[CHRB] 10 Activists Criminally Detained for Memorializing June 4th (6/3-6/8, 2016)Comments Off on [CHRB] 10 Activists Criminally Detained for Memorializing June 4th (6/3-6/8, 2016)
China Human Rights Briefing
June 3-8, 2016
Police Put 10 Under Criminal Detention in Crackdown on Activists Commemorating Tiananmen
Police criminally detained 10 activists around the 27-year anniversary of June 4th, as Chinese citizens continue to face persecution and harassment for commemorating the crushing of the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Beginning on May 27, activists Li Meiqing, Li Wei, Liang Taiping, Lu Fuhai, Luo Yaling, Ma Qing, Ma Xinli, Xu Caihong,
Zhang Baocheng, and Zhao Changqing were seized in separate but related police actions in Beijing and Sichuan Province, and subsequently placed under criminal detention. Nine of them are being held on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” while Lu Fuhai is facing a charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” On or around June 4th, many other activists were briefly detained for questioning, forced to travel, or put under house arrest. Ding Zilin, the leader of the Tiananmen Mothers movement, was among those put under house arrest before the anniversary.
Seven of the 10 were taken into custody in Beijing after a photograph was posted online showing six of them in front of a poster calling for remembrance of June 4th and also for the release of the imprisoned Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄) and the detained Yu Shiwen (于世文). The activists had gathered at Zhang Baocheng’s home on May 28, when the photo was likely taken. At least five of these activists are being held at Fengtai District Detention Center.
Three more individuals have been criminally detained in Sichuan, including two in Chengdu after producing a wine label with the phrase “Remember June 4th, 1989” and sharing an image of it online.
Five of the 10 activists previously had been detained or imprisoned for taking part in the New Citizens’ Movement, a loose grouping of individuals whose activities Chinese authorities clamped down on from the spring of 2013 in the first wave of suppression on civil society under President Xi Jinping.
Below is more information on the 10 individuals put under criminal detention:
Detained in Beijing:
- Li Meiqing (李美青), a female petitioner-activist from Beijing, began petitioning in 2012 after her home was forcibly demolished. Police detained her for voicing support for lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) during his sentencing hearing last December. In September 2015, Li’s elder sister blocked the motorcade of President Xi Jinping during his visit to Washington DC, reportedly to present a grievance about illegal land grabs by local Chinese officials.
- Li Wei (李蔚), 45, was detained in April 2013 and later given a two-year prison sentence for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” after protesting the banning of Annie Zhang (张安妮), the daughter of dissident Zhang Lin (张林), from attending school in Anhui Province. Li also participated in an anti-corruption campaign that begin in late 2012 and defended education rights in Beijing. Li was released at the end of his sentence, in April 2015.
- Liang Taiping (梁太平), a young poet and activist in Sichuan, was taken into custody in Beijing after commemorating June 4th. Authorities reportedly forced Liang out of a past job in retaliation for his active promotion of free speech rights. Originally from Sichuan, Liang now lives in Changsha in Hunan, where local police recently posted a search warrant on the door of his residence.
- Ma Xinli (马新立), 49, had previously been detained for nearly a year in 2013 and 2014, after he and other activists attempted to submit an open petition demanding anti-corruption measures and publicly rallied for government officials to disclose their financial assets. A former bus driver, Ma had also been detained in the past for petitioning to protect intellectual property rights for his inventions and calling for reforms to China’s Patent Law.
- Xu Caihong (徐彩虹), a 46-year-old female activist, has been detained numerous times due to her rights advocacy work. During her current detention, police have reportedly refused to allow Xu’s relatives and other supporters to hire a lawyer for her, and Xu’s husband has been forcibly sent back to their home province of Hubei. Xu has assisted petitioners seeking redress over rights violations from central authorities in Beijing, and has frequently participated in events memorializing victims of the Tiananmen Massacre.
- Zhang Baocheng (张宝成), 56, was seized with three other Beijing-based activists, including Ma Xinli (above), in March 2013. He served two years in prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” and was released in March 2015. A former businessman, he began engaging in rights defense activities in 2006.
- Zhao Changqing (赵常青), 47, served two-and-a-half years in prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” after being taken into custody in April 2013, and he was released in October 2015. Originally from Shaanxi Province, Zhao has been imprisoned a total of three times, including after taking part as a student leader in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Since his release in 2007, he has devoted himself to promoting civic activism and organizing advocacy campaigns on issues ranging from equal education rights to anti-corruption measures.
Detained in Sichuan Province:
- Fu Hailu (符海陆), an activist from Chengdu, was seized by police after allegedly creating a wine label with the phrase “Remember June 4th, 1989” and sharing an image of it online. Fu is being held for “inciting subversion” in Chengdu City Detention Center.
- Luo Yaling (罗亚玲), a female activist from Chongqing, was criminally detained in late May, and police also broke into her home and searched it on June 3. Luo previously served a 10-day administrative detention after expressing support online for the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong in October 2014.
- Ma Qing (马青), an activist and poet from Sichuan, was criminally detained after being seized on May 27. Along with Fu Hailu (above), Ma had spread the word online about a wine with a label reading “Remember June 4th, 1989.” Ma is being held at Chengdu City Detention Center.
As illustrated above, crackdowns on civil society under Xi Jinping have borne out the risks of Chinese activists’ demonstrating in public streets and parks—a common method used in the New Citizens’ Movement—and even to gather privately or express themselves online. A 2013 judicial interpretation (in Chinese and English translation) that defined the Internet as a “public space” has allowed authorities to apply the charge “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” against individuals who post image or photos online (Criminal Law, Article 293(4)). Authorities have increasingly relied on this provision to suppress freedom of expression. In May 2014, after a photo of a private commemoration of Tiananmen was circulated online, Beijing police detained several individuals, including the prominent lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强); Pu was convicted in December 2015 of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” (and of a second crime) for online comments critical of government policies. In addition, dozens of mainland supporters of the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong were also detained and accused of the offense after they posted images online in late 2014.
CHRD calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the 10 above activists, and of all Chinese rights defenders currently in detention or prison due to exercising their rights to free assembly and expression. The government must investigate the atrocities committed in June 1989, hold criminally accountable those responsible for the killings, and provide state compensation to victims or their families.
China, as a party to the UN Convention against Torture since 1988, has once again failed to implement a repeated recommendation by the UN Committee against Torture: China must “ensure that:
(a) All allegations of excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment perpetrated by State officials on or following the June 3-4, 1989, suppression of protests, are effectively, independently and impartially investigated by an independent authority and that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished;
(b) Victims and their families obtain full reparation;
(c) Families of those arrested or disappeared in connection with the 1989 events and its memorialisation are informed of the fate of their relatives;
(d) Victims, their families, witnesses and others who intervene on their behalf are protected at all times against retaliation for claiming their legitimate right to obtain redress and accountability for past violations;
(e) The legal safeguards and due process rights of those detained in connection with the 1989 events, or with current activities to memorialize it, should be fully respected.”
(Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periotic Report of China, CAT/C/CHN/CO/5, February 3, 2016)
See more on CHRD’s website about the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre & June 4th-related suppression and persecution of Chinese citizens, including information from June 2016: