforcement officers made up the other observers; prior to the proceedings, police had reportedly threatened many family members of those killed in the accident to stay away, or forcibly held them in a guesthouse. Beijing human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), who has been defending Li, indicated to CHRD that his client is in very low spirits over the sentence.
On August 26, 2011, authorities arrested Li Xiangmou on suspicion of “organizing others to secretly cross the national border” in a case stemming from the January 2008 accident off the coast of Indonesia, which claimed the lives of 12 Chinese crewmen on board a ship that Li was captaining. Two days before Li’s arrest, authorities demanded families whose loved ones died in sign a settlement, but the agreement did not spell out the Yuanyang Fishery Group Company’s responsibility for mistakes that led to the mishap, so the families prepared to petition. (To this day, no compensation has been offered to the families, and the Fujian authorities reportedly conducted a shoddy investigation of the accident.) Beginning in March of 2009, Li approached various agencies to seek a just settlement and accountability for the families. In retaliation, he was detained for over a year—allegedly for organizing the families to petition—before being released on bail in April of 2010. Police then put Li under residential surveillance before eventually arresting him. Li is being detained at the Shishi City Detention Center. (CHRD)
Democracy Rights Activist Hu Mingjun Released
On May 28, Sichuan democracy rights activist Hu Mingjun (胡明军) was released from prison after completing an 11-year sentence for “subversion of state power.” A member of the China Democracy Party, Hu Mingjun, now 48, was detained in May of 2001 and arrested in July of that year on a charge of “subversion” stemming from his alleged intention to establish a branch of the party. Hu was placed in solitary confinement several times and subjected to other abuses for not obeying “education” in Chuanzhong Prison in Nanchong City and protesting the labor required of inmates, and he refused to confess to any crimes. Hu is known to have suffered from untreated illnesses while incarcerated. In the summer of 2010, CHRD reported that Hu was suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease, among other ailments. Although he was taken to the prison hospital for treatment on several occasions, Hu was unable to receive adequate care for his medical problems. (CHRD)
Anhui Activist Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for “Fraud” for Helping Local Petitioners
Anhui activist Wang Xile (王西乐), who was criminally detained last year on suspicion of “fraud,” was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Mengcheng County People’s Court on May 28. The court originally heard Wang’s case on May 8, when more than 100 of his supporters came to the courthouse to observe but were instead blocked and kept outside by a large group of police officers. The evening before the trial, police took petitioners in for questioning and held them overnight. Wang’s son, who was able to observe the trial proceedings in early May, reportedly said that so-called “witnesses” were prevented from entering the courthouse during the trial, and that many of their testimonies were made while held in detention at the time, and so “evidence” presented lacked credibility and was filled with contradictions. It has been strongly believed that authorities brought the case against Wang in retaliation for his anti-corruption activities.
Officers from the Mengcheng County Public Security Bureau took Wang Xile into custody on September 12 of last year based on his alleged dealings with rural machinery workers. According to Wang’s self-defense materials, workers gave him 10,000 RMB (approx. $US1,600)—to support his efforts to expose corruption—after he had helped them write complaints. However, Wang immediately rejected the funds and later asked another person to return the money. For many years, Wang has attracted the ire of local authorities by volunteering to help write petitioning materials for fellow citizens and also representing petitioners in their grievances. (CHRD)
Liaoning Woman Sent to RTL for One Year After Pursuing Relief From Extreme Poverty
A woman from Liaoning Province is serving a one-year Re-education through Labor (RTL) punishment for pursuing relief from heavy financial burdens, including debt first brought on by high-interest loans taken out to cover medical costs for her mother, who died in 2005. On May 4, Liu Li (刘丽) went to the State Letters and Visits Bureau in Beijing and then called the Xiannongtan Police Station to make inquiries about her situation. A police officer told her to come to the station, where police seized Liu, and she fell out of contact. Reportedly, news of Liu’s punishment has just surfaced partly because she had authorities notify only the fellow petitioner about her fate, not wishing for her very ill father to worry. According to that petitioner, Liu had said authorities have long threatened to send her to RTL in retaliation for seeking help over her mounting debt. Liu’s nightmare started in 2003, when her mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness and the already-poor farming family took out high-interests loans to cover medical costs. Then a series of unfortunate events, including a heavy snowstorm which collapsed their home, a serious illness, and a car accident that disabled Liu’s father left the family in a desperate situation. Liu believes that the local government, who was her father’s employer when he was hit by a car on his way to work, should be responsible for his medical expenses (10,000 RMB, approx. $1,600). Liu is serving her punishment at the Masanjia RTL. (CHRD)
Netizen Xu Lin Held Under “Residential Surveillance” in Unknown Location
Guangdong netizen Xu Lin (徐琳) is reportedly under “residential surveillance” after first being detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” for taking part in a protest on April 3 held in support of officials’ disclosure of their financial assets and Premier Wen Jiabao’s call for political reforms. Xu’s wife only learned on May 8 that her husband, whose whereabouts remain unknown, had been released four days before from criminal detention and ordered to residential surveillance. Police in Guangzhou have violated China’s current Criminal Procedure Law by holding Xu outside his home even though he has a residence in the city. Authorities have told Xu’s wife that, besides taking part in the April event, Xu had posted material online and was still being investigated. When she asserted that authorities must notify relatives within one day when a family member is placed under residential surveillance, a national security officer simply replied that they do not need to inform the family. Xu’s wife then kept contacting authorities to find out where Xu is and to request to see him, but she has been unable to make any headway.
