China Human Rights Briefing June 5-11, 2012Comments Off on China Human Rights Briefing June 5-11, 2012
China Human Rights Briefing
June 5-11, 2012
To download this week’s CHRB as a .pdf file, please click here
- Shady Circumstances Envelope Death of Activist Li Wangyang: The death of Hunan activist Li Wangyang, a labor leader during the 1989 pro-democracy movement, was immediately met with suspicion—when authorities declared it a suicide—and then with suppression: police have clamped down on Li’s friends and family members who have tried to confirm a cause of death, pay final respects, and view Li’s body, which some believe has already been cremated.
- Lawyer for Falun Gong Members Wasting Away in Prison: Lawyer Wang Yonghang, serving a seven-year sentence in Liaoning Province after defending Falun Gong practitioners, is in such poor health due to torture and worsening illnesses that his life may be in peril. Wang reportedly has tuberculosis and is showing signs of paralysis, among other debilitating conditions, according to his wife. Prison authorities have claimed that Wang is doing fine in prison, but have also warned his wife not to discuss Wang’s health and blocked her from seeing him over the past three years.
- Arbitrary Detention
- Hubei Authorities Approve Activist’s Arrest for “Intentional Explosion”
- Group of Shandong Petitioners Given Detentions for “Illegal Assembly”
- Liaoning Woman Criminally Detained on “Fraud” Charge
- Enforced Disappearance
- Beijing Activist Guo Qinghua Now Missing For One Month
- Harassment of Activists
- Hunan Authorities Maintain Tight Grip Over Friends & Family Members of Deceased Activist Li Wangyang
- Shanghai Activists Blocked Trying to See Feng Zhenghu, Who Remains Under House Arrest After Over 100 Days
- Authorities Keep Up Suppression of Activists Around June Fourth
- Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment and Punishment
- Activist’s Li Wangyang’s Death Sets Off Swarm of Suspicion & Wave of Suppression
- Lawyer Who Advocated for Falun Gong Members Reportedly Wasting Away in Prison
- Jiangxi Activist Zhu Juru Freed After Illegal 3-Month Black Jail Detention, Reveals Mistreatment
- Chengdu Cab Drivers Disclose Coercion, Assaults Suffered in Detention
Hubei Authorities Approve Activist’s Arrest for “Intentional Explosion”
Hubei human rights activist Xu Guangli (许光利) has been arrested on a charge of “intentional explosion,” according to his family, who recently received an arrest notice after Xu had been in custody for six weeks. The notice, issued by the Xiangxiang City Public Security Bureau (PSB) on May 31, indicated that the local procuratorate has approved Xu’s arrest. On April 25, officers from the Xiangxiang PSB went to the home of activist Yin Weihe (尹卫和) and seized him and Xu, reportedly for their alleged involvement in a signature collection campaign meant to support Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s call for political reforms. Since they were taken into custody, their families have not been allowed to see them. On May 26, police officers went to Yin’s home and conducted a search without producing a warrant. They confiscated his cell phone and a motorcycle, as well as some of Xu’s property, including a computer, cell phone, photograph, ID card, and bank cards. The two men have been held at the Xiangxiang City Detention Center.
Yin has reportedly been charged with “subversion of state power” after allegedly spearheading the signature collection campaign. Yin’s family has indicated that, besides the campaign to collect signatures, he and Xu have also been detained for rights-defense activities they have engaged in recently. In addition, Xu Guangli also signed “Charter 08” and participated in an event years ago in memory of the executed “counterrevolutionary” prisoner Lin Zhao (林昭). (CHRD, CRLW)
Group of Shandong Petitioners Given Detentions for “Illegal Assembly”
Six longtime petitioners from Shandong Province have been issued administrative detentions, reportedly for “illegal assembly,” after going to Beijing to seek justice for a variety of grievances. The citizens were at entrance to the State Bureau of Letters and Visits on June 6 when they were seized by interceptors from their hometown of Caizhou City. Five of the petitioners—Han Ximei (韩希梅), Yang Zhenping (杨真平), Jing Meijie (荆美杰), Hao Weiying (郝伟英), and Zhang Ruilian (张瑞莲)—received 15-day detentions, and one, Nie Yanli (聂延丽), was given a 10-day detention. At the time of writing, the individuals’ families had not received formal notification about the punishments. (CHRD)
Liaoning Woman Criminally Detained on “Fraud” Charge
Wang Chunyan (王春艳), a petitioner from Liaoning Province, has been criminally detained on a charge of “fraud” after petitioning in Beijing just prior to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. Wang was among more than 200 petitioners swept up at the Beijing South Railway Station on June 2, and she was forcibly returned to Dalian the next day. On June 4, the Ganjingzi District branch of the Dalian Public Security Bureau criminally detained Wang for “fraud,” though her family does not know what behavior on her part may have led to this charge. Wang’s petitioning reportedly relates to a forced home demolition in June 2008 when government personnel seized her on the streets and then detained her while they demolished her home without having agreed on compensation. Wang is being held at the Dalian City Detention Center. (CHRD)
Beijing Activist Guo Qinghua Now Missing For One Month
Beijing petitioner and activist Guo Qinghua (郭清华) has been missing for nearly a month, according to a fellow activist from the capital. Guo was last heard from in the morning of May 11, when she sent messages to other activists. She indicated that police had taken her to a hospital but that she refused to leave the police vehicle to have medical tests done on her, and that the police was planning to take her to a detention facility in Huairou District in Beijing. Since then, local police officers have not divulged Guo’s whereabouts to fellow petitioners who have inquired about her.
