China Human Rights Briefing
May 29-June 4, 2012
• Authorities Suppress, Harass Citizens Around June Fourth Anniversary: As the Chinese government maintains a general policy of silence about the Tiananmen Massacre, authorities have harassed those who have taken part in public events calling for justice and accountability, and also kept close watch over many activists around the anniversary. CHRD’s recent statement focuses on how events of 23 years ago resonate strongly with Chinese citizens who are still living as victims of the massacre in different ways.
• Family Finally Visits Netizen, But Lawyers Blocked Due to “Secret Case”: In late May, police in Guangdong finally allowed family members visit to Xu Lin, a netizen being held under illegal “residential surveillance” for “inciting subversion of state power,” while still impeding Xu’s lawyers’ efforts to see him, claiming that his case involves “state secrets.”
• Arbitrary Detention
◦ Family Allowed Visit to Guangdong Netizen Xu Lin, Lawyers Still Rebuffed on Basis of “Secret Case”
◦ Heilongjiang Rights Defender Issued 18-Month RTL Punishment
◦ Chengdu Cab Drivers Detained After Over 100 Petition in Beijing
◦ Elderly Man Fails to Get Compensation for Unjust Imprisonment From Half-Century Ago
• Harassment of Activists
◦ Chinese Citizens Suppressed Around June Fourth Anniversary as Calls for Justice Persist
• Special Notice
◦ CHRD’s June Fourth Statement Emphasizes Ongoing Injustice, Suppression
Family Allowed Visit to Guangdong Netizen Xu Lin, Lawyers Still Rebuffed on Basis of “Secret Case”
Guangdong police have prevented lawyers from visiting Xu Lin (徐琳), a netizen being held for “inciting subversion of state power,” under the pretext that his case involves “state secrets,” but Xu’s family members have finally seen him for the first time since he went into custody in early April. Xu’s wife and sister met with Xu on May 24 at the Dongchong Police Station, where a national security officer stated that Xu’s case involves “state secrets” and that his case could go to trial if Xu “does not perform well.” Police closely monitored their 40-minute meeting, and Xu was unable to disclose where he has been held incommunicado over the past weeks—saying that he did not know himself—and his wife said he seemed to be under intense police pressure. The day before, Xu’s hired lawyers, Wang Quanping (王全平)and Huang Yu (黄宇), were given the runaround when trying to apply to see Xu. The officer in charge of Xu’s case at the Panyu District Public Security Bureau advised them to apply at the Dongchong Police Station, where the lawyers were told higher authorities had to be consulted. An officer eventually informed them that, since Xu’s case involves “secrets,” they could not see him, at which point lawyer Wang asked for the reply in writing but was refused.
Xu Lin was criminally detained on an “incitement” charge on April 4 after taking part in a public event the previous day held in support of officials’ disclosure of their financial assets and Premier Wen Jiabao’s call for political reforms. Authorities told Xu’s wife that, besides taking part in that event, Xu had posted material online—including a poem that, according to Wang Jinping, contained some “sensitive” content and may be the main reason for Xu’s detention. He was initially held at the Shawang Detention Center, but a month later authorities reportedly put him under illegal “residential surveillance” in an undisclosed location. Since taking Xu into custody, police have not gone through proper procedures for detaining him nor produced any notification about his detention. (CHRD)[i]
Heilongjiang Rights Defender Issued 18-Month RTL Punishment
Heilongjiang rights defender Liao Cheng (廖诚)has been ordered to go to Re-education through Labor (RTL) for 18 months for “disrupting social order,” though he has reportedly refused to sign the decision and so has not yet been sent to an RTL facility. The punishment was issued as Liao was serving a 15-day administrative detention that began on May 23 for the same offence and which included a fine of 1,000 RMB (approx. US$ 160). As basis for the RTL punishment, the decision apparently cites the fact that Liao granted phone interviews to several overseas media outlets. According to the authorities, Liao was referred to as a member of Falun Gong in these reports, and this was cited as “evidence” against him even though his family and friends said he is not a practitioner.
