China Human Rights Briefing December 15 – 31, 2007

December 31, 2007
China Human Rights Briefing
Reporting human rights development from the grassroots
15-31 December 2007
Editorial

The detention of Beijing-based human rights defender Hu Jia on December 27, 2007, on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” is indicative of the beginning of a systematic crackdown by the Chinese government before the Olympic Games.

Dissident is suppressed in the name of security for the Olympics, which is due to open in Beijing in about seven months’ time. A number of grassroots activists, who wish to remain anonymous, told CHRD that apparently in concerted action, police in Beijing and other cities have tightened surveillance and harassment of activists. Within the last two weeks and as we write, the police have began detaining and putting under house arrest (or residential surveillance (jianshi juzhu)) dozens of activists, outspoken intellectuals and human rights lawyers.

The Chinese government has also become increasingly sensitive to gatherings of activists, especially in Beijing. In late December, even a dinner party proved intolerable. Beijing municipal police disrupted the annual dinner party of the Chinese chapter of International PEN. Since then, many activists in the provinces have been warned against going to Beijing, while others have been put under house arrest to prevent them from traveling there.

Restriction of movement, harassment and incarceration of activists is likely to intensify and expand in scope as the Olympics approaches. Sadly, the Chinese government’s blatant failure to honor its promise to promote human rights when it bid to host the Games has not deterred prominent public figures in the international community, such as US President George Bush, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, or the Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, from accepting invitations to attend or perform at the opening ceremony.

Table of contents

Detention, imprisonment and harassment of activists. 2

Beijing Police Bar Attendees from Independent Chinese PEN Gathering. 2

Shanghai Writer Li Jianhong Released from Five Days of Detention. 2

Gao Zhisheng Still Missing Three Months After Disappearance. 3

Human Rights Defender Liu Jie Denied Treatment for Eye Illness at RTL Camp. 3

Hu Jia Detained on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion of State Power”. 3

Sichuan Petitioner Cao Xiaoli Detained in “Black Jail” Again. 3

Guo Feixiong on Hunger Strike; Wife’s Account Frozen by Government 3

Freedom of Expression. 4

Beijing to Punish Mobile SMS Users for “Endangering Public Security” and “Spreading Rumors” 4

Dissident Writers’ Blogs Closed or Blocked. 4

Right to vote. 4

Election Overseer “Elected” as People’s Representative. 4

Persecution of Petitioners. 5

Wang Guilan Disappears after Exposing Police’s “Sale” of Petitioners. 5

Right to health. 5

Former Soldiers Denied Compensation after Their Health Was Wrecked by Radioactivity. 5

Citizen’s Actions. 5

Chengdu “Rightists” Sue Government for Persecution. 5

Detention, imprisonment and harassment of activists

Beijing Police Bar Attendees from Independent Chinese PEN Gathering

On December 21, Beijing police mobilized to block about a dozen people from attending a meeting of the Chinese chapter of International PEN (ICPC) scheduled for December 22. The police visited many individuals and warned them against attending the gathering. In some cases, individuals were put under house arrest to prevent them from going. Those prevented from attending the gathering included ICPC vice-president, Jiang Qisheng (江棋生), ICPC council member, Liu Xiaobo(刘晓波), and other well-known scholars, writers and human rights defenders such as Xu Liangying (许良英), Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦), Wang Lixiong (王力雄), Liu Di (刘荻), Liu Ning (刘柠), Wang Guangze (王光泽), Li Heping (李和平), Chen Yongmiao (陈永苗), Jia Jianying (贾建英), Li Hai (李海), Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), Li Jianhong (李剑虹), Liao Yiwu (廖亦武), Zhao Dagong (赵达功), Jiang Danwen (蒋亶文), Qin Geng (秦耕), Wen Kejian (温克坚) and Liu Yiming (刘逸明). (ICPC)[1]

Shanghai Writer Li Jianhong Released from Five Days of Detention

On December 23, Li Jianhong (李剑虹,also known as Xiaoqiao (小乔)), Shanghai writer and activist, was released from five days of detention by the National Security Unit (Guobao) of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau (PSB) Pudong Sub-division. Li was detained to prevent her from attending an Independent Chinese PEN gathering scheduled to be held on December 22 in Beijing. Although the detention was carried out by the Shanghai police, it was requested by the Beijing PSB’s National Security Unit. (CHRD)[2]
Gao Zhisheng Still Missing Three Months After Disappearance
Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), a prominent human rights lawyer, is still missing after his disappearance on September 22. The last time anyone heard from Gao was when he called Beijing-based activist, Hu Jia from Xi’an, Shaanxi Province on October 28. In the short phone conversation, Gao told Hu not to visit his family. When Hu asked where Gao was, Gao said he was going to be in Shaanxi and Shanxi Provinces. No one has heard from Gao since then. (CHRD)[3]

