China Human Rights Briefing August 17-23, 2012

Contents

Arbitrary Detention
    •    Senior Monk in Sichuan Tortured, Sentenced to Seven Years for Disseminating Information
    •    Chongqing Official Serving RTL for Online Posts, Lawyer’s Visit Blocked
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
    •    Gansu Officials Send Out Armed Forces to Tibetan Festival, Warn Against Immolations & Other Forms of Protest
    •    Chengdu Police Beat Students During Rally About Territorial Dispute
Freedom of Religion
    •    House Church Priest Reveals Restricted Freedoms
Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
    •    Disabled Military Veteran Tortured, Dies in Black Jail; Family Goes Uncompensated
Special Notice
    •    CHRD Report Calls Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment a Rights Violation, Urges Its Abolition in China

Arbitrary Detention
Senior Monk in Sichuan Tortured, Sentenced to Seven Years for Disseminating Information
 
A senior Tibetan monk who went missing for eight months and endured torture in Sichuan Province has been sentenced to seven years in prison for disseminating information that was deemed politically sensitive by Chinese authorities, according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). A Sichuan court issued its decision on June 18 against Yonten Gyatso, a monk from Khashi Monastery in Aba (Tibetan: Ngaba) Prefecture, for allegedly disseminating to the outside world information about political events in Tibet since 2008, especially photos of a nun, Tenzin Wangmo, who self-immolated last year. Yonten Gyatso’s “crime” also included contacting UN human rights mechanisms. Yonten Gyatso was seized last October from his monastery and then handed over to State Secrets Bureau officers in Chengdu, where he was secretly detained and reportedly beaten and tortured so severely that he contemplated taking his own life, according to a TCHRD source. Yonten Gyatso, who was his monastery’s chief disciplinarian and chant master besides filling other key roles, is incarcerated at Mianyang Prison in Sichuan.[1]
 
Chongqing Official Serving RTL for Online Posts, Lawyer’s Visit Blocked
 
A village official from Chongqing has been serving a two-year Re-education through Labor (RTL) punishment for “inciting subversion of state power” for allegedly forwarding messages online critical of the political situation in China. Ren Jianyu (任建宇) was sent to RTL in September 2011 for using a QQ group to post and disseminate political opinions that he had read online. According to the RTL decision, the messages called for reforms to China’s political system that “promoted western-style regimes” and “attacking the Party and the government.” Human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), who was hired by Ren’s family, has submitted an appeal of the punishment, and recently went with Ren’s father to the Fuling RTL facility, where they were prevented from meeting Ren. Ren Jianyu had assumed local office from 2009 until being taken into custody last August.[2]

 
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
 
Gansu Officials Send Out Armed Forces to Tibetan Festival, Warn Against Immolations & Other Forms of Protest
 
Hundreds of armed forces, mostly made up of People’s Armed Police, were deployed on August 12 at a horseracing festival in Gansu Province as apprehensive authorities sought to prevent any protests by Tibetans at the event, including self-immolations. Besides the presence of armed personnel, an official notice was issued strongly discouraging Tibetans from expressing grievances at the festival, which was held in Maqu County in the Gannan (Tibetan: Kanlho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Among several points, the notice barred anyone from carrying “flammable” and “poisonous” objects and engaging in protest activities or self-immolations at the venue, and indicated that violators could be detained and even prosecuted in court. This year marks the first time that the immensely popular and large event, which is attended by thousands of ethnic Tibetans, has been held since protests broke out in Tibetan areas against Chinese government rule in 2008.[3]

 
Chengdu Police Beat Students During Rally About Territorial Dispute
 
During a rally about a Sino-Japanese territorial dispute, students in Sichuan Province were beaten, injured, and temporarily detained by police. On August 19, students were among thousands who took to the streets in Chengdu after Japanese citizens displayed their national flag on the disputed Diaoyu (Japanese: Senkaku) Islands. Police beat and injured some irate students who reportedly had been cursed at by a Japanese citizen, and officers used force to try to disperse throngs of students and other local residents. The islands have been a source of tension for years between the two countries; China has laid claims to them, while Japan controls the islands and has announced plans to purchase the land. As with rallies in other cities, some of which turned riotous, the protest in Chengdu also was in response to Japan’s detention and expulsion of a group of pro-China activists who reached the islands last week. The rallies also have been seen as a vehicle for Chinese citizens to implore their leaders to be more resolute in handling territorial issues.[4]
 
