China Human Rights Briefing Weekly  April 27- May 3, 2010 | Countdown for China | 5 May 2010 | Amnesty International UK

China Human Rights Briefing Weekly  April 27- May 3, 2010

Highlights

  • Detentions, Harassment Continue as World Expo Opens: As CHRD reported in an April 28 press release, officials in Shanghai and around the country have been detaining, harassing, and threatening activists, dissidents, and petitioners to prevent them from speaking out during the Shanghai World Expo. We have continued to receive reports of individuals who have been affected by police or government pressure related to the World Expo, which opened to the public on May 1, and stories collected this past weekend are included in this edition of CHRB.
  • Officials Move to Curb Efforts to Memorialize Lin Zhao: April 29, the anniversary of the death of Lin Zhao (林昭), is rapidly becoming another “sensitive” date for Chinese activists. Lin, who was arrested during the Anti-Rightist Campaign and executed in 1968, has become an important figure for China’s activist community as more people learn of her life story and read works she composed while imprisoned. This year, the 42nd anniversary of her death, a number of activists and dissidents were detained or prevented from traveling to Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province to pay respects to Lin at her tomb.
  • Amended State Secrets, State Compensation Laws Adopted: The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted revisions to the State Secrets Law and the State Compensation Law in this past week. While the specific impact of these revised laws with regard to the rights of Chinese citizens remains to be seen, after reviewing the texts of these laws CHRD is not optimistic. We believe, in the case of the State Compensation Law, that the amended law is unlikely to have any effect on citizens’ success in obtaining compensation for rights violations. As for the State Secrets Law, none of the revisions will do much to restrict the government’s ability to arbitrarily define pieces of information as state secrets, or to use this designation to deny citizens their right to due process.

 Contents 

ArbitraryDetentionShanghaiWorld Expo UpdateCHRDhas received the following reports ofindividuals detained or harassed in connection with the Shanghai WorldExpo,which opened to the public on May 1:

  • On May 1, Shenzhen labor activists Xiao Qingshan (肖青山) and Qi Na (齐娜) were seized while preparing to stage a demonstration in Shanghai against government corruption. The two were briefly detained in the Waitan (the Bund) police station in Shanghai's Huangpu District. They were released later in the evening and told to leave Shanghai immediately.[1]
  • CHRD learned on May 2 that Shanghai petitioner Zhou Jinhong (周锦洪) has been criminally detained for “gathering crowds to disrupt the order of a public place” since April 15. Zhou, who was seized in Beijing and forcibly returned to Shanghai, has been detained on numerous occasions since September 2009 for petitioning and filing lawsuits against Shanghai officials regarding the forced demolition of his family's home to make way for the Expo.[2]
  • As of May 1, petitioner Feng Yongji (冯永记), of Shihezi City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was detained in the Shanghai Liaison Office of the Shihezi City Government. It is believed that Feng, who was seized after she posted an article online announcing that she planned to visit the Expo, will be forcibly returned to her hometown in Xinjiang.[3]
  • On April 13, CHRD reported that Shanghai petitioner-turned-activist Chen Jianfang (陈建芳) had been sent to 15 months of Re-education through Labor (RTL). On May 2, CHRD obtained a copy of the RTL notice, and learned that she has been detained for "acts which disrupt social order," in relation to an incident which took place outside of the Beijing University on April 17, 2009. It is believed that the authorities were referring to a peaceful protest Chen participated on that day. The fact that officials chose to punish Chen almost exactly a year after her alleged offense dovetailed with the belief of many fellow activists that Chen was detained to keep her from causing trouble during the Expo. According to Chen’s family members, they have been unable to visit her since she was sent to RTL and they have been threatened by government officials. Chen started petitioning when her farmland was expropriated and her home demolished without compensation by the Shanghai government in 2005. (CHRD)[4]
  • On the evening of April 29, CHRD received a text message from Shanghai activist Ma Yalian (马亚莲) stating that she was being illegally detained in a guesthouse. While CHRD was unable to contact Ma for further information, conversations with other local activists indicated not only that it was likely she was being detained, but that police pressure ahead of the Shanghai Expo has made it extremely dangerous for anyone to speak about "sensitive" issues, including detention in black jails. Activists contacted by CHRD stated that they knew very little about each others' whereabouts, as the authorities have effectively closed off established lines of communication through aggressive surveillance and control measures. (CHRD)[5]
  • On April 30, a group of 20 petitioners was intercepted by police and prevented from boarding a train in Beijing bound for Shanghai. The group, which included petitioners from Liaoning Province, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and other areas across the country, had planned to attend the Shanghai Expo. Their current whereabouts are unknown. (CHRD)[6]
  • Shortly after midnight on May 1, CHRD learned from Enshi City, Hubei Province petitioner-turned-activist Wang Guilan (王桂兰) that she may be facing restrictions on her movement. According to Wang, 10 police officers arrived at her home beginning on the afternoon of April 30 along with local government officials, and as of the time of writing the officers were still positioned outside of her home. She believes that the police are planning to keep her under soft detention to ensure that she does not travel to Shanghai. (CHRD)[7]
  •  On the afternoon of April 30, CHRD learned from family members of Hubei Province petitioner Xu Chunjing (徐春静) that Xu has been detained since April 14. According to the family, Xu is being held in a black jail in Yinji Township, Xiangfan City. (CHRD)[8]

