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February 2008

2008年02月29日

The information contained in this summary is based on information collected by HRIC in February and is not intended as a complete list. Rather, it should be viewed as a representation of larger trends of dissent and repression in China.

Olympics

Media Censorship

Petitions and Protests

Human Rights Defenders



Olympics
In the lead-up to the Olympics, HRIC will also be monitoring Olympics-related news in the Monthly Briefs, in addition to regular topic areas.

Chinese NGO Launches Report on Olympics-related Evictions
Chinese NGO Minsheng Guancha (Livelihood Watch) released a report on February 4 about the evictions of Beijing farmers and other villagers ahead of the 2008 Olympics. The report has revealed that villagers staged demonstrations against the forced eviction but were suppressed by the government. However, Zhang Jiaming, vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Construction Committee, said on February 19 that all households that were relocated to make way for Olympic construction “signed the relocation agreements and moved voluntarily; no one was forced out of their homes.”[1]

Forced Resettlement for Railway Construction before the Olympics
On the morning of January 9, after failing to reach an agreement on terms of resettlement, more than 500 personnel forced villagers out of their apartments in Hancang Village #1 in Shandong Province. The authorities were accompanied by men armed with wooden planks and steel bars. The clash resulted in approximately 40 wounded, with one 60-year-old woman still missing, but presumed to be under official custody. The company responsible for the railway hopes to have the project completed by May in order that transportation to the Olympic venue in Qingdao will run smoothly.[2]

Spielberg Quits as Olympics Artistic Advisor
On February 12, film director Steven Spielberg announced that he would withdraw as an artistic advisor to the Olympics. He accused China of not doing enough in order to pressure Sudan to end the “continuing human suffering” in Darfur, which has resulted in over 200,000 deaths. However, Chinese officials stated that they were surprised by Spielberg’s resignation, claiming he was never technically employed as he had not yet signed the agreement.[3]

Temporary Residence Permits for Olympic Security
On February 22, Beijing police started a campaign called "Legally Registering for Permits, Together Building a Safe and Sound Olympics." This campaign, which is to concludes in late March, requires Beijing’s floating population to apply for temporary residence permits. Unregistered individuals will be warned or fined 50 yuan. Human rights lawyers Li Subin (李苏滨) and Cheng Hai (程海) have launched administrative litigation challenging the legality of this registration requirement.[4]

Compensation for Olympic Water Diversion Project
The Financial Times reported on February 26 that An Qiyuan (安启元) called on Beijing to compensate the provinces that were told to divert their cleanest water to the capital in order to ensure an adequate supply during the Olympics. Millions of people have been affected by this policy. An is a member and former chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee for Shaanxi Province and former Communist party chief of Shaanxi.[5]

L.A. Times Barred from Interviewing Petitioners
On February 27, Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Magnier had to stop interviewing petitioners in the new “petitioning village” in Shoubaozhuang, Daxing District, Beijing, due to interference from personnel of a local joint defense team. After the interview stopped, the police questioned Magnier and his fellow interpreter for an hour. Magnier believed the local authorities had little knowledge about the Regulations on Reporting Activities in China by Foreign Journalists During the Beijing Olympics and the Preparatory Period.[6]

Olympic Athletes Raise Concerns
In late February, Francois Carrard, the International Olympic Committee’s legal advisor, remained optimistic that the Beijing Olympics would be positive for human rights in China, despite the difficulty in identifying advances in the immediate future. This came soon after concerns were raised by many athletes that they may be restricted from commenting on politically sensitive issues. Milan Zver, the sports minister of Slovenia, which currently holds the EU presidency, urged EU athletes not to bring up human rights issues at the Beijing Olympics. Facing mounting pressure, the National Olympic Committees of various countries, including Australia and United States, confirmed that they will not restrict what their athletes say in Beijing, over and above the requirements of the Olympic Charter.[7]



Media Censorship

Rights Defender’s Interview Censored
It was reported on February 4 that the Beijing journal Renmin Zhengxie Bao decided not to publish an interview with rights defender Liu Feiyue (刘飞跃) regarding the treatment of Hubei private school teachers due to pressure from provincial authorities.[8]

