China Human Rights Briefing  26 February to 1 March 2010

Headlines

 

 

Notesfrom CHRD:

1. CHRDLaunches New Website: CHRD is pleased to announce the launch of ourredesigned English-language website, http://chrdnet.org.  This website will host all of ourEnglish-language reporting, selected media coverage of rights-relatedstories,and multimedia related to human rights in China. Please feel free tocontactus with any questions or comments related to the new website. ForChinese-language information, http://crd-net.orgwill continue to be updated regularly.

2. CHRB to Offer Weekly as Well as DailyEditions: In response toreader requests, we will now be offering ChinaHuman Rights Briefing as either a daily or weekly email bulletin.  If you have a preference regarding how youwould like to receive CHRB, pleaseemail us at crdnetwork@gmail.com.Thanks!

 

Freedomof Expression

JilinGovernment Website Details Targeting of Political Publications during“Anti-Pornography” Campaign

On March 1, CHRD researchers discovered an articleon the Jilin City Government's Website regarding efforts by the Municipal Bureau of Press and Publicationsto "purify" the market for publications in Jilin. Among the achievements notedduringthe implementation of the 2009 anti-pornography campaign was theclosure of 38"illegal political publications." The "illegal"publications were divided into four categories: those that attack theleadersof the Communist Party and state, those that attack Party policies,those thatinflame ethnic tensions, and pirated versions of political works. (CHRD)[i]

ArbitraryDetention

Hubei Teachers’ Organizer Releasedfrom RTL, Compensated after 3 Months of Detention

Yang Huanqing (杨焕青), a community-runschool teachers' representative from Gong'an County, Hubei who was sentto oneyear of Re-education through Labor (RTL) on November 20, 2009, wasreleased onFebruary 26 by the Jingzhou RTL Committee. According to the originalRTL noticereceived by Yang's family, officials had sent Yang to RTL fororganizingteachers to petition, meeting with other teachers' representatives, andpetitioning with other representatives on three specific occasions in2009.After Yang's detention began, hundreds of laid-off community schoolteachersgathered for a series of protests at the HubeiProvince, Jingzhou City,and Gong'an County government offices. Yang had filed an administrativelitigation lawsuit challenging his detention, and after a series ofnegotiations between officials at the Shashi District Court inJingzhou, Yang'slawyer, family members, and the Jingzhou RTL Committee, Yang wasreleased. Thelocal government gave Yang’s sister 10,000 RMB and demanded that Yangdrops thelawsuit in exchange. (CHRD)[ii]

Tortureand Other Cruel, Degrading, and Inhuman Treatment

Hunger Strike by Death Row InmatesUnderlines Use of Torture, Failure of Courts

On February 23, three death row inmates in aJiangxi Prison—Fang Chunping (方春平), Huang Zhiqiang (黄志强), andCheng Fagen (程发根)—begana hunger strike to draw attention to their convictions, which have beenuphelddespite a lack of evidence and shocking abuses perpetrated by policeassignedto their case. Fang, Huang, and Cheng, along with a fourth defendant,ChengLihe (程立和),are currently serving suspended death sentences for “murder, robbery,and rape”in cases which took place in 1999 and 2000. Following their arrests in2002,the four were subjected to brutal torture during interrogation sessionsbypolice seeking to extract confessions. Lawyers and scholars followingthe casehave pointed out further problems, including critical pieces ofevidence in thecase which remain missing, in addition to the prosecution's reliance ontheseconfessions extracted by torture. (CHRD)[iii]

Persecutionand Harassment of Activists

OfficialsIncrease Harassment of “Sensitive” Individuals Ahead of NPC, CPPCCSessions

As the annualsessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the ChinesePeople’sPolitical Consultative Conference (CPPCC) approach, activists andpetitionersacross the country continue to be subjected to “soft detention,” put inblackjails, forcibly returned to their hometowns, or otherwise monitored ona dailybasis to prevent them from protesting or petitioning during themeetings.  In the past few days, CHRD haslearned of thefollowing cases of harassment:

