China Human Rights Briefing Weekly 16-22 March 2010

Highlights

  • Surprising those who were expecting a verdict to be issued, the Mawei District Court in Fuzhou sent the case against rights activists Fan Yanqiong (范燕琼), Wu Huaying (吴华英), and You Jingyou (游精佑) back to the procuratorate for "further evidence" on March 19 following a one-minute hearing.  Fan, Wu, and You have been charged with “making false accusations” for posting articles online alleging that local officials have improperly handled the suspicious death of Yan Xiaoling (严晓玲). They were originally tried in November 2009.
  • CHRD learned this week of the case of a 25 year-old man from Hunan surnamed Deng who died in police custody in early February. On February 2, Deng was arrested in Guangzhou on suspicion of robbery, and two days later died suddenly. His family believes his death was a result of beatings in detention. Deng’s case is the latest in a string of similar incidents over the past year which have brought renewed focus to the issue of torture and violence in China’s detention facililties.  
  • On March 17, China Economic Daily reporter Wang Keqin (王克勤) published an investigative report detailing how mishandled vaccines had sickened, killed, or disabled dozens of children in Shanxi Province between 2005 and 2007. As local officials have scrambled to provide damage control, Wang continued to call for more families affected by the vaccines to step forward. On March 22, CHRD released a statement on the situation, calling for an independent investigation by medical experts, scholars and the media, compensation for families, and legal accountability for any officials found to be involved in the scandal. For the full text, in Chinese, please click here.
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ContentsArbitraryDetention

