Chinese Authorities Criminalize Tibetans for "Inciting" Self-Immolations, and more

China Human Rights Briefing
 
February 1-7, 2013
 
Contents

Arbitrary Detention
    •    Tibetans Harshly Sentenced as Courts Enforce Criminalization of Self-Immolation Protests
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
    •    Hebei Petitioner Ma Lijun Faces Lifelong Disability After Illnesses Go Untreated in RTL
Law & Policy Watch
    •    Upon News of Provinces Moving to End RTL, CHRD Urges Chinese Government to Abolish Extrajudicial Detention

Arbitrary Detention
Tibetans Harshly Sentenced as Courts Enforce Criminalization of Self-Immolation Protests
 
In enforcing a new government policy of criminalizing self-immolations by Tibetans, two courts on January 31 sentenced a total of eight Tibetans on charges of “intentional homicide” for their alleged roles in self-immolation protests against Chinese government suppression, according to Xinhua. A court in Gansu Province sentenced six Tibetans to between three and 12 years in prison in a case linked to a self-immolation from October 2012. That month, a Tibetan farmer died after setting himself on fire on the main street of Xiahe (Tibetan: Sangchu) County. The man’s body was taken to his village to evade control by Chinese security officers, and the sentenced Tibetans reportedly may have helped drag the body away. On the same day as the hearing in Gansu, a court in Sichuan Province sentenced two Tibetans for allegedly “inciting” and “coercing” eight people to self-immolate; three of those individuals later set themselves on fire and died. One man was given a suspended death sentence—the first of its kind known to have been issued to a Tibetan for “inciting” or “abetting” self-immolations—and the other received a 10-year sentence.[1]
 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
Hebei Petitioner Ma Lijun Faces Lifelong Disability After Illnesses Go Untreated in RTL
 
Hebei petitioner Ma Lijun (马丽君) may be permanently disabled following her release last month from a Re-education through Labor (RTL) term, during which she was not given medical treatment for illnesses. Freed several weeks early, on January 6, Ma was taken by her family to a hospital in Shijiazhuang City to obtain medical care. Doctors who examined her stated that she may have lifelong physical disabilities, however, since she had gone such a long time without treatment. Ma Lijun was taken into custody in August 2011 while petitioning in Beijing and received an 18-month RTL punishment for “disrupting order of a public place.” Police officers beat Ma after they seized her, and she suffered several injuries. When police finally sent her to RTL, the Hebei Provincial Women’s RTL facility initially refused to accept her since her health condition was so poor, but it ultimately relented. Ma’s health then only worsened as she served her punishment.[2]

Law & Policy Watch
Upon News of Provinces Moving to End RTL, CHRD Urges Chinese Government to Abolish Extrajudicial Detention
 
With the news that authorities in Yunnan and Guangdong are taking steps to end the Re-education through Labor (RTL) system in their provinces, CHRD has strongly urged the Chinese government to follow suit at the national level, steer clear from replacing RTL with other kinds of extralegal detention, and to free all wrongful detainees from forced labor camps (see CHRD’s statement). If reported developments in the two provinces indeed pan out, they indicate significant moves towards ending RTL, the longstanding extrajudicial detention system in place since the 1950s that allows individuals to be detained up to four years without trial or access to counsel. However, CHRD cautions that more solid assurance about the fate of RTL requires both a concrete timetable for its demise and also a guarantee that there are no plans for keeping extralegal detention active but simply under a new label.
 
Edited by Victor Clemens & Renee Xia                         
 

[1] “Six Tibetans sentenced up to 12 yrs over self-immolation,” February 1, 2013, TCHRD; “Tibetans sentence for ‘murder’ at show trial to discredit self-immolation protests,” February 1, 2013, TCHRD
 
[2] “Without Any Treatment for Illnesses in RTL, Ma Lijun May be Disabled for Life” (劳教所有病不给治,马丽君可能终生残疾), February 5, 2013, WQW; “Petitioner-Activist Ma Lijun, From Shijiazhuang in Hebei, Urgently Needs Medical Parole” (河北石家庄回民上访维权者马丽君急需保外就医), February 8, 2012, WQW; “Court Accepts Administrative Appeal Case for Shijiazhuang Petitioner Ma Lijun” (法院受理石家庄回民马丽君劳教提起行政诉讼案), December 17, 2011, WQW; “Hebei Petitioner Ma Lijun, Ill in RTL, Submits Administrative Appeal” (河北上访维权者马丽君劳教所病中提起行政复议), September 28, 2011, WQW; “Shijiazhuang, Hebei Petioner Ma Lijun Sent to RTL, Family Not Notified,” (河北石家庄访民马丽君被劳教,劳教地址没通知家属), August 22, 2011, WQW; Submission to UN on Ma Lijun, December 15, 2011, CHRD
 

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