Chinese authorities intensified detention of Falungong practitioners as members marked the anniversaries of their demonstration in Beijing and the official outlawing of the group. In April, a year after Falungong came to prominence with a 10,000-strong sit-in outside government headquarters in Beijing, dozens of Falungong followers sat silently in Tiananmen Square and unfurled banners proclaiming the benefits of their spiritual practices. Hundreds were detained. Officers often resorted to violence - pushing, pulling, kicking and hitting practitioners as they were herded away into minivans - shocking foreign and domestic tourists.
Falungong groups have remainded undaunted in staging demonstrations to protest the ban on their movement. Around 1,200 Falungong protesters from nine provinces were reported to have been detained between June 18 and June 25 alone. On July 22, on the first anniversary of Chinas ban on the spiritual movement, hundreds of protesters arrived in small groups and launched brief demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Hundreds were consequently detained.
Zhang Xueling, the daughter of a member of the anned sect, was taken from her home on April 17, 2000, and detained for 15 days for distorting facts to undermine social peace. Zhang had met with foreign journalists to publicize the circumstances of the death of her mother, Chen Zixiu. Chen, 60, died in a Weifang, Shandong Province center for the detention and conversion of Falungong members on February 21. Her family found her dead, covered in bruises and blood, but authorities denied that her death was caused by torture.
In Chongqing, Sichuan Province, practitioners Wang Shiqun and Liu Xingmei were detained on July 20 for distributing pamphlets about Falungong in the residential area attached to the Qianjin chemical plant, according to the China Police Daily. Zhang Yongqiang, the manager of a local printing shop, and his father Zhang Dingguo, who had allowed Wang to print his pamphlets, were also detained.
One year into Chinas ban on the Falungong, 26 practitioners have reportedly died as a result of mistreatment in custody.
On April 21, Li Huixi, 40, was reportedly beaten to death at a detention center in Houzhen Village, Shandong Province. His body was cremated before family members could pay their last respects. Police refused to comment on the case, but the family was given 45,000 yuan in compensation and told to keep silent. Li had been detained earlier that month for protesting the Falungong crackdown.
Zhou Zhichang, 45, died in the Shuangcheng No.1 Prison in Heilongjiang Province after refusing food and water for eight days. Zhou, a former head of the local citizens militia and military reserves, had been imprisoned since September, when he was caught in Beijing for taking part in a Falungong protest. Prison officials waited nine days to inform family members of Zhous death, purportedly from a sudden heart attack. But relatives said that Zhou did not have a heart condition.
Su Gang, a computer engineer, died on June 10 after receiving twice daily injections for seven days at the Changle Mental Hospital in Changle City, Shandong Province, according to his father Su Dean. Su Gang, who was a dedicated Falungong supporter, took part in several protests. Su was incarcerated in the mental institution on May 23 by local police and his employer the Qilu Petrochemical Company, though his family says he had no psychiatric or physical problems. Released on May 31, Su died of heart failure less than two weeks later. Following his sons death, the elder Su said he filed a letter of complaint to petrochemical company, calling for an explanation and demanding that such incidents never happen again.
Chinese authorities have jammed the broadcasts of World Falun Dafa Radio since its debut on July 1. The radio station, which broadcasts from 10 to 11 pm nightly, is aimed at informing the Chinese public about the persecution of Falungong members. The station broadcasts from an undisclosed location outside China, while the reporting, editing and production is done by 20 Falungong practitioners, most of whom reside in the United States. (ICHRDC, AFP, WP, AP, Reuters)
On May 30, 2000, Qi Yanchen was tried by the Cangzhou County Peoples Court in Hebei Province for subversion. The four-and-a-half hour hearing ended with no verdict. Qis wife, Mi Hongwu, was not informed about the trial, and has not seen Qi since he was taken into custody in September 1999. She later learned of the proceedings from Qis lawyer.
Qi was formally arrested in December 1999 after he put a portion of his unpublished book, Chinas Collapse, on an overseas-based online discussion forum. This work looked at causes of social instability and warned government leaders to enact political reform or risk turmoil.
