China Human Rights Briefing January 31-February 6, 2012

Top News

  • Activist Chen Xi Held in Remote Prison, Frostbitten From Cold Conditions: CHRD has recently learned that the Guizhou activist Chen Xi, serving a 10-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” is being held in Xingyi Prison—far away from his home in Guiyang—and is suffering from frostbitten hands brought on by extreme cold inside the prison.
  • Guangdong Writer Missing for Past Three Weeks: Liao Zusheng, a freelance writer based in Guangdong Province, has been out of contact since January 17. Authorities may be holding him incommunicado, possibly due to his writing on sensitive issues in society.


Arbitrary Detention

Enforced Disappearance

Harassment of Activists’ Family Members

Harassment of Human Rights Lawyers

Right to Education

Forced Eviction and Demolition/Land Expropriation

Arbitrary Detention

Guizhou Activist Chen Xi Being Held in Faraway Prison, Frostbitten From Cold Conditions 

CHRD recently learned that the convicted Guizhou activist Chen Xi (陈西) was sent to the Xingyi Prison in Guizhou Province on January 17 to serve his sentence, and has been suffering due to uncomfortable conditions in the facility, according to his wife. On February 3, Chen’s wife and daughter traveled about six hours to the prison, which is located in remote Xingyi City—more than 400 kilometers from their home in Guiyang—but could only visit with Chen for about 20 minutes and under tight monitoring. Because of unusually cold temperatures and since Chen has neither enough blankets nor warm clothing, he reportedly has serious frostbite, swollen blisters, and cracked skin on his hands. His wife indicated that Chen nonetheless is in good spirits but that he also has grown thin. She told CHRD that the prison refused to accept the clothing she had brought for Chen and demanded that she mail the clothes to the facility instead. Authorities did not even disclose where Chen was being held until after his wife threatened to go to the media about their illegal restricting of information.

On December 26, 2011, the Guiyang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Chen Xi to 10 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power,” a charge for which he was arrested on November 29. In announcing the verdict, the judge cited as “evidence” writings from 36 articles that Chen published online. Chen is a member of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, which authorities declared an “illegal organization” days after his arrest. This is the third time Chen has been imprisoned. He was sent to prison in 1989 for three years for participating in the pro-democracy movement, and also sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1996 for “organizing and leading counter-revolutionary group.” (CHRD)[1]

Liaoning Petitioner Given 18-Month RTL Punishment

Authorities in Liaoning Province have reportedly sent petitioner Hao Zhiquan (郝志全) to 18 months of Re-education through Labor (RTL). On January 19, Liaoning interceptors abducted Hao in Jiangsu Province and she remained of contact until February 5, when she called her sister and said that the Jinzhou City RTL Management Committee had given her an 18-month punishment. From Beizhen City in Liaoning, Hao has been petitioning without success for over a decade due to land rights violations affecting her family. Beijing authorities previously detained Hao for six months in 2010 after she and other petitioners climbed a tower belonging to the Youanmen Police Station to protest injustice in the courts. (HRCC)[2]

Beijing Police Criminally Detain Petitioner Given Death Sentence During Cultural Revolution

Zhao Zhenjia (赵振甲), a longtime petitioner from Liaoning Province who was issued a death sentence with reprieve during the Cultural Revolution (see image), has reportedly been criminally detained in Beijing since January 22, when police seized him at a restaurant. Official charges against Zhao remain unclear, but some believe he may have been detained for organizing a Chinese New Year gathering for fellow petitioners. His family in Fushun City reportedly has not received a detention notice although Beijing police have claimed that one was sent to their home. On February 2, police denied a request by some of Zhao’s friends to see him at the Youanmen Police Station in Fengtai District, so they simply left money for him. On January 31, censors shut down the blog of Beijing activist Ge Zhihui (葛志慧)—one of the individuals who had tried to visit Zhao—after she expressed concern for his plight online. 
In 1974, the Shenyang City Intermediate People’s Court issued Zhao a punishment of the death penalty with two-year reprieve for “counterrevolution,” a crime removed from China’s Criminal Law in 1997. Reportedly, his crime involved writing poems and articles expressing his opinions and critical thoughts about Chinese society at the time. Zhao was imprisoned until 1981, when the same court ordered his release. Zhao then began petitioning to seek justice over what he had endured. Though the Shenyang court in 1985 declared him innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, he was not compensated. In 2000, Zhao was sent to three years of Re-education through Labor in retaliation for his petitioning. He was also detained for 15 days in 2008 after bringing firecrackers and grievance materials to Tiananmen Square. Prior to the recent Chinese New Year, Zhao reportedly brought some reporters to a black jail, which led to the release of the petitioners detained there. (CHRD)[3]