Another netizen temporarily detained after the event in April, Yang Chong (杨崇), is reportedly also out of contact, and he may be feeling pressure from police weeks after being released on bail. (CHRD)
Hubei Rights Defenders Arrested in “Secret” Case Involving Local Mine
CHRD has learned that two rights defenders from Hubei Province, Hu Tihe (胡体和) and Pu Jiakuan (蒲甲宽), were arrested in late April on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” after officials ordered a mine opened for production without the consent of local villagers. Since being detained, no news has surfaced about the detainees’ circumstances, and their families reportedly only learned about their arrests on May 21, as authorities have claimed that their case involves “secrets.” On April 26, Enshi authorities dispatched nearly seven hundred people to disperse residents who had gathered to oppose the mine being opened in Hu and Pu’s village. The two activists did media interviews two days later and were then taken away by police and formally arrested. Reportedly, Pu’s son and another activist in their village were taken in by police for interrogation on May 23, and were still out of contact at the time of writing.
In 1999, fellow villagers elected Hu Tihe and Pu Jiakuan to be among five representatives to defend their rights against a cement factory that has reportedly encroached on 750 mu (0.5 sq. km) of the village land. Hu and Pu have persisted in petitioning higher authorities about the villagers’ plight through the years. Around the Chinese New Year this year, police questioned Hu about his advocacy work, and he went to Beijing in early March to give voice to villagers’ grievances. He was subsequently seized and sent back to Enshi, where he was held in a black jail and threatened by police. (CHRD)
Heilongjiang Rights Defender Issued Detention After Being Duped by Authorities
Heilongjiang rights defender Liao Cheng (廖诚) has been given a 15-day administrative detention, reportedly on a charge of “disrupting social order” after he was duped by authorities who said they would compensate him for wages lost for when police took him “travelling.” After Liao called his wife about his detention, which began on May 23, she went to inquire at the Dongcheng Police Station in Harbin about whatever offense Liao had committed, and officers told her that he was being held because of rumors he had spread online as well as his adherence to Falun Gong. His wife responded that Liao does not believe in Falun Gong, an argument that fell on deaf ears. Upon returning home, she found that police had taken away the family’s computer processor. A source has told CHRD that Harbin authorities took Liao away “to travel” in early May since they were worried he would take part in a protest of retired workers in front on the Heilongjiang Provincial Government building. They also demanded he sign a guarantee promising not to contact other local activists. Since Liao works as a transport driver—and would be hurt financially if he was forced to “travel”—police reportedly promised him that they would compensate him with 800 RMB (about $US 125) for every day of work missed, but ultimately gave him nothing. When Liao went to police to demand they make good on their promise, he realized police had tricked him, and they then took him into custody.
Liao Cheng has held longstanding concerns about human rights in China, particularly supporting the rights of disadvantaged groups while often communicating with local human rights activists. Liao has often been put under surveillance, issued warnings, and taken on “trips” by police in retaliation for his rights defense efforts. (CHRD)
Guangdong Democracy Activist Missing Two Weeks After Violating Bail Terms
A democracy activist from Guangdong, Wu Huagui (吴华贵), has been missing for more than two weeks, and it is suspected he may be under “soft detention” or another form of confinement after he was seized in Hangzhou. On May 11, Hangzhou national security officers and local police dragged Wu away from the home of his friend, dissident Huang Weidong (黄伟东), who was taken in for questioning and then released. From Zhanjiang City, Wu was out on bail when he was dragged off, and according to the conditions of his bail, Wu should not have been away from his legal residence. After being unable to contact Wu, Huang called authorities on May 12 to ask about his friend’s whereabouts, but an officer only said that Wu had been taken to a train station in Hangzhou the night before. Wu, who started an informal online group called “Freedom and Democracy Alliance” for like-minded young people to discuss social and political affairs, was criminally detained in March on suspicion of “illegal organizing” and held for 28 days before being released on bail. (CHRD)
Harassment of Human Rights Lawyers
Lawyer Twice Blocked From Meeting Detained Legal Advocate Song Ze
Over the past several days, authorities have twice prevented human rights lawyer Liang Xiaojun (梁小军) from seeing his client, the legal advocate Song Ze (宋泽), who has been detained for trying to get involved in the case of Chen Kegui (陈可贵), the nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) being held on an “intentional homicide” charge. On May 25, Liang went to the Fengtai District Detention Center in Beijing to meet with Song, but the lawyer was told that he could not see him, reportedly because the official in charge of Song’s case was not in. Police officers at the center told Liang that he could return on May 28 to visit his client, but when he returned on that date, authorities were acting more “cautiously,” according to Liang, and refused to let him see Song using the same excuse. The officers told Liang that they would notify him when he can meet Song, but so far Liang has not heard back from the police. The blocking of Liang’s attempts to visit Song violates the Article 33 of China’s Lawyers Law, which protects the right of an attorney to visit a client. In addition to this development, a space that Song rents in Beijing has reportedly been searched by the police.