In early March, Guo was seized around the time of the “Two Meetings” and then held alone in a black jail. She escaped a month later with help from petitioners before being apprehended again in May. Guo began petitioning about a decade ago after having problems related to wages and her work unit leaders, leading police to beat and detain her. She has been sent to Re-education through Labor while often facing beatings and detentions in retaliation for her activism. (CHRD)
Harassment of Activists
Hunan Authorities Maintain Tight Grip Over Friends & Family Members of Deceased Activist Li Wangyang
Friends and family of the Hunan activist Li Wangyang (李旺阳) remain under intense pressure from authorities as unanswered questions fester around the cause of death of the 1989 labor leader, whose dead body was found in a hospital room in Shaoyang City on June 6 (see below). Among several activists taken away by national security officers on June 9, dissident Zhu Chengzhi (朱承志) was given a 10-day detention—on a charge of “disrupting social order”—after reportedly refusing to sign a guarantee promising to no longer question the circumstances around Li’s death, which authorities have said was the result of suicide. Other activists seized that day are now under soft detention at home, and the whereabouts of at least one more, Zhou Zhirong (周志荣), are unknown at the time of writing.
Some believe that authorities have already conducted an autopsy on Li’s body and cremated him. However, CHRD was unable to reach anyone with ties to Li for confirmation, as most are now difficult to contact, including fellow activists and his family members. After the news of the activist’s death became known, local police moved quickly to restrict the movements of those close to Li who have wanted to learn how he died, pay their final respects, and see his corpse. (CHRD)
Shanghai Activists Blocked Trying to See Feng Zhenghu, Who Remains Under House Arrest After Over 100 Days
Dozens of Shanghai police officers on June 9 blocked more than 20 activists who came to the residence of Feng Zhenghu (冯正虎), the activist who remains under isolating house arrest after more than 100 days. The activist He Maozhen (何茂珍), who was seized last week when trying to see Feng, remains out of contact at the time of writing. Officers stationed downstairs from Feng’s residence scatter away anyone trying to approach the building. Due to the tight control, supporters resort to yelling from the street to get Feng’s attention, but on June 9 his supporters were not even allowed to come close to the building as before. On June 4, Feng was taken to the hospital to be treated for a severe case of diarrhea, and no news has emerged since about his current state of health.
A signatory of “Charter 08,” Feng Zhenghu also edits a publication called “Inspection Brief” that provides legal analysis of officials’ conduct, and which is reportedly circulated widely and read even by government officials. Under his illegal house arrest that began on February 27, police officers from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau have guarded Feng’s residential building and prevented him from leaving his apartment, even to buy groceries. His relatives, friends, and supporters also have been prevented from visiting. Feng’s phone has been tapped, cell phone confiscated, and his internet connection cut off. Shanghai petitioners and activists who have tried to visit Feng and bring him food and other daily necessities have been constantly harassed and intimidated. (CHRD)
Authorities Keep Up Suppression of Activists Around June Fourth
Chinese authorities have kept up various forms of suppression against citizens involved in public events that marked 23 years of government silence and unaccountability related to the Tiananmen Massacre. Below are some of the most recently reported incidents of harassment and restricted movements.