Qi also wrote a series of articles on the government crackdown on the CDP and Falungong, which were published by the Hong Kong monthly Kaifang and VIP Reference, the US-based e-zine on Chinese news and politics. Qi, an official at the local Agricultural Development Bank, is a CDP member and was a co-founder of the now disbanded China Development Union. (AP)
Huang Qi, 36, the founder and operator of www.6-4tianwang.com, was detained in Chengdu, Sichuan Province on June 3, 2000. The site, which began in 1999 as an electronic bulletin board for missing persons and evolved into a forum for reporting human rights abuses, covered issues like the June Fourth 1989 massacre, the crackdown on Falungong and official corruption.
On the eve of the June Fourth anniversary, police went to Huang Qis home to detain him and his wife, but Huang demanded to see a written warrant, sending them away for several hours. Before their return, Huang posted a final message on his site, announcing his imminent arrest and thanking all supporters of democracy in China. On June 6, his wife Zeng Li was released and told that Huang Qi was being charged with subversion. Formal confirmation of this charge was delivered to Huangs family on July 14. No trial date has yet been set. Zeng has reported extreme difficulty in finding a lawyer for her husband due to the political sensitivity of his case.
Huangs Web site, which uses a US-based server, is still being maintained by Chinese students in the States, according to Zeng. (ICHRDC, AFP, AP)
Hua Di, a missile expert affiliated with Stanford University, was denied medical parole in late April 2000. Hua, 64, who is suffering from a rare form of male breast cancer, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on November 25, 1999, for revealing state secrets. Hua, who sought political asylum in the United States following the 1989 crackdown, was arrested in January 1999 when he was in China to attend a family funeral. His trial was repeatedly postponed due to lack of evidence.
Hua is currently awaiting a new trial. In a rare reversal, the Beijing Municipal Higher Peoples Court reportedly accepted his appeal on March 16, 2000, and overturned his original 15-year conviction citing problems with evidence, according to Huas sister Wu Sanbao. The case will reportedly be tried again in Beijings Intermediate Court, but no date was specified. (ICHRDC, AFP, SCMP)
After Chen found out about the Beijing massacre, he went to his old university and a local factory to organize people to protest the state-sponsored violence. Chen has been reunited with his wife and 10-year-old son in Liaoning. He has declined media interviews with the press. (ICHRDC, AFP, Reuters)
A worker at the Shaoguan electrical engineering plant, Zhang participated in Changsha protests held in solidarity with the student-led demonstrations in Beijing. Zhang made speeches urging the establishment of autonomous unions and later led protests against the bloody crackdown in Chinas capital. Zhang was convicted of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement. In the early 1980s, Zhang had served four years in prison for his role in the Democracy Wall Movement. (ICHRDC, AP)
Kadeer, who gained prominence for helping poor Uighur women start small businesses, was a member of Xinjiangs Peoples Political Consultative Conference. She was detained in Urumqi last August on her way to a private dinner with a delegation from the US Congressional Research Service. Chinese authorities claimed that Kadeer mailed newspapers containing speeches and articles about the separatist movement to her husband Sidik Rouzi, a US-based Uighur nationalist who works for Radio Free Asia. On July 6, the Supreme Peoples Court in Beijing reportedly announced that it would consider Kadeers appeal of her March 9 sentence. (ICHRDC, AP, AFP)
On April 1, 2000, Lois Wheeler Snow, the 79-year-old widow of noted sinologist Edgar Snow, was barred from visiting Ding Zilin in her Beijing home on the campus of Peoples University. Snow wanted to show her support for Ding, who lost her 17-year old son in the bloodshed, and to deliver humanitarian assistance funds for massacre victims and their families. Prevented from meeting Ding in person, Snow gave her donation and a statement of support to Su Bingxian - another mother who lost a son in 1989 - who met her at the campus gate. On the afternoon of April 3, 2000, Su Bingxian was detained when she tried to visit Ding Zilin. Upon Sus approach to Dings home, a group of plainclothes police from Beijings state security bureau forced Su, 65, into a car. She was detained for 24 hours during which time she was strip-searched and interrogated. (HRIC)
Former Chinese official Bao Tong, issued a letter of complaint to Chinas Ministry of Public Security on May 31, denouncing the escalation of harassment he and his wife have been suffering at the hands of a group of police officers that shadows them 24 hours a day. The letter, which was also sent to President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, describes a May 6 incident in which Bao Tong, 68, and his wife were surrounded by ten men when they got out of a taxi in downtown Beijing. Ordered to return home, Bao Tong was forced into a car and his wife Jiang Zongcao, who is also close to 70, was knocked to the ground. Bao, former top aide to ousted Chinese Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, was director of a political reform institute under the Communist Party Central Committee when he was arrested in May 1989 for opposing the violent government crackdown on peaceful protesters. From 1989 to 1997, he spent seven years in prison and one subsequent year under house arrest. Since the restoration of his political rights in 1998, Bao has been a vocal critic of Chinese government policies. (HRIC)
Eleven years after the massacre a global petition campaign has been launched in support of Ding Zilin and the Tiananmen Mothers campaign for accountability. It demands: the right to mourn peacefully in public; the right to accept humanitarian aid; an end to the persecution of June Fourth victims; the release of all people still suffering in prison for their role in the 1989 protests; and a full, public accounting for the June Fourth massacre. The petition is available on-line in English and in Chinese at www.FillTheSquare.org. The Tiananmen Mothers are also allying with regional and international groups fighting against impunity. (HRIC)
Activist Liu Xiaobo wrote a letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, asking the government to free political prisoners, compensate the families of those killed in the massacre and embark on political reforms.
