China Human Rights Briefing April 18-23, 2012
Authorities Deem Netizen’s Case “Secret,” Block Lawyers’ Visit: Guangzhou police recently blocked lawyers from seeing detained netizen Ou Ronggui,claiming his case “involves secrets,” and threatened Ou’s sister to drop the lawyers from his case. Ou is among several individuals taken into custody after publicly encouragingofficials to disclose their assets and showing support for Premier Wen Jiabao’s call for political reform.
Independent People’s Congress Candidate Freed After Long Detention: Li Biyun, an independent People’s Congress candidate from Guangdong, has reportedly been released on bail and hospitalized for medical treatment after seven months in detention. Criminally detained for “undermining elections” in September, Li had been ill throughout her detention—during which four applications for bail had been rejected—and it is unclear why she was released at this time.
Online Campaigns Support AIDS Carriers, Chen Guangcheng: Netizens have launched an online “film festival”of documentaries, including works by filmmaker Ai Xiaoming, to support AIDS carriers who recently rallied in Henan Province. Also, a “bumper sticker” campaign has become yet another creative advocacy tool calling for the freedom of lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng, who is languishing under house arrest with his family in Shandong Province.
• Arbitrary Detention
◦ Alleging “Secret” Case, Guangzhou Police Block Lawyers From Seeing Netizen Ou Ronggui
◦ Independent People’s Congress Candidate Released on Bail, Hospitalized for Treatment
◦ Heilongjiang Woman Sent to One Year of RTL for Grievance Over Exam Result
◦ Henan Woman Sent to RTL for Seeking Truth Over Husband’s Death
◦ Changsha Resident Administratively Detained Over Tense Demolition Impasse
◦ Guilin Villagers Criminally Detained After March Protest Over Land, Property Issues
• Forced Eviction and Demolition/Land Expropriation
◦ Shandong Authorities Push Aggressive Land Requisition, Detain Several Villagers
◦ Mother, Daughter in Henan Assaulted After Pursuing Compensation for Demolished Home
• Right to Education
◦ Sichuan Authorities Forcibly Close School Specializing in Tibetan Education
• Citizen Actions
◦ Online “Film Festival” in Support of Rally by AIDS Carriers Petitioning Henan Authorities
◦ Join “Free Chen Guangcheng” Bumper Sticker Campaign, Latest in Creative Advocacy
Alleging “Secret” Case, Guangzhou Police Block Lawyers From Seeing Netizen Ou Ronggui
Police in Guangzhou have prevented lawyers from visiting netizen Ou Ronggui (欧荣贵), claiming that Ou’s case allegedly “involves secrets,” and also threatened Ou’s sister over the family’s hiring of the lawyers. On April 17, the attorneys, Li Zhiyong (李志勇)and Mei Chunlai (梅春来), went to the Tianhe Detention Center and the Tianhe Public Security Bureau, neither of which would deal with their request to see Ou, who was taken into custody on April 2. The lawyers then went with Ou Yuxiu (欧玉秀), Ou’s sister, to the Longdong Police Station, where police said that Li and Mei could not meet Ou Ronggui due to the “secret” nature of the case, and that they would response in five days to the lawyers’ application to visit. Later that day, an individual claiming to be a national security officer from the Tianhe branch of the PSB threatened Ou Yuxiu, pressuring her to dismiss the attorneys that represent her brother.
