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News Update

October 19, 2000

CDP PERSECUTION CONTINUES



  • In separate trials in late November, a court in Anshan City, Liaoning Province, found Wang Zechen and Wang Wenjiang (no relation) guilty of “subverting state power” for their involvement in the China Democracy Party (CDP). Wang Zechen, 51, was sentenced to six years; Wang Wenjiang, 46, was given a four-year sentence. Wang Zechen - who had received a death sentence in 1975 for criticizing a nephew of Mao Zedong, but was then rehabilitated after the fall of the Gang of Four - stayed away from activism for the last 20 years, running a small shop in Anshan. However, in early 1998, he became active in organizing the CDP, becoming the chairman of the Liaoning Province branch. Wang Wenjiang, a lawyer, had been asked to defend CDP founder Wang Youcai when the latter went on trial in 1998, but was prevented from traveling to Hangzhou for this purpose. Both Wang Zechen and Wang Wenjiang had been briefly detained several times in the late 1990s for their party-related activities. They were last detained in June 1999, but were not tried until 18 months later. Their sentences were announced on December 6.



  • In late August, Dai Xuewu was sentenced to three years of RTL after being picked up in May for allegedly stealing a mobile phone. Dai is the younger brother of Shanghai dissident, Dai Xuezhong, a CDP founder. Dai Xuewu had written repeatedly to the mayor of Shanghai to protest his elder brother’s three-year sentence, which was imposed last February for his CDP involvement. (ICHRD, Reuters)



  • Li Guotao, another Shanghai-based dissident and CDP founder, was sentenced in August to three years in prison for “disturbing social order.” He was arrested after attempting to lobby for the release of Dai Xuewu. (ICHRD, Reuters)



  • Nie Mingzhi, 70, a member of the CDP in southeastern Zhejiang Province was sentenced to one year in RTL shortly after being taken from his home on September 26. Previously employed by a court in Hangzhou, Nie was retired and became a CDP member following the crackdown on party founders in late 1998. (AFP)




FALUNGONG CRACKDOWN




The Chinese government’s campaign against the Falungong continues unabated. But demonstrators from the spiritual group seem undeterred, and protests continue. Larger, more organized demonstrations have occurred surrounding key anniversaries, including the October 28, 1999, publication of an editorial in the People’s Daily denouncing Falungong and the October 30, 1999, National People’s Congress decision calling on the judiciary to crackdown on all “heretical groups.”



For the first time since the start of the repression, China has sentenced two Falungong practitioners resident overseas. Until now, China has been more lenient with practitioners who have foreign ties, detaining them briefly before releasing them.


  • Authorities in Jinan City, Shangdong Province arrested Canadian Zhang Kunlun, 60, on November 15, and sent him to a labor camp. His daughter Lindi Zhang said he had been sentenced to three years in RTL. Zhang is reportedly being penalized for staging a hunger strike protesting the maltreatment of fellow Falungong practitioners in October. His daughter claims that Zhang has been subjected to electric shocks and “was forced to write a confession denouncing Falungong.” Since July, Zhang has been detained twice. Canadian diplomats have requested consular access to Zhang, but were refused. Zhang, who moved to Canada in 1989 and became a Canadian citizen in 1995, retained his Chinese nationality. He traveled to China on his Chinese passport, and China does not recognize his dual nationality. A professor of sculpture, he returned to China in 1996 to continue his teaching career at Shandong Art University. Zhang and his family have been Falungong practitioners for four years. (AFP, Reuters)



  • US resident Teng Chunyan, 37, was sentenced to three years in prison on December 12 for “prying into state intelligence for overseas organizations.” She was tried on November 23 in the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court; the closed proceedings lasted just three hours. Teng was arrested in Shenzhen on May 13. But she was not formally charged until July 27. Her family was not informed until October that she was being held in the Beijing Banbuqiao Detention Center and would be prosecuted.



