China Human Rights Briefing Weekly  July 14-19, 2010

 

Highlights

  • Authorities Order Closure of Over 100 Influential Blogs: A number of well-known and widely-read scholars, lawyers, and activists had their blogs shut down simultaneously by managers at major internet portals on July 14. While most of the affected bloggers, including He Weifang (贺卫方), Liu Junning (刘军宁), Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), Xu Zhiyong (许志永), and Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦) have had blogs of theirs closed previously, it is unusual and concerning to see so many blogs shut down at once. China’s netizens greeted the news with surprise and anger, and the action, coupled with recent problems regarding domestic microblogging services, has left many wondering whether a new internet crackdown is looming.
  • Civil Society Figures in Beijing under Soft Detention as Chancellor Merkel Arrives: As has become common practice in Beijing during similar events, a number of high-profile activists and dissidents were placed under “soft detention” during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the capital on July 15.  Hu Shigen (胡石根), Gao Hongming (高洪明), Cha Jianguo (査建国), Yang Jing (杨靖), Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), Wang Debang (王德邦), and Xu Yonghai (徐永海) were among those who faced harassment from police and restrictions on their movement.
  • Activist Liu Shasha Kidnapped in Beijing, Beaten by Police and Government Officials: Henan activist Liu Shasha (刘沙沙) was kidnapped from Beijing on July 16 and subjected to repeated beatings while being held overnight by men she identified as Beijing National Security officers and government officials from Tongbai County, Henan Province. Liu was driven to the outskirts of the city and held in an unknown location before being abandoned by the side of the road in rural Hebei the next day. Her kidnappers stole her cell phone and bank card as well.  

Contents

Freedom of ExpressionAuthorities Order Closure of Over 100Influential Blogs

In an unusuallysweeping move, website managers at Sohu, Sina, and other major internetportalsshut down the blogs of at least one hundred prominent scholars,lawyers, andactivists on July 14. Well-known bloggers including He Weifang (贺卫方), Liu Junning (刘军宁), Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), Xu Zhiyong (许志永), and Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦) were among those whose blogs were removed.Reportedly, website staff privately apologized to some of the authorsaffected,and stated that they were acting on the orders of higher authorities,who hadprovided a list of blogs they demanded be closed. However, the staffersrefusedto state which authorities had ordered the blogs shuttered, or give aprecisereason why these blogs had been targeted. (CHRD)[i]

Arbitrary DetentionEviction Victim Detained in RTL Camp forTrying to Get a Glimpse of Obama

CHRD learned on July14 that a victim of forced eviction from Shanghai, Wu Yuping (邬玉萍), has been serving 18 months in a Re-educationthrough Labor (RTL) camp after she was seized near the Diaoyutai StateGuesthouse in Beijing, where US President Obama was staying during hisvisit toChina in November 2009. Wu, who is punished for “disturbing the orderof[government] agencies,” contends that she merely waited near theguesthouse toget a glimpse of the US President. Wu’s detention came to light whensherecently filed an administrative litigation lawsuit against theShanghaiMunicipal RTL Management Committee for its decision. Wu’s family wasonlynotified on July 9 of the upcoming trial on July 13. With such shortnotice,the family nonetheless managed to find a petitioner-activist, Ma Yalian(马亚莲), to act as Wu’s “citizen representative” (公民代理人). However, the Huangpu Court in Shanghairejected the appointment withoutgiving any reasons. When Wu’s family then found a lawyer to representher andrequested that the court postpone the trial so the lawyer can attendthehearing, the court refused, stating that Wu “did not need a lawyer.” Intheend, Wu’s sister had to represent her, as representatives of Wu’schoosing wererejected by the court. (CHRD)[ii]

BeijingActivist Qi Zhiyong Subjected to Soft Detention

Since July 13, Beijingactivist Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇) has been subjected to soft detention at home. Qi cannotleave withoutthe permission from the four policemen and security guards stationedoutside ofhis apartment. Even if he is allowed to leave, he must travel in apolicevehicle. Police refused to tell Qi the reasons for his detention. Qibelievesthat it is related to his activism calling for the release of detainedSichuandemocracy activist Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌) as wellas to the scheduled release of a fellowactivist, Liu Feng (刘凤), from prison on July 15. (CHRD)[iii]

