China Human Rights Briefing January 19-24, 2011

January 25, 2011
China Human Rights Briefing Weekly

January 19-24, 2011

To download this week’s edition of CHRB as a .pdf file, please click here

Highlights

Beijing Court to Hold New Hearing in Case against Artist and Activist Wu Yuren: On January 28, the Chaoyang District Court will hold a new hearing in the case against artist and activist Wu Yuren (吴玉仁), who has been charged with “attacking” police. Wu, who was one of the organizers of a march down Chang’an Avenue in February 2010 to protest the demolition of a Beijing arts district, has been in detention since June 1, 2010.

Anhui Environmental Whistleblower Held under Residential Surveillance: Anhui province farmer Zhang Bing (张兵), who began efforts to draw attention to a polluting factory in his hometown of Lujiang County in the spring of 2009, has been under residential surveillance since April, 2010, CHRD learned this week. Zhang has accused the Xinzhongyuan Chemical Engineering Company of improperly disposing of phosphogypsum and polluting the local water supply.

Democracy Activist He Depu Freed: He Depu (何德普), Beijing dissident and one of the founding members of the banned China Democracy Party, was released from prison this week after serving an eight-year sentence for “subversion of state power.” His release was far from smooth, however, as friends and fellow activists were warned not to meet with him, and his hand was injured in a clash with a police officer shortly after regaining his freedom.

Arbitrary Detention
Hearing Upcoming in Case against Artist and Activist Wu Yuren

CHRD has learned that the Chaoyang District Court in Beijing will hold another hearing in the case against artist and activist Wu Yuren (吴玉仁) on January 28 at 9 am. The hearing will be held in Chaoyang District’s Wenyuhe Courthouse. It is believed that the court specifically chose the date for its proximity to Chinese New Year, in hopes that many individuals who would otherwise observe the hearing or gather outside the courthouse will be away from the city. Wu, who was detained on June 1, 2010, after accompanying fellow artist Yang Licai (杨立才) to the police station to report the theft of a generator, has been charged with “attacking” police. An earlier court hearing, on November 17, 2010, was adjourned after Wu’s lawyer Li Fangping (李方平) requested that footage from the surveillance camera during the investigation be shown at the trial. However, according to Li, police have already announced that they will not provide the surveillance video during the upcoming hearing. Wu Yuren was one of the organizers of a bold February protest down Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue to draw attention to the forced demolition of the 008 Arts District in February 2010, and his arrest is believed to be in retaliation for his activism. (CHRD)[i]

Anhui Farmer under Residential Surveillance for Reports on Polluting Factory

On January 21, CHRD learned of the case of Anhui province farmer Zhang Bing (张兵), who is currently living under residential surveillance (jianshi juzhu) after working to expose a polluting factory in his Lujiang County hometown. In the spring of 2009, Zhang began reporting to local officials regarding the Xinzhongyuan Chemical Engineering Company, which was improperly disposing phosphogypsum on local fields; chemicals running off into water sources after heavy rains were polluting the water and leading to severe economic losses for local residents, many of whom raised fish for sale. When local efforts proved insufficient to change the habits of the company, Zhang began petitioning higher authorities to intervene and sought media attention. As a result, he was criminally detained for “extortion” in April 2010. According to a police officer who interrogated Zhang, it was his petitioning and seeking media attention that led to his detention. He was then given two consecutive six-month terms of residential surveillance while legal proceedings against him are underway. (CHRD)[ii]

Crackdown on Petitioners in Beijing as Municipal ‘Two Meetings’ Open

As officials gather for the municipal “Two Meetings” of the People’s Congress and the People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, many petitioners are being illegally detained, placed under surveillance, or subjected to “soft detention” by the police, security guards and members of neighborhood committees. For example, CHRD has received the following reports of petitioners facing restrictions on their movements as a result of the government meetings:

Gao Zhanying (高占英), of Beijing’s Fengtai District, has been under “soft detention” since January 11. Gao has been petitioning for years regarding an unjust court verdict.

Su Wen (苏文), of Beijing’s Xicheng District, has also been under “soft detention” since January 11. Su’s home was forcibly demolished without proper compensation.

Liu Chunxia (刘春霞), of Beijing’s Fengtai District, has been confined to her home since January 17 by police.

Jing Haosheng (荆浩生) received a threatening phone call from police on January 15, warning him not to leave his home.

