Nobel Laureate Languishes in Prison, Police Harassment of Activists Rages On
One Month afterNobel Announcement, CHRD Urgesthe Chinese Government to Release Liu Xiaobo (Chinese Human RightsDefenders- November 8, 2010) One month after theNorwegian Nobel Committeeannounced its decision to award the 2010 Nobel PeacePrize to imprisonedactivist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), the Chinesegovernment continues to clamp down on Liu's family,supporters, and other activists in China. Whilepressure from the authoritiesmakes it impossible to collect a complete count ofindividuals affected, CHRDhas received to date approximately 100 reports ofcitizens who have beenharassed, interrogated, subjected to surveillance,detained, or placed under“soft detention” across the country. “The scope andintensity of this harassment indicates a high-leveldecision to take ahard-line approach in response to the NobelCommittee's choice,” said ReneeXia, CHRD’s International Director. “However, as thegovernment increases itsefforts to slander Liu Xiaobo in the state-run media,threaten domesticactivists, and place diplomatic pressure on foreigngovernments, it continuesto back itself into a corner and abandon all pretenseof respecting humanrights.” Liu Xiaobo remainsincarcerated in Liaoning Province’s Jinzhou Prison,where he is suffering fromstomach illness and hepatitis. Based on regulationsgoverning visits, his wife,Liu Xia (刘霞), shouldbe able to visit him soon; however, there has been noword as to whether theauthorities will allow this to happen.In the past month,CHRDhas learned of one individual who has been criminallydetained for supportingLiu Xiaobo:
- Guo Xianliang (郭贤良), an engineer from Yunnan Province, was seized in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, where he was distributing flyers bearing information about Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Peace Prize. He is currently detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” the same crime for which Liu Xiaobo is imprisoned.
CHRD has also learnedof three activists who were administratively detained:
- Wang Lihong (王荔蕻), Wu Gan (吴淦, known online as Butcher [屠夫]), and Zhao Changqing (赵常青) were each given eight days of administrative detention after they were seized by police at a celebratory gathering on October 8. They have been released but are currently under strict surveillance.
CHRD has so farreceived approximately three dozen reports ofactivists who have been placedunder “soft detention” in the past month. This means,in most cases, thatpolice are stationed outside of the activists’ homes;that they are required totravel under the supervision of police officers or inpolice vehicles if theyleave their homes, and they may be prevented fromleaving their homes on someoccasions. Some of the more extreme examples of “softdetention” currentlybeing enforced include those of:
- Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, who has been effectively cut off from the outside world. Police have blocked access to her home in Beijing, she cannot be contacted by phone, and her Twitter account went silent on October 18.
- Beijing human rights defender Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦), whose home is currently guarded by a force of “dozens” of plainclothes police.
- Ding Zilin (丁子霖), founder of the Tiananmen Mothers, and her husband Zhang Peikun (蒋培坤), who had the phone line cut at their residence in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province.
While “soft detention”has no legal basis, activists are reporting thatpolice are turning to evenmore flagrantly illegal methods to instill fear amongvocal members of civilsociety. CHRD has so far documented three cases inwhich activists were brieflykidnapped and threatened before being released:
- On October 27, Beijing-based filmmaker and activist Hua Ze (华泽, known online as Linghun Piaoxiang [灵魂飘香]) was hooded and taken to an unknown location, where she was held for three days. She has since been forcibly returned to her hometown in Jiangxi Province.
- On October 21, scholar Liu Suli (刘苏里) was kidnapped outside of his home and held overnight by a group of men, at least one of whom was believed to be a National Security officer. Liu was hospitalized after suffering a fractured vertebra during the kidnapping.
- On October 15, rights activist Liu Shasha (刘沙沙) was seized in Beijing by four men believed to be National Security officers and forcibly returned to Nanyang City, Henan Province. Liu reports that she was roughly handled by the men en route.
At the time ofwriting,another three individuals—Hua Chunhui (华春辉), Wang Yi (王译), and Li Hai (李海)—are missing afterbeing seized by police. Close to half of thecases of harassment related to the Nobel Prize in thepast month involve activists,dissidents, or vocal netizens who have been summonedfor questioning orotherwise interrogated for supporting Liu Xiaobo.These interrogations usuallyinclude threats by police not to participate in anyactivities commemoratingthe Nobel Peace Prize or promoting Liu Xiaobo or hiswork. For example:
- On the evening of October 8, approximately 20 supporters of Liu Xiaobo were summoned for questioning and interrogated for more than one day after police broke up their gathering in Beijing.
- To date, 13 individuals have been summoned for questioning in Jinan City, Shandong Province alone for participating in activities in support of Liu Xiaobo.
One activist calledthesituation “worse than during the buildup to theOlympics or after the releaseof Charter 08," both instancesin which the Chinese government launched similarcrackdowns on civil society.The heightenedtensionsare expected to last at least through December 10, thedate of the Nobel PeacePrize award ceremony in Oslo. One activist feared itwould take at least untilSpring Festival before the situation improved.Along with imposingtight control domestically, the government is fixatedon preventing prominentmembers of Chinese civil society from attending theaward ceremony. There is nohope that Liu Xia will be permitted to emerge from herstate-imposed isolationto travel to Norway, and the government has clampeddown on those citizensattempting to leave the country who they fear may byOslo-bound:
- On October 30, customs officials barred human rights lawyers Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) and Li Subin (李苏滨) from traveling to the United States, where they had been invited to observe the mid-term elections.
- On November 5 and 6, customs officials barred human rights defenders Fang Cao (芳草), Wang Jinglong (王京龙), Duan Qixian (端启宪), and Yu Fangqiang (于方强) from traveling to a training session on the United Nations human rights mechanisms in Geneva, Switzerland. Border control officials told Fang, Wang, and Yu that they had received orders from National Security police to stop them, and that their leaving might “endanger state security.”
RecommendationsCHRD demands theimmediate release of Liu Xiaobo.We call on PresidentObama and the leaders of other governments attendingthis week’s G20 SummitMeeting in Seoul to raise Liu Xiaobo’s case with theChinese government, and wecontinue to urge other world leaders, especiallyUnited Nations Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon, to demand Liu Xiaobo’s release. Wealso call on members of the internationalcommunity to demonstrate their commitment to defendinghuman rights andupholding the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize byattending the ceremony, andusing the occasion to urge the Chinese government torelease Liu Xiaobo.For moreinformation:For a selectedcompilation of cases documented to date by CHRD,please see “Chinese Reactions to LiuXiaobo’s Nobel PeacePrize- from Both Sides” on our website, at http://chrdnet.org/2010/10/14/chinese-reactions-to-liu-xiaobo%E2%80%99s-nobel-peace-prize-from-both-sides/Media ContactsRenee Xia,International Director (English and Mandarin), +8528191 6937or +1 301 547 9286David Smalls,Researcher (English) +1 747 448 5285
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.