[CHRD] Revised Law in Action: Activist Subjected to Enforced Disappearance; Xinjiang Court Sentences Seven for Religious Activit

China Human Rights Briefing
 
January 4-10, 2013
 
Contents
 
Enforced Disappearance
    •    Revised Law Permitting Enforced Disappearance in Action: Activist Zhu Chengzhi Held Under “Residential Surveillance” in Unknown Location
Freedom of Religion
    •    Court in Xinjiang Sentences Seven for Religious Activities

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
    •    Heilongjiang Petitioner Forcibly Committed to Psychiatric Hospital for Past 6 Years
Law & Policy Watch
    •    Censored Official Remark About RTL “Reforms” Inspires Little Hope for Abolishing Extralegal Detention


Enforced Disappearance
Revised Law Permitting Enforced Disappearance in Action: Activist Zhu Chengzhi Held Under “Residential Surveillance” in Unknown Location
 
Hunan activist Zhu Chengzhi (朱承志) was issued six months of “residential surveillance” on January 4 and remains held in an undisclosed location, in what may be the first use of Article 73 of the revised Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), which permits subjecting an individual to “enforced disappearance.” Article 73 of the revised CPL, which went into effect on January 1, authorizes police to “designate a place for residential surveillance” for certain criminal suspects, such as those charged with “endangering state security” crimes, but to not inform the family if doing so could “interfere with the investigation.” In exercising their broadened power, police in Hunan have merely notified Zhu Chengzhi’s family of the “residential surveillance” on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power,” but without disclosing his whereabouts or indicating exactly how long he will serve. One of his lawyers, Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), has been blocked from visiting him. Held incommunicado since June 2011, Zhu was arrested after refusing to guarantee that he would stop investigating the cause of death of 1989 labor activist Li Wangyang (李旺阳), who died under suspicious circumstances last year.[1]
 
Freedom of Religion
Court in Xinjiang Sentences Seven for Religious Activities
 
Seven ethnic Hui minority individuals who are practitioners of Islam were sentenced last fall to between three and four years for allegedly “using superstition to undermine implementation of the law,” according to a recent report on the website Uyghur Online. On October 9, 2012, the Yining City People’s Court handed down the punishments, with the verdict citing illegal missionary activities, acts that advocated learning about carrying out a “holy war,” and sharing works about Islam that were deemed “illegal publications.” The sentences may in part reflect the Yining government’s increased suppression of religious freedoms. For example, a campaign was launched in December of 2011 to “completely eliminate” the practice of local ethnic minority women and youth wearing Islamic costumes, and of men having long beards and other “abnormal” appearances.[2]

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment & Punishment
Heilongjiang Petitioner Forcibly Committed to Psychiatric Hospital for Past 6 Years
 
A petitioner from Heilongjiang Province has been forcibly held for almost six years in a psychiatric hospital, where he has suffered cruel treatment. In February 2007, Xing Shiku (邢世库) was seized in Beijing and taken back to Harbin, and ever since has been detained in the Daowai District Psychiatric Hospital. In a videotaped interview, he said he has been tied up in chains, and that hospital staff have struck his head with electric pricks. Xing has suffered problems in his legs and other illnesses due to the extended detention and abuses, but has not received proper medical care. Authorities have demanded that he stop petitioning, and his family has not been allowed to visit him. Xing began petitioning after he lost his job at a state-owned plant. As covered in a report by CHRD, Chinese authorities are known to illegally hold petitioners and others in psychiatric institutions in order to silence them.[3]

Law & Policy Watch
Censored Official Remark About RTL “Reforms” Inspires Little Hope for Abolishing Extralegal Detention
 
A recent remark by a high-ranking Chinese official about government plans to stop the use of Re-education through Labor (RTL) in 2013 has invited speculation about the fate of RTL and those detained in the system, while also spurring suspicion that some other system of extralegal detention without trial may simply take its place. Meng Jianzhu, head of the CCP Political and Legal Committee, recently stated at the National Conference on Political and Legal Work that the CCP is considering “halting the use” of RTL, after such a decision was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. However, in reactions that indicate high-level discord over any proposed changes to RTL, censors immediately sponged off the remark, which appeared on weibo on January 7, and the CCTV evening news and a Xinhua report on the conference at which Meng spoke made no mention of it.  
 