Li Lirong (李立荣), of Beijing’s Xicheng District, has been under strict surveillance since January 10. Li has been petitioning for years following the forced demolition of her home. (CHRD)[iii]

Democracy Activist He Depu Released After Eight Years in Prison

On January 24, He Depu (何德普), Beijing dissident and one of the founding members of the banned China Democracy Party, was released from prison after serving an eight-year sentence for “subversion of state power.” He reported that, shortly after leaving the prison, he was involved in a physical confrontation with a police officer who sought to take him to a local police station. Though He’s hand was injured, he was allowed to return home and is not in police custody as of the time of writing. Reportedly, friends and fellow activists were warned not to meet with He following his release, and his wife Jia Jianying (贾建英) was called in for a “talk” with police ahead of her husband’s release. (CHRD)[iv]

Disabled Petitioner Held in Liaoning Re-education through Labor Camp

On January 20, CHRD learned of the case of disabled petitioner Gai Fengzhen (盖凤珍), who is currently detained in Masanjiazi Re-education through Labor (RTL) Camp in Liaoning Province. Gai, of Shenyang City, along with his wife Shi Xing (石兴), were seized while petitioning in Beijing on July 14, 2010, and escorted to their hometown under the pretense of meeting with local officials. However, once they arrived on July 15, they were seized by a group of police officers who placed them under soft detention at a local police station; that evening, officers took Gai into detention for “disrupting work unit order” and later sent him to one year of RTL at Masanjiazi RTL Camp. Gai, who cannot walk without crutches, filed for administrative reconsideration of the decision, but the outcome of is still unclear. (CHRD)[v]

Court in Beihai City Once Again Pushes Back Hearing for Local Land Rights Activist

On January 18, relatives of detained Baihutou village representative He Xianfu (何显福) were informed that the Yinhai District court in Beihai City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region had once again rescheduled the hearing for He’s “obstructing official business” case. He was detained in November 2010 for standing up to developers and local officials carrying out forced evictions and demolitions in Baihutou Village; his case was originally scheduled to be heard on January 11, but was changed at the last minute to January 20. The court has not announced the new date for the hearing. (CHRD)[vi]

Freedom of Expression
List of Nine Prohibitions for Media in 2011 Circulated Following Publicity Department Meeting

Following a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Publicity Department on January 4, CHRD has learned that media outlets have been issued a list of nine “requirements and prohibitions” for 2011. Among the instructions are demands that media outlets “strictly control reporting on disasters and extreme incidents;” media outlets are instructed not to “call into question” forced evictions “conducted according to laws and regulations;” and journalists are prohibited from using the term “civil society” or discussing structural reforms to China’s political system. For the full list, in Chinese, please click here. (CHRD)[vii]

Harassment of Activists
Electricity, Water, Internet Cut to Room of Beijing Activist Ni Yulan

CHRD learned on January 20 that police in Beijing’s Xicheng District continue to harass Beijing human rights activist Ni Yulan (倪玉兰) and her husband. The couple, who have been living in Yuxingong Guesthouse for a number of months, report that the electricity has been repeatedly disconnected in their room for the past 32 days; the water has been off for 11 days, and the internet has been shut down for many days as well. Ni, a housing rights activist and former lawyer, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in 2008 for resisting the forced demolition of her home. She was released on April 15, 2010. Ni and her husband have since been forced to live on the street because their home was forcibly demolished, and with the help of fellow activists, the couple moved in Yuxingong Guesthouse in the summer of 2010. Police have been harassing the couple and pressuring them to leave the guesthouse since then. For her rights activism, since 2001 Ni has repeatedly detained, imprisoned and tortured, which left her unable to walk and in a wheelchair. (CHRD)[viii]

Update: Beijing Human Rights Defender Wang Lihong Regains Freedom of Movement

On January 21, the police officer stationed outside of the home of Beijing human rights defender Wang Lihong (王荔蕻) departed, indicating that the “soft detention” to which she had been subjected for more than three months had come to an end. Police began limiting her freedom of movement in response to the news that Liu Xiaobo (刘晓 波) had been awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Wang was seized by police at a celebratory gathering on October 8, and later administratively detained for eight days. Following her release from detention, police placed Wang under “soft detention,” first at a local hotel and then at her home. She was also taken to the outskirts of Beijing for a period of 18 days surrounding the Nobel award ceremony. (CHRD)[ix]

