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Shanghai Petitioners Appeal to Central Discipline Inspection Committee over Renewed Crackdown

September 15, 2006

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned of a
renewed crackdown on petitioners in Shanghai
following the arrival of the Central Discipline Inspection Committee for an
inspection visit in mid-August. Sources in China told HRIC that a group of
petitioners went to the hostel in

Shaanxi
South Road
where committee members are staying and
attempted to express to committee members their concerns over forced
relocation, corruption and other issues. Sources say the committee agreed to
meet with petitioners, but instructed them to select five representatives instead
of coming in a large group. However, after the petitioners left the building to
choose their representatives, police prevented them from returning to the
hostel to meet the committee. Since then, local authorities have undertaken a
series of repressive actions, including detentions, summonses and
interrogations, against petitioners who attempted to meet with the committee.

The petitioners have now written an open letter to the committee
appealing for help. (The full text of the open letter is appended to the
Chinese version of this press release.) The open letter states that the new
crackdown follows an earlier one around the time of the meeting of the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization in June. Petitioners targeted in recent months include
the following:

  • Chen Xiaoming, who was secretly detained in mid-February after
    meeting with a U.S. consular official, was formally indicted on July 11 on
    charges of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” and is expected to
    be harshly penalized;

  • Tian Baocheng has been formally arrested, and his wife, Zhang
    Cuiping, has been sentenced to 18 months of Reeducation Through Labor (RTL).

  • Wang Shuizhen, detained while attempting to visit lawyer Zheng
    Enchong, was formally arrested in early July;

  • Du Yangming, an elderly man who recently completed a one-year term
    of RTL, was detained for “causing a disturbance in a public place,” and
    has been held under house arrest without formal warrant;

  • Mao Hengfeng’s case was sent to the procuratorate on August 28
    after Mao was formally charged on June 30 with “intentionally damaging
    property.” She had broken a lamp in a hostel where she was being held in
    “soft detention” in May;

  • Qiu Meili was formally arrested on September 12 after attempting
    to meet members of the Central Discipline Inspection Committee. Other
    petitioners have also been detained or questioned in connection with the
    attempted meeting.

In
addition, the open letter notes that petitioner Xu Zhengqing, who was sentenced to three years in prison after
attempting to commemorate the death of former Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang in Beijing in January 2005,
has experienced severe restrictions on family visits because of his refusal to
acknowledge wrongdoing or to wear a prison uniform. Xu was finally allowed a
visit from his parents and wife on July 14 this year, but police told Xu’s
family that this visit was an exception, and that if Xu continued to refuse to
admit guilt or wear a prison uniform, he would not be allowed more visits.

The
open letter says that the crackdown on individuals during this period has been
accompanied by a general police sweep against petitioners at the Beijing and
Shanghai train stations, and
that a number of individuals have been beaten
while detained, including

Wu
Dangying, Tong Liya, Zhu Jindi, Liu Hualin, Cai Zhengfang, Fang Wenbin, Zhu
Libin, Sun Jian,
Qiu
Meili, Chen
Youhe, Hua
Yugui, Hu Peiqin, Xia Weimin, He Meijun, Sun Xicheng, Ge Xiuzhen
and an
unidentified elderly woman from Baoshan District. Apart from these beatings and
detentions, some petitioners have also been forcibly sent to “Petitioners’
Study Sessions.”

After failing to meet with members of the Central Discipline
Inspection Committee, the petitioners hope their open letter will alert the
central government to the oppression they are suffering and cause central
officials to bring pressure to bear on the local authorities.

HRIC supports the petitioners’ demands for justice
and deplores the pattern of detention, interrogation, beating and imprisonment
of these people for exercising their lawful right to petitioning, which is
enshrined in China’s
Constitution. It is particularly objectionable that local authorities have
prevented petitioners from meeting with the visiting Central Discipline Inspection
Committee, when committee members have reportedly expressed willingness to meet
with petitioner representatives.

The Chinese government has publicly acknowledged
that the vast majority of petitioners are expressing justifiable grievances
against the authorities, but that only 0.2 percent receive any resolution to
the issues they raise. HRIC urges the Central Discipline Inspection Committee
to pay serious attention to the Shanghai
petitioners’ open letter, to arrange a meeting with petitioners and to initiate
inquiries into the abuses perpetrated by local authorities. In addition, HRIC
urges the Chinese government to address the underlying problems and issues
presented by petitioners, and to develop more effective mechanisms to respond
to their concerns and demands.

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