Hubei Doctor Held in Black Jail forPetitioning

Between July 2 and 7,Wang Suhua (汪素华), adoctor from Shiyan City, Hubei Province, was held in a Beijing blackjail forpetitioning. On July 2, Wang was intercepted by Beijing police near the Beijing SouthTrainStation. The police forcibly brought Wang and a number of otherpetitioners toMa Jia Lou, a central black jail, where she was held until officersfrom theBeijing Liaison Office of Shiyan City government arrived. The officersthen senther to a black jail run by the Beijing Liaison Office of the TangheCounty,Henan Province government, where Wang was held for five days. On July7, whilebeing forcibly returned to her hometown by a group of interceptors,Wangescaped. Wang started petitioning in 1996 after being retaliatedagainst forreporting on corrupt activities of her superiors at the hospital whereshe wasemployed at the time. (CHRD)[iv]

HubeiFamily Kidnapped and Detained for Petitioning

A family of three waskidnapped on July 12 while petitioning in Beijing.Tan Huaimin (谭怀敏) andher two children, from Enshi City in Hubei Province, had beenpetitioning inthe capital about the Enshi City court’s failure to hold accountablethoseresponsible for her husband’s death. Government officials from Enshi Cityintercepted the family in the Tiananmen Square,and then forcibly brought them to the Beijing Liaison Office of EnshiCity. Thethree were then immediately sent back to their hometown, where Tan hasbeendetained in the EnshiCity PSBDetention Center.(CHRD)[v]

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, orDegrading Treatment or PunishmentActivist Liu Shasha Kidnapped in Beijing, Beaten by Policeand Government Officials

On the evening of July16, Henan activist Liu Shasha (刘沙沙) was kidnapped by three men outside the east gate ofPeople's Universityin Beijing. Her kidnappers, whom she identified as Beijing NationalSecurityofficers and government officials from TongbaiCounty,Henan Province, hooded Liu and droveher to anunknown location on the outskirts of Beijing.There, she had her hands bound and was repeatedly beaten over thecourse of thenight by her captors. Liu was then driven to Ci County, outside Handan City, HebeiProvince, and abandoned the following day after her kidnappers stoleher cellphone and bank card. She was able to return to Beijing on July 18, and has filed apolicereport regarding the incident. Fellow activists and netizens havealreadylocated witnesses, including school security guards and alumni ofnearby QinghuaUniversity, whoobserved Liu'skidnapping on Friday. (CHRD)[vi]

Imprisoned Democracy Activist Ren ZiyuanSubjected to Psychological Abuse

On July 16, CHRDlearned that prison officials in Shandong Province may be subjectingdemocracyactivist Ren Ziyuan (任自元) to abuse and denying him proper medical treatment.Ren's father RenRusheng (任汝生)reported to CHRD that prison officials have barred him from visitinghis sonsince March of this year, and that officials have confiscated lettersand cutoff phone conversations to prevent Ren Ziyuan from contacting theoutsideworld. Ren Rusheng believes that two police officers have been taskedwithkeeping Ren under 24-hour surveillance, and may be subjecting him topsychological abuse. Ren stated that his son suffers from tuberculosis,and isnot being provided with adequate treatment while imprisoned. RenZiyuan, whowas sentenced to 10 years in prison for "subversion of state power"in 2006, is currently being held in Shandong Provincial Prison. (CHRD)[vii]

Harassment of ActivistsCivil Society Figures in Beijing under Soft Detention asChancellorMerkel Arrives

On July 15, GermanChancellor Angela Merkel reached Beijingas partof her four-day state visit to China.In the days leading up to her arrival, Beijingpolice began placing human rights defenders, activists, and other civilsocietyfigures in Beijingunder "soft detention" at their homes to prevent them from speakingout during the Chancellor's visit. As of July 16, CHRD had receivedreportsthat Hu Shigen (胡石根), Gao Hongming (高洪明), Cha Jianguo (査建国), Yang Jing (杨靖), Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), and XuYonghai (徐永海) faced restrictions on their movement and had theirhomes guarded bypolice; police also visited Wang Debang (王德邦) at his home outside Beijing and warned him to be“quiet.” More activists have likely been affected as well. (CHRD)[viii]

BeijingDissidents Cha Jianguo and Gao Hongming Subjected to Soft Detention

Since 6pm on July 14,Beijing dissidents Cha Jianguo (查建国) and GaoHongming (高洪明) have been subjected to “soft detention” byBeijingpolice. They are not allowed to leave without permission from officersof theNational Security Unit of Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB)stationedoutside of their homes. Even if they are allowed to go out, they haveto travelin police vehicles. It is believed that the police place them undersoftdetention to prevent them from organizing or joining the activities of“BeijingLiu Xianbin Citizens Concern Group” on July 15. (CHRD)[ix]