  • On February 28, Beijing activist Liu Anjun (刘安军) was taken away by National Security officials, CHRD learned from Mr. Liu’s wife. According to his wife, Liu has not been able to be contacted since. Mr. Liu is the director of Sunshine Charity, a group which advocates for homeless petitioners in Beijing.[iv]
  • Since February 26, Zhang Hua (张华), a veteran petitioner in Nantong, Jiangsu, and her family have been followed and monitored by more than 20 government officials. At one point, Zhang attempted to free herself from surveillance by getting into a taxi, but she was dragged out of the vehicle by the six officials following her. When Zhang’s brother protested the officials’ behavior, they beat him. [v]
  • On February 26, Liu Chunbao (刘纯保), a petitioner from Liaoning, was kidnapped by unidentified persons believed to be Beijing police in the Daxing District in Beijing. CHRD has since learned that Mr. Liu is detained in an unknown location along with Shang Zhongli (尚忠利), a petitioner from Inner Mongolia.[vi]
  • Jinan, Shandong-based petitioner Li Hongwei (李红卫) has been detained in Jinan’s Dongyi Hotel since February 26. Ms. Li had been under surveillance by the police and sub-district officials for two days before a sub-district official invited Ms. Li to the Dongyi Hotel to discuss her relocation plans after home demolition. When she arrived, she was forcefully brought to a room by six special security forces, who injured her head when she struggled to escape. After receiving three stitches at a local hospital, Ms. Li was again taken back to the hotel and detained.[vii]
  • On February 28, Zhu Juru (朱菊如), a petitioner from Jiangxi, was taken away from her rented room in Beijing by 16 National Security officials, who then returned her to Xingyu, Jiangxi. [viii]
  • On March 1, Jin Yan (金焰), the wife of activist Xie Fulin (谢福林), was summoned to the local National Security Bureau, where officials told her she was on a list of individuals under surveillance and warned her against any petitioning activities during the two meetings.[ix][x]
  • On March 1, author Liao Yiwu (廖亦武) was taken off a plane going from Chengdu to Beijing by persons believed to be PSB officers. Liao was briefly detained at the police station in Chengdu’s Shangliu Airport and was later released. [xi]

Organizer of Card-writing CampaignSummoned

On March 1, Wang Yi (王译), an activist in Shaoxing,Zhejiang, was summoned for questioning at the local police station for eight hours. The police also confiscated her computer and otherbelongings without a proper warrant. Ms. Wang, who was released ataround 11pmon the same day, said the police questioned her about a card-writingcampaignfor imprisoned activists that she initiated online. She was ordered toreturnto the police station on March 2.[xii] 

LaborRights

HundredsStrike over Low Pay in GuangdongFactory

On February 24, over 300 female assembly lineworkers went on strike at a Huizhou City, Guangdong factory, seekinghigherwages and better working conditions. According to one of the workers, the plant, which produceson/offswitches for electrical products, pays the women 550 RMB (about 80 USD)permonth, with an additional 2 RMB per hour of overtime. After payinglivingexpenses, she said, the women are barely able to save any money. Localgovernment officials and police arrived on the scene and asked thestrikers tochoose representatives to present their demands. The women choose abouttwodozen workers to draw up a list of ten concerns, which local officialspromisedto respond to within a week. The strike ended peacefully and withoutincident,and by the morning of the 25th most of the women had returned to work.(CHRD)[xiii]

Freedomof Assembly

Policein Chengdu Detain Organizer, Block Meeting on Government’s AllegedEarthquakeMisconduct