Yahoo! Brought to Court Again
It was reported on February 29 that Zheng Cunzhu (郑存柱), a Los Angeles-based member of the China Democracy Party, sued Yahoo! on behalf of his fellow member Li Zhi (李智). Li was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in China in 2003 over his online pro-democracy articles and is now serving his sentence in Sichuan. Yahoo! allegedly turned over information to the authorities that eventually led to Li’s sentence. Guo Quan (郭泉), a former associate professor in Nanjing and a China Democracy Party member, is also participating in the lawsuit, because Yahoo!’s search engine blocks his name from search results.[9]



Petitions and Protests

Nine Sichuan Human Rights Defenders Sentenced
On January 29, it was reported that nine human rights defenders were sentenced from five months to seven and a half years’ imprisonment for crimes of “disturbing social order” and “disrupting the actions of the government.” Intense mining developments in Sangui Village, Sichuan Province, have created serious environmental damage. The nine activists represent thousands of affected farmers who complain that the local government has not been protecting their rights or the environment.[10]

Jiangsu Petitioner Illegally Detained
As reported on February 1, Jiangsu female petitioner Xu Ping (徐平) was illegally detained for almost two months by local authorities in Lianshui, Jiangsu Province. Xu suffered physical abuse including beatings. She was also denied sufficient food and, on some occasions, water, and is now being treated in a local hospital. Liu, chief of a local Bureau for Letters and Visits, denied all allegations when contacted by a reporter.[11]

Weihai Land Grabs Victims Send Open Letter to UN
As reported on February 10, victims of land grabs in Weihai, Shandong Province, wrote an open letter to the United Nations to pressure the local government, which took over 90 hectares of land without sufficient, if any, compensation to the local residents. Weihai was awarded the “Habitat Scroll of Honor” by the United Nations in 2003 for its efforts in promoting the living standards of its people, but rising land prices, which have increased four or five times over the past decade, have made the cost of living unbearable for many. On February 20, Shandong police warned Miao Jun (苗军), a participant in the open letter campaign, not to contact “reactionary forces” like Radio Free Asia or the 6.4 Tianwang website, or else he would be committing the crime of “inciting subversion of state power”.[12]

Police Beating of Petitioner
It was reported on February 13 that Shanghai police confiscated information from petitioner Chang Xiongfa (常雄发) after he visited activist Feng Zhenghu during the Chinese New Year holidays. Petitioner Fan Guijuan (范桂娟) claimed that the Shanghai police beat her on February 8 and disfigured her finger.[13]

GPS Surveillance System to Track Petitioners
On February 13, more than ten petitioners from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) gathered in Beijing and accused XUAR authorities of tracking down petitioner Feng Yongji (冯永记) and his wife with a high-cost global positioning system (GPS). The couple was arrested in Tianjin on February 9. The GPS reportedly tracks down petitioners through cellular phone use. However, a computer engineer argued that these claims may be exaggerated.[14]

“More Than 80 Percent of Petitioning Cases Have Merit”
As reported on February 15, Urumqi Municipal Party Committee Secretary Li Zhi (栗智) conceded that more than 80 percent of petitions have merit or concern actual problems and that only a small proportion are plainly unreasonable.[15]

Petitioners to Get Legal Aid
Chi Qiang, the president of Beijing’s Higher People’s Court, said on February 18 that Beijing will establish a legal subsidy fund that will cover petitioners’ cases.[16]

Petitioner Detained in Psychiatric Hospital for 56 Days
Radio Free Asia reported on February 23 that Shandong petitioner Lin Yingming (林英明) is detained in a psychiatric hospital by the police in Rushan, Shandong Province, due to his repeated petitioning in Beijing. Lin had allegedly been strapped to the bed and injected with unknown chemicals for several days. Last year, Lin was detained in the same psychiatric hospital for 53 days.[17]



Human Rights Defenders

Harassment and Other Unfavorable Treatment
On January 10, Chenzhou dissident Peng Xinzhong (彭新忠) was reportedly beaten by six or seven police officers in the Chenzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau in Hunan Province. Peng was bloody and suffered injuries to his head and abdomen. Peng was allegedly beaten after he argued with the police officers over his previous sentence based on trumped-up charges.[18]

Shanghai human rights lawyer Zheng Enchong (郑恩宠) was reportedly beaten on four occasions between February 16 and February 20.[19]