Shanghai Activist Feng Zhenghu RoughlyHandled for Petitioning

Shanghai activist FengZhenghu (冯正虎) wasroughly handled by three Shanghai policeman and government officials onJuly14. Feng was on his way to the Shanghai Municipal government Lettersand VisitsOffice to submit a petition about an earlier incident where hispersonalbelongings were confiscated by the Shanghai police when the three, whohad beenfollowing him, grabbed, pushed and shoved him. Feng twisted his ankle,butmanaged to arrive at the office and lodged his complaint. (CHRD)[x]

BeijingPolice Continues to Harass Activist and Former Lawyer Ni Yulan

Beijing human rightsactivist Ni Yulan (倪玉兰) continues to be harassed by Beijing police three monthssince herrelease from prison in April. On July 14, three policemen from BeijingMunicipal PSB Xicheng District Subdivision went to Yuxingong Hotel,where Niand her husband have been staying in the past weeks and demanded thatthey moveout. On July 15, the police searched Ni’s hotel room and cut off theelectricity to force the couple to leave. Dozens of activists thenaccompaniedNi to complain at the subdivision. The policemen backed down, sayingthat sheand her husband can stay in the hotel until the police make a decisionwithinthe next seven days. Ni, a housing rights activist and former lawyer,wassentenced to two years’ imprisonment for resisting the forceddemolition of herhome. Ni was released on April 15, 2010. Ni and her husband had beenforced tolive on the street because their home was forcibly demolished inNovember 2008,and that police repeatedly harassed owners of hostels they stayed atbetweenApril 15 and 28. With the help of fellow activists, the couple moved inYuxingong Hotel a few weeks ago. For her rights activism, since 2001 Nihasrepeatedly detained, imprisoned and tortured, which left her unable towalk andin a wheelchair. (CHRD)[xi]

Right to Housing and LandFarmland Appropriated from Jiangsu Villagerswithout Proper Procedures

CHRD learned on July15 that villagers in Pingxi Village, PingchaoTown in Jiangsu Provincehad about 200 mu (about 32.9 acre) of farmland confiscated from themwithoutproper procedures. In April, Pingchao Townofficials cordonedoff the farmland, which the villagers had contracted, and barred themfromfarming the land. The villagers complain that they were not informed orconsulted prior to the appropriation or compensated for the loss oftheir rightto use the land. The villagers also allege that the town government hasnoright to seize the land without the State Council’s authorization. InJune, thetown government threatened to punish the villagers and their relativesif theydid not sign agreements to move out of the land and have their homesdemolished. The villagers have complained to the Ministry of HousingandUrban-Rural Development, but so far have received no response. (CHRD)[xii]

Law andPolicy WatchMinistryof Land and Resources Issues Notice Calling for Changes in Managementof LandRequisition

According to a July 12 Legal Dailyarticle, the Ministry of Land and Resources hasrecently issued a notice regarding "further improvements" to themanagement of land requisitions. The notice calls for a refiguring ofcompensation standards by the central government every two to threeyears, inorder to keep the settlements offered to farmers in line with currenteconomicconditions, and suggests that compensation be paid directly toindividualsaffected by the requisition to prevent it being “withheld ormisappropriated”.The notice states that compensation amounts should be fixed during apreliminary examination of the land requisition. The notice alsoencourageslocal governments to request that the developers deposit with thegovernmentthe estimated amount of funds for compensation before the requisitionisapproved, to ensure that the developers have enough for compensation. (LegalDaily)[xiii]

While proper compensation is at the heart ofmany disputes over forced evictions, an even more basic problem is thelack ofprotection for farmers' right to their land. In rural China,farmersdo not own the land they farm. The land is owned by “villagecollectives,”which give contracts out to farmers. As a result, local governments anddevelopers are able to forcibly evict farmers at will, and thispractice isaccompanied by well-documented abuses. As this notice does not addressthisfundamental problem of farmers’ lack of long-term and secure landrights, itwill likely prove ineffective in lessening the number of conflicts and"mass incidents" related to land requisitions.

