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Petitioner Detained Before U.S. Consulate Visit

February 24, 2005

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from sources in China that police detained a Shanghai resident, Chen Xiaoming, who was on his way to an appointment at the U.S. Consulate to speak with a consular official about the case of detained petitioner Mao Hengfeng.

According to HRIC’s sources, Chen was walking to the consulate around 1:30 on the afternoon of February 25 in the company of Fu Yuxia, a Shanghai resident who has been petitioning the authorities regarding the destruction of her home in an urban redevelopment project. As Chen and Fu passed in front of the Shanghai Exhibition Center on Nanjing Road, HRIC’s sources say, four or five policemen suddenly sprang from a vehicle and bundled Chen inside. Chen was then taken to the Public Security Bureau dispatch station further up on Nanjing Road, where he was interrogated regarding his destination and his purpose for going there. Police finally released Chen around 6:00 that evening.

Chen Xiaoming has been representing the interests of two petitioners, Mao Hengfeng and Mo Zhujie. Mao Hengfeng is currently in a Reeducation Through Labor Camp after being detained for her relentless petitioning regarding her loss of employment under China’s coercive one-child policy. Mo Zhujie has been petitioning over the loss of her home in an urban redevelopment project, along with her daughter, Hong Kong resident Shen Ting. Because of the efforts of Mo and Shen on the redevelopment matter, and on behalf of jailed lawyer Zheng Enchong, Shen has recently been prohibited from returning to mainland China, and the authorities have refused to issue Mo with a passport to leave China. As a result, the mother and daughter have been unable to see each other. Chen Xiaoming is currently assisting Mo in her administrative complaint against the Shanghai PSB for unlawfully denying her a passport. Chen Xiaoming himself lost his home in a redevelopment clearance operation in 1994, and although a local court eventually ruled that the government had erred in destroying his home, Chen never received any compensation or other form of settlement.

According to HRIC’s sources, local authorities may have wanted to prevent Chen Xiaoming from making his appointment at the U.S. Consulate because they are nervous over the considerable interest American officials have taken in the case of Mao Hengfeng and other petitioners. In particular, the Chinese government has come under increasing pressure domestically and internationally over its coercive one-child policy.

“It is outrageous that the police have interfered with Chen’s lawful intention to meet with an American official,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “If the Chinese government is embarrassed over the disrepute its policies have caused it in the eyes of the world, it should alter those policies instead of harassing the people who expose the problems. Given that Chen had reportedly arranged in advance to see the American official, we urge the U.S. Consulate to protest this official interference in Chen’s freedom of movement and freedom of expression.”