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News Update

July 12, 2000

ASSAULT ON FALUNGONG

 

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 China’s 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 China’s 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 Zhou’s 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 son’s 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)

 

 

 

 

CDP CRACKDOWN CONTINUES

 

 

 

 

  • Xiao Shichang, 45, and Chen Zhonghe, 52, members of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), were sentenced to five and a half and seven years in prison, respectively, by the Wuhan Intermediate People’s court on July 7, 2000. Steelworkers in Wuhan, Xiao and Chen were arrested last August on charges of subversion tied to their attempts to set up a CDP branch and coordinating office in the Yangzi port city. Both men are
    planning appeals.
     
  • CDP Member Li Guotao, 48, was sentenced to three years’ RTL for signing an open letter to the mayor of Shanghai, demanding the release of local dissident Dai Xuewu, who petitioners claim 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 older brother Dai Xuezhong, a CDP member who was sentenced to three years in prison in January on assault charges. After joining 22 other dissidents in signing the open letter, Li was detained in mid June and sentenced on June 28. However, his family was not informed until July 3. (HRIC, ICHRDC, AP, AFP)

 

 

 

SENTENCED

 

 

 

  • On April 19, 2000, An Jun, 42, was sentenced to four years in prison for
    subversion by the Xinyang Intermediate People’s Court in Henan Province. He immediately filed an appeal. An, the organizer of the China Corrupt Activities Watch, was tried on November 24, 1999, in a four-hour proceeding that ended with no verdict. An Jun’s independent organization, founded in 1998, claimed a membership of 300 people in 12 provinces. (AP)
     
  • Jiang Shurang, a Catholic priest in eastern Zhejiang Province, was sentenced to six years in prison on April 25, 2000 for “illegally publishing the Bible” and other religious books, and for “illegally carrying out business.” Jiang, who gave away most of the books that he published and did not make a profit from their sale, was detained by police in Zhejiang’s Cangnan County in December 1999. (ICHRDC, AFP)
     
  • On April 17, 2000, Yao Zhenxiang, 39, was sentenced to two years’ RTL for allegedly visiting a prostitute—a charge that Yao’s wife Zhu Yaping insists is fabricated. Yao was reportedly planning to attend a meeting of dissidents in Shaanxi, and was detained in Anhui. Yao, a long-time supporter of China’s democracy movement, served a three-year term in a labor camp from 1996 to 1999 following his participation in the Shanghai Human Rights Association and Shanghai’s informal democracy salons during the early 1990s. (ICHRDC, AFP)

 

 

 

 

TRIALS

 

On May 30, 2000, Qi Yanchen was tried by the Cangzhou County People’s Court in Hebei Province for subversion. The four-and-a-half hour hearing ended with no verdict. Qi’s 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 Qi’s lawyer.

Qi was formally arrested in December 1999 after he put a portion of his unpublished book, China’s 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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAITING TRIAL

 

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 Qi’s 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 Huang’s 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.

Huang’s Web site, which uses a US-based server, is still being maintained by Chinese students in the States, according to Zeng. (ICHRDC, AFP, AP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAROLE REFUSED, APPEAL SUSTAINED

 

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 People’s Court reportedly accepted his appeal on March 16, 2000, and overturned his original 15-year conviction citing problems with evidence, according to Hua’s sister Wu Sanbao. The case will reportedly be tried again in Beijing’s Intermediate Court, but no date was specified. (ICHRDC, AFP, SCMP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RELEASED

 

 

 

 

  • On April 29, 2000, Chen Lantao, 36, was released on parole after serving 11 years of his 18-year sentence. In 1989, the Qingdao Higher People’s Court convicted Chen of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement for holding illegal gatherings, blocking traffic and stopping production during the period of June 5-8, 1989.

    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)
     

  • Labor activist Li Wangyang was released from the Hunan Province No.1 Prison on medical parole on June 8, 2000, two years before the end of his 13-year prison sentence. Li, who organized strikes and demonstrations in Shaoyang City, Hunan, during the 1989 Democracy Movement, developed serious medical problems while in prison. According to his brother-in-law Zhao Baozhu, Li, who is now in his 50s, is virtually deaf in his left ear, has trouble hearing with his right ear, has failing eyesight and difficulty walking. Li was paroled on medical grounds in June 1996, but was sent back to prison again nine months later. (ICHRDC, AP)
     