On February 21, Yuan Weijing (袁伟静) was again barred from leaving home to visit her husband Shandong rights defender Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) in prison.[20]

The husband of human rights lawyer Ni Yulan (倪玉兰) was beaten on February 25, 2008. The police forcefully entered Ni’s apartment that morning but could not find her because she was hiding. The police took her husband to the police substation, where the beating occurred. She suspected the police were trying to arrest her before the annual session of the National People’s Congress. The police denied any beating.[21]

Formal Arrest
On January 30, human rights defender and long-time HIV/AIDS activist Hu Jia (胡佳) was formally arrested on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” Police have reportedly told Hu's family that they were investigating him for articles he had posted online, including some that criticize the Beijing Olympics. Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), Hu’s wife and fellow human rights defender, gave an interview to Radio Free Asia on February 21, although she suspected the phone conversation was monitored. For the past two months she has been barred from external communication. On February 17, she visited Hu in a detention center. She thought Hu could not speak freely because many officers were present at the couple's meeting. Lawyer Teng Biao (滕彪) said Zeng had been allowed to see Hu before the verdict was delivered due to international and domestic condemnations of his arrest.[22]

Trial Development
Heilongjiang land rights activist Yang Chunlin's (杨春林) trial on the charge of subverting state power took place on February 19, and the verdict has not yet been announced as of February 29. Last year, Yang circulated a petition saying, "We want human rights, not the Olympics.” His lawyer, Li Fangping, said that this petition was part of the evidence used in his prosecution. Yang has reportedly pleaded not guilty.[23]

Conditions in Prison/RTL Camp
As reported on February 12, Zhejiang-based China Democracy Party member Chen Shuqing (陈树庆) was made to perform physical labor for over ten hours daily. Of his relatives, only his wife and daughter have been allowed visits. The prison authorities have yet to reply to Chen’s relatives regarding his mistreatment and also refused to comment when Radio Free Asia called for an inquiry. Chen was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment last year for inciting subversion of state power after he published critical articles online.[24]

On February 26, Liu Jie (刘杰) began a hunger strike in protest of her Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) sentence in the Qiqihar Labor Camp where she is being detained. She was sentenced to 18 months of RTL after organizing a public letter demanding constitutional democracy, which gathered over 12,000 signatures.[25]

Sentence
On February 4, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported that Khenpo Jinpa, abbot of the Chogtsang Talung Monastery in Sichuan Province, was secretly sentenced to three years’ imprisonment last July on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” Jinpa was distributing leaflets calling for Tibetan independence in 2005.[26]

Lü Gengsong (吕耿松) was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” by the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court on February 5. According to Lü’s wife, Wang Xue’e, the judge read the sentencing statement but did not allow for any questions or statements and did not allow Wang to speak with her husband before he was taken away. Lü has published a number of articles on corruption, organized crime, and has followed rights defense activities, including reporting on the sentencing of Hangzhou eviction protester Yang Yunbiao.[27]

On February 5, Heilongjiang police informed the wife of rights defender Wang Guilin (王桂林), surnamed Sun, that he has been sentenced to one and a half years of Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) for “disturbing social order.” Wang was detained on January 10. The authorities held a hearing on his case on January 22 and sent him to a RTL facility on January 28; it is unclear when exactly he was sentenced. Sun said that during the hearing, the police alleged that Wang was involved in the open letter campaign which held the slogan “We want human rights, not the Olympics,” and that he had given interviews to the overseas Epoch Times website.[28]

Retrial
On February 25, a Zhejiang court informed the son of jailed China democracy activist Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) that Zhu’s case would be retried because his verdict was based on an incorrect application of the law. Zhu was originally sentenced to two years in prison last July following an altercation with police in which both he and his son were beaten.[29]

Release
Journalist Ching Cheong (程翔) was released on parole on February 4 and returned to his Hong Kong home the next day. Officials in China have notified the Hong Kong government that Ching met the conditions for parole after seving half his sentence. Ching was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on charges of spying for Taiwan on August 31, 2006.[30]

Southern Metropolitan Daily editor Yu Huafeng (喻华峰) was released from prison on February 8. Yu was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in 2004 for embezzlement and graft, after his newspaper reported the fatal beating of a man in detention, and broke the news of a SARS case before Beijing had reported it to the World Health Organization. Yu was released on February 8 after his sentence had been reduced twice.[31]