FourGuangxi Villagers Detained For Attempting to Meet with OfficialsRegardingHousing IssuesOnApril 6, four villagers in Xinxing Village,Nanning City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were seized after theyattemptedto meet with village committee officials. According to eyewitnesses,approximately 80 police and security guards came to cordon off theoffice andtake away the four, who were criminally detained on suspicion of"gatheringa crowd to disrupt social order" the next day. The villagers wererepresenting their neighbors in a dispute which dates back to 2002,when theNanning government requisitioned village land for development.Villagers wereupset with the low quality of replacement housing they were provided,and alsobelieved that the head official in the village had sold collectiveproperty toa development corporation without their consent. Villagers have beenpetitioning for years regarding their situation, but have so far beenunable toresolve their grievances. The current whereabouts of the four detainedon April6 are not known. (CHRD)[9]ChongqingDemocracy Activist Missing After Administrative DetentionCHRDlearned on April 29 that Chongqing democracyactivist Hu Guanghui (胡光辉)has gone missingfollowing a period of administrative detention. Hu was sent to 10 daysofadministrative detention on March 29 after he pasted a proposal tofound theChina Social Justice Party (中国社会正义党)on a wall near a busyshopping street in Chongqing. Family members and friends do not haveanyinformation regarding his whereabouts or whether he was releasedfollowing hisadministrative detention. (CHRD)[10]Freedomof AssemblyPlanfor Workshop Organized by Beijing NGO Yirenping Disrupted OnApril 30, Beijing-based NGO Yirenping was informedthat a hotel conference center they had booked two weeks earlier for atrainingworkshop in Guangdong Province was "closed for safekeeping" afterbeing looted and vandalized. According to Yirenping, this is the sixthsuchoccasion on which their plans to hold a workshop have been similarlydisruptedby last-minute cancellations on the part of their hosts. It is unclearwhetherthe workshop, which was designed to improve the ability of NGOs toprovidelegal assistance to victims of discrimination, will be held. (Yirenping)[11]Tortureand Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or PunishmentImprisonedDissident Zhang Jianhong Reportedly in Critical ConditionCHRDreceived reports on April 28 that the health ofimprisoned dissident writer Zhang Jianhong (张建红,also known as Li Hong [力虹])is rapidlydeclining. Zhang, who was sentenced to six years in prison for"incitingsubversion of state power" in 2007, suffers from a form of musculardystrophy. He is currently receiving treatment in Qingchun Hospital, aprisonhospital in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. It has been reported thatZhangis no longer able to eat on his own and relies on an IV drip, but CHRDwasunable to reach members of Zhang's family to confirm this information.Hisfamily has appealed for his release on medical parole on numerousoccasions,but has been refused by local officials each time. Zhang, who is 52years old,was the founder of the banned literary website Aiqinhai.org(http://www.aiqinhai.org/).(CHRD)[12]Harassmentof ActivistsPoliceDetain, Restrict Movement of Activists Seeking to Pay Respects to LinZhaoOnApril 29, the 42nd anniversary of the death ofLin Zhao (林昭),netizens, dissidents, and activists from acrossthe country traveled to Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province to pay theirrespects.While many were able to successfully reach Lingyan Mountain Cemetery,the siteof Lin’s tomb, CHRD has received reports of netizens and activistsbeingprevented from traveling by police or detained once they reachedSuzhou. 

  • Among those barred from traveling to Suzhou were Tang Jingling (唐荆陵) and Liu Shihui (刘士辉), from Guangzhou, as well as Teng Biao (滕彪) and Zhang Hui (张辉) from Beijing. 
  • Jiangxi netizen Dong Chaozhong (董超中) was seized in Suzhou on the morning of April 29 by National Security officers who had trailed him from his hometown.  At the time of writing, Dong was being forcibly returned to Jiangxi. 
  • Also on the morning of April 29, Zhejiang netizen Xu Zhenhao (徐震昊) and Yunnan netizen Zhu Chengzhi (朱承志) were seized in Suzhou by local police and are currently in detention.

