Honoring Chinese Women Human Rights Defenders
(Chinese Human RightsDefenders, March 8, 2011)International Women’s Day presentsan opportunity to recognize boththe important role that women playin the Chinese rights defense (weiquan) movementas well as the persecution facedby Chinese women either as aresult of their activism, theirrelationship to other activists,or because of discriminatory Chinese governmentpolicies. Whether at thegrassroots or on the internationalstage, in public or behind thescenes, women human rightsdefenders in China continue topress for greater rights for allChinese citizens and inspire withtheir courage and tenacity in theface of ongoing harassment fromthe authorities.CHRD takes thisoccasion to honor several Chinesewomen human rights defenderslisted below, recognizing their contribution topromoting human rights in the pastyear and drawing internationalattention to the precariousenvironment which puts them atrisk for their human rights work.Profilesof Female Human RightsDefenders LiJinfang (李金芳), a native of HebeiProvince and leading human rightsdefender, has persevered in heradvocacy work in spite of constantpolice harassment includinginterrogation, intimidation, raidsof her residence, and propertyconfiscation. Formanyyears, having endured policeharassment of herself and herdaughter due to the activism andimprisonment of her ex-husband,dissident Qin Yongmin (秦永敏), recently releasedafter serving a 12-year sentencefor “subversion of state power,”she has devoted herself to thepromotion of humanrights.Since 2007, she has been activelyinvolved in grassroots human rightsactivities, including documenting rights abuses.On July 1, 2010, police raided herhome in Xianghe County, HebeiProvince. Officers confiscated 74items, including humanrights-related documents, computerequipment and financial documents.Several officers took Li and herdaughter, Li Zhuyang, in forapproximately five hours ofquestioning. Following herinterrogation, police told LiJinfang that she was suspected ofhaving committed the crime of“inciting subversion of statepower,” and was therefore requiredto report to the police if sheplanned to leave Xianghe County.Police also froze her bankaccount. During interrogations,police threatened that Li Zhuyangwould not be able to attenduniversity because of her parents’activities. Li Jinfang hascontinued with her human rightsactivities, currently taking agreat personal risk.LiuWei (刘巍), a human rightslawyer, was employed by Beijing'sShunhe Law Firm until her licensewas revoked following a hearing inApril 2010 by the Beijing Bureauof Justice as punishment for herhandling of “sensitive” cases. Ashort documentary chronicling herexperience, Disbarment,is available on the CHRD’s website. Ms. Liu hasdefended Falun Gong practitioners,villagers who have lost theirland, torture victims, andHIV/AIDS carriers whose infectionwas related to governmentmisconduct. She has also offeredto provide legal aid to Tibetansdetained in the wake of the March2008 protests as well as advocateddirect elections to the leadershipof the Beijing Lawyers'Association in September 2008. In2010, she made numerous trips toBaihutou Village, in GuangxiProvince, to conduct legal aidtrainings and provide legal adviceto villagers resisting the forcedexpropriation of their land, forwhich she received threats andharassment from police.Ni Yulan (倪玉兰), a housing rightsactivist and former lawyer, wasreleased from prison on April 15,2010, after completing hersentence for “obstructing officialbusiness.” Ni, a torture victimwho was consequently disabled, wasdetained after she resisted theforced demolition of her home byBeijing authorities. She was badlybeaten and suffered from cruel anddegrading treatment while indetention; police confiscated hercrutches and made her crawl whenshe had to use the bathroom, andkicked her so severely that shefell unconscious for two days. Since herrelease, she and her husband havebeen forced to live on the streetor in guesthouses. With help fromsupporters, they were able to moveinto Beijing’s YuxingongGuesthouse in the summer of 2010,but have had their electricity,internet, and water intermittentlycut off by hotel management underpressure by police to force thecouple to leave. A shortdocumentary by filmmaker He Yang (何杨) about her life andwork, entitled EmergencyShelter, is available onCHRD’s website.Wang Lihong (王荔蕻)is a Beijing-basedactivist who has been involved insuch projects as relief effortsfor the "Tiananmen homeless" withLaohumiao (a noted Beijing netizenand activist) and advocacy in thecase of Yang Jia (杨佳), the Beijingresident executed after he wasaccused of killing six Shanghaipolice officers. She worked withlegal scholar and activist XuZhiyong (许志永) and others on thecase of petitioner Yao Jing (姚晶), who washospitalized after being beaten bygovernment officials. An activeTwitter user and netizen, she tookpart in protests outside the April2010 trial of three Fujiannetizens eventually convicted of“slander” and imprisoned forposting information onlineregarding the suspicious