A seminar planned for March 1 by citizens whobelieve the Department of Seismology should be held legally responsibleformisconduct ahead of the 2008 Sichuanearthquake was prevented from taking place by police, who ransacked thegroup'smeeting room in Chengdu,Sichuan on Saturday. Oneorganizer, ZhangXiaohui (张晓辉),was forcibly taken to Beijing, while a volunteer, Wang Xiaodong (王笑冬),remains missing as of the time of writing. Police also confiscated acomputer,camera, and documents belonging to the organizers. Zhang had organizedtheconference to highlight the case of Zhang Deliang (张得亮), anamateur seismologist who claims to have predicted the 2008 earthquakeand laterfiled three lawsuits against the Department of Seismology for nottakingappropriate steps to act on his prediction or suggestions for theirwork. Noneof Zhang Deliang's lawsuits were accepted. Before police disruptedtheir plans,Zhang Xiaohui had planned to hold the conference to discuss the actionsof theDepartment of Seismology, and to prepare a fourth lawsuit to file onbehalf ofZhang Deliang. (CHRD)[xiv]

Citizens’Actions

CHRD ReleasesReport on Freedom of Religion in China

On February 26, CHRD released its latest report,documenting the persecution faced by Christian house churches in Chinaandanalyzing the current restrictions on the free practice of religion (宗教信仰在中国:桎梏与出路—基督教家庭教会信仰自由现状分析及改进建议).The report includes a concrete set of recommendations for realizingfreedom ofreligion, calling for constitutional and legal amendments to betterprotectthis critical right of Chinese citizens and an end to the governmentmanagementof religious practice in China.For the full text, in Chinese, please click here.

ThirteenChinese Newspapers Publish Editorial Demanding Reform of HouseholdRegistrationSystem

On March 1, only a few days before the beginningof the annual meetings of the NPC and CPPCC, a group of 13 domesticnewspapersfrom 11 provinces and cities, including Southern Metropolis Daily,ChongqingTimes, and the Economic Observer, published a groupeditorialcalling on delegates to the two meetings to reform the currenthouseholdregistration system with the ultimate goal of abolishing it altogether.Theeditorial was met with widespread acclaim online, with netizenspraising thenewspapers' efforts to contribute a forceful push to a long-simmeringdebate. Itwas a bold act—it was probably the first high-profile initiative takenby China’snewspapers to put pressure on the government during the Two Meetings.Analystsbelieve that it was a breakthrough for the Chinese press, as theeditorial usesthe language of rights and advocates for the perspective of the civilsociety,instead of that of the government.[xv]For the full text, in Chinese, please click here.

Law and Policy Watch

National People’s CongressDebates Draft Amendment to State Secrets Law

Accordingto a February 24 Xinhua report, the Standing Committee of the NationalPeople'sCongress began deliberations on a draft amendment to the State SecretsLaw. Thereport stated that the amendment would clearly define what constitutesa"state secret," as well as setting a fixed time limit on statesecrets. Three levels of secrecy were identified, with the most secretratingto expire after 30 years, and the lowest-level of secrecy to expireafter 10years. However, it is not clear how these levels would be defined.(Xinhua)[xvi]

Reformsto the state secrets law have been long overdue, as it has been used oncountlessoccasions to prosecute citizens for speaking out, limit detainees'access tolawyers, and hold trials in secret. For reforms to have a real effect,theymust clearly and explicitly define state secrets in a manner whichrespectscitizens' right to freedom of expression and right to a fair trial. InAugust2009, CHRD issued a statement which pointed out many seriousshortcomings withthe current draft amendment and outlined a number of concreterecommendations.For the full text, in Chinese, please click here.

Party Officials Issue NewEthics Code for Cadres

Xinhuareported on February 24 that the Chinese Communist Party has issued anew setof ethics regulations for Party cadres. According to the report, thecodeincludes 52 banned activities, including exploiting one's position forpersonalgain, engaging in business secretly or without permission, and usingpublicfunds for personal interest. The new ethics regulations are areplacement forthe existing set of regulations, created in 1997. (Xinhua)[xvii]

Whilefighting corruption in any form is a worthwhile endeavor, CHRD isconcernedthat the new ethics code is not being proposed as a law. If the Chinese government were serious aboutimplementing the rule of law, why not use the law to govern cadres, whoarecitizens first and Party members second? Tasking Party disciplineorgans,rather than the courts, with handling issues of government corruptionpreventsthe judicial system from performing one of its most important tasks.