Citizens’ Actions
CHRD Releases New Report on Obstacles to Judicial Independence in China

On January 24, CHRD issued a new report examining the obstacles to judicial independence in China. The report discusses Party and government interference with the court system in China, using landmark cases to demonstrate the role of political-legal committees (zhengfawei) in “guiding” court decisions. For the full text (in Chinese), please click here. (CHRD)[x]

Send a Holiday Card to Chinese Prisoners of Conscience

On January 21, human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) announced the launch of a postcard drive for close to 40 Chinese prisoners of conscience, timed to coincide with Chinese New Year, only 12 days away. For the full list of prisoners of conscience, including Tan Zuoren (谭作 人), Hu Jia (胡佳), Liu Xiaobo (刘晓 波), and others, as well as the mailing addresses of the facilities at which they are currently being held (in Chinese), please click here and consider sending a postcard with a holiday greeting. (CHRD)[xi]

Law and Policy Watch
State Council Approves Draft Regulations Governing Forced Evictions and Demolitions

On January 19, the State Council approved the Draft Regulations for Expropriation and Compensation of Housing on State-owned Land, a set of guidelines designed to replace the Urban Housing Demolition and Relocation Management Regulations, which currently govern forced evictions and demolitions. The draft regulations call for local officials, not developers, to handle the relocation of, and negotiate fair compensation with, homeowners. The draft regulations also stipulate that local officials must use the courts to force homeowners to move if the owners otherwise refuse to relocate. The draft regulations may still be revised before receiving final State Council approval. (Xinhua)[xii]

Editors: David Smalls and Lin Sang

Follow us on Twitter: @CHRDnet

News updates from CHRD

[i] “Another Court Hearing Upcoming for Artist Wu Yuren’s ‘Police Attack Case’” (艺术家吴玉仁“袭警案”将再次开庭), January 22, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101221528.shtml
[ii] “Anhui Farmer Zhang Bing is Prosecuted for Protecting Environment, Reporting Polluting Business” (安徽农民张兵保护 环境举报企业污染被起诉), January 21, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101212117.shtml

[iii] “Many Petitioners in Beijing Placed under Surveillance or Soft Detention during Municipal ‘Two Meetings’” (北京多位访民在市 两会期间被监控软禁), January 23, 2011, http://www.peacehall.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101231232.shtml

[iv] “He Depu Injured in Clash with Police Outside of Jail Following Release” (何德普在监狱外与警方发生冲突受伤), January 24, 2011, http://www.peacehall.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101241252.shtml

[v] “Ill, Handicapped Petitioner Gai Fengzhen Sent to RTL” (残疾多病上访者盖凤珍被劳教), January 20, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101202258.shtml

[vi] “Beihai Court Changes Hearing Time for He Xianfu Again” (北海法院再次变更何显福开庭时间), January 19, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101191336.shtml

[vii] “Publicity Department of the CCP Central Committee Issues Nine Publicity Specifications and Prohibitions for 2011” (中宣部发布2011年的九条宣传口径和禁令), January 19, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101191328.shtml

[viii] “Water, Electricity, Internet Cut to Room Rented by Human Rights Lawyer Ni Yulan for 32 Days” (维权律师倪玉兰的房间被断水断电断网32天), January 20, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101201715.shtml

[ix] “Beijing Human Rights Activist Wang Lihong Makes Public ‘Guarantee’ from Period of Soft Detention” (北京维权人士王荔蕻公开被软禁期间的“保证书”), January 21, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101211411.shtml

[x] “CHRD Report: Obstacles to Judicial Independence in China” (维权网报告:中国司法独立的障碍), January 24, 2011, http://www.peacehall.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101240023.shtml

[xi] “Human Rights Lawyer Jiang Tianyong Launches Postcard Drive for Prisoners of Conscience” (维权律师江天勇发起给良心犯寄明信片活动), January 21, 2011, http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2011/01/201101212115.shtml

[xii] Xinhua, “Draft Regulations for Expropriation and Compensation of Residential Buildings on State-owned Land Abolishes Forced Administrative Eviction(《國有土地上房屋徵收與補償條例(草案)》取消行政強制拆遷),” January 19, 2011; see also Associated Press, “China moves to tighten eviction rules after unrest,” January 19, 2011, http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9KREDEO0.htm

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