A source previously told CHRD that Harbin authorities took Liao away “to travel” in early May since they were worried he would take part in a protest of retired workers. They also demanded he sign a guarantee promising not to contact other local activists. Police eventually took Liao into custody after duping him into believing they would compensate him for work days lost when he went on the “trip” with police. Liao Cheng has held longstanding concerns about human rights in China, particularly supporting the rights of disadvantaged groups while keeping in close contact with other Harbin activists. He has often been put under surveillance, issued warnings, and taken on “trips” by police in retaliation for his rights defense efforts. (CHRD)[ii]
Chengdu Cab Drivers Detained After Over 100 Petition in Beijing
Among 101 cab drivers from Chengdu City who petitioned in Beijing in mid-May, about 20 of them faced restrictions on their freedom after being forced back home later in the month, including two criminally detained on a charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.” Besides those two—Chen Qiongshu (陈琼书)and Qiu Ping (邱平)—about a dozen of the petitioning drivers reportedly were given administrative detentions. One petitioner indicated that local cab drivers have pursued grievances several times on various government levels over financial issues and conflicts they have had with the local bureau of transportation. Frustrated with the lack of any resolution, they set off as a group from Chengdu to Beijing on May 11, and after reaching the capital spent several days going en masse to government entities and submitting petitions. On May 18, the petitioners were eventually swept up and sent to the centralized black jail at Jiujingzhuang before being forcibly sent back to Chengdu. (CHRD)[iii]
Elderly Man Fails to Get Compensation for Unjust Imprisonment From Half-Century Ago
Wang Zhongzhi (王忠志), a 78-year old resident of Anhui Province, has unsuccessfully sought compensation for decades over 12 years in prison he unjustly served from the late 1950s, having filed more than 2,800 appeals in his fruitless quest. In 1957, Wang was sentenced to six years in prison, and he was convicted of another crime the next year when he contested his conviction to China’s State Council. Wang ended up staying in prison for 12 years, and he was only freed and eventually returned home at the pleading of his family. He began filing appeals in 1969, making more than 300 trips to see authorities on the county, city, provincial, and national levels.According to Wang, an official at the Dangshan County People’s Court has refused to help him, telling Wang that “Peasants don’t get compensated,” while courts on other levels have simply tried to “appease” him.
Wang Zhongzhi’s years in prison reportedly stem from when, at 23 years of age, he refused to accept an assignment to work as an accountant in his home village, since he wished to attend university. Village officials ordered him detained, and the Dangshan County People’s Court convicted him in June of 1957 of “counterrevolution” and sentenced him to six years in prison, allegedly for “organizing the China Youth Aid National Corps.” The court then sentenced him to four more years—on a charge of “fleeing”—after Wang went to Beijing to petition in November of 1958. In 2006, the Dangshan County People’s Court overturned the criminal verdict from 1958, but the Suzhou City Intermediate People’s Court determined in June of 2007 that Wang should not receive state compensation. (CHRD)[iv]
Harassment of Activists
Chinese Citizens Suppressed Around June Fourth Anniversary as Calls for Justice Persist
Even at personal risk, Chinese citizens continue to demand justice and accountability from their government for the Tiananmen Massacre, and many have faced suppression for their efforts this year. Activists have also seen increased restrictions on their movement around the time of the anniversary. The incidents below reflect some reports of harassment and restricted movements over the past week.
• On June 4, Guangxi rights activists Duan Qixian (端启宪)and Zhang Wei (张维)reportedly were on hunger strikes while under soft detention in their respective homes, with Zhang being taken away by police that morning. Duan had contacted friends, saying that police officers had come over to seize him away as well, but that he had refused to open his front door. Both men were out of contact at the time of writing.
• By June 4, police and local government personnel in Taiyuan City had kept Shanxi rights defender Deng Taiqing (邓太清) under soft detention at home for three days, preventing him from going outside while subjecting him to round-the-clock monitoring. Those guarding over Deng have reportedly not given any reason for limiting his freedom of movement.
• On June 3, Hunan democracy rights activists Zhang Shanguang (张善光)and Zhou Zhirong (周志荣) were taken to a police station after seeing former 1989 workers’ leader Li Wangyang (李旺阳)at a hospital in Shaoyang City. Police held Zhang and Zhou for questioning before national security officers from their hometowns sent them back to Huaihua and Xiangtan, respectively. The next day, activist Ouyang Jinghua (欧阳经华)also went to see Li but was taken away. On June 2, Ouyang had his home in Shaoyang searched by police, who took away banners he and his friends had made commemorating June Fourth and other materials related to the anniversary.
• On June 2, Guangzhou painter He Guoquan (何国泉) was called to a location near his home to talk to police, who asked He about works he recently did related to June Fourth, and warned him not to distribute such paintings online.