- On June 4, the Beijing artist Hua Yong (华涌) was seized by police near Tiananmen Square shortly after he began a performance piece meant to memorialize June Fourth, and a photographer, Guo Zhenming (郭珍明), was also taken away. That evening, friends of the two came to the Songzhuang Police Station to give them food and cigarettes, but they were unable to learn any information about the detentions. Hua and Guo were still being held at the station at the time of writing. Reportedly, Hua also held an artistic performance last year that led to a 15-day administrative detention. (CHRD)
- Three young activists from Guangxi—Li Dexin (李德鑫), Li Jianghan (李江涵), Lu Zhenbin (陆振彬)—were taken into custody after participating in an activity on June 4 marking the Tiananmen Massacre in Ma’anshan Park in Liuzhou City. Officers have said the activists have been suspected of “disrupting social order.” After Li Dexin posted photographs of the event online, Liuzhou national security officers searched Li’s home and confiscated two hard drives, a camera, and clothing commemorating June Fourth, and then took Li to the Liushi Police Station for questioning. Police subsequently asked Li’s family to bring in a camera used at the activity. Li Jiangshan was also taken into custody but was released on June 5 after he was threatened and slapped during questioning by police, and had his cell phone taken away. Police then took him back to his home the next morning and searched his residence. Lu Zhenbin still could not be contacted at the time of writing. (CHRD)
- Hunan democracy rights activist Zhang Shanguang (张善光) was temporarily held by authorities in Huaihua City after police called him on June 4 to the Xupu County Public Security Bureau. The day before, Zhang had gone to a hospital in Shaoyang City to see Li Wangyang (李旺阳), a fellow labor activist from the 1989 pro-democracy movement who died only days later (see above and below). The visit led police to take Zhang into custody for questioning before sending him back to Xupu. According to Zhang, police did not given him any reason for restricting his freedom of movement. Zhang Shanguang is a veteran labor activist who served a total of 17 years in prison for his democracy and human rights activism. (CHRD)
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment and Punishment
Activist’s Li Wangyang’s Death Sets Off Swarm of Suspicion & Wave of Suppression
On June 6, Li Wangyang (李旺阳), a labor activist during the 1989 pro-democracy movement, was found dead in his hospital room, touching off a maelstrom of suspicion about the cause of his passing and also suppression by police who have limited the freedom of many of Li’s friends (see above). Early that morning, Li’s younger sister and brother-in-law went to Dayang Hospital in Shaoyang City, where Li had been receiving medical treatment, and they saw his body hanging next to a window. Li’s family has since been unable to confirm Li’s time of death or the actual circumstances. Hunan authorities later declared to Li’s family that the activist had killed himself.
Circumstances of Li’s death have pointed to the possibility of foul play. Photographs distributed on the Chinese microblog service weibo showed Li’s feet touching the floor, suggesting that a hanging could not have killed him. Activist and friend Zhu Chengzhi (朱承志) said that when he spoke to Li on June 4 he felt that Li sounded optimistic; though his health was clearly not good—due to past torture. Li lost most of his sight and hearing and cannot walk unaided, and also suffers from diabetes and heart disease—his condition had improved since his release from prison, in May of 2011. Despite Li’s impaired hearing, his sister had said that the night before his “suicide,” he asked her to buy him a radio and to help him practice his listening ability. Li’s illnesses and disabilities have further contributed to the sense of suspicion around his death, as fellow activists contend that it was physically impossible for him to hang himself. Police took away Li’s corpse after his death was discovered and have kept it in an unknown location, and his family and friends were not allowed to take pictures of it before it was taken away. Also, Li’s death occurred on June 6, two days after the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, and Li had been subjected to tight police monitoring around the time.
An online signature campaign has been launched to push authorities to reveal the truth about Li’s death, even calling on UN agencies to conduct an investigation, and to seek criminal responsibility if his passing is proven not to be a suicide. Ostensibly to try to quell the uncertainty about Li’s death, police told his brother-in-law that they were willing to conduct an autopsy with him present to determine the cause, but some now believe that an autopsy was already performed without the family, and that authorities have already had Li’s body cremated.