Freedomof Assembly

Freedomof Association

ForcedEviction and Demolition

Harassmentof Activists

Citizens’Actions

Lawand Policy Watch

Arbitrary DetentionNo Verdict against FujianActivists; Court Asks Prosecutors for “FurtherEvidence”Ina hearing lasting one minute, the Mawei DistrictCourt in Fuzhou, Fujian, sent the case against rights activists FanYanqiong (范燕琼),Wu Huaying (吴华英),and You Jingyou (游精佑)back to the procuratorate for "further evidence" on March 19. Fan,Wu, and You have been charged with “making false accusations” forpostingarticles online alleging that local officials have improperly handledthesuspicious death of Yan Xiaoling (严晓玲).Fan,who has been seriously ill in recent weeks, didnot appear in court. According to Fan's daughter, lawyer Lin Zhong (林忠)was present outside the courthouse but prevented from attending thehearing.Lin Xiuying (林秀英),mother of Yan Xiaoling, was barred from enteringthe courtroom, where she had hoped to testify. Police outside thecourthouseconfiscated material she had brought regarding the case as well aspersonalitems. Police began gathering in large numbers early in the morning,and therewere reports of officers confiscating banners and roughly handlingsupportersto prevent them from taking photographs. Photographs from the scene areavailable hereand here.(CHRD)[1]Inan interview following the trial, lawyer LiuXiaoyuan (刘晓原)calledthe proceedings “a joke” and a“waste of resources,” stating that the notice sent to him before thehearinghad indicated that the court would announce a verdict today.[2]While it is unclear what the delay means for the activists, some hopethat itsuggests higher-level officials are paying notice to the public outcrysurrounding the prosecution. In the short term, however, the three willremainin detention until the local Political-Legal Committee decides how toproceedwith their case.New Hearing Set for Next Fridayin Case against Changsha Activist Xie Fulinand BrotherCHRDlearned on March 19 that a new hearing in thetrial of Xie Fulin (谢福林)will be held next Friday, March 26, in Changsha,Hunan's Furong District Court. Xie and his brother Xie Shulin (谢树林)have been accused of “stealing electricity,” though this charge isbelieved tohave been devised by the authorities to punish Xie Fulin for his rightsactivism.At their first hearing, on January 14, 2010, the presiding judgeapproved arequest from Xie's lawyer Ma Gangquan (马纲权)that the case be sent back for further investigation. Xie, a humanrightsdefender, has participated in activities with the Pan-Blue Alliance ofChineseNationalists, a largely online virtual group that supports theNationalistParty (Kuomintang) and whose members have been persecuted in recentyears.(CHRD)[3]Case against Liu Zhengyou and HuYulan Sent Back to PSB for FurtherInvestigationCHRDlearned on March 19 that the case againstSichuan activists Liu Zhengyou (刘正有)and Hu Yulan (胡玉兰)was sent back to the Zigong City Public Security Bureau on March 16 forsupplementary investigation. Their case, which was transferred to theprocuratoratein January, was due to be transferred from the procuratorate to thecourts forprosecution on March 17. Liu and Hu, who are husband and wife, wereformallyarrested on suspicion of "fraud" on December 7, 2009. It is believedthat the charges against the two are groundless, and are being used asapretext by police seeking to retaliate against Liu and Hu for theirrights-defense activities. In the past few years, the couple has helpedvictimsof land loss and forced eviction fight for their rights. (CHRD)[4]No Trial Yet for Children’sRights Activist Zhao LianhaiAccordingto a March 22 statement by Li Xuemei (李雪梅),wife of detained Beijing children's rights activist Zhao Lianhai (赵连海),court officials cancelled plans to hold a closed hearing against herhusbandfor "creating disturbances" on March 17. While the court has yet toannounce a new date for the trial, Zhao's lawyers have begun compilingwitnesses and experts to testify on his behalf, and will soon makepublicZhao's not guilty plea. Zhao is the founder of Kidney Stone Babies (结石宝宝),a website dedicated to advocating for families whose children becameill afterdrinking tainted milk powder. He was detained in November 2009 andformallyarrested on December 17, 2009. (CHRD)[5]Shaanxi Workers’Representatives Administratively Detained for PetitioningCHRDlearned on March 22 that four workers'representatives from Yulin, Shaanxi were administratively detained forone weekafter being seized in Beijing earlier this month. The four—ZhangChengxiang (张成祥),Niu Enkuan (牛恩宽),Jiang Shiye (蒋士业),and Li Xiulian (李秀莲)—werepicked up along with 14 otherpetitioners on March 13 and forcibly returned to Yuhe Town, outside ofYulin.Upon arriving home, the representatives were detained for "gathering acrowd to petition" during the annual meetings of the National People'sCongress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's PoliticalConsultative Conference. They were released on March 20. The workershad beenpetitioning regarding problems with the Yulin Motor Vehicle TransportCompany'stransition from a state-owned enterprise to a private enterprise. (CHRD)[6]Freedom of AssemblyHong Kong Activists Plead NotGuilty to Charges Stemming from Liu XiaoboProtestOnMarch 18, a preliminary hearing was held for thesix Hong Kong protestors arrested last week and charged with "unlawfulassembly" for taking part in a protest against Liu Xiaobo'ssentencing.  