[CHRD] Hubei Activists Sentenced for Defending Land Rights; Elections Report Documents Abuses Against Independent Candidates, et

China Human Rights Briefing
 
December 11-13, 2012
 
Contents

Arbitrary Detention
    •    Hubei Activists Sent to Prison for Defending Land Rights
Harassment of Activists
    •    Hunan Police Makes Death Threat to Activist for Campaigning to Abolish RTL
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
    •    Hunan Petitioner Illegally Held in Psychiatric Institution
Right to Political Participation
    •    Report Documents Harassment of Independent Candidates in Local People’s Congress Elections

Arbitrary Detention
Hubei Activists Sent to Prison for Defending Land Rights
 
Two activists in Hubei Province have been sentenced to prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” in apparent retaliation for their defense of villagers’ land rights. On December 13, the Enshi City People’s Court handed Hu Tihe (胡体和) three years and five months’ imprisonment and issued three years to Pu Jiakuan (蒲甲宽). The two were taken into custody after Enshi police entered Baiguo Township in late April to help with a land grab to pave the way for the construction of a cement plant, sparking a melee between officers and villagers. In 1999, Hu and Pu were among those chosen by fellow villagers to represent them in negotiating land rights issues with developers, and the dispute over the plant has been a major concern for years. Trial proceedings for the activists were held on September 19.[1]
 
Harassment of Activists
Hunan Police Makes Death Threat to Activist for Campaigning to Abolish RTL
 
Police in Hunan Province have seriously threatened a retired teacher for urging petitioners to sign an online petition calling for the abolition of Re-education through Labor (RTL). Luo Hongzhong (罗洪中) reported on December 11 that police from Longhui County have pressured him to cease his work on the campaign and not cause trouble for the local government, threatening that, if he continued, they would “find some thugs to get rid of him.” Luo, who has engaged in rights activism for more than two decades, has himself served a total of five years in RTL. Since this summer, wide swaths of Chinese civil society have openly demanded that the highly arbitrary RTL system, which is administered by police, be dismantled.[2]
 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
Hunan Petitioner Illegally Held in Psychiatric Institution

A petitioner from Hunan Province has been involuntarily held in a psychiatric institution for over six weeks, during which time she has been forced to take medications and receive injections. Zhang Zhi (张治) of Jishou City was seized on October 31, shortly before the Party Congress opened, and officials from Hunan immediately sent her to Rongfu Psychiatric Hospital in Xiangxi Prefecture. According to an individual who has visited her, Zhang has lost significant weight while undergoing cruel treatment. To silence Zhang, who is not believed to have any mental illness, local authorities have forcibly detained her in a psychiatric institution on two prior occasions for petitioning over farmland lost to government requisition.[3]

Right to Political Participation
Report Documents Harassment of Independent Candidates in Local People’s Congress Elections
 
A new report on the 2011-2012 local elections for People’s Congress delegates hails the unprecedented number of Chinese who tried to run as independent candidates. The report, produced by Chinese activists and scholars, also documents how authorities, who viewed these candidates as a threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power, illegally suppressed their participation in the electoral process. Released on December 10, the Chinese-language report maintains that the candidates’ campaigns showed the strong desire of Chinese citizens to participate in democratic governance and test out the limited political rights provided by the country’s laws and constitution. The report notes how the strategies of independent candidates, including shrewd use of social media, greatly helped to inform the public about voting, even as elections were profoundly mired by corruption and interference by Party officials. As documented in the report, authorities often did not recognize the legitimacy of independent candidates and used a myriad of tactics to prevent them from running. The frustration of such candidates in the face of blatant suppression, the report concludes, clearly shows that local People’s Congress elections cannot be conducted fairly and freely under China’s one-party rule.[4]
 
Edited by Victor Clemens and Ann Song
 

[1] “Rights Defenders Hu Tihe and Pu Jiakun of  Enshi, Hubei Province Sentenced”
(湖北恩施维权人士胡体和、蒲甲宽遭重判), December 13, 2012, WQW
 
[2] “Hunan Rights Defender Luo Hongzhong of Longhui County Gets Death Threats for Role in Joint Call for RTL Abolition” (湖南隆回县维权人士罗洪中因联署废除劳教受死亡威胁), December 11, 2012, WQW
 
[3] “Hunan Petitioner Zhang Zhi of Huaheng County ‘Made Mentally Ill,’ Been Ill-Treated for 42 Days” (湖南省花垣县访民张治被“精神病”42天受虐待), December 11, 2012, WQW; “Jishou, Hunan Petitioner Zhang Zhi Again Detained in Psychiatric Institution, Three Daughters Deprived of Education” (湖南吉首访民张治再次被关精神病院,三子女失学), November 14, 2010, Peace Hall
 
[4] “Investigative Report on Chinese Independent Candidates” (中国独立参选观察报告(上)) , December 10, 2012, WQW; “Investigative Report on Chinese Independent Candidates” (中国独立参选观察报告(下)), December 10, 2012, WQW
 

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