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October 18, 2000

HRIC is frequently asked, “What can I do to make a difference?” This page gives suggestions on what you can do in specific areas of concern.


Two years ago the Chinese government initiated a nationwide crackdown on the China Democracy Party (CDP), which had announced its founding in June 1998. (See page 30 for more details.) The CDP’s Open Declaration stated: “The CDP strongly condemns the behavior of ruling groups which suppress political opposition groups by force.” But since then, CDP leaders across the country have been given to long prison sentences or sent to serve Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) terms. The peaceful efforts of CDP members to lay the foundations for a more pluralistic and tolerant future for China are acts of hope and conciliation that should be applauded rather than punished.

We encourage readers to appeal on their behalf to the Chinese authorities and ask for their immediate and unconditional release. The first sentences of CDP members were pronounced in October 1998, the same month that China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Letters can point to the contradiction between signing this Covenant and the ongoing repression against individuals whose only crime has been attempting to exercise the rights and freedoms it contains. Below are some representative cases:
According to recent reports, Wu Xilong has been held in solitary confinement for nearly seven months after staging hunger strikes in protest at the fact that prison authorities had prevented his wife from visiting him. It is not known whether the punishment, imposed on May 13, is still being enforced. Wu, born in 1969, is held at the No. 4 prison in Zhejiang Province.

Fellow CDP members Zhu Yufu, Mao Qingxiang and Xu Guang were prosecuted in the same trial as Wu on October 25, 1999, in Hangzhou. All four were accused of using the Internet to communicate with groups outside China and of publishing a journal called Opposition Party. On November 11, Wu, Zhu, Mao and Xu were sentenced to 11, seven, eight and five years’ imprisonment respectively. Their appeal was turned down in mid-December 1999. Wu’s wife, Shan Chenfeng, has suffered continuous harassment and detention for liaising with CDP members.

Tong Shidong and Liao Shihua also helped produce Opposition Party. Both are now serving prison terms of ten and six years respectively on charges of subversion. The verdict was issued by the Changsha City Intermediate People’s Court on December 22, 1999.

The following are among the CDP members held under RTL, an administrative punishment deemed “inherently arbitrary” by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:

On September 18, 1998, Han Lifa delivered a petition to establish the Shanghai CDP Preparatory Committee to the municipal Civil Affairs Bureau. The petition, signed by Han, Zhou Jianhe, Xu Hong, Yao Zhenxian and Li Guotao, was also sent by mail. It was returned to the sender.

Han Lifa, who had also been involved in a weekly human rights study group, was sentenced in October 1998 to nine months of Custody and Education for allegedly “patronizing prostitutes.” When his family arrived to pick him up on his July 22, 1999, release date, they discovered that his sentence had been extended by two years.

Li Guotao, a Shanghai computer engineer, was detained in mid-June 1999 after he joined 23 signers of a petition to the mayor of Shanghai asking for the release of Dai Xuewu whom petitioners claimed was wrongfully detained over the theft of a mobile phone. It is believed that the true reason for Dai’s arrest was speaking out against the imprisonment of his brother Dai Xuezhong, a CDP member sentenced to three years in prison in January 1999. Li was sentenced to a three year RTL term for “disturbing social order” on June 28, 1999. Li, born in 1958, previously served three years in RTL from 1994 to 1997 after taking part in the Shanghai’s Human Rights Association.

Send your appeals to:

  • President Jiang Zemin, CCP, Beijing 1000032, P.R. China.

  • Premier Zhu Rongji, Guowuyyuan, 9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie, Beijing 1000032, P.R. China.

  • National People’s Congress, Quanguo Renmin Dahuitang, 19 Xijiaominxiang, Xichengqu, Beijing 100805, P.R. China.


For the past decade, June Fourth victims and their families have been seeking redress for the crimes committed in the 1989 Beijing massacre. On August 31, 2000, the brother of a massacre victim and four former student leaders made a ground-breaking move towards this goal: they brought a civil suit against Li Peng for gross human rights violations in a U.S. federal court.

HRIC initiated this lawsuit after the Chinese government rejected repeated appeals made by June Fourth victims for a proper investigation of the Beijing massacre. HRIC is working with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to pursue the lawsuit. While CCR serves as leading counsel on a pro-bono basis, the costs of discovery and other fees associated with the case are considerable. Contributions to this legal effort are vital in maintaining the momentum of this landmark legal action. To support the lawsuit, please send your donation to HRIC’s LI PENG LAWSUIT FUND, specifying that it is for this purpose:

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