On March 31, a group of about 10 netizens marched and held signs in Guangzhou’s city center calling on officials to disclose their assets and to support Premier Wen Jiabao’s call last month for political reform. Initially given a 10-day administrative detention for his alleged involvement, Ou was criminally detained on April 4 on suspicion of “illegal assembly, procession, or demonstration.” Xiao Yong (肖勇)has also been criminally detained for taking part in the activity, while other participants, including Huang Wenxun (黄文勋)from Guangdong and Yang Chong (杨崇)from Jiangxi, were seized though no more information is known about their fates.(CHRD)[i]
Independent People’s Congress Candidate Released on Bail, Hospitalized for Treatment
CHRD has learned that Li Biyun (李碧云), an independent People’s Congress candidate from Guangdong who has suffered various illnesses since being criminally detained last September, reportedly has been released on bail and taken to a hospital for medical treatment. On April 19, police took Li, who has been held at the Armed Police Hospital in Guangzhou for much of her detention, to the Shunde Detention Center and told her that she had been released. However, Li refused to leave since, among other reasons, she maintains that she has not committed a crime and thus must be released unconditionally, and because she wanted to get property back that was confiscated when she was taken into custody. During the argument, Li fainted and the police used the opportunity to sendher away to the Shunde Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Criminally detained on September 21, 2011, on a charge of “undermining elections,” Li was formally arrested on September 27. Li had protested an election in the neighborhood of Rongli over procedural irregularities, and was detained after Li complained about election illegalities and got in a scuffle with an official who claimed to have been injured by Li. On February 8, the Shunde District People’s Court held a hearing on her case, but no verdict was announced. Li and her lawyers had previously submitted at least four applications for bail, but none were approved. It is unclear why the authorities decided to release Li now, even though she had not submitted another application for bail. (CHRD)[ii]
Heilongjiang Woman Sent to One Year of RTL for Grievance Over Exam Result
A Heilongjiang petitioner is serving a one-year of Reeducation through Labor (RTL) after pursuing legal recourse against a government bureau over a disputed score from an exam she took when applying for a job in 2007. On April 16, the Jixi City People’s Court called Yu Xiaorong (于晓荣) and told her to come to the court, with Yu believing that she would be picking up a decision on her lawsuit that she had filed against the local mining bureau. Instead, Yu was seized at the court and immediately taken to an RTL facility to serve out a one-year punishment, which was initially issued last fall, when a heart condition kept Yu from being detained in RTL. Pursuing her grievance through various channels, Yu was seized twice last year—in August next to Zhongnanhai, the central compound for top government and Party leadership, and around the U.S. Embassy in October. Shortly thereafter, the Hengshan branch of the Public Security Bureau in Jixi criminally detained Yu for six weeks. While detained last year, Yu was forced to stand barefoot in cold conditions and without enough clothing, and went on a hunger strike to protest this treatment. (CHRD)[iii]
Henan Woman Sent to RTL for Seeking Truth Over Husband’s Death
CHRD has recently learned that a Henan petitioner, Zhou Niao (周鸟), has been sent to RTL for one year for seeking clarity on the death of her husband, who died in a suspicious incident over two years ago. Zhou was reportedly seized from a Party committee office in Luoyang City and then sent on March 26 to the Henan Province No. 2 Women’s RTL facility to serve her punishment. Zhou has served prior administrative detentions, including in late 2011 and around the Chinese New Year this year, both times after petitioning in Beijing. Zhou has been trying to find out the truth about the death of her husband, Chai Genjian (柴根建), who was killed in February of 2010 when he was struck and killed by motorcyclists allegedly hired by Chai’s workplace nemesis. At his job in 2007, Chai had been put in charge of poverty alleviation funds. The man who allegedly arranged for his death had previously stolen Chai’s property and beaten him after Chai had refused to give him money from the funds that the man reportedly wanted to use to do business. (CHRD)[iv]
Changsha Resident Administratively Detained Over Tense Demolition Impasse
A Hunan resident, Yao Saiqun (姚赛群), has been issued a 15-day administrative detention on a charge of “obstructing official business” as her family faces eviction and the demolition of their home, where her husband is being tightly monitored. On April 19, police in Changsha had Yao call her husband, Peng Guangsha (彭广沙), and requested they figure out under what conditions they would allow their home to be demolished. Police claimed that Yao would be released if they agreed to conditions for the demolition or if she would simply go home and negotiate in good faith. But Yao reportedly told police that the matter was in her husband’s hands. Seized on April 17, Yao is being held at the Changsha City Detention House.