Human Rights Defender Liu Jie Denied Treatment for Eye Illness at RTL Camp

Liu Jie (刘杰), veteran rural campaigner and human rights defender currently serving 18 months of Re-education through Labor (RTL) in Qiqihaer, Heilongjiang province, will go blind if she does not receive proper treatment immediately, according to a doctor who examined her on December 20. Liu Jie’s family demands her release from the Re-education through Labor camp on the basis of her medical condition. Her lawyers have also filed a request for an administrative review of the decision to send her to the RTL camp. Authorities have not responded to either of these requests. (CHRD)[4]

Hu Jia Detained on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion of State Power”

Beijing-based activist, Hu Jia (胡佳), has been detained by police on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” At around 3 pm on December 27, about 20 police officers forced their way into Hu Jia’s home. They surrounded Zeng Jinyan, Hu’s wife, and their one-month-old baby, as well as Zeng’s grandmother, who was visiting. The police cut off Hu and Zeng’s telephone line and Internet connections, confiscated their cell phones, and barred them from contacting others. The police then took Hu away while several policemen remained at the couple’s home to watch Zeng. The Police issued a detention order stating that Hu is detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” but did not explain what activities lead to such suspicion. Hu’s whereabouts are currently unknown. (CHRD)[5]

Sichuan Petitioner Cao Xiaoli Detained in “Black Jail” Again

On December 15, 2007, CHRD learnt that Cao Xiaoli (曹晓丽), a petitioner against local official corruption from Rong County, Zigong City, Sichuan Province, was secretly detained in the “black jail”[6] at Rong County Assistance Station. According to her family, who visited Cao at the jail, she is seriously ill. Cao was examined by medical staff from the Chinese Medicine Hospital in Rong County, who said she must be treated at the hospital. Cao, her family and other petitioners have repeatedly called for her release for medical treatment or for the authorities to grant her access to appropriate treatment, but the authorities have denied both requests. Cao was detained for about a week in the same jail in late September 2007. (CHRD)[7]

Guo Feixiong on Hunger Strike; Wife’s Account Frozen by Government

On December 14, 2007, jailed human rights defender, Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄, a.k.a.Yang Maodong (杨茂东)), went on hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. On December 13, Guo had just started serving his prison terms in Meizhou Prison in Guangdong Province. According to his family, he has been beaten and the authorities have threatened to send him to psychiatric institutions.

Meanwhile, on December 19, Guo’s wife, Zhang Qing (张青), issued her fourth public letter addressing President Hu Jintao on the date of her sixth weekly 24-hour hunger strike protesting Guo’s imprisonment. Zhang received a notice the same day from Tianhe District People’s Court in Guangzhou stating that if she failed to pay a 40,000 RMB fine levied on Guo for “operating an illegal business,” the Court would take the money with interest added. On December 21, Zhang told the Court that although she is married to Guo, the Court has no right to her money since it is Guo who was fined. However, on December 26, Zhang discovered that the Court had already frozen her account on December 17. (CHRD)[8]

Freedom of Expression

Beijing to Punish Mobile SMS Users for “Endangering Public Security” and “Spreading Rumors”

On December 17, the Beijing municipal government released the “Notice Regarding the Further Regulation and Management of the Use of Mobile Phone Text Messages in the Release of Public Information,” which restricts the use of text messaging to disseminate public information. According to the notice, individuals who send mobile phone text messages that “propagate and spread rumors” and “endanger public safety” will be investigated and reprimanded by the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) together with the Telecommunications Department, as well as relevant government departments and telecommunications companies.” (CHRD)[9]

Dissident Writers’ Blogs Closed or Blocked

In early December, Zhejiang writer, Zan Aizong’s (昝爱宗) blog, which criticizes social ills, was closed without notification either from sina.net, the internet provider, or the relevant government departments that manage the internet.

Similarly, readers of One Newspaper, a blog by Shanghai writer, Zhai Minglei (翟明磊), that focuses on social issues, were recently unable to access the blog. On December 24, 2007 after Zhai found out that the blog could be accessed again, he used the blog to call on the authorities to lift their ban on eight other dissident blogs and websites. On December 27, Zhai’s blog was blocked again. (64tianwang)[10]
Right to vote

Election Overseer “Elected” as People’s Representative

An election of a people’s representative on December 30, 2007 in Qianjiang City, Hubei Province, was fraudulent, according to Yao Lifa (姚立法), a local activist. Not only was there only one candidate on the ballot, but that candidate was Xiao Youwen (肖友文), the head of the Working Committee appointed by the Qianjiang City People’s Representatives Standing Committee to oversee electoral affairs. The Committee failed to release, as required by law, lists of candidates and registered voters prior to the election. Many voters were unaware that the election would be held on that day. (64tianwang)[11]
Persecution of Petitioners

