China Aid Association
Honorable Congressman Wolf and Congressman McGovern, friends of China,
I will describe the situation for human rights defenders during the first half of 2008. As the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games draw near, the government has intensified its crackdown on people engaging in human rights defense. Numerous human rights defenders and church activists were arbitrarily detained, arrested, or sent to labor camp for simply exercising their basic civil and human rights guaranteed by China’s own Constitution and international covenants. Unfortunately, in the name of preparing for the Olympics, the rule of law has been hindered and totally ignored.
In July, two house church leaders and human rights defenders were attacked repeatedly by the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) in the name of “Olympic harmony” in Beijing. On July 17, Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, the Chairman of Chinese House Church Alliance with whom both Congressman Wolf and Smith met in their latest visit to China, was forced to live on the streets of Beijing with his wife after the PSB closed his house church on July 6 — all to protect so-called “Olympic harmony.” On July 2 at midnight, another prominent Beijing house church activist and human rights defender, Beijing resident Mr. Hua Huiqi, was forcibly evicted with his family members from their rental apartment by Beijing PSB. Their furniture was thrown into the street. Even Hua’s 80-year old father was kicked out of the apartment. Hua’s wife was beaten to the point of unconsciousness. Hua’s brother Hua Huilin experienced severe eye damage in one eye because of the beating from the PSB. Hua’s mother has been jailed for her human rights activism activities.
Huang Qi, owner of the website “64Tianwang” of Sichuan, was detained by the police of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in June, and was then arrested in July on the charge of suspicion of illegally possessing state secrets. Huang Qi was mainly engaged in human rights defense. Huang helped on-site petitioners of grievances, people who have lost land and people who have lost houses due to demolition and removal. He appealed to foreign media and contacted them with his reports. After the earthquake hit Sichuan on May 12, Huang Qi raised money and materials on many occasions and donated them to the disaster areas. He even publicly exposed slipshod projects and man-made calamities in the disaster areas, with photos and texts where structures were built with shoddy and cheap materials. In this way, he infuriated the authorities. It was confirmed on July 18 that Huang Qi, who had been detained for 37 days, was approved to be formally arrested.
Zhou Zhiyuan of Zhongxiang, Hubei province, a human rights defense writer, was placed under house arrest in May (his pen names include Zeng Renquan and Chu Yichu). His house was searched and his computer was seized on suspicion of inciting people to overthrow the government. Even though he was soon released, people from the state security agencies claimed that they would summon him at any time. Zhou Zhiyuan once worked as a cadre in Zhongxiang Municipal Taxation Bureau. In 1992, he lost his job because he contributed articles to Voice of America, and for that, he was also expelled from the Communist Party. Since then, he has published hundreds of articles in different pen-names and he also published a book on how a large number of workers lost their job when a state-run shipping company conducted a re-organization. The book describes the hardship and helplessness of the people engaged in defending rights. The book also exposes the corruption of government officials who enriched themselves in the process or reorganizing state-run enterprises. As a result of his book, a legal procedure was brought against Zhou Zhiyaun and he has stopped writing for now.
Lin Bingchang is a 67-year old representative of the fishermen in Dongtou County and Haidao County in Zhejiang Province. He was once a member of the Standing Committee of Dongtou County Party Committee and he has been a Party member for over 40 years. Now he is retired and stays at home. Because he helped fishermen from 291 households to defend their rights after the fishermen lost the tidal flats used for farming marine products, Lin Bingchang was arrested by the local PSB on the suspicion of tax evasion. He was later released because he was eligible for bail pending trial. However, the local police continue to harass Lin Bingchang on a constant basis and the police are still investigating him on the grounds of tax evasion. He helped the fishermen and sued Dongtou County government at Zhejiang High Court. The court’s support for the fishermen is only a lip service and it is essentially empty talk. In July 2008, Lin was forced to leave the town of his residence to avoid the harassment by the local police. Now, he can only use his phone to direct the local fishermen on how to defend their rights concerning the loss of their tidal flats.
Lu Gengsong, a former instructor at a police academy in Zhejiang’s PSB system, was expelled from the school for boldly advocating democracy and freedom. After that, he began to engage in writing political comments. In September 2007, he was arrested by Hangzhou police for defending the rights of both the peasants in Hangzhou who lost their land, and victims who were forced to move out of their houses due to impending demolition, and because he wrote articles for overseas websites. On February 5, 2008, he was sentenced to 4 years in prison and deprived of his political rights by Hangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court for “inciting people to subvert the government of the state.” During the appeal, the original verdict was upheld. The court in Hangzhou convicted him of inciting people to subvert the government of the state — merely because of several hundred words in his approximately 12 articles criticizing the dictatorship of the Communist Party. This situation is actually one of literary inquisition. Lu Gengsong often contacted the opposition party of the Communist Party — the China Democracy Party — and gathered people from it to help peasants who have lost land, people from households displaced by demolition and removal, and other victims in defending their rights. In this way, Lu Gengsong offended the local interest groups — and he was convicted of inciting people to overthrow the government of the state. This is how people engaging in human rights defense are politicized. The political crackdown has deterred the private activities of China Democracy Party and the organization lost a leader who used to frequently bring the members together. At this time, members of China Democracy Party who are imprisoned human rights defenders in Zhejiang are Yan Zhengxue, Chen Shuqing, Chi Jianwei, Zhu Yufu, Zhang Jianhong (Lihong), Lu Gengsong, Wang Rongqing and others. Wu Yilong and other members of China Democracy Party who were arrested while organizing the Party in 1998 are still serving their terms in prison. In April, Chinese dissident Hu Jia, who is outspoken on behalf of AIDS victims, Tibet, and other sensitive issues, was jailed for 3 ½ years: a Beijing court found this 34-year old human rights activist guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” for criticizing the ruling Communist Party. Hu had pleaded not guilty. Another Chinese dissident, Yang Chunlin, who called for human rights to take precedence over the Olympic Games, was sentenced to 5 years in jail in late March for the same crime.
First, the current situation in rights defense is gaining momentum and the government is concerned that the situation may turn into significant riots. Therefore, they have intensified surveillance on human rights defenders and dissidents with the “carrots and stick” approach. For example, there is an increase of cases where county Party secretaries and heads of PSB offer to give interviews to petitioners.
Second, key people in human rights defense can be imprisoned at any time mainly because they have popular support, which affects the demolition work in the local areas or because the corruption of the officials and man-made disasters are exposed. Most charges against them are suspicion of subverting the government of the state, illegal possession of state secrets, disrupting public order, etc.
Third, there is nothing else the government can do except arrest the people; their legal grounds are flimsy at best and they have completely lost their credibility. As riots increase, the government is concerned that the riots may get out of control. Therefore, they severely crack down on these people and at the same time also expand the targets of their crackdown. This may eventually lead to the loss of popular support of the Communist Party, which in turn may lead to the society being out of the control. In such a case, the society may fall into chaos. In July, just one month before the opening of the Olympic Games, there have been significant riots in Yuhuan, Zhejiang Province, and in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, which is continuation of the chain reaction from the Weng-an incident in Guizhou on June 28.
We urge the Chinese government to immediately halt these violations and release prisoners of arbitrary detention and arrests.
We urge the IOC to take its international responsibility to make China fully account and comply with its obligation to improve its human rights as host of the Olympics.
We urge President Bush to speak up more openly and forcibly on these specific cases of abuse when he sits with Chinese leaders for the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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