China Human Rights Briefing September 6-12, 2012

Contents         

Arbitrary Detention
    •    Retrial Held for Seven Villagers Sentenced Over Election Protest
    •    Media Coverage of RTL Case Adds to Public Debates on Extralegal System & Violations of Speech Rights

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
    •    Democracy Leader Yang Tongyan Sick in Prison, Receiving Poor Medical Care
    •    Chengguan Officers Beat Elderly Man, Relatives During City Inspection

Forced Eviction & Demolition/Land Expropriation
    •    Chongqing Villager Brain Dead After Savage Beating by Land Seizure Crew

Disability Rights
    •    Aizhixing Report Urges Improved Protections, Programs for AIDS Carriers

Law & Policy Watch
    •    Aizhixing Releases Handbook to Help Uyghurs Defend Rights

Special Notice
    •    CHRD: China’s Revised Draft Mental Health Law Still Allows for Discrimination Against the Disabled

 
Arbitrary Detention
 
Retrial Held for Seven Villagers Sentenced Over Election Protest
 
A Beijing court has retried seven villagers for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order,” a charge tied to a dispute that erupted over irregularities in a local election in 2010. The villagers were sentenced last year to three to five years for “gathering a crowd to attack a state organ” but upon appeal a higher court reversed the decision of Fangshan District People’s Court and ordered the case be remanded for retrial. From Fangshan District along the outskirts of the capital, the residents were detained in July 2010 after protesting government interference in the voting for village committee members in Raolefu Village. On voting day, villagers discovered that ballots were missing in a crucial race between the incumbent village director involved in the illegal sale of village land and a new candidate supported by many villagers. The villagers confronted officials, but police and government workers ran off with the ballot box before officials could muster a response. Outraged residents blocked traffic and police detained some villagers, seven of whom were tried and sentenced in August 2011 by the Fangshan District People’s Court.[1]
 

Media Coverage of RTL Case Adds to Public Debates on Extralegal System & Violations of Speech Rights
 
A Chongqing official’s stint in Re-education through Labor (RTL) has sparked sympathetic coverage and further criticism of RTL (here and here) that has appeared in influential Chinese media, as concerns about retaliation for online expression stir public debate about the system. Village official Ren Jianyu (任建宇) was sent to RTL for two years in September 2011 for “inciting subversion of state power” after using a QQ group and weibo to share others’ opinions about political reforms. The case has led to more outrage directed at RTL, which has been under increased public fire since August, when a case of a mother sent to RTL for seeking justice for the rape of her daughter became widely known. Ren’s case in particular showcases the risks that Chinese citizens can face for exercising their free speech rights online. But the fact the Chinese press is covering these cases—along with that of Chen Pingfu (陈平福), a netizen recently tried for “inciting subversion”—can be seen as an encouraging sign, since they involve civil and political rights issues that have often been off-limits to open discussion.[2]
 

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
 
Democracy Leader Yang Tongyan Sick in Prison, Receiving Poor Medical Care
 
Yang Tongyan (杨同彦), dissident writer from Jiangsu Province and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, is unable to get sufficient medical care while suffering from serious illnesses in prison, according to relatives who visited him in August. Yang has various types of tuberculosis that have not been treated adequately in Nanjing Prison, and is known to have been ill during much of his incarceration, reportedly almost dying in 2009. Detained in late 2005, Yang is serving a 12-year sentence for “subversion of state power” for his role in organizing the China Democracy Party. Yang, who uses the pen name Yang Tianshui (杨天水), had previously been incarcerated from 1990 to 2000 for co-founding the China Democratic Alliance, which authorities labeled a “counterrevolutionary group.”[3]
 

Chengguan Officers Beat Elderly Man, Relatives During City Inspection
 
An elderly man of Hui nationality and his two children were recently beaten by chengguan officers conducting an “urban beautification inspection” in their district in Gansu Province. On August 21, “city administration and law enforcement” personnel demanded that banners be taken down from the storefront of Mi Erzhi (米尔智), an 85-year-old resident of Pingliang City, and also cursed Mi’s family members and beat and kicked his son after an argument broke out. When a relative began to film the unfolding scene, chengguan officers struck him with batons and iron rods. Mi then intervened and was beaten, knocked to the ground, and rendered unconscious, and officers also viciously beat his son and daughter. Though the incident attracted a large crowd, the officers successfully intimidated onlookers from taking photographs of the violent behavior.[4]
 

Forced Eviction & Demolition/Land Expropriation

Chongqing Villager Brain Dead After Savage Beating by Land Seizure Crew

A villager in Chongqing Municipality is reportedly brain dead after being beaten in a confrontation with a land expropriation crew hired by the local government. On September 3, 33-year-old Wu Zhijun (吴至军) and his father, who had refused to accept a land takeover plan, were notified while at work that a satisfactory compensation settlement was being drawn up. The pair then went home only to find land seizure personnel and others brandishing iron rods and wooden sticks. Wu was hit on the head with a rod and fell to the ground, and thugs continued to beat him until he was motionless and bleeding heavily. Wu’s 60-year-old father was also beaten but still able to call the police, who did not aid Wu or take the attackers into custody, and ambulance arrived only an hour-and-a-half after being called. Doctors at a local hospital advised stopping medical treatment, but Wu’s father pleaded for physicians to operate. After surgery, Wu Zhijun was declared brain dead due to physical trauma, having suffered severe head injuries as well as ruptures to his liver and kidneys.[5]
 