death ofa young woman. In late 2010, shewas administratively detained foreight days and then placed undermore than three months of “softdetention” for celebrating LiuXiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize.Among other womenhuman rights defenders who havebeen punished for their activismare Wu Huaying (吴华英), a netzienimprisoned for one year forposting articles and video onlineurging government officials toinvestigate the alleged rape andmurder of a young woman in FujianProvince; Liu Jie (刘杰), apetitioner-activist subjected to18 months of Re-education throughLabor (RTL) for releasing apublic letter signed by 12,150petitioners calling on leaders atthe 17th Party Congress to reform;Hua Ze (aka LinghunPiaoxiang [灵魂飘香]), a citizenjournalist kidnapped, beaten andthen held in a black jail inOctober 2010 for celebrating LiuXiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize award;and Wang Yi (王译), a netizen-activistsent to one year of RTL for anironic Twitter posting she wroteduring violent anti-Japandemonstrations Persecutionof Wives and Families of HumanRights DefendersWhile many of theabove-mentioned women have facedretaliation and punishment fortheir work, others have beentargeted simply because of theactivities of their loved ones.Earlier this year, CHRD released astatementdrawing attention to the growingpractice of punishing familymembers of human rights defenders,particularly their wives andchildren, for the activism oftheir husbands and fathers.Unfortunately, this trendcontinues and shows no signs ofabating. Two of the most prominentcases are Yuan Weijing and LiuXia, women who are currently underillegal house arrest. While Yuanand Liu are human rights defendersin their own right, the arbitrarydetention to which they are beingsubjected stems largely from thegovernment’s anger at theirhusband’s activities.Yuan Weijing (袁伟静),wife of ChenGuangcheng (陈光诚), became the victimof retaliation by localauthorities for revealing the useof violence in the local birthcontrol campaign and publiclyopposing the illegal imprisonmentof her husband in Linyi, ShandongProvince. Since September 2005,she has been intermittently heldunder illegal house arrest andharassed, and after Chen wasreleased from prison in September2010, the couple and theirdaughter have been held undercontinued illegal house arrest.After a video recorded by Yuan andChen was released online in early2011, the couple were beaten bypolice.Liu Xia (刘霞), wife of 2010 NobelPeace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), has been heldunder illegal house arrest sinceOctober 2010. She lost contactwith the outside world on October18, and her whereabouts cannot beverified.Others who have facedharassment and retaliation such asRTL, soft detention and search ofhomes by the police in 2010 as aresult of their families’ humanrights activities include DuanChunfang (段春芳), sister ofpetitioner-activist Duan Huimin (段惠民) who died of tortureat the hands of police forpetitioning; Jia Jianying (贾建英), wife of formerpolitical prisoner and activist HeDepu (何德普); Wu Lingling (吴玲玲), wife of Christianhouse church organizer andintellectual Fan Yafeng (范亚峰) who was recentlysubjected to severe torture; Li Xinai (李昕艾), wife of activistGu Chuan (古川) who disappearedinto police custody on February 19; and FangCao (芳草), wife of formerpolitical prisoner and activistZhang Lin (张林). Abuseswhich threaten all Chinesewomen- the family planningpolicyOn InternationalWomen’s Day, CHRD also wishes tohighlight the continuing sufferingof countless women across Chinafrom the government’s familyplanning policy, popularly knownas the “one-child policy.” In arecently-published report, CHRDfinds that women continue to besubjected to forced insertions ofintrauterine devices (IUDs),sterilizations, abortions(including late-term abortions),as well as periodic tests forpregnancy. Men and women who haveviolated the policy, as well astheir families and relatives, havebeen punished with arbitrarydetention, beatings, fines, andproperty seizures; others havebeen fired from their jobs andtheir out-of-quota children havebeen denied household registrationpermits (hukou). The reportincludes an analysis of humanrights abuses associated with theimplementation of the policy fromthe past five years, demonstratingthat serious violations, directedmostly against women, continue tooccur.“I don’t have controlover my own body” Abuses Continuein China’s Family Planning Policy,December 21, 2010, http://chrdnet.org/2010/12/20/i-don’t-have-control-over-my-own-body/Also see WangSonglian, “Women’s Birthright,”March 8, 2010, South ChinaMorning Post, http://www.scmp.com/portal/site/SCMP/menuitem.2c913216495213d5df646910cba0a0a0/?vgnextoid=f13a202a7309e210VgnVCM100000360a0a0aRCRD&vgnextfmt=teaser&ss=China&s=NewsMedia Contacts:ReneeXia, International Director(English and Mandarin), +852 81916937 or +1 240 374 8937Wang Songlian,Research Coordinator (English andMandarin), +852 8191 1660David Smalls,Researcher (English) +1 347 4485285
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.