SupremePeople's Court Issues First Annual Report on Country's Courts

On July 13, the Supreme People's Court issuedits first annual report on the work of China's courts. The report,whichincludes both figures for cases handled by different levels of courtsas wellas analysis of important cases over the past year, is being describedbyofficials as part of a plan to promote greater transparency for thecourts. Itis available in its entirety here(inChinese). (Xinhua)[xiv]

The creation of this report is undoubtedly astep forward as far as openness for the Chinese judicial system, butmuch workremains to be done before the courts can truly claim to be transparent.Thecourts must ensure that individual cases are handled with openness,withoutinterference or intimidation from government officials, and the trialsare ableto be observed by members of the public and the media.

Editors: David Smalls and Lin SangNews updatesfromCHRDAnnual Report on the Situation of Human RightsDefenders inChina (2009)

[i] "Close to One Hundred Blogs by Famous Authors Closed InaSingle Day" (一日之内近百知名博客遭封杀),July 16, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100716105216_22240.html

[ii] CHRD, “Ma Yalian: Shanghai Court Refuses Wu Yuping’sRequests forEntrusting [a Legal Representative] and for Postponing the Trial (马亚莲:上海法院拒绝邬玉萍案延期审理和委托申请),” July 14, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/dzlx/201007/20100714020013_22199.html;CHRD, “Strange Scene in Shanghai: Police Sits in the Area for PlaintiffandForces Wu Yuping to Attend the Trial (上海法院奇景:警察坐原告席强押邬玉萍开庭),”July 14, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100714090501_22201.html 

[iii] CHRD, “Qi Zhiyong, Disabled during June Fourth, Has HadHis FreedomRestricted (六四伤残者齐志勇被限制人身自由),” July14, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100714123404_22205.html 

[iv] CHRD, “Hubei Doctor Wang Suhua Framed after ExposingCorruption,Detained

for Petitioning (湖北医生汪素华揭腐遭陷害,上访被关押),”July 12, 2010,

http://www.crd-net.org/Article/fmzj/201007/20100712183142_22168.html

[v] CHRD, “Hubei Petitioner Tan Huaimin Kidnapped in BeijingandDetained (湖北访民谭怀敏在北京被绑架关押),” July15, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/fmzj/201007/20100715183601_22224.html 

[vi] "Liu Shasha Recounts Kidnapping and Beating by BeijingNational Security Police; Netizens Lend their Support" (刘沙沙讲述被北京国保绑架殴打过程网友声援), July19, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100719031758_22282.html

[vii] "Imprisoned Shandong Democracy Activist Ren ZiyuanSubjectedto Psychological Abuse" (山东民运人士任自元狱中遭精神虐待),July 16, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class18/Class46/201007/20100716100101_22234.html

[viii] "Merkel Arrives for Visit, Many Civil Beijing CivilSocietyFigures under Soft Detention" (默克尔来访,北京多位民间人士被软禁), July 16, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100716100457_22235.html

[ix] CHRD, “Beijing Dissidents Cha Jianguo and Gao HongmingSubjected toRestrictions of Personal Liberty (北京异议人士查建国、高洪明被限制人身自由),” July 15, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100715160556_22220.html 

[x] CHRD, “Feng Zhenghu: Using One’s Life to Defend Freedomand HumanDignity (冯正虎:用生命捍卫自由权利与做人尊严),”July 15, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100715103558_22214.html 

[xi] CHRD, “Beijing Xicheng Police Demands that Ni YulanMoves out ofHotel (北京西城警方要求倪玉兰搬出宾馆),” July15, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class18/niyulan/201007/20100715160613_22221.html;CHRD, “Beijing Citizens Accompany Lawyer Ni Yulan to Beijing PSBXichengDistrict Subdivision to Complain (北京公民陪同倪玉兰律师到西城公安分局投诉),” July 16, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class18/niyulan/201007/20100716000806_22229.html  

[xii] CHRD, “A large amount of Good Farmland is LeftUncultivated,Farmers are Desperate (南通大批良田荒废,农民走投无路),”July 16, 2010, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class53/201007/20100716002523_22231.html 

[xiii] "Ministry of Land and Resources: Compensation StandardforLand Requisitions to Be Raised Yearly" (国土部:征地补偿标准将逐年提高), July12,2010, http://epaper.legaldaily.com.cn/fzrb/content/20100712/Articel06002GN.htm

[xiv] "People's Courts Annual Work Report (2009)" (人民法院工作年度报告(2009年)), July 14, 2010,http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2010-07/14/c_12330549.htm

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