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Break-in at Home of Jailed Lawyer Zheng Enchong

May 18, 2006

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that the Shanghai home of imprisoned lawyer Zheng Enchong was broken into by two unidentified men on May 16 while Zheng’s wife, Jiang Meili, was on her way to visit him in prison.

Zheng Enchong represented more than 500 cases of residents evicted in urban development schemes in Shanghai, most notably in a lawsuit against tycoon Zhou Zhengyi. On October 28, 2003, he was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of illegally providing state secrets overseas. Zheng is scheduled to be released on June 5.

A friend surnamed Zhao who was keeping an eye on the family’s apartment reportedly told Jiang Meili that about 10 minutes after her departure, he heard the sound of someone forcing open the lock on the apartment’s metal gate, then the door opened and a man walked in. When the man saw Zhao, he quickly turned and ran out. Zhao followed the man into the hallway and saw him run into the elevator. Just as Zhao returned to the apartment, another man appeared and demanded to see his identification. Zhao refused, saying, “This is a private residence.” A short time later, three people arrived, one of them a woman wearing a police uniform and producing a warrant card identifying her as a local police officer named Zhang Min. Zhang said she had come looking for Wang Shuizhen. Zhao told her that this was the home of a man surnamed Zheng and his wife surnamed Jiang, and that no one named Wang Shuizhen lived there.

According to Jiang Meili, around noon on May 16, when she left Tilanqiao Prison after visiting Zheng Enchong, the police officer Zhang Min, accompanied by two other police officers, intercepted Jiang at the prison entrance and said, “Someone called the emergency hotline number and reported that there was a strange man in your home. When we arrived in your home, we found a man there surnamed Zhao.” After learning all of the circumstances of the morning’s events, Jiang was greatly alarmed and called the emergency hotline number herself. Two police officers subsequently arrived at her apartment and said they would have the matter investigated, but Jiang has heard nothing further.

On December 8, 2005, the German Judges Association presented Zheng Enchong with its “Human Rights Award” at a reception attended by the German president. Jiang Meili was invited to receive the award on Zheng’s behalf, but the Shanghai authorities refused to allow her to leave China on the grounds that she was allegedly involved in a “property dispute.” Subsequently, Jiang was refused her usually monthly visit to Zheng in prison, and her every movement has been monitored. On March 23, Jiang bought a train ticket to Suzhou to visit her parents’ graves, but police would not allow her to board the train. Finally after many written requests, Jiang’s prison visits were restored on April 21. Her visit on May 16 was the last before Zheng Enchong is due for release.

Even as Zheng Enchong has nearly completed a three-year prison sentence, his family continues to be harassed. HRIC calls on the Shanghai public security authorities to fully investigate this matter and end the surveillance and harassment of Jiang Meili.