LinZhao was a Beijing University student arrestedduring the Anti-Rightist Campaign and executed in 1968. Whileimprisoned andrepeatedly tortured, she wrote hundreds of pages of politicalcommentary andpoems critical of the government using her own blood, and following adocumentary about her life produced by an independent filmmaker in2003, shehas become an important figure symbolizing defiance againstdictatorship foractivists and dissidents in China. (CHRD)[13]ForcedEviction and Land ExpropriationHeilongjiangVillagers Injured in Clash with Police during Land ProtestOnthe afternoon of April 29, thousands of villagersfrom Changchunling Village, Fujin City, Heilongjiang Province gatheredtoprotest the expropriation of their farmland. An estimated 2000 policeofficersarrived to disperse the protestors, who blocked traffic on areahighways andrailroads. Protestors fought back by throwing bricks at the police anddamaginga number of police vehicles. There were no serious injuries. Localinternet aswell as cell phone service was reportedly interrupted. In 2007, localofficialsexpropriated over 4000 hectares of land from about 3000 villagers.Since thenvillagers have petitioned, filed administrative lawsuits and protestedpeacefully to defend their right to the land, but to no avail. InFebruary twovillage representatives, Zhang Wenshuang (张文双)and Yu Changwu (于长伍)were imprisoned for giving interviews to overseasmedia. ChangchunlingVillage is one of a number of villagesin Fujin City the land of which was forcibly expropriated by localauthorities.A number of activists, notably “Olympics prisoner” Yang Chunlin (杨春林),have been imprisoned for defending the rights of these Fujin farmers. (CHRD)[14]Citizens’Rights ActionsFemaleJiangsu Lawyer Loses Appeal in Lawsuit against Family Planning BureauOnApril 27, Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province lawyerWang Ying (王莹)lost her appeal in a lawsuit against the QuanshanDistrict Family Planning Bureau. The Xuzhou Intermediate Courtannounced thatit would not overturn the Quanshan District Court's February 12 rulingagainstWang, who sued the Family Planning Bureau after she was barred fromobtaining acivil service position by the Tongshan County government on the groundsthatshe had violated family planning regulations by having a child beforemarriage.  During the period of 13 monthsbetween Wang's wedding and when she and her husband were able to obtainamarriage registration, Wang had a baby, and the suit was to determinewhetherthe Quanshan District Family Planning Bureau acted properly indecreeing thatWang's baby was born out of wedlock. Her case, which touched on issuesofdiscrimination, right to privacy, and the right to work, was called oneof the"top ten constitutional cases of 2009," and continues to be closelywatched domestically. (CHRD)[15]ThreeLawyers Hold Symposium to Discuss Fujian Netizen Case OnApril 28, lawyers Lin Hongnan (林洪楠),Li Fangping (李方平),and Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原)held a symposium at the Law School of the China University of PoliticalScienceand Law in Beijing. The three were among the lawyers who representedFanYanqiong (范燕琼),Wu Huaying (吴华英),and You Jingyou (游精佑)as they were prosecuted for “making falseaccusation” and slander.” Lin, Li, and Liu discussed their experiencehandlingthe case as well as their opinions on various aspects of the netizens'actionsand the government's reaction. The symposium was chaired by CUPL LawSchoolprofessor Wang Yong (王涌),who had published anarticle critical of the Fujian authorities in the wake of Fan, Wu, andYou'sconviction. Hundreds of students attended the talk. (CHRD)[16]AizhixingAnnounces Internet Symposium on Two-Year Anniversary of GovernmentInformationDisclosure RegulationsOnApril 30, Beijing NGO Aizhixing is convening anonline symposium to mark the two-year anniversary of the Chinesegovernment'slatest regulations regarding the disclosure of government information.[17] Thesymposium, which will be held via Skype, QQ, and MSN messagingservices, willcover topics including the relationship between government informationdisclosure regulations and the State Secrets Law and how to requestgovernmentinformation. For further information, including how to participate inthesymposium, please see here.Lawand Policy WatchRevisedState Secrets Law Falls Short of Minimum Protections for ChineseCitizensOnApril 29, the Standing Committee of the NationalPeople's Congress adopted revisions to the State Secrets Law, bringinga close tothe latest series of reviews, which began in June 2009.[18] The amended law, which willgo into effect in October, contains previously-discussed revisions,whichinclude (1) bringing “electronic data” under the scope of materialsconsideredas possible “state secrets;” (2) bringing the “networks” (includingmobilecommunications and the internet) used to store and transmit such dataunder thescope of “state secrets;” and (3) administrative concerns, such asfixing timelimits on state secrets, outlining the functions and responsibilitiesof theadministrative departments involved in the protection of state secretsandidentifying the officials within departments responsible fordetermining whatconstitutes a state secret. However,the revised law continues to fail toprovide precise and narrow definitions for what constitutes a “statesecret.” Noneof the revisions will do much to restrict the government’s ability toarbitrarilydefine pieces of information as state secrets, or to use thisdesignation todeny citizens their right to due process, as it has done so since the law came into effect in 1989.  RevisedState Compensation Law AdoptedAccordingto an April 29 Xinhua article,[19] theStanding Committee of the National People's Congress has adoptedamendments tothe State Compensation Law. The amended law will go into effect onDecember 1. Significantamendments include the following:1.       Individualswho are criminally detained (拘留)are now only compensated if the detention violates relevant proceduresor ifthe detention was longer than the period stipulated in the CriminalProcedureLaw (CPL) (Article 17.1); 2.       Citizenscan now claim apology and compensationfor psychological injury (Article 35); 3.       Citizenswho have not received aresponse from the department who they seek to hold responsible can nowapply tothe department at one level higher (Article 24). If the applicant againreceives no response within the stipulated time period or isdissatisfied withthe decision, then s/he might seek an administrative review of thedecision bythe court (Article 25); 4.       Whena detainee or prisoner dies or is incapacitated,the burden of proof now lies with the authorities—they are required toprovideevidence proving that they are not responsible (Article 26);  5.       Individualswho suffer injuries or whodie from beatings or mistreatment by others, whose behavior issanctioned by anofficial, are now entitled to state compensation (Article 3.3). Theimpact of the above amendments on the protectionof the rights of citizens can be described as mixed at best. Points 2,4 and 5 arecertainly small steps towards the right direction. But point 3, in theabsenceof judicial independence, will achieve little in pushing governmentdepartmentsto respond to requests for state compensation. Point 1 is a cause forconcern,as the CPL allows for up to 37 days for criminal detention, and undertheamended law detainees who are subsequently released without chargewould not beeligible for compensation. More importantly, the revised law continuestorestrict compensation to certain categories of rights abuse byadministrativeorgans. Overall, the amended law is unlikely to have any effect oncitizens’success in obtaining compensation for rights violations.  Editors:David Smalls and Lin Sang***CHRD’s Human Rights Yearbook 2009 isnow available. For a free copy, please contact us with your mailingaddress at crdnetwork@gmail.com.***Newsupdates from CHRD Annual Report on the Situation of Human RightsDefenders inChina (2009)