    The indictment against her reportedly states that Teng led foreign journalists to a village in Beijing’s Fengshan District on February 7 where they illegally interviewed Falungong practitioners detained in a mental hospital. In March she allegedly returned to Fengshan with a digital camera to document a hunger strike, and then forwarded the pictures to foreign organizations and news agencies via e-mail.



    Teng, a New York-based medical doctor and acupuncturist, holds a US green card and is married to a US citizen. The US embassy was prevented from sending an official to Teng’s trial. Because Teng is not a US citizen, the embassy cannot have consular access to her. (AFP)



    Deaths in custody of Falungong practitioners have continued, with reports putting the total now over 70. Below are a few illustrative cases:
    • Yang Guijin, 40, was arrested in October for distributing Falungong leaflets in Shandong Province. She was reportedly beaten severely and chained to a chair in the local police station. After going on a hunger strike to protest her treatment, she was reportedly found dead in the station bathroom on October 15. Zhang Zhushun, a police officer at the station, denied she had been beaten, claiming that Yang had very serious heart disease and had refused treatment. (ICHRD, AFP)



    • Zou Songtao, 28, a biology professor at Qingdao Maritime University in Shandong Province, died on November 4 in the No. 3 Shandong RTL Center in Zibo City. Zou was arrested on July 18 and administratively sentenced to three years RTL for protesting the ban on Falungong and for trying to submit a petition to the central government’s Letters and Visits Department. The RTL center claimed that Zou had committed suicide, but would not allow his wife to see his body. He was cremated and his remains were given to the family on November 5. (ICHRD, AFP)



    • Li Wenrui, 37, an official at the Harbin Foreign Trade Bureau, died in a Beijing detention center on November 9. He had been detained three days earlier in Tiananmen Square for protesting the government’s crackdown on the spiritual group. His family was told on November 11 that Li had committed suicide by jumping from a window. Gao Sixian, Li’s mother-in-law said, “My daughter came to Beijing to see the body and his skull had a big hole in it and there were many bruises on his body. He was definitely killed. He was closely watched, how could he jump out the window?” (ICHRD)




DETAINED



  • Wei Manzeng, Jiang Nan and Wang Changhai were detained on November 4 in Beihai City, Guangxi Province, for attempting to organize an unofficial meeting of 200 poets from around the country. Their current whereabouts are unknown. The police objected to several poets scheduled to attend the meeting, as well as invitees known for helping to publish the work of underground writers. Controversial poets included Yang Chunguang, previously arrested for his role in the 1989 democracy movement, and Zhong Dao, known for his critical poetry. Discussion was meant to focus on developments in modern poetry and the possiblity of establishing a “Poets’ Village” in Beihai. (ICHRD, AFP)



  • Bei Ling, 40, founder and co-editor of the literary journal, Tendency, was detained from August 11-26 in Beijing after visiting relatives in Shanghai. He was first held in a local police station near Beijing University, and on August 14 he was transferred to a detention center outside the capital, where he was held until August 26. At the time of his arrest, Bei Ling was organizing a discussion forum to review the latest issue of Tendency, which contained poetry by Liu Xiaobo and photographs of Wang Dan, Liu Suli and Lao Mu. Police seized several hundred copies of the journal, which was founded in 1988 in Beijing, and then re-established in Boston in 1993. Bei Ling, a US permanent resident, had been in China since June. (HRIC)



  • Bei Ling’s younger brother, Huang Feng, 32, was detained from August 17-26. Huang, a freelance writer, was taken into custody just hours after US Ambassador Prueher had expressed concern about his elder brother. Huang resides in Beijing. (HRIC)