A one-time glass factory worker, Li Wangyang became active as a labor leader in the pro-democracy movement in 1989, forming the Shaoyang Autonomous Union, and was imprisoned for 13 years for alleged “counterrevolutionary” crimes . In May of 2001, he was again imprisoned, for 10 years for “inciting subversion of state power,” and was finally released last May. (CHRD)
Lawyer Who Advocated for Falun Gong Members Reportedly Wasting Away in Prison
Lawyer Wang Yonghang (王永航), currently serving a seven-year sentence in Liaoning Province, has been subjected to torture over the past half-year, and his health has declined so badly that his life is in danger, according to his wife, Yu Xiaoyan (于晓艳). Yu has indicated that Wang, who is being held in Shenyang No. 1 Prison, is suffering from tuberculosis as well as pleural and peritoneal effusions, and is showing signs of paralysis, including numbness below the waist, while his voice has weakened. Contrary to what Yu has said about her husband’s poor health, prison authorities have claimed that Wang is doing fine in prison. Yu has also indicated to CHRD that police have warned her not to discuss Wang’s health with anyone, and that she is reportedly followed when she leaves her home. Yu also said that she has been stopped from seeing Wang multiple times in the past three years.
The revelations about Wang’s health are coupled by the poor, often violent treatment he has been subjected to since being detained by police nearly three years ago. As police seized Wang in July of 2009, he suffered a broken right ankle, an injury that was not promptly treated, leading to a severe infection and worsening the dislocation. Wang went on a hunger strike the next month to protest the beating of alleged Falun Gong practitioners and ended up being force-fed, which caused respiratory tract bleeding and nearly fatal suffocation. Police then handcuffed Wang and shackled him to the ground floor for about 48 hours. In October of 2010, Wang reportedly was beaten by fellow inmates acting on instructions by police, and he was put in solitary confinement later that month. Prior to his detention, Wang Yonghang had published letters online in which he advocated religious freedom and explained his views on the persecution of Falun Gong members, who he also had been persistently harassed for defending. In October of 2009, the Shahekou District People’s Court tried Wang in a secret trial that was held without his family being notified and with Wang unrepresented by defense counsel, and the court sentenced him the next month on a charge of “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.” (CHRD)
Jiangxi Activist Zhu Juru Freed After Illegal 3-Month Black Jail Detention, Reveals Mistreatment
Jiangxi rights activist Zhu Juru (朱菊如), finally released last week after three months of illegal detention in a black jail, has revealed mistreatment he suffered at the hands of his guards. Zhu was taken into custody by plainclothes police officers from Xinyi City on March 8 as the “Two Meetings” convened in Beijing, and the next day he was blindfolded and eventually taken to a black jail. Once seized, he reportedly protested his detention by going on a hunger strike for nearly a month, during which Zhu was force-fed on about a half-dozen occasions, and so aggressively that two of his teeth were knocked out. After being freed on June 8—after 91 days—Zhu said that he had been confined in one room in a guesthouse located at a coal mine about 30 kilometers from Xinyu, and was guarded by security personnel dispatched by the Xinyu Political-Legal Committee. Authorities detaining Zhu reportedly never identified themselves and did not go follow legal procedures. Several fellow Xinyu activists tried to locate Zhu during his detention, but they never learned where he was held.
In recent years, Zhu, a former teacher, has been detained several times for exposing corruption and pushing for democratic reforms. He was briefly held in 2006 for hosting a forum on elections and social change, and was sent to one year of Re-education through Labor (RTL) in October 2008 for “inciting subversion of state power.” (CHRD)
Chengdu Cab Drivers Disclose Coercion, Assaults Suffered in Detention
Cab drivers from Chengdu City who recently served administrative detentions after petitioning in Beijing as part of a group of more than 100 drivers have disclosed mistreatment that they faced while detained. One driver has indicated that, of five of those who served out five-day detentions, two reported being beaten and coerced into revealing the names of drivers who organized the petitioning efforts that took place in mid-May, which subsequently led police to criminally detain alleged ringleaders. After the victims went to complain to the local procuratorate, officials there said they needed to see concrete evidence of police misconduct even though their injuries were clearly visible. Officers from the Wenjiang County Public Security admitted petitioners had sustained injuries but said an investigation would need to take place to determine criminal wrongdoing. Detained drivers have spoken of hair-pulling, slapping, constant cursing and threats, strip-searching, and other acts perpetrated by authorities who held them from late May to early June.
Four cab drivers have been criminally detained for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” over the petitioning, including two who did not even go to Beijing with the group a month ago. The cab drivers from Chengdu, who have pursued grievances over financial issues and conflicts they have had with the local bureau of transportation, set off to Beijing on May 11, and were then swept up a week later forcibly sent back to Sichuan Province. (CHRD)
Editors: Victor Clemens and Wang Songlian