More recent news related to arbitrary detention:

“Rights Defender Li Zhongying Held in Home for the Aged Due to Upcoming ‘Two Meetings’,” (维权人士李忠英因两会被再囚养老院), February 6, 2012

Enforced Disappearance

Guangdong Writer Liao Zusheng Missing for Three Weeks 

Guangdong-based freelance writer Liao Zusheng (廖祖笙) has been out of contact since January 17, and it is believed that authorities are holding him incommunicado. Originally from Fujian Province, Liao has written about problems involving education, health care, and housing, and his disappearance may well be related to his ongoing writing about sensitive topics. In the past, authorities have occasionally placed Liao under surveillance, and he has been administratively detained before.
Beyond his writing about public issues, Liao has attracted the attention of authorities for trying to pursue justice over the death of his son, Liao Mengjun (廖梦君), who allegedly was killed at his school in 2006. It is suspected that three teachers and a school guard threw Liao Mengjun from the third floor of a building, possibly after severely beating him. Since their son’s death, Liao and his wife have unsuccessfully sought an explanation of the circumstances, though they did receive compensation after persistent petitioning. Authorities prevented a full investigation of the incident and have never disclosed physical evidence from the incident under the pretext that the case involved “state secrets.” (HRCC)[4]

Harassment of Activists’ Family Members

More Details Emerge on Surveillance Set Up to Monitor Chen Guangcheng’s Daughter

CHRD has recently learned of surveillance measures taken along the route to and around the school attended by the daughter of Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), the lawyer and activist living under house arrest in Linyi City in Shandong Province. In order to further ensure that outsiders cannot come into contact with six-year-old Chen Kesi (陈克斯), the Linyi government has set up surveillance posts at most stores along the road to her school, which is also surrounded by guards. Previously, the guards were all male but older residents and women, including some holding children, are now being posted to keep watch, quite possibly to try to give the false impression to those wishing to seek out Chen or her parents that they are not actually guards. Authorities still have four or five individuals escort Chen Kesi every day to the school, which is approximately 2,500 meters from her family’s home in Dongshigu Village.
Linyi authorities only began to allow to Chen to attend school from mid-September last year. Since then, she has not been able to go home to have lunch with her parents during the day, and her monitors have told her teachers and fellow classmates to limit how much they talk to her. Guards are stationed around the school entrance and at other places on the grounds, and can easily monitor movements of individuals by looking through the school’s glass windows. (CHRD)[5]

Harassment of Human Rights Lawyers

Beijing Authorities Block Lawyer Mo Shaoping From Meeting German Leader Merkel

Authorities in Beijing recently prevented human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping (莫少平) from attending a dinner with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in the capital on the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao (温家宝). On the evening of February 2, the German Embassy had hoped to have Ms. Merkel meet both Mo Shaoping and Wu Si (吴思), editor-in-chief of the journal Yanhuang Chunqiu (《炎黄春秋》). That afternoon, however, national security officers came to Mo’s law firm and indicated they had been ordered to block Mo from attending the dinner. According to Mo, the officers stated that, due to the 18th Party Congress, which will convene in the fall of 2012, there is a priority on maintaining stability, and that Mo had to turn down the invitation. Mo noted that Wu Si was apparently able to attend the event with Merkel.
Mo Shaoping is one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers, representing prominent political dissidents and journalists as well as practitioners of the banned Falun Gong sect. He served as defense counsel for imprisoned dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波). (CHRD)[6]

Right to Education

Hunan Officials Require Families Denounce “Evil Cults” In Exchange for Children’s Education

CHRD has learned that officials in Hunan Province have threatened to deprive children of an education if their families do not sign a guarantee to not take part in the “evil cult” activities involving Falun Gong and house churches. By order of religious management officials in Wugang City, families must first sign such an agreement to register their children for school this year—a proposition that represents a deprivation of both the right to education as well as freedom of religion and belief. To spread information about the requirement, the local government held more than 30 events related to “evil cults” during the Chinese New Year, disseminating tens of thousands of publications about opposing Falun Gong and house churches. Through this campaign, nearly 10,000 local families signed “pledges” denouncing “evil cults.” (CHRD)[7]

Forced Eviction and Demolition/Land Expropriation

Inner Mongolia Government Harasses Family for Five Weeks for Exposing Illegal Land Grab