More than 30 individuals, claiming to be subdistrict personnel, have been keeping close watch over Peng’s movements from outside the home. The local government has so severely damaged the path leading to Peng’s home that he can only leave the building via neighbors’ residences. Having served a 15-day detention himself in January over the threat of losing the home, Peng is likely to be taken into custody if he emerges from the property. (CHRD)[v]
Guilin Villagers Criminally Detained After March Protest Over Land, Property Issues
Five villagers in Guangxi Province have been criminally detained on suspicion of “obstructing official business” for taking part in a peaceful protest last month over land rights issues and after coming forward to speak with police about their grievances. On March 27, more than 300 villagers from Lingui County gathered in Center Square in Guilin to rally against forced evictions and land requisition orchestrated by the government as well as the detention of three fellow residents. Hundreds of police were sent to quell the protest. The government then dispatched police to seal off the residents’ village and try to persuade protest organizers to “clearly discuss the situation” with the local public security bureau, supposedly promising not to make things difficult for those who came forward. Over three weeks’ time, police questioned hundreds of villagers before finally criminally detaining five villagers who came to the PSB. Some protest participants have reportedly fled the area, fearing that they will also be detained. (CHRD)[vi]
Forced Eviction and Demolition/Land Expropriation
Shandong Authorities Push Aggressive Land Requisition, Detain Several Villagers
More than 200 government workers, state security officers, and policemen in Shandong were dispatched on April 6 to clear away wheat fields that have provided livelihoods for villagers in Yuncheng County, and residents have been detained for opposing the action. Previously, the Guotun Town government had tried to coerce over 600 residents of Dingguantun Village to sign a compensation agreement for requisitioned land, but the villagers had refused. On March 20, the local government issued a notice about implementing a requisition plan, which greatly angered area farmers. Three days later, the Yuncheng Public Security Bureau sent out more than 100 officers to Dingguantun who broke into residences and took into custody five residents without producing any legal documentation; the five villagers remain in custody to this day. Police have continued to harass local residents and threatened to take away more villagers. In applying to requisition the farmland to make room for development projects, the government had long asserted the land was uncultivated, and did not elicit farmers’ opinions or hold a hearing on the matter. (CHRD)[vii]
Mother, Daughter in Henan Assaulted After Pursuing Compensation for Demolished Home
Henan authorities recently assaulted a woman and her adult daughter who have been seeking compensation over the forced demolition of their home, which occurred in February. Wu Lianzhi (吴莲芝) and her family members had gone to the village party committee in Xuchang City several times to discuss their situation, including on April 7, when officials gathered more than 10 thugs to attack Wu, who was held to the ground, beaten, and verbally abused. The individuals also beat Wu’s 24-year-old daughter, who suffered several injuries, including facial swelling, with the assailants humiliating her by ripping off her clothes. Wu and her daughter went to the hospital to get medical treatment and filed an incident report with police, who have not yet responded to the family.
Before destroying Wu’s home and property, the relocation center and village party committee in Wu’s district reportedly did not go through valid procedures nor notify them of the date of the demolition in advance. Authorities initially made verbal promises to Wu, including the provision of a new home and compensation of 1.5 million RMB (approx. US$ 240,000). But she refused to accept these conditions, since the area of her former home and the property’s perceived value were far more substantial. (CHRD)[viii]
Right to Education
Sichuan Authorities Forcibly Close School Specializing in Tibetan Education
Government authorities in Sichuan Province have forcibly closed a locally-founded Tibetan school that has offered classes in Tibetan language and culture for more than two decades. The Khadrok Jamtse RoktenSchool, located in Ganzi (Tibetan: Kardze) County, was reportedly shuttered on April 2. After the closure of the school, local parents were instructed to send children above seven years of age to government schools in the area. Security officers have also issued warnings against attempts to reopen the school. Founded in 1989, the school reportedly opened with approval from Kardze County authorities, and its curriculum placed special emphasis on speaking pure Tibetan among the students. Kardze County Public Security Bureau officers also took into custody the school director and a teacher, whose whereabouts and fates remain unknown. (Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy)[ix]
Online “Film Festival” in Support of Rally by AIDS Carriers Petitioning Henan Authorities
On April 16, more than 300 AIDS sufferers from around Henan went to the Civil Affairs Office of Henan Province to call on the agency to enforce its own opinion, announced in 2009, that would make strides in guaranteeing benefits to children affected by the disease. The petitioners also pushed for officials to provide compensation to those who contracted AIDS in the 1990s from contaminated blood supplies. The next day, AIDS sufferers rallied in front of the provincial government building, which prompted authorities to send out a large number of police officers who were joined by interceptors from all over the province to deal with the protestors. Subsequently, officials then reportedly said that improvements to benefit provision that were announced three years ago would go into effect within two months, and that a response about compensation issues would also be given during that period of time. To support these protestors, netizens have started an online “film festival” featuring a number of documentaries for free downloads, including well-known filmmaker Ai Xiaoming’s “Chronicle of the Central Plains” and “The Home of Loving Care.” (CHRD)[x]
Join “Free Chen Guangcheng” Bumper Sticker Campaign, Latest in Creative Advocacy
A bumper sticker with the face of Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), the lawyer and activist from Shandong Province living under house arrest with his family, has emerged as part of yet another online advocacy campaign in support of his release. The sticker (view or download image here) is cleverly designed: so as not to easily attract the attention of authorities, the image of Chen’s face resembles the Colonel Sanders logo used by the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain that has proliferated in China. A Google Map has been created (view here) so that locations where stickers have been attached to cars can be tracked, with the vast majority now appearing in China.