Editors: Jenn Ling, 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. ***

News updatesfrom CHRD

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

[i] "China's'Anti-Pornography' Campaign Focuses on Closing 38 PoliticalPublications?"(中国“打黄扫非”就是重点封堵38种政治性出版物?!), March 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201003/20100301122206_20149.html

[ii] "Community-Run School Teachers' Representative YangHuanqing,Sent to RTL, Found Not Guilty and Released with Compensation" (被劳教的民师代表杨焕青无罪释放并获国家赔偿),February 26, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100226203949_20108.html

[iii] “Hunger Strike by Death RowInmates Underlines Use of Torture, Failure of Courts,” February 26,2010, http://chrdnet.org/index.php/2010/03/01/hunger-strike-by-death-row-inmates-underlines-use-of-torture-failure-of-courts/

[iv] “At the Eve of the TwoMeetings, Petitioner Advocate Liu Anjun Taken away” (两会在即阳光公益发起人刘安军被),March 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201003/20100301081006_20142.html

[v] “Nantong Officials TightenControl of Petitioners at the Eve of the Two Meetings; Activist ZhangHua underHouse Arrest” (两会前南通加紧监控访民,维权人士张华遭软),February 27, 2010, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100227222246_20122.html

[vi] “Petitioner Liu Chunbao Kidnappedon the Eve of the Two Meetings” (两会前夕,访民春晚策划人刘纯保被绑),February 26, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/fmzj/201002/20100226171249_20105.html

[vii] “At the Eve of the TwoMeetings, Jinan petitioner LI Hongwei Held in Soft Detention” (两会前济南访民李红卫被非法软),March 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/fmzj/201003/20100301090309_20143.html

[viii] “Jiangxi Petitioner Zhu JuruTaken away by Police at the Eve of the Two Meetings” (兩會前江西訪民朱菊如被國保帶),February 28, 2010, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100228184247_20133.html

[ix] “At the Eve of the TwoMeetings, Xie Fulin’s Wife under Surveillance” (“两会"前夕谢福林的妻子遭监控),February 28, 2010, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100228180254_20131.html

[x] “At the Eve of the TwoMeetings, Xie Fulin’s Wife on the Official’s List of Individuals underSurveillance” (两会前夕谢福林妻子上稳控名单被监),March 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class18/xiefulin/201003/20100301210232_20158.html

[xi] “Writer Liao Yiwu Detained bythe Police on his Way to Beijing” (著名作家廖亦武進京途中被扣派出),March 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201003/20100301130017_20152.html

[xii]“ActivistWang Yi Summoned for Questioning;Belongings Confiscated” (著名维权人士王译遭传抄家),March 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201003/20100302002054_20167.html

[xiii] "Monthly Wages Less than 1000 Yuan, 300 Female WorkersStrikein Huizhou, Guangdong" (月工资不到千元,广东惠州300名女工罢工), February 26, 2010, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201002/20100226155327_20101.html

[xiv] "'Civil Society Seminar Seeking Responsibility fromChineseDepartment of Seismology' Broken Up" (“民间问责中国地震局研讨会”被破坏),March 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201003/20100301225541_20160.html

[xv] CHRD, Thirteen domestic media call forthe end of “the rigidhukou system” (国内13家媒体呼吁终结“僵化的户籍制度”), March 1, 2010, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201003/20100301103416_20146.html

[xvi] "Revised Draft of State Secrets Law Sets Time Limits onSecrets; Top-Level Secrets Not to Exceed 30 Years" (保密法修订草案规定保密期限绝密级不超过30年), February 24,2010, http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2010-02/24/content_13040106.htm

[xvii] "CCP Issues 52-Point Ethics Code for Cadres" (中共颁布廉政准则 52“不准”规范党员干部行为),February24, 2010, http://news.xinhuanet.com/lianzheng/2010-02/24/content_13035308.htm

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