Veteran democracy advocate Ren Wanding also issued an open letter, urging Beijing to reassess its crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement and to allow CDP members to commemorate those killed in the bloodshed. The day [that] June Fourth is rehabilitated will necessarily be the day of democracy, Ren wrote.
At Beijing University, an AFP reporter saw two young men taken into custody on the night of June 3, as they lit candles to commemorate the 1989 massacre. Police grabbed the candles and took the students to the campus security office for questioning. A crowd of about 30 people watched anxiously; they had gathered at the campus triangle in response to a message posted on a bulletin board calling students to meet there at 8 pm to mark the anniversary. The two men were released several hours later.
On June 4, Jiang Xulin, a philosophy graduate student at Beijing University, was detained for publicizing an essay urging the CCP to reevaluate the 1989 protests. The essay, posted on a campus bulletin board, read, It is impossible to carry on political reforms if the government does not put down this baggage. Jiang was questioned at the school security office and released shortly afterwards. A school spokesman said he would not be expelled. (ICHRDC, AFP, Reuters)
On May 22 and 23, Beijing University students held a defiant candlelight vigil for Qiu Qingfeng, the 19-year-old freshman who was murdered while walking home after missing the days only school bus. The death sparked a huge outpouring of emotion which was transformed into student action through Internet chatrooms set up by Beijing University and nearby Qinghua University. Qius on-line memorial was jammed with more than 3,000 messages where notes of sympathy were joined with angry outbursts at campus authorities for their lack of action in addressing safety concerns. More than 2,000 students gathered for the vigil to demand that university officials apologize for the death and allow a proper commemoration for Qiu. Though authorities were reluctant to permit a large-scale gathering so close to the June Fourth anniversary and closed down the two chatrooms, they eventually gave in to demands for a commemoration. More than 2,000 assembled again for a campus-wide memorial ceremony.
The incident served as a catalyst for students to voice a host of complaints about their living conditions, from campus safety and cafeteria food to administrators failure to address their concerns in the past. In early June, in an apparent attempt to dissipate campus discontent, Beijing University announced new policies to give students better living conditions, including increased transport services, extended shower times, free dormitory curtains and increased access to school administrators. (AFP)
On July 3, Guangzhou police arrested 37 gay men at the Heroes Gym, in the latest detention sweep against gay facilities, according to a local police official. The official said that the owner and manager of the gym would face criminal charges, but that the other men would likely be released. The gym, which opened in February, was a popular meeting place for gay men. In the past, homosexuals have faced detention and imprisonment. But gay bars and other establishments have become more prevalent with the general relaxation of social rules in recent years. This incident came amidst a three-month nationwide crackdown on prostitution, drugs and vice that began on July 1. (ICHRDC, AP)
AFP - Agence France Presse
AI - Amnesty International
AP - Associated Press
CCP - Chinese Communist Party
CPJ - Committee to Protect Journalists
CDP - China Democracy Party
HRIC - Human Rights in China
HRW - Human Rights Watch
ICHRDMC - Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China
NPC - National Peoples Congress
NYT - New York Times
RTL - Reeducation Through Labor
SCMP - South China Morning Post
WP - Washington Post
Compiled by Seth Eckstein,Teo Neparidze and Judy M. Chen.