PRISON VISITS



  • Ngawang Choephel, 32, the Tibetan ethnomusicologist serving an 18-year prison term for espionage, was allowed to receive two one-hour visits from his mother Sonam Dekyi, accompanied by his uncle Tsering Wangdu in early August. They were the first visitors Choephel had seen since his arrest in the summer of 1995. Bars separated Choephel from his visitors during the emotional visit in a Chengdu prison. Police officials observing their encounter informed them that if they did not cease crying, the visit would be terminated. His mother said Choephel appeared both physically and mentally frail. He is reported to be suffering from liver, lung and stomach ailments, and may have a urinary tract infection and TB. He said he had received treatment in a Chengdu hospital prior to the visits. Choephel, a former Fulbright scholar who taught at Middlebury College in Vermont, was detained in Tibet while making a film about traditional music and dance. (TIN)



  • Rebiya Kadeer, 54, the Uighur businesswoman serving an eight-year prison term for “illegally passing intelligence outside of China,” was finally allowed a family visit on November 30, after 15 months in custody. Two of her children were allowed a 30-minute visit in the presence of many police and guards. Kadeer and her children were prohibited from using the Uighur language and were warned in advance not to discuss “sensitive” issues. Kadeer did not respond to questions about her health, but she did not appear to be ill. Kadeer was detained on August 11, 1999, on her way to meet a delegation from the US Congressional Research Service. On February 21, 2000, the Urumqi City Procuracy officially accused her of “giving information to separatists outside the borders.” Authorities claimed that Kadeer had mailed newspapers containing speeches and articles about the Uighur independence movement to her husband Sidik Rouzi, a US-based Uighur nationalist and commentator for Radio Free Asia. She was tried and sentenced on March 10. Her appeal was rejected on November 7. (HRW)




RELEASED



  • On August 9, Peng Ming, 42, completed an 18-month term of Custody and Education, a form of administrative detention imposed without trial on prostitutes and their clients. Peng, the president of the banned China Development Union (CDU), was apprehended on January 25, 1999, at the Datong Night Club in suburban Beijing allegedly for hiring a prostitute. His family was officially informed of his arrest on February 26, 1999. While held at the Qiliqu facility on the outskirts of Beijing, Peng filed a complaint against the Tongzhou branch of the Beijing Public Security Bureau through his lawyer, Zhou Guoqiang. But authorities obstructed his appeal. According to Zhou, the police told an appeal judge that Peng’s case was political and could not be handled by his court.



    The CDU, founded by Peng in January 1998, brought together thousands ofintellectuals and professionals to foster discussion of social problems, political reform and the environment. (HRIC, AP)



  • After more than eight years in custody, Liu Wensheng, 32, founder of the Chinese Social Democratic Party (CSDP), was released from prison in Gansu Province on August 21—20 months before the completion of his term. He has returned to his home in Yinchuan, Ningxia Province. Liu was placed on the national “most wanted” list during the 1989 crackdown for his role in spearheading democracy protests in Lanzhou, but he dodged arrest until 1992. Liu was sentenced to ten years in prison for counter-revolutionary crimes that included establishing the CSDP. Liu’s family was not allowed to visit him until the fourth year of his prison term, and Liu says he suffered several heart attacks in prison. Liu asserts that his release was due to support from the international community. He told an AFP reporter: “My behavior in prison has been consistent all these years. I still have not admitted any wrongdoing and I have not cooperated with them in their efforts to reform me…If there had not been outside pressure I never would have been released.”



    On December 1, Liu was denied a travel permit to visit Shenzhen, where he and his parents planned to visit his sister for the Lunar New Year. Police authorities claimed that this was standard crowd-control procedure connected to the first anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty of Macau to China. Liu observed: “What they are saying doesn’t make any sense because I applied to be in Shenzhen on December 28,” which is after the December 20 anniversary. Liu’s parents had no trouble obtaining travel

    permits. (ICHRD, AFP)




CRACKDOWN ON CHRISTIANS



  • Liu Hongtao, 19, a member of China’s unofficial house church in Jiaozuo City, Henan Province, was reportedly tortured to death on October 17 while in police custody. He was one of 30 church members arrested in that city on September 14 in. The other members, who were also reportedly mistreated, remain in custody. (HRIC)