Other
On February 27, the Tiananmen Mothers issued an open letter through Human Rights in China, stating that members of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress should open a dialogue with the victims of the Tiananmen crackdown and their families. The letter also requests that the government open an investigation into the crackdown, issue public apologies and compensation, and investigate the accountability of those officials involved.[32]

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SOURCES

[1] Xin Yu [心语], “Chinese NGO Launches Report on Forcible Eviction for Beijing Olympics” [民生观察工作室2008年北京奥运主场馆地区失地农民调查报告], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 4, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/04/aoyun; Martin Zhou, “Housing Official Admits Beijing Evicted 15,000 in Path of Games,” South China Morning Post, February 20, 2008.

[2] Ding Xiao [丁小], “Shandong Authorities Forcefully Resettle Villagers in Order to Build Railway Ahead of the Olympics” [山东赶造新胶济 奥运将致强拆有理?], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 12, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/12/qiangchai/.

[3] Adrian Croft, “Spielberg Never Took on Beijing Olympic Role: China,” Reuters, February 21, 2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idUSN2152185220080222; Nick Mulvenney, “Athletes Resist Pressure to Play Politics in Beijing,” Reuters, February 15, 2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idUSSP31606320080215.

[4] Wang Mei [王妹], “Beijing Police Start Requiring Floating Population to Apply for Temporary Residence Permits to Ensure Safety at the Olympics” [北京开查暂住证护奥运安全], The Beijing News, February 22, 2008, http://www.thebeijingnews.com/news/beijing/2008/02-22/021@080926.htm; Yan Ming [燕明], “Temporary Residence Permit System in Major Cities Sparks Controversy” [中国各大城市实行的暂住证制度倍受争议], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 25, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/25/zanzhuzheng/.

[5] Jamil Anderlini, “Olympics Water Diversion Threatens Millions,” Financial Times, February 26, 2008, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/40b3e66a-e49d-11dc-a495-0000779fd2ac.html.

[6] Yan Xiu [严修], “New Regulations on Olympics Coverage Again Challenged: LA Times Reporter Taken Away While Covering Beijing Petitioning Village” [外国记者采访上访村被警察带走 奥运采访新规定再受质疑], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 27, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/27/press.

[7] Raf Casert, “EU President Advises Against Protests,” Associated Press, February 14, 2008, available at http://news.findlaw.com/ap/s/2090//02-14-2008/20080214052000_67.html; Nick Mulvenney, “Athletes Resist Pressure to Play Politics in Beijing”, Reuters, February 15, 2008,
http://www.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idUSSP31606320080215; “IOC Backs China Human Rights Push,” British Broadcasting Corporation, February 26, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympics/7265593.stm.

[8] Yan Ming [燕明], “Newspaper Barred from Publishing Report Containing Interview with Human Rights Defender” [人民政协报就民教问题采访刘飞跃 文章被扣未能面世], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 4, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/04/liufeiyue.

[9] “Activists Sue Yahoo over Disclosures and Jailing,” Bloomberg, February 29, 2008; Li Jianjun [李建军], “Yang Zhiyuan Calls for the Release of Shi Tao; Guo Quan Sues Yahoo! for Blocking His Name” [杨致远呼吁释放师涛 郭泉状告雅虎封锁], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 25, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2008/02/25/yahoo.

[10] Xin Yu [心语], “Nine Human Rights Defenders Sentenced in Sangui Village, Sichuan” [四川古蔺县石屏乡三桂村九名维权代表被判刑], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 15, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/15/sanguicun.

[11] Xin Yu [心语], “Jiangsu Petitioner Illegally Detained and Mistreated” [江苏女访民徐平遭非法拘押及人身虐待], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 1, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/01/xuping.

[12] Shi Shan [石山], “Victims of Land Grabs in Weihai, Shandong, Send Open Letter to the United Nations” [威海市民发出致联合国公开信], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 10, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/10/wei; Hai Lan [海蓝], “Shandong Police Warn Rights Defender Not to Contact ‘Reactionary Forces’” [威海公安警告维权代表不要接触“反动势力”], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 21, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2008/02/21/china_rights_rural.