[1]"Activist Xiao Qingshan Arrested after Arriving in Shanghai to ProtestCorruption" (维权人士肖青山等到上海抗议 腐败遭抓捕), May 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100501172059_21045.html

[2]"Shanghai Petitoner Zhou Jinhong Detained Before World Expo" (上海访民周锦洪在世博召开期间被拘留),May 2, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100502210101_21058.html

[3]"Xinjiang Petitioner Feng Yongji Illegally Detained for Going to AttendShanghai Expo" (去参观世博会的新 疆访民冯永记被非法拘禁), May 1, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/fmzj/201005/20100501143520_21044.html

[4]"Shanghai Activist Chen Jianfang's RTL Decision Notice" (上海维权人士陈建芳的劳教决定书), May2, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class18/chenjianfang/201005/20100502232642_21062.html

[5]"Shanghai Activist Ma Yalian Detained in Black Jail Because of ShanghaiExpo" (上海维权人士马亚莲因为世博会被关黑 监狱), April 30, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100430001415_21015.html

[6]"Petitioners Intercepted en Route to Shanghai for Opening of WorldExpo" (前往上海迎世博会开幕的访民被拦截),April30,2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100430202300_21031.html

[7]"Home of Hubei Petitioner Wang Guilan Surrounded by Police" (湖北访民王桂兰住所被警方包围), May1, 2010, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100501005138_21035.html

[8]"Hubei Petitioner Xu Chunjing Detained in Black Jail Because of ExpoOpening" (湖北访民徐春静因世博会召开被 关黑监狱), May 1, 2010, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201005/20100501005637_21036.html

[9]"Nanning, Guangxi PSB Detains Four Activist Villagers" (广西南宁公安拘捕四名维权村民),April 28, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100428001223_20975.html

[10]"Chongqing's Hu Guanghui Detained for Proposal to Found Party, NowMissing" (重庆胡光辉因倡议组党被拘留后失踪), April 29,2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201004/20100429234516_21013.html

[11]"Training on Anti-Discrimination Law Run by NGO Distrupted" (NGO反歧视法律培训会场突遭“打砸抢”),April 30, 2010, http://chinarights2.blogspot.com/2010/04/3198-ngo.html

[12]"Zhejiang Dissident Li Hong Critically Ill in Prison" (浙江异议人士力虹狱中病危), April29, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class18/Class70/201004/20100429082049_20997.html

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