The six—Leung Kwok-hung (梁国雄),Leung Kwok-wah (梁国华),Lee Yiu-kee (李耀基),Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人),Tsoi Yiu-cheong (蔡耀昌),and Koo Sze-yiu (古思尧)—allpled not guilty, and the court announced thenext session of the trial would be held on April 22.  Around70 protestors gathered outside of theEastern District Courthouse in Hong Kong in support of the activists.  Hong Kong Alliance chairman Szeto Wah (司徒华),who attended the rally, railed against the "political persecution" ofthe six, who were arrested nearly three months after their peacefuldemonstration on December 25, 2009. (CHRD)[7]Freedom of AssociationOfficials Crack Down on SunshineCharity, Petitioners’ Welfare GroupThecrackdown on Sunshine Charity, a group dedicatedto supporting petitioners in Beijing,brings into focus two of the most pressing human rights issues of themoment:the abuse and mistreatment of petitioners and the suppression ofcitizens’ attemptsto form independent organizations. It is hard to imagine a group morebeneficial to the community and innocuous to the government thanSunshineCharity, which is run by volunteers and provides food and aid tohomelesspetitioners in Beijing.And yet, in recent weeks, Beijingofficials have detained and harassed a number of its volunteers and itsorganizer, Liu Anjun (刘安军).Harassmentcontinued once volunteers returned totheir hometowns after they were seized in Beijingin recent days: Li Jinliang (李金良),a handicappedpetitioner and volunteer with Sunshine Charity from BaogongmiaoTownship, Henan, reportedon March17 that he was beaten by policemen who forcibly returned him to Henan. At thetime ofwriting, Li was receiving treatment for an ear injury at a localhospital. Liwas seized on March 12 while handing out food to petitioners outside ofBeijing'sSouth Train Station.[8] OnMarch 16, police interrogated and searched the home of Shang Juanxia (商娟霞)in Henan, warning her not to participate in future activities withSunshineCharity or return to Beijing.OnMarch 17, Liu Anjun returned home after 20 daysof "forced tourism." Liu had arrived in Beijing on March 13 but was held ontheoutskirts of town and questioned by police for four days before beingset free.According to Liu, he was questioned extensively about SunshineCharity'sfinances and organization.[9]TwoSunshine Charity volunteers—Shi Dalei (史大磊),of Tianjin, and Huang Jianchun (黄健春),of Beijing—who were detainedearlier this week have been released as of March 17. 史大磊被抄家Thewhereabouts of two other detained volunteers remained unclear: as ofthe timeof writing, Zhu Yingying (朱莹莺)of Shanxi has notreturned home, and CHRD has not received any updates regarding Liu Fengqin (刘凤琴).(CHRD)[10]Torture and Other Cruel,Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment or PunishmentCritically Ill DissidentPlans for Hunger Strike over Lack of Medical Care in PrisonCHRDlearned on March 22 that imprisoned dissidentYang Tianshui (杨天水),who has been critically ill formonths, plans to begin a hunger strike at the beginning of April. In aconversation with his daughter and niece last month at Nanjing Prison,hestated that he had not received adequate treatment since his healthbegan torapidly decline last October, and he worries that, without proper care,he willnot live to see the end of his sentence. Yang, a longtime dissident andauthorof numerous political essays, suffers from tuberculosis, diabetes,kidneyinflammation, and high blood pressure. He has been given some basictreatmentby prison doctors recently but has not been allowed to seek specializedtreatment outside of the facilities as his condition has worsened. Heiscurrently serving a 12-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion ofstate power." (CHRD)[11]Robbery Suspect in GuangzhouDies in Detention Center A25-year old man from Hunan surnamed Deng died inpolice custody in early February, joining a growing list of similarhigh-profile cases in the last year. On February 2, Deng was arrestedinGuangzhou on suspicion of robbery, and on February 5 his familyreceived anotice from police stating he had died from organ failure caused bylate-stageleukemia. His family, however, believes he died as a result of beatingsindetention.  