[CHRB] Candidates Obstructed in Violation of Chinese Election Law (10/21-11/3, 2016)Comments Off on [CHRB] Candidates Obstructed in Violation of Chinese Election Law (10/21-11/3, 2016)
China Human Rights Briefing
October 21-November 3, 2016
Rights to Political Participation
Intimidation of Independent Candidates Mars China’s Local Elections
Chinese authorities have intimidated, harassed, and detained citizens who declared their “independent candidacy” in this year’s elections of local people’s congress delegates. Below are some reported incidents that have occurred since June:
On November 1, Yao Lifa (姚立法), a prominent election expert and one-time representative to his local people’s congress in Qianjiang City, Hubei, was forced into a vehicle by authorities and taken away from the school where he works. Yao was seized on the same day he and 57 others declared their independent candidacy for the election in Qianjiang. Authorities reportedly told him that they have orders from superiors to take him out of Hubei “for a few days.” Since mid-October, officials have also restricted the movement of several other candidates in the city. On October 16, authorities shut down Yao’s blog “China Election Watch” (中国选举观察), which he has used for years to publish information about Chinese election laws and regulations, providing practical guides to citizens who wish to run in local elections. Yao Lifa has been under semi-house arrest for several years; police monitor his residence, and authorities order him to report to work at the school during the day so they can restrict his movement.
In Beijing, independent candidates have also encountered police harassment and intimidation to prevent them from meeting voters or journalists and making campaign speeches. On October 24, police blocked 18 independent candidates from gathering at the home of one of the candidates, Yang Lingyun (杨凌云), where they were to be interviewed by Nippon Television journalists and take part in a campaign activity. The day before, police had warned Yang that police officers would monitor her home for “trouble,” and that interviews with foreign media would not be allowed. A group of police and neighborhood committee members also guarded the entrance to the home of candidate Ye Jinghuan (野靖环) on October 24, and would not let Ye leave to go to Yang’s residence. Police had blocked the Japanese journalists from seeing Ye on October 14, the same day the 18 individuals in Beijing had jointly declared their intention to run in the election. On November 1, several candidates witnessed police preventing Ms. Fan Sujun (范素君), a candidate in her 80s, from leaving her home to take part in a campaign event. Two days later, police came to the home of candidate Liu Huizhen (刘惠珍) and blocked her from holding a campaign activity, and also kept outside individuals who were to take part.
In Hunan, police detained Guan Guilin (管桂林) in Hengyang City on September 19, accusing him of “disrupting elections.” Guan was trying to register as an independent candidate in Qidong County. After Guan served a 10-day administrative detention, authorities criminally detained him on a charge of “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.” He was released on October 29. Hengyang police also criminally detained Guan when he ran in the 2012 local election, on suspicion of “intentional injury.”
In Jiangxi, activist Yang Wei (杨微) received a 10-day administrative detention after being seized on August 23 by security guards at a government office in Fuzhou City, where he had tried to fill out a candidate recommendation form. Yang (aka 杨霆剑, Yang Tingjian) had previously attracted police attention after he set up online platforms to discuss democratic ideas and support detained rights activists. Police took Yang Wei into custody several times in 2013 for his role in street protests in Guangzhou, including demonstrations calling for press freedom and rallies held in solidarity with Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement.
In June, police in Gansu Province detained Qu Mingxue (瞿明学), a factory worker in Yongjing County, after he had filed a complaint when an individual he nominated for an election, Liu Mingxue (刘明学), was not on the final list of candidates. Authorities formally arrested Qu on July 2, on a charge of “disrupting elections.” On July 28, the local procuratorate decided not to indict Qu, and granted him his freedom. Its decision noted that Liu supposedly had not passed an “examination” by the election committee, thus making him ineligible to run.
China only has direct elections for people’s congress delegates in local townships, counties, municipal districts, and cities not divided into districts. Above these levels, including at the national level, there are no direct elections; congress delegates are selected by people’s congresses at the next lower level. China’s Election Law of the National People’s Congress and Local People’s Congresses (2015) stipulates that anyone over the age of 18 who has not had their political rights taken away may vote in or run in local elections (Article 3).
The reality, however, is that government and Party officials interfere in elections; authorities screen potential candidates when they try to register and when they run. Independent candidates are often “winnowed out” and kept off the ballots and, even if they are elected, are frequently prevented from assuming office. China’s Election Law, which was revised in 2015, even provides for an “examination committee” that has the authority to “screen” those elected before they can take office (Article 46); the criteria used, however, are not made public, and are above and beyond the standards outlined in Article 2 of the law. In previous local elections in China, in 2011, many independent candidates did not make it onto the ballot. In 2014, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed (para. 30) its deep concern over reports that women who have stood in elections as independent candidates have been “subjected to abuse and violence.”
Renee Xia, International Director (Mandarin, English), +1 863 866 1012, reneexia[at]nchrd.org, Follow on Twitter: @ReneeXiaCHRD
Victor Clemens, Research Coordinator (English), +1 209 643 0539, victorclemens[at]nchrd.org, Follow on Twitter: @VictorClemens
Frances Eve, Researcher (English), +852 6695 4083, franceseve[at]nchrd.org, Follow on Twitter:@FrancesEveCHRD