[CHRB] (2/14-20/2014) Henan to Close Illegal “Discipline Centers”; Guangzhou Activist Arrested

China Human Rights Briefing

 February 14-20, 2014


 Arbitrary Detention

  • Guangdong Activist Arrested After Commemorating June Fourth
  • Hangzhou Police Question 2 on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion”
  • Henan Authorities to Close Illegal “Discipline Centers”

Arbitrary Detention

Guangdong Activist Arrested After Commemorating June Fourth

Liang Songji (梁颂基), an activist from Guangdong Province, was formally arrested on charges of “obstructing official business” on February 10. He had been detained in January with several other activists for planning to mark the anniversary of a protest for press freedom in front of the Southern Weekly headquarters in Guangzhou, and for joining a worldwide hunger strike to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the June Fourth massacre (see report). Liang is being held in Liwan District Detention Center in Guangzhou. Police had previously summoned Liang in May of 2013 for attempting to mark June Fourth.[1]

Hangzhou Police Question 2 on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion”

Police in Hangzhou recently took in for questioning a human rights lawyer as well as a prominent writer and activist on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” Lawyer Wang Cheng (王成) was questioned by police for several hours on February 14, with police focusing their interrogation on a petition that Wang organized calling on China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Wang was also questioned about cases involving Falun Gong practitioners who he has represented. Police held him for seven hours before releasing him that night. In addition, police took the writer and veteran democracy activist Lü Gengsong (吕耿松) from his home on February 13 and questioned him on the petition related to ICCPR. This is the third time in 2014 that Lü has been brought in by police. Authorities have closely monitored and harassed Lü since he was released from prison in 2011 after serving a four-year sentence for “inciting subversion.”[2]

Henan Authorities to Close Illegal “Discipline Centers”

On February 13, Henan provincial authorities announced it would immediately close and investigate “abnormal petitioning discipline centers,” extralegal facilities that have been used to hold petitioners intercepted in Beijing. Regarded by petitioners as simply another form of “black jails,” the centers have ostensibly been used to provide “discipline and education” to citizens whose efforts to seek accountability for personal grievances have bothered local authorities. After WQW (维权网) broke the news of a 69-year-old woman being detained at such a center in Henan, state media followed with lengthy investigative reports. Soon after the exposé, provincial authorities announced that the facilities would be closed for “falling short of regulations.” The centers have reportedly had very poor and inhumane conditions, including small rooms with no beds, low-quality food, and 24-hour interrogation sessions. The facilities exist in, among other cities, Nanyang, Zhumadian, Dengzhou, and Xinxiang, and some were operating brazenly before the provincial announcement, with signs designating their supposed function put up at the entrances. Some activists have observed that the centers as well as other “black jails” have been used more extensively as the Re-education through Labor system has been scaled down.[3]

Zhang Fengmei (张风梅), a petitioner from Henan, was being held in an illegal “discipline center” days before authorities announced such facilities would be closed. (Photo: Beijing News)

Zhang Fengmei (张风梅), a petitioner from Henan, was being held in an illegal “discipline center” days before authorities announced such facilities would be closed. (Photo: Beijing News)


Renee Xia, International Director, +1 240 374 8937reneexia@chrdnet.com

Victor Clemens, Research Coordinator, +852 8192 7875, victorclemens@chrdnet.com

[1] “Guangzhou Dissident Liang Songji Arrested on Suspicion of Obstructing Official Business” (广州异见人士梁颂基被以“妨碍公务罪”批捕), February 13, 2014, WQW.

[2] “Hangzhou Rights Lawyer Wang Cheng Summoned For Questioning for 7 Hours on Suspicion of ‘Inciting State Subversion’” (杭州人权律师王成被以涉嫌“颠覆国家政权”传唤7小时), February 15, 2014, WQW; “Hangzhou Lawyer Wang Cheng Taken Away by National Security Police” (紧急关注!杭州律师王成被当地国保带走), February 14, 2014, WQW; “Hangzhou Activist Lü Gengsong Taken Away By Police” (杭州维权人士吕耿松被警方带走), February 13, 2014, WQW.

[3] “Henan Announces Closure of Abnormal Discipline Centers for Petitioners” (河南宣布排查清理取消“非正常上访训诫中心), February 14, 2014, WQW; “Henan Petitioner Zhang Fengmei Held in Discipline Center” (河南上访老太张凤梅被关入训诫所), February 11, 2014, WQW; “Nanyang, Henan Province Illegally Established ‘Abnormal Petitioning Discipline Education Center’ Black Jail” (河南南阳非法设立黑监狱取名“非正常上访训诫教育中心”), February 11, 2014, WQW; “Henan ‘Abnormal Petitioning Discipline Center’ Black Jail Hangs Up Sign on Front Plaque” (河南黑监狱走上前台挂牌“非正常上访训诫中心”), January 21, 2014, WQW.



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