[CHRB] Dissident Poet Li Bifeng Given 12 Years on Concocted Fraud Charge; Outspoken Professor Under House Arrest Since May; and more (11/17-11/23, 2012)Comments Off on [CHRB] Dissident Poet Li Bifeng Given 12 Years on Concocted Fraud Charge; Outspoken Professor Under House Arrest Since May; and more (11/17-11/23, 2012)
China Human Rights Briefing
November 17-23, 2012
- Sichuan Dissident Li Bifeng Issued 12-Year Prison Term for Alleged Fraud
- Retired Professor Sun Wenguang Under House Arrest for 6 Months
Harassment of Activists
- Guizhou Writer Li Yuanlong Seized for Breaking Story of Street Kids’ Deaths
Freedom of Expression
- Beijing Resident Detained After Mocking Party Congress on Twitter
Sichuan Dissident Li Bifeng Issued 12-Year Prison Term for Alleged Fraud
Sichuan dissident and poet Li Bifeng (李必丰) was given a 12-year sentence on a seemingly concocted charge of “contract fraud” on November 19. This marks the third time Li has gone to prison in apparent retaliation for his pro-democracy and human rights activities. The case against Li ostensibly stems from an agreement he signed with an alcohol company to help sell apartments in Hainan Province. Company heads have claimed that Li owes them more than 2 million yuan (nearly US$ 320,000). Ma Xiaopeng (马小鹏), one of his attorneys, maintains that the charges against Li are baseless, and another lawyer, Zhao Jianwei (赵建伟) also has defended Li’s innocence. Li said he would appeal the punishment, which was handed down by the Shehong County People’s Court.
Contrary to the charges presented in court, it is believed that Li, 48, has been targeted since authorities suspect that he helped finance the escape from China last year of dissident writer Liao Yiwu (廖亦武), a suspicion that Liao himself has said is untrue. An international campaign calling for Li’s release was launched after he was taken into custody in September of 2011. Previously, Li was given five years’ imprisonment for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement” for his involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Li later served seven more years for “economic fraud” for helping workers defend their labor rights.
Retired Professor Sun Wenguang Under House Arrest for 6 Months
Sun Wenguang (孙文广), a retired professor from Shandong University, has been held under house arrest for more than a half year, during which time he has been limited from leaving his home and prevented from receiving visitors. Guarding Sun around the clock, police have forcibly held him at his residence since May 16, when it was initially believed that tight restrictions were being put in place only for the June Fourth anniversary. A frequent target of police threats and surveillance, Sun was severely harassed in late 2011 in retaliation for running as an independent candidate in a local People’s Congress election. Sun Wenguang supported the pro-democracy rights movement in 1989, and has held commemorations every year for ousted CCP General Secretary Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳), who lived under house arrest before his death in 2005.
Harassment of Activists
Guizhou Writer Li Yuanlong Seized for Breaking Story of Street Kids’ Deaths
Police in Guizhou Province have seized dissident writer Li Yuanlong (李元龙) after he broke a story of the shocking deaths of five boys living on the streets whose bodies were found in a garbage container in Bijie City on November 15. Li provided a story with photographs for a report on the deaths that was posted online on November 17. After Li was taken away by police that same afternoon, the human rights group for which he volunteers was able to reach him by phone, and Li indicated that he was in a police vehicle and was going to “travel.” The revelation of the deaths, which have been attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to a fire that the boys had lit to stay warm in the dumpster, has sparked widespread media attention and led to the suspensions and dismissals of several local officials. The boys had been reported missing more than a week before their bodies were discovered. A former state journalist, Li previously served a two-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” and is often pressured by police to cease his freelance writing on sensitive subjects.
Freedom of Expression
Beijing Resident Detained After Mocking Party Congress on Twitter
Beijing resident Zhai Xiaobin (翟小兵) was criminally detained on November 7 for “spreading false terrorist information,” apparently for sending out a message on Twitter that mocked the Party Congress. In a tweet on November 4, Zhai “predicted” that more than 2,000 delegates at the congress would die and that only seven would survive, only to later die as well—a scenario directly borrowed from a horror film series. After the news of Zhai’s detention became known, an online petition was launched on November 17 protesting the criminalization of free speech and calling for Zhai’s release. Amid intense public scrutiny, national security officials warned Zhai’s wife not to go online, and demanded that she hand over her cell phone and information about her online contacts. Zhai Xiaobin is being held at the Miyun County Detention Center.
Edited by Victor Clemens, Ann Song and Renee Xia
 “Restrictions on Freedom of Shandong University Professor Sun Wenguang Reach Half Year” (山东大学孙文广教授被限制自由达半年之久), November 21, 2012, WQW; “Evicted Professor, Independent Candidate Sun Wenguang: I Was Not Allowed to Vote on Election Day” (孙文广：投票日不得投票), December 13, 2011, WQW; “Shandong University Professor Sun Wenguang Under Soft Detention on Voting Day” (山东大学投票日，孙文广教授被软禁家中), December 12, 2011, WQW; “Shandong University Professor Evicted for Running in Elections” (山大孙文广教授竞选，家被抄房子被收), December 11, 2011, WQW
 “Dissident Writer Li Yuanlong Sent ‘Traveling’ After Exposing Case of Five Death Vagrant Children” (爆光五流浪儿被闷死案 贵州异议作家李元龙被“旅游”), November 21, 2012, CRLW; “Five Vagrant Children Suffocate to Death in Garbage Container in Bijie, Guizhou” (贵州毕节五流浪儿为避寒闷死垃圾箱), November 17, 2012, CRLW