Song Ze, a volunteer for the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng), was criminally detained on May 5 in Beijing on suspicion of “creating a disturbance.” He reportedly tried to help the wife of Chen Kegui to get to Beijing after she went into hiding and was searched by police after hiring a lawyer for her husband. On April 27, Chen Kegui grabbed kitchen knives to defend his family against local officials and thugs who had entered his family’s home. Chen was later seized by police, and officers from the Yinan County Public Security Bureau formally arrested him on May 9. (CHRD)
Freedom of Religion
Authorities in Tibet Ban Certain Groups From Taking Part in Religious Activities
Chinese authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have issued a notification banning Party members, cadres, government officials, and even students from participating in religious activities such as the Saka Dawa, the sacred Buddhist day commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. The notification, issued by the TAR Committee for Discipline Inspection and Supervision Department, stated that participation for the individuals above amounts to “serious violations of political discipline and stability work” that will lead to severe punishment. The notice targets individuals “who still believe in religion, participate in religious activities, and illegally cross the border to attend religious teachings by the Dalai Lama,” saying such behavior shows a weakness in their political stance. According to the notice, the “struggle against separatism,” the “relationship between national security and national unity,” and “stability in border areas” are major political issues, and individuals who exhibit “dereliction of duty” will be punished, even with immediate dismissal from their posts.
The notice also says that forces of instability inside and outside Tibet have only increased the pressure on the government’s anti-stability work, especially during large-scale religious festivals when many pilgrims visit Tibet. Since the beginning of this year, 19 officials in Tibet, both of Tibetan and Chinese descent, have either been demoted or fired for failing to implement stability maintenance work, according to information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a human rights NGO based in Dharamsala, India. Of particular concern is the fate of thousands of Tibetans who last year attended the Kalachakra teachings given by the Dalai Lama in India. On their return home to Tibet, hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims were arrested at the border and subjected to political education sessions for months. The recent notification apparently warns these pilgrims about “illegally crossing the border to attend the Dalai Lama’s teachings” and talks of further review of their cases. (TCHRD)
Forced Eviction and Demolition/Land Expropriation
Violent Demolitions in Henan Lead to Death & Other Injuries, Tight Monitoring
Two recent episodes of violent demolitions in Henan Province led to one burning death and other injuries, and officials are tightly monitoring affected villagers and the local area in the bleak aftermath. Without following proper procedures, Shangjie District officials in Zhengzhou organized over 500 individuals to destroy villagers’ homes in on May 5. Dressed in camouflage clothing and making use of large vehicles, the intimidating group also brought on public security officers to cordon off the area to prevent villagers from getting in the way. Residents who took photos with their cell phones had them confiscated, and villagers who tried to remain inside their homes were pulled out and not allowed to retrieve their belongings. That day, a fire broke out at the home of Wang Xiaoling (王晓玲), and Wang’s daughter burned to death even though the demolition team had parked three fire trucks at the demolition area earlier.
During another round of demolition, the three sons of villager Shi Liuzhu (时留柱) were all seriously injured on May 20 by demolition personnel and taken to a hospital for treatment. At the time of writing, Shi’s youngest son was still battling life-threatening injuries. Ever since these incidents occurred, local officials have censored information from the media, placed demolition victims under 24-hour surveillance, and forbidden outsiders from coming to the scene to discuss the situation or take photographs. (CHRD)
Law & Policy Watch
Yunnan Officials Enforce “No Passport” Policy for Young Women
In violation of her rights, a woman from Yunnan Province has reportedly been told by officials that she cannot get a passport since “too many” local young women go overseas to work in the sex industry, a seemingly arbitrary decision that aligns with official policy in some areas in the province. On May 18, a worker at the Exit-Entry Administration Department of the Menglian County Public Security Bureau (PSB) informed the 24-year-old woman that her passport application had not even been reviewed, and said that females under 35 years of age cannot get passports, ostensibly because too many local women have “gone abroad and engaged in sexual services.” The young woman then sought an explanation from the Pu’er City PSB, but personnel there rudely rebuffed her. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was planning to travel to Southeast Asia.