According to data provided by the government, approximately 170,000 individuals were being held in 320 RTL camps at the time of a review of China’s human rights record by the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, although the number of RTL detainees provided by officials was reportedly just over 60,000 in 2012. Chinese authorities have been mulling over changes to RTL for years. Possibly in response to increasingly spirited protests against RTL, the Chinese government announced last October that RTL “reform” was being piloted in four cities. Rather than introducing substantive judicial or legislative reforms, however, the main “reform” has appeared to be cosmetic: renaming RTL as “Illegal Behavior Correction.” In practice, such a “reform” would mean that extralegal detention could simply continue under a different name. As a comparative and cautionary case, the “Custody Station” (收容站) has replaced “Custody and Repatriation” (收容审查所), which was outlawed in 2003. Since then, black jails have mushroomed in number, and RTL camps have been put to extensive use to perform the same function of arbitrary detention by police.
 
Edited by Victor Clemens and Ann Song
 

[1] “Lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan’s Requirement of Meeting Zhu Chengzhi Was Turned Down” (快讯:刘晓原律师要求会见朱承志遭到拒绝), January 5, 2013, WQW; “Zhu Chengzhi Was Put Under “Residential Surveillance” (快讯:朱承志被转为监视居住), January 4, 2013, WQW; “Human Rights Activist Zhu Chengzhi Was Prosecuted For ‘Inciting Subversion of State Power’” (维权人士朱承志“涉嫌煽动颠覆案”移送检察院), December 25, 2012, WQW; “Rights Activist Zhu Chengzhi Arrested for ‘Inciting Subversion of State Power’” (紧急关注:维权人士朱承志被以“煽动颠覆国家政权罪”逮捕), August 9, 2012, WQW;  “Zhu Chengzhi, Who Questioned Li Wangyang’s Death, Held Again in Detention Center After Punishment Expired” (关注李旺阳死因的朱承志拘留期满又被关押进看守所), July 19, 2012, WQW; “Hunan Rights Defender Zhu Chengzhi Given 10-Day Detention for Refusing to Promise to Stop Questioning Circumstances of Li Wangyang’s Death” (湖南维权人士朱承志因拒写不过问李旺阳事件保证书被拘留10天), June 10, 2012, WQW; “Several Hunan Democracy Activists Taken Away by Police Over Li Wangyang Matter” (湖南多名民主维权人士因李旺阳事件被警方带走), June 9, 2012, WQW; “Li Wangyang Autopsy Perhaps Already Conducted, Li’s Family & Fellow Shaoyang Activists Under Tight Control” (李旺阳可能已被尸检,李旺阳家属及邵阳维权人士受到严密控制), June 8, 2012, WQW; “Friends of Li Wangyang Come to Shaoyang & Fall Under Police Control, Li’s Death Declared ‘ Suicide’” (到邵阳想送李旺阳的朋友被控制,李旺阳被宣布“自杀”), June 7, 2012, WQW; “Li Wangyang’s Family Urgently Seeking Legal Assistance” (李旺阳家属急求律师仗义援助), June 7, 2012, WQW; “Family Requests Relevant Experts Perform Autopsy on Li Wangyang” (李旺阳家属强烈要求由相关专家对李旺阳进行尸检), June 6, 2012, WQW; “Special Alert: June Fourth Victim Li Wangyang’s Corpse Taken Away by Police” (特别关注:六四受害者李旺阳的遗体被警方强行运走), June 6, 2012, WQW; “Shaoyang Democracy Activist, June Fourth Victim Li Wangyang Suddenly Passes Away” (邵阳民主人士,六四受难者李旺阳突然离世), June 6, 2012, WQW
 
[2] “Yining Court Sentences Several Religious Hui Citizens” (伊宁判多名信教回族公民有期徒刑), January 8, Uighurbiz.net  
 
[3] “Xing Shiku at Harbin: The Doctor Does Not Know What Illness I Have But Has Detained Me For Six Years!” (哈尔滨邢世库:医生不知道我什么病,却关我六年!), January 6, 2013, CRLW
 
 

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