  • Up to 130 members of the China Fengcheng Church, an unofficial Protestant church in Dawangzhuang Village, Xihua County in Henan Province, were detained on August 23. Among those detained, 85 were formally arrested two days later on charges of “forming a sect to break laws and regulations,” according to notifications sent to their families. The church members were divided into 15 groups for questioning. Church member Tao Xue was reportedly beaten during interrogation. Three American missionaries were among those detained, but they were released shortly afterwards when a US diplomat intervened. The Fengcheng Church reportedly has 500,000 members. Its founder, Zhang Rongliang, was sentenced to two years in prison for “leading a cult” in December 1999. (ICHRD, AP, AFP)



  • In mid-September, police took Bishop Zeng Jinmu, 81, from his home in Jiangxi Province where he had been under house arrest for 27 months, following the completion of a three-year prison term. Father Liao Haiqing and another priest surnamed Deng were apprehended at the same time. These detentions coincided with a visit by a Vatican cardinal to Beijing to attend a religious conference. (CKF, Reuters)



  • Father Liu Shaozhang of the underground Roman Catholic Church in Gongtou Village outside of Fuzhou, Fujian, was arrested and beaten in late August. Twenty nuns, one seminarian and two laypersons from the same church were also detained. Two of the nuns were released a few days later, after a group of parishioners paid police a large sum of money. The nuns were ordered not to leave their house unless they received permission from authorities. (CKF, Fides, Reuters)




ZHONGGONG SUPRESSION




In the last year, following the ban on the Zhonggong qigong group, according to reports, 600 leaders of its training centers have been detained, and 3,000 Zhonggong-related businesses have been shut down across China.


  • Wang Xuemei, a Zhonggong leader, was tried in the Tianhe District Court in Guangzhou in late July without legal representation. She was charged with “disturbing social order” and received a two-year prison sentence. Wang, who was arrested last November, ran the group’s meditation center in Guangzhou’s Changshoushan District. (ICHRD, AFP)



  • Sun Guifang, a Zhonggong leader in Shenzhen, was detained in July. At the time of his arrest, Sun was carrying a list of hundreds of names of Zhonggong practitioners. The authorities reportedly launched a hunt for those listed. It is believed that more than 20 people on the list have since been interrogated by the police. (ICHRD, AFP)




CENSORSHIP



  • Ma Xiaoming, a reporter for the Shaanxi Television Station, was detained for 11 hours on August 12, preventing him from meeting with an Asian Wall Street Journal reporter to discuss a story about peasant activism. Ma says the police found out about the meeting through a wire tap. Ma had been investigating a story about a group of 5,000 peasants who have been petitioning the central government over exorbitant taxes and beatings of farmers who refused to pay them. Ma was also detained for three days in April when he visited peasants to discuss the story.



    Ma Wenlin (no relation), the legal representive for 5,000 farmers from Zizhou County in the dispute, was arrested in November 1999 and sentenced later that year to five years in prison for “disturbing social order” and “illegally detaining” a government official during his investigations. About 30,000 farmers in Zizhou, a quarter of the county’s population, have reportedly signed a petition demanding that the provincial government overturn his sentence. (AFP, ICHRD)



  • The head of the Guangdong People’s Broadcasting Station, Zeng Guangxing, was threatened with the sack and steep fines for allowing a caller to criticize the CCP for rampant corruption during the “Today’s Hotline” radio show in early August. The show is a popular nationally-broadcast program. (AFP)



  • The news director of the Zhuhai Television Station in Guangdong Province and two of his editors were suspended for showing two seconds of footage from the 1989 democracy demonstrations. The scenes were part of a montage of images in a report about the opening of a new television station in Macau. A spokesperson for the Zhuhai station maintained that the broadcast was only ”a work mistake” and the suspension was sufficient punishment. The editors will continue to be employed by the station in different capacities. (SCMP, BBC)




INTERNET




With China’s online population reportedly reaching 16.9 million this July, authorities have continued to step up measures to control the medium. On September 20, the State Council passed Measures for Managing Internet Content Provision. The new regulations obligate Internet Content Providers and Internet Service Providers to keep 60-day logs of their activities - detailing what information is published and who reads it - for submission to authorities on demand.



