Chinese Government Must Respect Freedoms of Assembly, Expression

(Chinese Human RightsDefenders, February 21, 2010) – After anonymouscalls for protests in support of pro-democracymovements in the Middle East andprotection for human rights appeared online in thepast week, Chinese officialsresponded with a sweeping crackdown on human rightsactivists, lawyers, anddissidents across the country. The whereabouts of atleast six human rightsdefenders, last seen being taken away by police,remain unknown. Authoritiesalso raided the residences of at least eight activistsand lawyers,confiscating laptops, computers, cell phones, andbooks. More than 100individuals reported that they were questioned,threatened, or had theirmovements restricted by police in recent days.Additionally, CHRD has learnedthat lawyer Liu Shihui (刘士辉) was severelybeaten by unidentified men on his way to ademonstration in Guangzhou. “The government's swiftreaction to nip these protests in the buddemonstrates once again the extent to which it fearsits own citizens,” saidRenee Xia, CHRD’s International Director. “The leadersin China should havelearned their lesson from the recent uprisings in theMiddle East: denyingpeople a public outlet to voice their discontent oversocial injustices,corruption, and rights abuses is a recipe for unrestand instability sooner orlater.”  CHRD has documented over 100reports of activists whose movements wererestricted ahead of February 20, the date proposed inan online posting callingfor “Jasmine Revolution” protests in 13 Chinesecities. These activists weresummoned for questioning, taken to police stations,subjected to “softdetention” at home, or forced to “travel” away fromtheir homes. Many moreactivists and netizens across the country werequestioned by the police andwarned against leaving home on Sunday.  CHRD has confirmedthe following six cases of activists and lawyerswhose whereabouts are currently unknown: 

  • Tang Jitian (唐吉田): Tang was seized on the evening of February 16 after attending a lunch meeting with a dozen activists to discuss ways in which they might provide assistance to human rights defender Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) and his family. Tang’s family also reported on February 17 that his home was searched.
  • Jiang Tianyong (江天勇): On the afternoon of February 19, Jiang was seized from his brother’s home and driven away by men identified by his family as Beijing policemen. Police returned that evening and confiscated Jiang’s computer.
  • Teng Biao (滕彪): Teng went missing after leaving his home to meet with friends on the afternoon of February 19. Reportedly, policemen from the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s National Security Unit searched Teng’s home the next day, confiscating two computers, a printer, articles, books, DVDs and photos of Chen Guangcheng.
  • Gu Chuan (古川): Two dozen policemen searched Gu Chuan’s home in Beijing on the afternoon of February 19 and then took him away. The police confiscated two computers, two cell phones and some books. His wife, Li Xinai (李昕艾), has been placed under “soft detention” and cut off from contacting the outside world.
  • Chen Wei (陈卫): Chen was called for “tea” on the morning of February 20 by police from Suining City in Sichuan Province. Around 5:30 that afternoon, a dozen policemen and security guards arrived and searched Chen’s home, confiscating a computer, two hard drives and a USB drive.
  • Ran Yunfei (冉云飞):  Ran was called for "tea" by police officers in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, on the morning of February 20. Late that night, Ran was escorted home by police, who confiscated his computer. Police then once again led Ran away. 

CHRD also confirmed reportsthat lawyer Liu Shihui (刘士辉) was brutally beaten andseverely injured inGuangzhou City, Guangdong Province. Around noon onFebruary 20, Liu was waitingfor a bus to People’sPark, one of the locations named by the online postingfor the “JasmineRevolution” protests, when five men put a sack overhis head. The men thenproceeded to beat Liu with bamboo rods, kick him, andstab his legs withknives.  Liu was left bleedingon theroadside, and his legs appeared to be broken. He wasable to crawl home and callfor help. After Liu’s beating was reported online,attracting the attention offoreign journalists, Guangzhou police arrived at thehospital where Liu wasbeing treated and took a statement regarding theattack. This beating follows aDecember 10, 2010, incident in which Liu was abductedand threatened bynational security policemen. CHRD condemns thegovernment’s use of violence, enforceddisappearances, arbitrary detention, and other formsof harassment andintimidation of Chinese citizens in response to a callfor peacefuldemonstrations.  The governmentisviolating the Chinese Constitution, which promises toprotect citizens' rightsto freedom of expression and assembly, as well as theInternational Covenant onCivil and Political Rights, which China has signed.CHRD demands that the Chinesegovernment investigate the assault and beating of LiuShihui, and holdaccountable those responsible for injuring him.  CHRD calls on the Chinesegovernment to immediately release TangJitian, Jiang Tianyong, Teng Biao, Gu Chuan, Chen Wei,and Ran Yunfei. We urgediplomats from the U.S. government, the E.U., andothers with diplomaticpresence in China to inquire into the whereabouts ofthese individuals. CHRDalso calls on the U.N. Working Group on Enforced andInvoluntary Disappearance,the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the WorkingGroup on Arbitrary Detentionto take urgent action and send communiqués to theChinese government regardingthese cases. We also demand that restrictionscurrently in place on themovements of other individuals be immediately lifted. Finally, CHRD calls onPresident Obama, U.N. Secretary General Ban-KiMoon, and E.U. leaders to deliver strong, clear andconsistent messages insupport of Chinese human rights and pro-democracyactivists, as they have in supportof protesters in the Middle East.  Media ContactsRenee Xia,International Director(English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 5479286Wang Songlian,Research Coordinator (English andMandarin), +852 8191 1660David Smalls, Researcher (English), +1 347 448 5285

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