• On June 2, Fujian activists Wu Linxiang (吴霖香)and her husband, Wang Zhenyan (王振炎),who took part in a May 30 march to a courthouse in Nanping City (see below), were taken from their workplace by public security officers on suspicion of “disrupting public order.” That morning, police came to their home, demanding they come to a police station and write up a report about the march. They refused, so officers later took the couple away from their workplace, and then subjected them to interrogation before allowing them to go home near midnight.
• On June 1, Guangzhou police seized Guangzhou netizens Sun Desheng (孙德胜)and Zhang Tianji (张天奇)from Sun’s home. Shortly before, police officers had “invited” Sun to eat with them, at which time they asked him about information related to June Fourth activities. Sun remained at a police station until the next evening, and he had reportedly been slightly roughed up by officers.
• On June 1, several human rights lawyers and activists in Guangzhou—including the lawyers Tang Jingling (唐荆陵)and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清)as well as activist Zhao Hongwei (赵宏伟)—were questioned and warned by police. Liu was placed under soft detention in his home while Tang was believed to have been taken away for “travel.” Shenzhen rights defender Yang Mingyu (杨明玉, aka Yang Lin [杨林]) was stopped by national security officers on June 4 when he went to see Tang Jingling at his home. Officers took Yang in for questioning at a police station and warned him not to try to visit Tang again before sending him back to Shenzhen.
• By June 1, several rights activists from Xi’an had been taken to “travel” by national security officers, including Yang Hai (杨海)and Zhang Jiankang (张鉴康)and possibly Ma Xiaoming (马晓明), who has fallen out contact.
• By June 1, the Beijing poet Tian Lan (田兰)had been out of contact for three days. On May 23, Tian had organized and recorded a group of petitioners performing songs to mark June Fourth, purposely scheduling the event a few days before the anniversary to avoid attracting the attention of authorities. Some of the petitioners who took part in the event had left Beijing following the recording to avoid retaliation from the authorities.
• On May 30, Fujian activist Fan Yanqiong (范燕琼)led petitioners on a march to a courthouse in Nanping City, where they unfurled banners demanding a reassessment of June 4 and support for Premier Wen Jiabao’s calls for political reform. Police followed her home and demanded entry into her apartment. They repeatedly pounded on her door and yelled that supporting Wen’s calls for political reform and a reassessment of June Fourth were “illegal criminal acts.”
• Since May 27, police in Beijing have kept disabled petitioner-activist Ge Zhihui (葛志慧)under soft detention in her home, which is being tightly guarded by several officers, to prevent her from organizing commemorative activities with fellow petitioners.
• On May 27, dozens of dissidents in Guiyang City came together in the Guizhou People’s Square to commemorate June Fourth. On May 30 and 31, police officers took away four of the activists—Mi Chongbiao (糜崇骠), Yong Zhiming (雍志明), Mo Jiangang (莫建刚) and Tian Zuxiang (田祖湘)—as well as Mi’s wife, Li Kezhen (李克珍). Police also searched the homes of Mi and Yong and confiscated their computers. Two more members of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, Liao Shuangyuan (廖双元)and Wu Yuqin (吴玉琴)were also feared detained. Their whereabouts are still unknown at the time of writing. (CHRD)[v]
CHRD’s June Fourth Statement Emphasizes Ongoing Injustice, Suppression