Freedom of Religion
House Church Priest Reveals Restricted Freedoms

Liu Fenggang (刘凤钢), a priest active in Beijing house churches, recently disclosed details about harassment, particularly soft detention, which he has faced from authorities tracing back to the Jasmine Crackdown on civil society in early 2011. During a brief break from soft detention when the “Two Meetings” concluded this March, Liu went to Yunnan Province and assisted Burmese Christian refugees along the China-Myanmar border. After he returned to Beijing in June, however, police immediately placed him under soft detention at home, and officers also reportedly cursed him and his religious beliefs during an interrogation. With police on constant guard around his home for the past two-and-a-half months, Liu’s movements have been extremely restricted, he has been unable to hold any religious activities, and visitors have been blocked from entering his residence.[5]

Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
 
Disabled Military Veteran Tortured, Dies in Black Jail; Family Goes Uncompensated
 
The family of a disabled military veteran who died after being tortured in a black jail has yet to either receive compensation for his death or see justice enacted against those responsible, who remain unidentified to this day. Xu Lingjun (胥灵军) of Shaanxi Province reportedly passed away in March 2010 after being starved to death in a black jail. For over nine months, he was only given about 100g of food every day, and no food for two days if he spoke with a fellow detainee. Other detainees, including children, were subjected to the same treatment, though some were released after paying the authorities and promising not to petition again. Xu, who had lost a factory job after his military career and could not find other work due to a recurring disability, had evidence that official corruption led to the factory’s collapse, but authorities refused to take up the matter. Most recently, on August 17, police and interceptors pushed away Xu’s family members from a provincial government building in Xi’an, where they had gone to express their grievance to officials.[6]

Special Notice
 
CHRD Report Calls Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment a Rights Violation, Urges Its Abolition in China
 
CHRD has just released a report on forced psychiatric commitment in China, a serious but often overlooked problem that blatantly violates the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which China ratified in 2008 (view slideshow accompanying the report). As noted in “The Darkest Corners”: Abuses of Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment in China, hundreds of thousands of individuals are detained against their will in China’s psychiatric hospitals every year because they have or are alleged to have, mental illnesses. Forcibly committed individuals, some of whom are held in retaliation for petitioning or political activism, are denied the right to make decisions regarding their own fate, not entitled to an independent review of their hospitalization, and find it nearly impossible to pursue legal recourse in Chinese courts. Forced medical treatment, violence and mistreatment occur frequently in these hospitals. Boding poorly for Chinese citizens, the government’s draft Mental Health Law, which is still under review, appears to codify the current involuntary commitment system. CHRD’s report strongly recommends that the Chinese government abolish the involuntary commitment of people with psychosocial disabilities, and urges the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to focus on this issue in its first review of China on September 12 and 13.
 
Editors: Victor Clemens and Wang Songlian
 

[1] “Senior monk sentenced to 7 years for sharing information,” August 21, 2012, TCHRD
 
[2] “Chongqing Official Ren Jianyu Sent to RTL for Forwarding Posts, Lawyer Prevented From Visiting” (重庆任建宇因转帖被劳教案 律师会见受阻), August 19, 2012, WQW
 
[3] “Official notice warns against immolations, flammable liquids at Machu Horse-racing Festival,” August 20, 2012, TCHRD
 
[4] “Large ‘Protect Diaoyu Islands’ Rally in Chengdu, Special Police Forces Strike, Injure Several Students” (成都“保钓”大游行,多名学生被特警打伤), August 19, 2012, WQW
 
[5] “Situation of Liu Fenggang, Beijing Priest Guarded, Controlled for Months” (北京刘凤钢牧师连续数月被上岗监控的情况), August 16, 2012, CRLW
 
[6] “Disabled Veteran Dies in Black Jail, Family Driven Away While Seeking Justice From Government” (伤残退伍军人被害死于黑监狱,家属到政府喊冤遭驱赶), August 19, 2012, WQW
 

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