  • Lei Fengyun, 42, was released from Dazhu Prison in Sichuan Province on June 16, after serving 11 years of a 12-year sentence. In 1989, Lei took part in democracy protests in Sichuan and was shocked by the violence that ended demonstrations in Beijing. Lei was convicted of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement after he publicly threatened to destroy the ancestral tombs of the late Deng Xiaoping, who orchestrated the crackdown. Lei has returned to his home town of Guang’an, which is also the birthplace of Deng. In 1995, prison authorities told Lei that he would be released a year before the end of his term, but they gave no reason why. (ICHRDC, AFP)
     
  • Veteran activist Zhang Jingsheng, 47, was released from the Hunan Province No.1 Prison on June 13, 2000, two years before the completion of his 13-year prison term for independent labor organizing during the 1989 Democracy Movement.

    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 China’s 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)

 

 

 

 

PRISON CONDITIONS

 

 

 

 

  • Labor activist Zhang Shanguang is often put in handcuffs and leg shackles and forced to do hard labor for up to 16 hours a day. He suffers from lingering tuberculosis, which makes him spit up blood, and has regular dizzy spells. He has lost a lot of weight and is often physically too weak to work. Despite this, prison authorities have refused him medical treatment and continue to give him the prison’s heaviest labor assignments. When he refuses, he is beaten. Currently held at Hunan Provincial Prison No.1, Zhang was sentenced to ten years in prison on December 27, 1998, for “illegally providing intelligence to hostile organizations overseas” and “inciting the overthrow of state power,” charges stemming from his labor activism and contacts with foreign journalists and human rights organizations. (HRIC)
     
  • Rebiya Kadeer, 54, the prominent Uighur businesswoman who was sentenced to eight years in prison for “illegally passing intelligence outside of China,” is being denied proper medical attention, exacerbating a heart condition that has gone untreated since her arrest. Kadeer also suffers from chronic gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach. Prison authorities, who have ignored family requests to take Kadeer to the hospital, have demanded the family pay hundreds of dollars for medical care.

    Kadeer, who gained prominence for helping poor Uighur women start small businesses, was a member of Xinjiang’s People’s 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 People’s Court in Beijing reportedly announced that it would consider Kadeer’s appeal of her March 9 sentence. (ICHRDC, AP, AFP)
     

  • Wang Youcai, 34, CDP co-founder, has developed a persistent cough while in Zhejiang No.1 Prison. Wang’s wife Hu Jiangxia learned of his ailment during her visit to the prison on July 15. She fears that Wang may have contracted tuberculosis; her suspicion is heightened by the fact that one of Wang’s former cellmates was diagnosed with the disease. Wang was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to subvert the government. (ICHRDC, AFP)

 

 

 

MEETING BLOCKED

 

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 People’s 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 Su’s approach to Ding’s home, a group of plainclothes police from Beijing’s 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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARASSMENT

 

Former Chinese official Bao Tong, issued a letter of complaint to China’s 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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE FOURTH

 

 

 

 

  • On May 24, a letter signed by 108 family members of victims of the June Fourth 1989 massacre was sent to China’s top prosecutorial body demanding a response to the petition they submitted at the same time last year. The letter was sent by registered mail to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, with copies to President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, NPC Vice-Chairman Tian Jiyun and CPPCC Chairman Liu Ruihuan, as well as to Xinhua News Agency. The letter refers to the families’ unprecedented petition submitted last year to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate demanding a criminal investigation into the 1989 massacre and the prosecution of those responsible. Under Chinese law, the Procuratorate is required either to initiate a criminal investigation or to explain to the complainants who have submitted such a request why it has decided not to do so. But one year has elapsed, and the families have received no reply.

    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)
     

  • In preparation for the June Fourth anniversary, Beijing police imposed the usual security clampdown and unveiled futuristic anti-riot uniforms, complete with body armor, bulletproof vests, shields and truncheons, according to state media. The uniforms, imported from France, are waterproof and flame-resistant. (Reuters)
     
  • Undeterred by government intimidation, 50 activists from Sichuan, Hubei and Hunan held a 24-hour hunger strike on June 4 to remember those killed and to demand that the government reevaluate the incident. Included in the group was Wang Youcai, the CDP initiator who is currently serving an 11-year sentence for subversion at Zhejiang No.1 Prison.

    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)

 

 

 

 

CAMPUS UNREST

 

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 day’s 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. Qiu’s 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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAYS TARGETED

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABBREVIATIONS

 

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 People’s 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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