[13] Fang Yuan [方媛], “Shanghai Police Beat Petitioner, Bar Human Rights Defenders from Visiting Dissident Friend over Chinese New Year” [春节期间上海警察继续打人 并阻止维权人士拜年], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 13, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/13/weiquan.

[14] Hai Lan [海蓝], “XUAR Police Use Global Positioning System to Monitor Petitioners” [新疆公安使用卫星定位监控访民], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 13, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2008/02/13/china_petition_beijing.

[15] Liu Bing [刘冰], “Urumqi Party Secretary: More Than 80 Percent of Petitioning Cases Have Merit” [乌鲁木齐市市委书记:八成上访者是有道理的], Xinhuanet [新华网], February 14, 2008, http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2008-02/15/content_7606514.htm.

[16] Zhuang Pinghui, “Poor Legal Petitioners to Get Financial Assistance Under New Plan,” South China Morning Post, February 20, 2008.

[17] Gao Shan [高山], “Shandong Petitioner Lin Yingming Already Detained in Psychiatric Hospital for 56 Days” [山东访民林英明被关进精神病院56天], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 23, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/23/56.

[18] Xin Yu [心语], “Chenzhou, Hunan Dissident Beaten by Vice-Bureau Chief of Public Security Bureau and Six Others” [郴州异议人士申诉却遭公安副局长等围殴], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 12, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/12/hunan.

[19] “HRIC Press Release: Zheng Enchong Detained and Beaten Again,” Human Rights in China, February 20, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/47417.

[20] Zhang Min [张敏], “Yuan Weijing Barred from Visiting Husband Chen Guangcheng for the Fifth Time” [袁伟静:欲探视陈光诚五度受阻 法律不保护我们], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 21, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/21/yuan.

[21] Feng Riyao [冯日遥], “Beijing Police Step Up Harassment of Rights Lawyer Ni Yulan” [北京公安加紧骚扰维权律师倪玉兰], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 25, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2008/02/25/china_rights_lawyer.

[22] “HRIC Condemns the Formal Arrest of Hu Jia,” Human Rights in China, February 1, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/47275; Ding Xiao [丁小], “Zeng Jinyan Regains Right to Communication After Two Months of Blockage; Detained Hu Jia Looks Distressed” [隔绝两月曾金燕获准通讯 谈见胡佳忧心忡忡], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 21, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/21/ceng.

[23] “Trial Begins over Olympics Letter,” Associated Press, February 20, 2008.

[24] Ding Xiao [丁小], “Democracy Activist Chen Shuqing Works 10 Hours a day in RTL: Deprived of Visitation Rights” [陈树庆狱中劳动十小时 被严管并剥夺亲属探视权], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 12, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/12/chen.

[25] Fang Yuan [方媛], “Heilongjiang Petitioner Liu Jie Goes on Hunger Strike to Protest Reeducation-Through-Labor Decision” [黑龙江访民刘杰绝食抗议劳教处罚], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 26, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/26/liujie.

[26] “Tibetan Abbot Sentenced to Three Years for ‘Inciting Subversion of State Power’” [甘孜县曲仓达隆寺藏族住持堪布金巴被判刑], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 5, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2008/02/05/china_tibetan.

[27] “HRIC Statement: Ching Cheong's Release Sends Mixed Message,” Human Rights in China, February 5, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/47310.

[28] Ding Xiao [丁小], “Heilongjiang Petitioner Wang Guilin Sentenced to 1.5 Year of RTL” [王桂林被劳教一年半 举证不构犯罪劳教何理?], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 5, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/05/wang.

[29] Gao Shan [高山], “Hangzhou, Zhejiang Court to Retry Case of Democracy Party Activist Zhu Yufu” [杭州法院将重审民主党人士朱虞夫案件], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 27, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/27/zhu.

[30] “HRIC Statement: Ching Cheong's Release Sends Mixed Message,” Human Rights in China, February 5, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/47310.

[31] “Chinese Editor Released from Prison,” Associated Press (via The Mercury News), February 8, 2008, http://origin.mercurynews.com/ci_8214002.

[32] “HRIC Statement: Chinese Authorities Should Respond to Calls for Dialogue by the Tiananmen Mothers,” Human Rights in China, February 27, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/47439.