According to police, Deng was arrested after scaling abuilding to commit a robbery; medical experts have questioned howsomeonephysically fit enough to commit this alleged crime could suddenly diejust dayslater from massive organ failure. (CHRD)[12]Forced Eviction and DemolitionVictims of Forced Eviction SufferRepeated Arson AttacksAshack erected by Wei Lanyu (魏兰玉)and her husband Liang Yongkui (梁永奎)has been burned downtwice in the past two months by individuals believed to be employed bydevelopers in Linyi City, Shandong. Liang and Wei's home was originallydemolished in October 2007 by the Linyi City Government, who thehomeownersclaim did not follow proper procedures. However, the Lixia DistrictCourt inJinan City ruled that Liang still possessed land-use rights to the landonwhich his home previously stood, so he and his wife erected a temporaryshackon the premises. On the evening of January 18, and again on the morningofMarch 11, unidentified individuals set fire to Wei and Liang’s shack;in bothinstances, police refused to take action against those responsible.(CHRD)[13]House and Farm Demolished WhileOwner Shen Peilan Detained in Black JailOnthe afternoon of March 16, Shanghai petitionerShen Peilan (沈佩兰)returned home after eight days indetention in a Shanghai black jail during the annual “Two Meetings.”[14]Uponarrival, however, she discovered that her house and fish farm had beenrazed tothe ground. Shen's house, which was rented out to tenants, wasdestroyedearlier that morning by officials from the Minhang District PSB and theMaqiaoTown Government in Shanghai.Shen reports that no one in her family had signed a demolitionagreement orbeen given a formal notification informing them that the demolition wasto takeplace on March 16. (CHRD)[15]Local Party Secretary DirectsThugs to Attack Villagers during Dispute overLand ExpropriationCHRDlearned on March 13 that a number of villagersin Shanzhai Village,outside of Bijie City,Guizhou Province, wereattacked and injuredby hired thugs while they resisted the forced expropriation of villageland onFebruary 1. In May 2009, without prior consultation with the villagers,localofficials leased all of the village farmland to an investment companyto builda fireworks factory. After the deal was made, officials then forced thevillagers to sign documents stating that they had received compensationandthreatened with “troubles” if they did not comply. The villagers wereshockedwhen they learned of the details of the deal a few days later—that theland hadbeen leased for 40 years. The villagers believed that they were notofferedproper compensation. When the villagers discovered that constructionwasbeginning on February 1, they rushed to stop the workers. One of thevictimsaccused Duipo Town Party Secretary Deng Pingju (邓平举)of ordering the thugs to attack the villagers. Ms. Li Chaofei (李朝飞)was seriously injured in the attack and later detained by local police.(CHRD)[16]Harassment of ActivistsWhistleblower in ShanxiVaccine Scandal Receives Threatening Text Messages OnMarch 20, Chen Taoan (陈涛安),a whistleblower in the Shanxi vaccine scandal, received text messagesthreatening violence in retaliation if Chen continued to expose detailsof thescandal. Several parents of children who were affected by contaminatedvaccinesreported receiving similar messages. According to Chen, the textmessages didnot indicate the sender’s address and could have originated from acomputer.Chen was formerly the communications manager in charge of promotingdiseaseprevention at Shanxi Center for Disease Control and Prevention, but wasremovedfrom office in July 2005. On March 17, 2010, China Economic Daily reporterWang Keqin (王克勤)reported that dozens of children haddied or were left disabled between 2005 and 2007 after being inoculatedwithvaccines which had been exposed to high temperatures. Prior to Wang’sreports,Chen and a number of other whistleblowers had repeatedly been preventedfromexposing the problem by the Shanxi Department of Health. (CHRD)[17]Citizens’ ActionsReporter Who Exposed ShanxiVaccine Scandal Calls for WitnessesOnMarch 17, China Economic Daily reporterWang Keqin (王克勤)published an investigative reportdetailing how mishandled vaccines had sickened, killed, or disableddozens ofchildren in Shanxi Province. Reportedly, the Shanxi Department ofHealth notonly neglected to investigate the case after repeated warnings buttriedprevent Wang and other whistleblowers from exposing the case. On March20, Wangposted an article on his blog (http://wangkeqin.blog.sohu.com/),in which hepublicized the names of some of the victims and called for morewitnesses tostep forward. The case has already been widely circulated and has drawnconsiderable attention both domestically and internationally. (CHRD)[18]OnMarch 22, CHRD released a statement on the ShanxiVaccine Scandal, calling for an independent investigation by medicalexperts,scholars and the media, compensation for families, and legalaccountability forany officials found to be involved in the scandal. For the full text,inChinese, please click hereFarmers, Workers, andTeachers Join Together to Protest in HubeiOnthe morning of March 22, a crowd of teachers,workers, and farmers gathered outside of the Xiantao, Hubei governmentoffices,for a demonstration