On November 7, regulations on the administration of news Web sites were released by the Ministry of Information Industry and the State Council Information Office (SCIO), naming the latter organ as the supervisor of all sites. According to these regulations, commercial media organizations are prohibited from establishing independent news sites; commercial Web portals run by non-news organizations may carry news only from officially approved domestic news organizations; and no China-based Web sites may link to overseas news Web sites or carry news from overseas news media without permission from the SCIO. The regulations also restrict the content of online chat rooms and bulletin boards. Taboo topics include information that endangers state security, reveals state secrets or sabotages unity among ethnic minorities.



Beginning in August, at least 20 provinces and municipalities launched special Internet police units to “manage and maintain order” on China’s computer networks. The Anhui Internet police is already handling online criminal cases like fraud, property embezzlement and pornography. The special unit has also worked with local media agencies to alert users about viruses, and has cooperated with scientific research institutes to develop filter programs.



The Chinese government has also made aggressive moves to silence free expression on the Net. In September, Qi Yanchen, a CDP member and a co-founder of the CDU, was sentenced to four years in prison on subversion charges for articles he wrote that were published on the Internet. Qi was taken into custody a year before, and formally arrested in December 1999. On May 30, he was tried by the Cangzhou County People’s Court in Hebei Province in a proceeding that lasted four-and-a-half hours. Qi wrote on political reform, the causes of social instability and the government’s repression of the CDP and Falun Gong. His work was published by the Hong Kong monthly, Kaifang, and VIP Reference, the US-based e-zine on Chinese news and politics. (ICHRD, AFP)



Xin Wenming aka New Culture Forum, the first China-based Web site established by veteran democracy activists, was shut down for “reactionary content” on August 3. Run by a circle of dissidents in Shandong, the site’s mission was to promote compromise and conciliation in the push for democratic change. In a statement issued after the shut-down, organizers of the site wrote, “A normal, civilized government must tolerate different voices and accept the criticism and monitoring of society.” Through early August, Chinese authorities conducted a manhunt for the Webmaster named Xin Wenming. But site organizers later revealed that the name was a pseudonym. Parts of the New Culture Forum site are now accessible through HRIC’s homepage. (AFP, Reuters, DFN, HRIC, ICHRD)





MOU SIGNED




On November 20-21, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson visited China to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese government. The purpose of the MoU is to initiate a program of technical cooperation designed to help bring Chinese law and criminal practice into compliance with the two international human rights covenants that China has signed but not yet ratified.



The terms of the MoU were under negotiation for two years. Comparison with an earlier draft, which the High Commissioner had expected to sign during her March visit, reveals a disturbing shift of emphasis. While the previous draft mentioned the “promotion and protection of human rights in China” and the “harmonization of national law and practice with international human rights standards” as the objectives of the cooperation program, the draft that was finally signed simply stated the purpose to be “better mutual understanding of human rights issues.” The removal of references to international human rights standards from the text of the MoU and the lack of substance in the programs of technical cooperation make the document look more like window dressing rather than a recognition of China’s needs. The program will begin with three workshops in 2001. (HRIC)





ABBREVIATIONS




AFP - Agence France Presse

AP - Associated Press

BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation

CCP - Chinese Communist Party

CDP - China Democracy Party

CDU - China Development Union

CKF - Cardinal Kung

DFN- Digital Freedom Network

HRIC - Human Rights in China

HRW - Human Rights Watch

ICHRD - Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy

SCMP- South China Morning Post

TIN - Tibet Information Network





Compiled by Johanna Ransmeier, Morgan Stoffregen and Judy M. Chen.


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