Since last September, which marked one year of Chen’s illegal house arrest, Chinese activists have come up with innovative ways to increase awareness of Chen’s plight—such as the Sunglasses Campaign in November—and citizens have even gathered publicly to call for his freedom. In the fall, supporters also began to travel more often toward Chen’s home village of Dongshigu, largely to confront expected harassment from those monitoring Chen in order to further expose the repressive circumstances the family is living under.
Editors: Victor Clemens and Wang Songlian
[i]“Police Deny Lawyers’ Visit to Ou Ronggui Because of ‘Secret Case,’ Warn Family to Drop Lawyers” (警方以欧荣贵“案件涉密”为由拒绝律师会见，威胁家属解聘律师), April 18, 2012, CHRD; “Guangzhou Citizen Ou Ronggui’s Administrative and Criminal Detention Notices” (广州公民欧荣贵的行政、刑事拘留书（图）), April 12, 2012, CHRD
[ii]“Guangdong Independent People’s Congress Candidate Li Biyun Gets Medical Parole, Enters Hospital for Treatment” (广东独立候选人李碧云获取保候审入医院治疗), April 20, 2012, CHRD; “Newest Development of Independent Candidate from Shunde Accused of ‘Undermining Elections’” (顺德独立参选人被控“破坏选举罪”最新情况), November 21, 2011, CHRD; “Newest Case Developments of Arrested Foshan People’s Congress Candidate Li Biyun” (佛山被逮捕的人大代表参选人李碧云案最新进展), October 10, 2011, CHRD; “Over 900 Voters in Li Biyun’s Foshan Voting District Jointly Submit ‘Indictment of Illegal Election’” (佛山李碧云案选区九百多名选民联名递交《选举违法控告书》), October 9, 2011, CHRD; “Newest Developments in Criminal Detention of Foshan City Independent Candidate Li Biyun” (佛山市独立参选人李碧云被刑拘最新进展), October 2, 2011, CHRD; “Independent Candidate Li Biyun Criminally Detained for ‘Undermining Election’” (独立参选人李碧云被以“破坏选举罪”刑拘), September 26, 2011, CHRD
[iii]“Heilongjiang Petitioner Yu Xiaorong Sent to RTL After Being Duped Into Visiting Court” (黑龙江访民于晓荣被骗至法院后送进劳教所), April 22, 2012, CHRD
[iv]“Henan Petitioner Zhou Niao Goes to RTL for One Year After Being Detained for Third Time” (河南访民周鸟被政府以三次拘留为由劳教一年), April 22, 2012, CHRD
[v]“Changsha Victim of Forced Demolition, Yao Saiqun, Administratively Detained for ‘Obstructing Official Business’” (长沙强拆受害者姚赛群被以“妨碍公务罪”行政拘留), April 19, 2012, CHRD; “Changsha Resident Peng Guangsha Monitored by More Than 30 Individuals Over Eviction and Demolition, Wife Taken Away by Court Personnel” (长沙市民彭广沙因拆迁被30余人监控，妻子被法院抓走), April 18, 2012, CHRD
[vi]“Several Guilin Villagers Detained for Protesting Government’s Illegal Land Requisition” (因抗议政府违法征地桂林多名村民被刑拘), April 18, 2012, CHRD; “Hundreds of Guilin, Guangxi Villagers Who Have Lost Land Engage in Protest” (广西桂林数百失地村民举行抗议), March 29, 2012, CHRD
[vii]“Government Dispatches Over 200 Police, Others for Forced Land Requisition, Several Villagers Taken Into Custody” (政府出动警察等200余人暴力征地，多位村民被关看守所), April 21, 2012, CHRD
[viii]“Xuchang, Henan Eviction and Demolition Victim Beaten, Daughter Stripped of Clothing, Humiliated” (河南许昌被强拆者吴莲芝遭打伤女儿被扒光衣服羞辱), April 18, 2012, CHRD
[ix]“Tibetan School Forcibly Closed, Teachers Arrested,” April 19, 2012, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
[x]“AIDS Carriers From Henan Mass Petition” (河南艾滋病感染者集体上访), April 20, 2012, CHRD
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.