A family in Inner Mongolia has been harassed and terrorized for over a month after going online to expose both the local government’s illegal seizure of their land and its threats to put the family under “soft detention” for their longtime pursuit of compensation. Since January 3, the day after the family posted the information online, thugs have kept the family—including Song Yunfei (宋云飞), his parents, and Song’s older brother—virtually hostage in their home, which is located in the administrative region of Otog Qianqi. The thugs have gone so far as to block up keyholes with glue, and have intimidated the family by setting fires and breaking glass. Song’s mother has reportedly fallen ill due to the stress of recent weeks. Song Yunfei has appealed to both a county Party official and local police for help, but they are unwilling to intervene. The local government has refused to compensate the family since seizing the land over eight years ago to make room for luxury villas. (CHRD)[8]
Editors: Victor Clemens and Wang Songlian

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News updates from CHRD

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[1] “Rights Activist Chen Xi Held in Xingyi Prison, Frostbitten by Wintery Conditions” (人权捍卫者陈西被关在兴义监狱,因寒冷冻伤), February 4, 2012; “Guizhou Human Rights Defender Chen Xi Sentenced to 10 Years, 3 Years’ Rights Deprivation” (贵州人权捍卫者陈西被判处有 期徒 10年,剥权3), December 25, 2011, CHRD; “Guizhou’s Chen Xi’s Case of ‘Inciting Subversion of State Power’ Already Sent to Court” (贵州陈西涉嫌煽动颠覆国家政权案已被神速移交法院), December 17, 2011, CHRD

[2] “After Fleeing Province, Liaoning Petitioner Hao Zhiquan Given 18-Month RTL Punishment” (遭跨省 后,辽宁访民郝志全被处以劳教一年半), February 5, 2012, HRCC; “Liaoning Petitioner Hao Zhiquan Seized in Jiangsu” (快讯: 辽宁访民郝志全在江苏被抓走), January 19, 2012, HRCC

[3] “Ge Zhihui’s Blog Shut Down After She Expresses Concern for Detained Zhao Zhenjia” (关注赵振甲葛志慧微博遭封杀), February 2, 2012, CHRD; “Three Petitioners Go to Beijing to Visit Detained Liaoning Petitioner Zhao Zhenjia” (三位访民到北京丰台探望被拘留的辽宁访民赵振甲), February 2, 2012, CHRD; “Friends Visiting Fengtai District Police Station Informed that ‘Counterrevolutionary’ Zhao Zhenjia, Sentenced to Death With Reprieve, Is Being Criminally Detained” (访友再探丰台区看守所 被告知曾判处死刑的老反革命份子赵振甲已被刑拘), February 2, 2012, HRCC; “Given Death Sentence With Reprieve for ‘Counterrevolution,’ Zhao Zhenjia Reflects on Historical Dilemma” (被判处死缓的反革命集团主犯赵振甲反映历史遗留问题), October 17, 2011, HRCC; “If There Is No Justice in the Capital, Where Can Justice Be Found?” (首都寻不到光明、那到何处能寻得光明?), October 8, 2011, HRCC

[4] “Writer of Conscience Liao Zusheng Missing for More Than Half Month” (良心作家廖祖笙被失踪已超半月), February 1, 2012, HRCC; “Guizhou Human Rights Forum: Writer Liao Zusheng Detained” (贵州人权研讨会:作家廖祖笙广场卖房被拘留), October 17, 2012, CHRD

[5] “School of Chen Guangcheng’s Daughter Under Tight Controls” (陈光诚女儿就读的学校被严密 布控), February 5, 2012, CHRD; “Chen Guangcheng Beaten Again in July; His 6-Year-Old Daughter Finally Allowed to Attend School,” China Human Rights Briefing, October 21-26, 2011, CHRD; “Chen Guangcheng’s Daughter Chen Kesi Unable to Attend Classes” (陈光诚之女陈克斯仍无法就学), September 3, 2011

[6] “Lawyer Mo Shaoping Blocked From Meeting German Chancellor Merkel” (默 克尔访华会见人权律师受阻), February 3, 2012, CHRD

[7] “Children of Families Refusing to Sign Agreement Denouncing Evil Cult Activities To Be Deprived of Education” (不签拒绝邪教保证书家庭就不让孩子上学), February 3, 2012, CHRD

[8] “Song Yunfei Family Restricted to Home, Threatened for 30 Days for Exposing Illegal Land Requisition in Inner Mongolia” (内蒙古揭露非法征地者宋云飞家被人堵门威胁30), February 1, 2012, CHRD

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