Wang Guilan Disappears after Exposing Police’s “Sale” of Petitioners

On December 18, 2007, Wang Guilan (王桂兰), a petitioner from Enshi City, Hubei Province, exposed the “sale” of petitioners in Beijing for 500 RMB per petitioner by police from Fuyoujie Police Station under Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB). The petitioners were detained by the police and then handed over to interceptors of petitioners from the relevant provinces in exchange for the money. After Wang exposed the practice, she was promptly sent to Majia House, a detention center where Beijing petitioners are often detained. From there, she disappeared. Wang’s family is worried that she might be sent to Re-education through Labor or subjected to other punishments. Wang is a co-organizer of the public letter signed by 12,150 petitioners in October 2007 which called on the 17th Party Congress to implement reforms. (CHRD, 64tianwang)[12]

Right to health

Former Soldiers Denied Compensation after Their Health Was Wrecked by Radioactivity

On December 8, 2007, discharged soldiers whose health was damaged by exposure to radioactivity during their military service petitioned in Beijing for compensation, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

In the 1970s in Guangdong Province, tens of thousands of discharged soldiers joined the “basic construction engineering corps No. 203 division,” which worked with radioactive uranium. The soldiers served in the division for between 3 and 13 years. Some died during service allegedly as a result of exposure to dangerous levels of radioactivity, many who survived continue to suffer from chronic diseases. Most of the former soldiers live in rural areas and are unemployed.

Since 2006, they have been petitioning in Beijing for compensation without success. In addition to refusing to acknowledge that the former soldiers were affected by radioactivity during service, the government has also suppressed their petitioning activities using the police and the judiciary. (CRLW)[13]

Citizen’s Actions

Chengdu “Rightists” Sue Government for Persecution

CHRD learnt on December 29, 2007 that 30 individuals from Chengdu, Sichuan Province who were denounced as Rightists by the Chinese government in 1957 filed a lawsuit at the Sichuan Provincial High Court seeking compensation from the government departments responsible for their persecution. They called on the government to compensate those wrongly denounced (and their families) for the wages withheld to them, for the psychological and physical trauma inflicted as a result of maltreatment or Re-education/Reform through Labor, and for the cost of treating such trauma. Peng Mutao (彭幕陶), one of the “rightist” representatives, said that if the court fails to accept this lawsuit, “rightists” living abroad would sue the Chinese government in other countries. (64tianwang.com)[14]

Editor: Wang Songlian

[1] International Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), “Independent Chinese PEN Strongly Protests the Thwarting of Its New Year Gathering and Dinner Party by the Police,” December 22, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[2] CHRD, “Independent Chinese PEN Member Li Jianhong Released,” December 24, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website; CHRD, “Shanghai Writer Li Jianhong Detained,” December 20, 2007, available here on CHRD website.

[3] CHRD, “Hu Jia: One Year Since Gao Zhisheng was Convicted and Commuted to Parole,” December 22, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[4] CHRD, “Human Rights Defender Liu Jie Denied Treatment for Eye Illness at RTL Camp,” December 28, 2007, available here on CHRD website.

[5] CHRD, “Hu Jia Detained on Suspicion of ‘Inciting Subversion of State Power,’” December 28, 2007, available here on CHRD website.

[6] CHRd, “‘Black Jails’ in the Host City of the ‘Open Olympics’: Secret detention facilities in Beijing are illegally incarcerating petitioners,” available here on CHRD website.

[7] CHRD, “Zigong City Petitioner Cao Xiaoli Detained in ‘Black Jail; Again,” December 15, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[8] CHRD, “Guangdong Judiciary Freezes and Appropriates Zhang Qing’s Bank Account,” December 27, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website; Radio Free Asia (RFA), “Zhang Qing’s Letter to President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang,” January 2, 2008, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[9] CHRD, “Beijing to Punish Mobile SMS Users for “Endangering Public Security” and “Spreading Rumors,” December 23, 2007, available here on CHRD website.

[10] Voice of America (VOA), “Freelance Writers’ Blogs Closed in Succession in China,” December 18, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[11] RFA, “Fraudulent Election in Qianjiang City, Hubei Province,” December 31, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[12] CHRD, “Organizer of Open Letter Wang Guilan Arrested and Disappeared, Liu Jie Might Go Blind If Treatment Continued to be Denied,” December 27, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[13] CHRD, “Former Soldiers Denied Compensation after Their Health Was Wrecked by Radioactivity,” December 26, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

[14] CHRD, “Chengdu ‘Rightists’ Sue Government for Persecution,” December 29, 2007, available here in Chinese on CHRD website.

Chinese Human Rights Briefing (CHRB) is an update report on human rights developments originating from grassroots Chinese human rights defenders, individuals and groups. Chinese Human Rights Defenders is responsible for all information published in CHRB. CHRB does not report news first appeared in the media, but refers to media sources in the endnotes for readers interested in more information.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) is a non-political, non-government network of grassroots and international activists promoting human rights protection and empowering grassroots activism in China. CHRD’s objective is to build NGO capacities, monitor rights development, and assist victims of abuse. CHRD advocates non-violent and rule of law approaches. CHRD conducts investigation and research, provides information, organizes training, supports a program of small grants, and offers legal assistance.

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