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[CHRD] Shanghai Activists Detained, Punished Around Party Congress; Tibetan Areas Face Information Blockade, and more

China Human Rights Briefing
November 3-8, 2012

Harassment of Activists
    •    Shanghai Authorities Detain, Punish Activists Around Party Congress
Freedom of Information
    •    Gansu Authorities Impose Information Blockade, Other Restrictions After Self-Immolations
Law & Policy Watch
    •    Environmental Protests Skyrocketing Every Year, Courts Often Refuse Cases

Harassment of Activists
Shanghai Authorities Detain, Punish Activists Around Party Congress
In moves that reflect heightened suppression around the Party Congress, authorities in Shanghai have issued detentions to a number of human rights defenders recently, including some given Re-education through Labor (RTL) punishments. Besides the individuals noted below, several other Shanghai residents were restricted in their movement just as the political meeting opened in Beijing.
    •    On November 6, police seized Shen Peilan (沈佩兰) and Han Zhongming (韩忠明) from their homes, and then criminally detained them on a charge of “disrupting the order of a public place.”
    •    Chen Jianfang (陈建芳), who was seized on November 5 in Beijing and then sent back to Shanghai, has been criminally detained on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disrupt the order of a public place.” Chen is currently being held at the Pudong District Detention Center.
    •    Cui Fufang (崔福芳) was given a one-year RTL punishment on October 27, and Tong Guojing (童国菁) was issued the same punishment on October 24. Both had been criminally detained on a charge of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order,” allegedly for attending a memorial for the mother of activist Wang Kouma (王扣玛). Tong and Cui were seized on September 25 although the activity that they participated in occurred in January. Taken into custody on the same day as Tong and Cui, Wang himself was arrested for “creating a disturbance” on October 31, and is being held in the Changning Detention Center.
    •    Mao Hengfeng (毛恒凤), a longtime reproductive rights and housing activist, has been sent to RTL for 18 months on a charge of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” Mao was seized in Beijing in late September.[1]
Freedom of Information
Gansu Authorities Impose Information Blockade, Other Restrictions After Self-Immolations
A near-total information blockade and restrictions on movement have been imposed in Tibetan areas of Gansu Province after a series of self-immolations, according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Authorities in Gannan (Tibetan: Kanlho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where seven Tibetans burned themselves in protest over the past month, have clamped down on the Internet and cell phone lines, and imposed an indefinite ban on the sale of mobile SIM cards in shops in Xiahe (Tibetan: Sangchu) County. Internet cafes have reportedly been closed, and cell phone reception has been weak in Gannan. Authorities have also restricted the sale of gasoline and other flammable liquids in the area, leading to fuel shortages and making movement difficult for ethnic Tibetans who use motorcycles and other vehicles for transport. In Hezuo (Tibetan: Tsoe) County, authorities have barred schoolchildren from leaving for holidays outside the area, and in most cases children have been confined to their school compounds.[2]
Law & Policy Watch
Environmental Protests Skyrocketing Every Year, Courts Often Refuse Cases
Mass incidents over environmental issues have increased at an average rate of 29% per year since 1996, but less than 1% of such disputes are resolved in court, according to a lecture reportedly given by a representative of a Chinese environmental organization to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on October 26. Mr. Yang Chaofei (杨朝飞), the vice-chairman of the Chinese Society of Environmental Sciences, addressed the topic during a meeting held by the NPCSC on environmental law and the social impact of environmental problems. In an editorial published two days later, The Beijing News offered its views on why so few environmental cases end up in Chinese courts. First, plaintiffs face many difficulties in environmental litigation, such as collecting evidence, establishing standing to sue, and the low level of compensation polluters are required to pay under current law. Second, courts are often controlled by local interests, and so a case about a major project related to the local economy, for instance, may be seen as too “sensitive” for courts to accept. The editorial urges that legal reforms be instituted to make it easier for citizens to protect their rights through litigation in environmental cases.[3]

Edited by Victor Clemens and Joan Wen

[1] “Shanghai Authorities Issue RTL Punishments, Arrests and Criminal Detentions to Rights Defenders” (上海当局连续劳教、逮捕、刑拘维权人士), November 8, 2012, WQW; “Shanghai Rights Activist Mao Hengfeng Goes Missing in Beijing, Cui Fufang Seized by Police” (上海维权人士毛恒凤北京失踪,崔福芳被警方带走), October 18, 2012, WQW; “Well-Known Shanghai Rights Activist Mao Hengfeng Searched, Detained in Beijing Without Reason” (上海知名维权人士毛恒凤在京无故 遭盘查扣押), September 29, 2011, HRCC
[2] “China impose near-total information blockade after series of burning protests,” November 5, 2012, TCHRD
[3] “Eleventh NPCSC Holds 29th Special Topic Lecture” (十一届全国人大常委会举行第二十九讲专题讲座), October 26, 2012,;  “More Environmental Disputes Should Be Resolved by Courts” (让更多环境纠纷在法庭解决), October 28, 2012, The Beijing News

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