While the Chinese government has pursued a policy of denial and silence regarding the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, CHRD’s recent statement underscores how many Chinese have kept the tragedy fresh in mind despite continuing suppression of their efforts to seek truth and accountability. Released on June 1, the statement focuses on current public activities in China put on by citizens at their own personal risk and the unceasing, albeit frustrating, quest for some government response by those who lost loved ones in the massacre. CHRD further observes how several dissidents and activists serving long prison sentences today were also involved in the pro-democracy movement over two decades ago, reflecting the government’s ever-strident stance against those who promote human rights. (CHRD)[vi]
Editors: Victor Clemens and Wang Songlian
[i]“Panyu PSB Refuse Lawyers’ Visit to Xu Lin, Claiming ‘Secret Case,’” (番禺公安局以徐琳“案件涉密”为由拒绝律师会见), May 29, 2012, CHRD; “Guangzhou Citizen Xu Lin Cries Foul, Put Under Residential Surveillance After Release From Criminal Detention, Family Denied Visitation” (广州举牌公民徐琳刑拘获释后被监视居住他处，家属会见遭拒), May 25, 2012, CHRD
[ii]“Heilongjiang Rights Defender Liao Cheng Faces RTL” (黑龙江维权人士廖诚面临被劳教), May 29, 2012, CHRD; “Harbin Rights Defender Liao Cheng Given Administrative Detention” (哈尔滨维权人士廖诚被行政拘留), May 23, 2012, CHRD
[iii]“101 Chengdu Taxi Drivers Petition in Beijing, Two Known to Be Criminally Detained” (成都101位出租车主北京上访，已知两人被刑拘), May 26, 2012, CHRD
[iv]“12 Years’ Incarceration Change Life, More Than 2,800 Appeals Without Justice” (12年冤狱改变人生，2800多次申诉难得公正), May 28, 2012, CHRD
[v]“Around June Fourth, Visitors to June Fourth Victim Li Wangyang, Others Sent Back to Hometowns, Interrogated” (六四期间探访六四受害者李旺阳，多人被遣返、传唤), June 5, 2012, CHRD; “Guangxi Dissident Zhang Wei, Duan Qixian Taken Away by Police for Marking June Fourth” (广西异议人士张维、端启宪因纪念六四被警察带走), June 5, 2012, CHRD;“Shanxi Rights Democracy Activist Deng Taiqing Under Soft Detention Around June Fourth” (山西民主维权人士邓太清六四期间被软禁), June 4, 2012, CHRD; “Shenzhen Citizen Yang Mingyu Questioned, Held for Going to Visit Lawyer Tang Jingling” (深圳公民杨明玉因探望律师唐荆陵遭审讯和关押), June 4, 2012, CHRD; “Nanping, Fujian Rights Activists Wu Linxiang, Husband Questioned for ‘Taking Part in Reversing Verdict of June Fourth’” (福建南平维权人士吴霖香夫妇因“参与呼吁平反六四”被传唤), June 3, 2012, CHRD; “With ‘6/4’ Looming, Guangzhou Painter He Guoquan Taken Away for Questioning by Police” (“64”临近，广州画家何国泉被警察约谈), June 3, 2012, CHRD; “Guangzhou Human Rights Figures Questioned, Put Under Soft Detention Before ‘June Fourth’” (广州维权人士“六四”前被传唤软禁), June 2, 2012, CHRD; “’6/4’ Looming, Beijing Rights Activist Ge Zhihui Being ‘Guarded’” (“六四”临近，北京维权人士葛志慧被“站岗”), June 2, 2012, CHRD; “Guangzhou Rights Activist Sun Desheng Taken Away by Police, Home Searched”(广州维权人士孙德胜被警方从家中铐走), June 2, 2012, CHRD; “Hunan Activist Ouyang Jinghua Commemorates ‘6/4’ With Banners, Placards, Taken Away by Police” (湖南维权人士欧阳经华纪念“6.4”的横幅和木牌被国保抢走), June 2, 2012, CHRD;“With ‘6/4’ Coming, Xi’an Rights Activists Taken Away to ‘Travel’” ("六四”来临，西安维权人士被带走“旅游”), June 2, 2012, CHRD; “Tian Lan Missing, Organizer of Commemorative ‘6/4’ Event in Beijing”(北京纪念“六四”23周年的主持人田兰失踪), June 1, 2012, CHRD; “Before June Fourth, Several Guizhou Human Rights Forum Members Have Homes Searched, Questioned” (六四前夕，多名贵州人权研讨会成员被抄家传唤), May 31, 2012, CHRD; “Fujian Rights Defender Fan Yanqiong Makes Public Call for Reversing Government’s Version of ‘June Fourth,’ Home Surrounded” (福建维权人士范燕琼上街呼吁平反“六四”，家被包围), May 30, 2012, CHRD; “Mi Chongbiao, Who Took Part in Commemorative ‘6/4’ Activity, Faces Police Threats” (参与贵州纪念“六四”活动的糜崇骠遭警方威胁), May 30, 2012, CHRD; “Guizhou Human Rights Forum Member Yong Zhiming Has Home Searched After Taking Photographs of ‘6/4’ Activity” (贵州人权研讨会成员雍志民因拍摄纪念“六四”活动被带走抄家), May 30, 2012, CHRD
[vi]“Tiananmen Massacre: Citizens Continue to Press for Truth and Justice Despite Suppression,”June 1, 2012, CHRD
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