China Human Rights Briefing  20-22 February 2010

Headlines

Citizens’Actions

ArtistsMarch on Chang’an Avenueto Protest against Forced Eviction

On February 22, between 20 and 30 Beijingartists including Ai Weiwei (艾未未) took to Chang'an Avenue,marching down the street carrying banners protesting against forcedevictionsand demanding protection for citizens’ rights. The demonstration, whichconcluded peacefully, was widely followed on Chinese blogs and onTwitter, withsome calling it the first protest on Chang'an Avenue since the springof 1989. Though a numberof police surrounded the marchers when they reached their destination,therewere no reports of any of the artists being detained.

The march was sparked by a violent forcedeviction in a Beijingarts district in the middle of last night. According to eyewitnesses,sevenartists were beaten during the forced eviction, which was carried outby closeto 200 masked thugs. The thugs fled when the police arrived, but thepolice tookno action to arrest the men. Satoshi Iwama (岩间贤), aJapanese artist, suffered a serious head wound and received fivestitches. (CHRD)[i]

Freedomof Expression

SiteDevoted to Academic Exchange Blocked

CHRD learned on February 22 that the well-knownacademic website Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend(http://www.bjzm.org/)has been closed. According to the website'smanager, thecompany responsible for operating the site's server received a noticefromrelevant authorities ordering the site to be closed for “reorganizationandreform” on February 16. In response, the site’s manager moved it to anoverseasserver, but on the evening of the 19th, that address was blocked in China.Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend, which was designed to providea forumfor academic and ideological discussion and exchange, had registeredmore than1000 users since it was launched last September. (CHRD)[ii]

ForcedDemolition and Eviction

Jiangsu Woman Convicted in First“Anti- Forced Eviction” Murder Case

On February 20, the Suqian Intermediate Court inJiangsu Province convicted Wu Manlin (吴曼琳, alias) of murder and sentenced her to eightyears in prison for killing a forced eviction worker. She has also beenorderedto compensate the family of the victim 270,000 RMB. The victim, a mansurnamedYuan (袁),had led a team of workers from a demolition and eviction company inSuqian toabuse, threaten, and intimidate Wu's mother at her home and, after sheleft, atWu's home. On the morning of May 30, 2009, the workers damaged Wu'spropertyand threatened her in an attempt to compel her to come out for a"discussion;" Wu's two younger brothers, upon learning of thesituation, hurried to Wu's home to confront the workers. An argumentbroke out,and Wu, fearing for her brothers' safety, emerged from her home andstabbedYuan, killing him instantly. In court, Wu did not dispute that shekilled Yuan,but argued that she was acting in self-defense. While the court agreedthatWu's rights had been infringed by the illegal acts of the evictioncompany, itruled that her response went beyond a reasonable defense and could beconsidered a criminal act. As the first “anti-forced eviction” murdercasetried in China,Wu’s case is receiving a great deal of attention domestically. (CHRD)[iii]

ArbitraryDetention

Chongqing Petitioner-Turned-ActivistZhong Shengniu Detained in Beijing,Forcibly Returned

On February 12, Chongqingpetitioner-turned-activist Zhong Shengniu (钟声牛) wasseized by Beijing police while petitioning in the capital and held forfivedays at Majialou, a central black jail for petitioners in Beijing. OnFebruary17, he was forcibly returned to Chongqing,wherelocal police warned him against further petitioning and threatened tosend himto Re-education through Labor (RTL) if he was caught in Beijing again.Zhong reported that more than100 petitioners were being held at Majialou during the days he wasdetainedthere. (CHRD)[iv]

Harassmentof Petitioners

Ahead of the annual meetings of the NationalPeople's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People'sPoliticalConsultative Committee, set to begin on March 5 and March 3,respectively, policeand authorities around the country have begun their annual efforts topreventpetitioners from travelling to Beijing.CHRD continues to receive reports of petitioners being harassed,threatened,and detained, including:

  • Jixi City, Heilongjiang Province petitioner Sun Wenyuan (孙文远) reported that local government officials detained him and his 67-year old mother from February 12 to February 20 after forcibly returning them Beijing, where they were being held in a black jail. After Sun and his mother were released, police arrived at their home and warned Sun that if he traveled to Beijing to petition during the legislative meetings, he would be sent to RTL. (CHRD)[v]
  • On February 22, Shangqiu City, Henan Province police stationed additional guards outside of the home of former PSB officer Sun Ming (孙明) to prevent Sun from petitioning during the upcoming meetings. According to Sun, he has been under residential surveillance for more than one year. Sun, who was dismissed from the PSB after trying to fight internal corruption in 2002, has been petitioning for eight years since local officials refused to implement a court decision overturning his dismissal. (CHRD)[vi]

Law andPolicy Watch

BeijingJudge Recommends Two Critical Reforms to New Eviction Regulations

According to a Xinhua report, Liu Xing (刘行), a Beijing judge, delivered aproposal before the New Year to the State Council regarding changes tobe madeto the draft Regulations for the Expropriation and Compensation forBuildingson State-owned Land, which will replace the current Urban HousingDemolitionand Relocation Management Regulations if passed. The proposal calls fortwomain reforms to the regulations: first, it suggests that a distinctionbe drawnbetween land use rights and buildings on land set to be demolished, andarguesthat there should be separate compensation for the land use right andthebuildings.  Second, Judge Liu recommendsthat the regulations include a stipulation that evictees can sue tostop theprocess of demolition and eviction, a power they are not currentlyaffordedunder the draft regulations. (Xinhua)[vii]

The proposals put forward by this Judge Liuaddress two of the most critical problems present in the newregulations: theinability of residents to stop demolition once permits have beengranted andthe difficult nature of securing adequate compensation for residentswhosehomes are seized by the state.  Seeingthese sorts of suggestions publicized by the mainstream media isencouraging,though even if they are adopted by the State Council much more must bedone toadequately protect the rights of citizens. For additionalrecommendations CHRDhas compiled regarding the issue of forced evictions, please see ourlatestreport, ThrownOut: Human Rights Abuses in China’s Breakneck Real Estate Development.

 

Editors:David Smalls and Lin Sang

*** CHRD’s Human Rights Yearbook 2009 is now available.  For a free copy, please contact us with yourmailing address at crdnetwork@gmail.com.***

Newsupdates from CHRD

ThrownOut: Human Rights Abuses in China’s Breakneck Real Estate Development

[i] "Beijing Artists March on Chang'an Avenue to ProtestForcedEviction and Beating of Residents" (北京艺术家长安街游行 抗议拆迁打人), February22, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100222174427_20025.html,see also: "Report from Forced Eviction and Demolition in Beijing'sChuanyizhengyang Arts District" (北京创意正阳艺术区强拆纪实), February 22, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100222202128_20030.html

[ii] "Chinese Academic Thought Website "Let a Hundred Schoolsof Thought Contend" Blocked" (中国学术思想网站“百家争鸣”被封), February 22, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100222131636_20023.html

[iii] "First Anti-Violent Forced Eviction Case Ends inEight-YearSentence for Jiangsu Woman" (首例反暴力拆迁的江苏女子获刑8年), February 22,2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100221102037_20009.html

[iv] "Activist Zhong Shengniu Returned to Chongqing" (维权人士钟声牛被押解回重庆),February 19, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100219163529_19987.html

[v] "Sun Wenyuan Warned by Police Not to Petition in BeijingDuring 'Two Meetings'" (孙文远被警告不得在 “两会” 期间到北京上访),  February 21, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/fmzj/201002/20100221190357_20016.html

[vi] "Security Officials and Police Place Petitioner HenanPetitioner Sun Ming under House Arrest Before 'Two Meetings'" (“两会”前河南上访干警孙明遭软禁),February22, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100222180034_20027.html

[vii] "Judge Recommends State Council Legal Office Perform'TwoMajor Operations' on New Eviction Regulations" (一法官建议国务院法制办对征收条例动“两大手术”), February 21, 2010, http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2010-02/21/content_13016699.htm

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