Disability Rights

Aizhixing Report Urges Improved Protections, Programs for AIDS Carriers
 
Aizhixing, a Beijing-based health rights nonprofit, has released a report on the situation of persons with disabilities living with AIDS in advance of the UN review of China’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to take place September 18 and 19. In its report, Aizhixing states that persons with disabilities face multiple barriers in accessing AIDS treatment and prevention programs and it discusses the situation of individuals who become disabled after they fall ill with the virus. Aizhixing urges the government to improve coordination between central government agencies and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and to pay special attention to persons with disabilities when designing AIDS treatment and prevention programs. Aizhixing also recommends implementing measures that offer compensation and assistance for sufferers of AIDS and hepatitis C. In addition, the report calls for protections for disabled individuals taken into custody, including the elimination of forced medication practices, and an end to privacy  violations of AIDS carriers with mental illnesses or past drug addictions.[6]
 

Law & Policy Watch

Aizhixing Releases Handbook to Help Uyghurs Defend Rights

The health rights NGO Aizhixing issued a handbook on September 6 that explains the rights of Uyghurs according to Chinese and international laws, as well as how they can safeguard their rights by leveraging the legal system. On September 10, the same organization issued a briefing paper aimed at helping Uyghurs overcome common barriers when trying to obtain passports, a process fraught with many complications for some in the ethnic group. Aizhixing began its work with Uyghurs in 2006, when its head office in Beijing developed programs to help Uyghurs who have AIDS and to prevent the spread of the disease among the migrant minority living in the capital. From that time, Aizhixing became increasingly concerned about discrimination against Uyghurs in housing, education, medical care and government services. For example, in their 2010 report on the human rights of Uyghurs in Beijing, Aizhixing found that local residents in general are reluctant to rent housing to Uyghurs because Uyghurs are often stereotyped as being “noisy” and prone to criminal activities.[7]
 

Special Notice
 
CHRD: China’s Revised Draft Mental Health Law Still Allows for Discrimination Against the Disabled
 
In a statement from September 12, CHRD argues that China’s latest revision of its draft Mental Health Law falls well short of complying with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), leaving citizens vulnerable to rights abuses in psychiatric hospitals discussed in CHRD’s newest report. Among other concerns, the current draft, issued on August 27 by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), still allows for detention based on psychosocial disabilities and fails to provide adequate safeguards against the involuntary commitment of individuals who do not have any mental illness. CHRD acknowledges that the NPCSC has made minor improvements in revising the draft Mental Health Law, which was released in October 2011. However, CHRD calls for more changes so that the law complies with the CPRD, which China ratified in 2008, and urges the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to focus on this issue in its upcoming review on September 18 and 19 of China’s compliance with the CPRD.

Editors: Victor Clemens and Wang Songlian
 

[1] “Hearing Opens for Raolefu Villagers from Beijing’s Fangshan District Detained Over Election” (北京房山饶乐府选举被抓村民重审将开庭), September 6, 2012, WQW; “Fangshan Villagers’ Ballot Box Stolen; Eight Villagers Detained” (房山村民选举权票箱被抢8村民被抓), August 17, 2010, Boxun
 
[2] “Another Pengshui County Person Criminalized for Speech” (彭水县又一个因言获罪者), September 8, 2012, Beijing News; “Ren Jianyu: Village Official in RTL” (任建宇 被劳教的村官), September 4, 2012, Southern People Weekly; “Pu Zhiqiang Makes Gradual Progress in Abolishing RTL System” (浦志强 一点点促进劳教制度废除), September 4, 2012, Southern People Weekly; “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] “Nanjing Dissident Yang Tianshui Imprisoned for Total of 17 Years, Suffering From Illnesses”  (南京异见人士杨天水累计被囚17年,病魔缠身), September 10, 2012, WQW
 
[4] “Chengguan Officers Beat 85-Year-Old Hui Man Mi Erzhi, Relatives in Pingliang, Gansu” (甘肃平凉85岁回族老人米尔智及家人遭城管殴打), September 5, 2012, WQW
 
[5] “Yongzhou Government in Chongqing Conducts Violent Land Takeover, Villager Wu Zhijun Beaten, On Brink of Death” (重庆永川政府暴力征地,村民吴至军被打面临死亡), September 7, 2012, WQW
 
[6] “NGO Report on Human Rights Situation of Disabled in China Affected by AIDS” (中国受艾滋病影响残障人权利状况民间报告), September 13, Aizhixing
 
[7] “Information Resource Handbook for Uyghurs on Law and Human Rights” (《维吾尔人法律和人权信息资源手册》), September 6, 2012, Aizhixing; “Report on Uyghurs and Passport Application” (《维吾尔人办理护照简报》), September 4, 2012, Aizhixing
 
 

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