lasting approximately one hour. The crowd, whichwasestimated at around 2,000 protestors, carried signs calling forofficials to"respect the law" and "implement Party policies" regardingwages, pensions, compensation for expropriated land, and other similarissues.While each of the three groups presented different demands, they alljoinedforces to protest together. Police blocked the protestors from enteringthroughthe gates of the government compound, but there were no reports ofviolence orprotestors being detained. (CHRD)[19]Law and Policy WatchGuangzhou Federation of TradeUnions Submits Proposal on Collective Bargaining Accordingto a March 18 Xinhua report, the GuangzhouCity Federation of Trade Unions has drafted regulations for collectivebargaining related to labor issues, and has submitted their ideas totheGuangzhou People's Congress for inclusion in their legislative agenda.Theproposed regulations call for at least one round of negotiationsbetweenemployers and professional unions per year with regard to workers'wages. Theresolutions also designate local unions to act on behalf of workers inthe caseof labor disputes, so that the workers themselves will not beresponsible fornegotiations with their employers. The Department of Labor will act asanarbitrator in the case of disputes between employers and the unionunder theseproposed regulations, as well as in cases where workers are not part ofaunion. Workers' representatives are protected from retaliation byemployers, asfiring or docking the pay of workers' representatives for taking partincollective bargaining would be outlawed under the regulations. (Xinhua)[20]Solong as workers in Guangzhou and elsewhere areprevented from forming autonomous unions, there is little hope thatthey willbe able to benefit from the protections outlined in these proposedregulations.The Guangzhou City Federation of Trade Unions, like all other localunions, isunder the umbrella of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).ACFTUensures that all officially-sanctioned unions are subject to control bytheCCP, and so it is the authorities, rather than the workers, whoseinterests arebeing protected. In that sense, asking the Department of Labor toarbitratebetween unions and employers is redundant, as union leaders would neveract ina way politically unacceptable to higher authorities.QQ Groups, Microblogs, TextMessages to Fall under Scope of Police SupervisionAccordingto a March 19 report in the ChongqingEvening News, the Chongqing Political-Legal Committee has disclosedthat QQgroups, microblogs, and cell phone text messages will all subject to anewmonitoring scheme carried out by local police. The police monitoringschemewill also require users to register with their real names when loggingon to theinternet to use these services. Specific details about how the planwill becarried out are still forthcoming, as is the date on which this plan isset tobe implemented. (Chongqing Evening News)[21]Whilethe authorities have pushed for real-nameregistration for internet users of various services over the past year,this isthe first time the regulations are being applied to microblogs and QQgroups,two of the most popular forms of online communication in China.However, thefailure of a similar effort to implement real-name registration inHangzhou inMay 2009 due to widespread non-compliance by internet service providers(ISPs)might mean that the scheme will also be resisted and then abandoned inChongqing. The idea that police are monitoring citizens' communicationsis alsonot new; however, the ability of police and government officials toopenlyacknowledge and promote this practice, despite the egregious violationsofcitizens' constitutional rights to freedom of expression and privacywhich itrepresents, is cause for concern. China’s Urban and RuralResidents to Get Equal Representation in Lawmaking BodiesTheXinhua News Agency reported on March 14 that theduring the third session of the 11th National People’sCongress(NPC), the NPC passed an amendment to the electoral law that will grantequalrepresentation to urban and rural residents in China. The number ofdelegatesfrom each province, autonomous region, and municipality will corresponddirectly to that jurisdiction’s population. Previously, rural delegatesrepresent four times as many citizens as their urban counterparts.(Xinhua)[22]Whileequal representation in the NPC delegate electionrepresents a step forward for citizens’ right to elect their leaders,more thanequal representation is needed to make elections in China truly fair.China hasa long way to go in order to make sure that the NPC delegates indeedrepresenttheir voters and are not merely props and rubber stamps of those inpower. Editors:David Smalls and Lin Sang***CHRD’s Human Rights Yearbook 2009 is now available. For a free copy,pleasecontact us with your mailing address at crdnetwork@gmail.com. ***Newsupdates from CHRD

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