According to the director of Menglian’s Exit-Entry Administration Department who spoke with CHRD, at least three counties in Pu’er have been denying passports to women aged 16 to 35 in recent years, a practice that has the support of provincial authorities. As rationale, officials allege that women who have gone abroad to work in the sex trade have tarnished Pu’er’s image while contracting infectious diseases, including AIDS, which threaten public safety once they return to China. The department director further stated that the policy is also partly based on a notion that there is a shortage of marriageable females, with so many young women believed to be going abroad. (CHRD)
CHRD Releases Statement on Endemic Problem of Illegal House Arrest, From Chen Guangcheng to Feng Zhenghu
On May 24, CHRD issued a statement on the illegal practice of “house arrest” in China, an extreme form of “soft detention” (软禁) that has received a great deal of worldwide attention because of the case of activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), who fled his repressive house arrest in April. The statement spotlights the case of activist and legal advocate Feng Zhenghu (冯正虎), 57 years old, who has been under illegal detention in his Shanghai home since late February. Feng, who became a hero to Shanghai petitioners and activists for his efforts to return to China after staying in the Narita International Airport for more than three months, has faced constant pressure and harassment from the police from the time he came back in February 2010. Even before his current house arrest began, Feng was summoned for questioning many times, put under occasional soft detention, involuntarily disappeared, and pressured to go on “trips” with the police.
As CHRD states, “soft detention” of any sort has no basis in Chinese law and is not encompassed by regulations governing “residential surveillance” (监视居住), which is authorized under China’s Criminal Procedure Law. As seen with many Chinese activists and dissidents targeted by authorities, actual conditions during soft detention are rarely limited to simple surveillance. Instead, police often resort to physical harassment and violent behavior in order to intimidate those being detained and completely cut them off from the outside world. (CHRD)
Editors: Victor Clemens and Wang Songlian
 “China Human Rights Briefing: Special Edition – Lawyers Pose Challenge After Police Prevent Meeting With Chen Kegui,” May 22, 2012, CHRD; “China Human Rights Briefing: Special Edition – Shandong Police Torture Chen Guangfu, Brother of Chen Guangcheng, As Relatives Live in Fear,” May 16, 2012, CHRD; Chen Guangcheng: A Special Bulletin – Updates on Situation of Chen Guangcheng & His Family Members, Relatives & Supporters Since Chen’s Flight for Freedom, May 24, 2012 (updated), CHRD; “The Chinese Government Must End Persecution of Chen Guangcheng, His Family & Supporters, Seek Accountability,” April 27, 2012, CHRD; “Chen Guangcheng Escapes, Several Relatives Seized” (陈光诚出逃多名亲人被抓), April 27, 2012, CHRD
 “Rights Defender Li Xiangmou Detained Again for ‘Organizing Others to Illegally Cross Border’,” (维权人士李祥谋被以“组织他人偷越国边境”再次逮捕), August 27, 2011, CHRD; “’Fujian Yuanyang 628’ Rights Defender Li Xiangmou Sentenced to 3 Years, 9 Months in Prison” (“福远渔628”维权代表李祥谋获刑三年零九个月), May 22, 2012, CHRD; “Fujian Rights Defender Li Xiangmou Detained for Excessive Period” (福建维权人士李祥谋被超期羁押), January 30, 2012, CHRD; “Trial Opens for Fujian Rights Defender Li Xiangmou, Armed Police Stand Watch Over Citizens Gathering” (福建维权人士李祥谋案开审，武警站岗网民围观), October 30, 2011, CHRD
 “Hu Mingjun, China Democracy Party Member from Sichuan, Freed After Completing 11-Year Sentence” (四川民主党人胡明军11年刑满出狱), May 28, 2012, CHRD; “Hu Mingjun, Suffering from Many Diseases, Resigns Himself to Imprisonment” (胡明军疾病缠身 自认难以出狱), June 24, 2010, CHRD
 “Hubei Activist Song Ze Accused of ‘Creating Disturbance,’ Lawyer Gets Permission to Visit” (湖北维权人士宋泽被控“寻衅滋事罪”，律师获准会见), May 15, 2012, CHRD; Chen Guangcheng: A Special Bulletin – Updates on Situation of Chen Guangcheng & His Family Members, Relatives & Supporters Since Chen’s Flight for Freedom, May 24, 2012 (updated), CHRD
 “Official Chinese Notification Bans Tibetan Participation in Religious Activities Friday,” May 25, 2012, TCHRD; “Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, China Demotes 6 Tibetan Officials in TAR,” May 17, 2012, TCHRD