Home > May 2008
The information contained in this summary is based on information collected by HRIC in May and is not intended as a complete list. Rather, it should be viewed as a representation of larger trends of dissent and repression in China.
Protests and Petitions
Human Rights Defenders
In the lead-up to the Olympics, HRIC will be monitoring Olympics-related news in the Monthly Briefs, in addition to regular topic areas.
Activists Detained During Torch Relay
While the Olympic torch relay was going through Shenzhen and Guangzhou in early May, several human rights defenders were detained or placed under house arrest. These defenders included Guo Yongfeng (郭永丰), Tang Jingling (唐荆陵), Tao Jun (陶君), Xiao Chun (萧春), Zhao Guoli (赵国莉), and Zou Tao (邹涛).
Man Arrested for Online Threat to Torch
A Jiangsu man identified only as Tang was arrested for "spreading rumors online and disturbing public order" on May 7. The arrest was in response to his online disclosure that he planned to grab the Olympic torch when it arrived in Nanjing, Jiangsu on May 24. A policeman reportedly said Tang would be held for ten days.
Shanghai Petitioners Harassed During Torch Relay
On May 23–24, over 20 Shanghai petitioners were placed under house arrest. The petitioners were detained because they refused to sign agreements promising not to protest at this event. The petitioners include Chen Meifeng (陈美凤), Cai Wenjun (蔡文君), Tan Lanying (谭兰英), and Shen Yongmei (沈咏梅). In addition, petitioner Shen Peilan (沈佩兰) was beaten by four anonymous men during the Olympic torch relay when she attempted to go out for a walk on May 23.
Tibetan Detained over Contact with Hong Kong Media
Nyima Drakpa was reportedly detained on April 19 in Tawu County [in Chinese, Daofu (道孚)], Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture [also “Kardze”; in Chinese, Ganzi (甘孜)], Sichuan Province, for sending photos of protests and related information to reporters in Hong Kong. His relatives were allegedly not allowed to contact him. Before this incident, he had reportedly been jailed for 15 days for copying statements by the Dalai Lama.
Anti-French Boycott Messages Censored
The boycotts against French retail chain Carrefour, planned for May 1, faltered for a variety of reasons, including censorship by authorities. In early May, text messages calling for the boycott were blocked and searches for “Carrefour” in Chinese-language search engines produced no results.
Website on HIV/AIDS Shut Down
On May 6, HIV/AIDS activist and rights defender Chang Kun (常坤) was informed that the China AIDS Museum website, which he created and maintained, was shut down because the website carried information on guns and ammunition. The Radio Free Asia report on this story neither confirmed nor denied the weapons claim. Chang’s blog was also shut down in February 2008.
Magazine Deputy Removed For Tibet Comment
Reuters reported on May 6 that Zhang Ping (张平), who writes under the penname Chang Ping (长平), was fired from his position as deputy chief editor of the Southern Metropolis Weekly magazine. Reporters Without Borders said Zhang’s dismissal was due to his commentaries, which called on the government to allow more media freedom in covering the Tibet unrest and to review its Tibet policy. The commentaries reportedly angered many Chinese Internet users, who accused Zhang of being a traitor.
Authorities Monitor Quake News
The official death toll of the May 12 Sichuan earthquake was 68,977 as of May 31. While some in the Western media interpreted the current situation to be a loosening of censorship controls by the government, propaganda officials reportedly stressed the importance of “correct guidance of public opinion” in journalists’ reporting on the disaster one day following the earthquake. Netizens have also complained that live broadcasts of earthquake news by a Chengdu, Sichuan television station were suddenly halted.
Shandong Journalist Sentenced
On May 13, a Shandong court sentenced journalist Qi Chonghuai (齐崇淮) to four years’ imprisonment on extortion and blackmail charges. Qi denied the charges and plans to appeal. Qi was reportedly arrested in June 2007, after writing a story on a local official who beat a woman for arriving late to work. A freelance journalist who worked with Qi on his reports, He Yanjie (贺彦杰), was also sentenced to two years’ imprisonment that day on the same charges.
Tiananmen Mothers’ Website Blocked
The Tiananmen Mothers’ website (http://tiananmenmother.org) was blocked in mainland China within hours after its launch on May 28. This website contains maps marking the location of victims' deaths and the hospitals where the bodies of the dead were taken.
Protests and Petitions
Tibetan Nuns Convicted over Protest
Seven nuns in Sichuan were reportedly convicted in secret trials in the week of April 28. These nuns were sentenced to four to seven years in prison for a protest on March 24, during which protesters shouted slogans such as "Long Live the Dalai Lama" and "Tibet Belongs to Tibetans." It was also reported on May 4 that Qinghai authorities sentenced three monks to two to three years' imprisonment for protesting.
Lawyers Demand End to Forced Demolitions
RFA reported on May 7 that more than 20 Shanghai lawyers sent an open letter to Premier Wen Jiabao demanding the abolition of certain provisions in the Eviction Regulations that they believe to contradict the Property Law. Meanwhile, the China National Anti-Demolition Home Alliance was established in New York in early May. Convenor of the Alliance Wen Weiquan (闵伟权) stated in a press release that its members include those based in China, including Shanghai and Beijing, as well as overseas Chinese. They plan to invite observers from the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights to look into the eviction situation in China.
5,000 Hebei Students Riot
Five thousand Hebei students rioted on May 8, after a schoolmate was allegedly beaten by a teacher during a military training class. Facilities were damaged and teachers were beaten during the riot. Many police officers were later dispatched to pacify the situation.
Scattered Protests in Lhasa and Garze Suppressed
Scattered protests reportedly still took place in Tibet two months after the unrest in Lhasa in mid-March. In the week of May 11, authorities detained about 20 Tibetan monks and nuns involved in two separate protests in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. Three monks, Lobsang Tenpa, Palden Tsondru, and Lobsang Choeden, chanted their support for the Dalai Lama, and 14 nuns protested the detention of two nuns. In Lhasa there was an additional protest; a couple, Shelok and Yangdzom, was detained for passing on information about the condition of Tibetan prisoners.
Police Arrest Participants in Chemical Plant Protest
Sichuan police arrested six people who protested the construction of a chemical plant on May 12. Among the arrested protesters was Chengdu freelance writer Chen Daojun (陈道军) and Chen Yunfei (陈云飞). Chen Daojun was taken away on suspicion of “inciting subversion to state power” on May 9; he was the only one suspected of this serious charge. On May 5, Chen posted an article on an overseas website opposing the construction. Chen Yunfei was taken away and beaten by personnel of the domestic security protection unit on May 9 and formally placed under administrative detention in May 11–21. He had urged Chengdu residents to continue to voice their opposition to the plant construction after the May 4 protest through cell phone short messages (SMS). Upon his release, Chen Yunfei told RFA about his mistreatment.
Unemployed Teachers Urge Welfare Protection
On May 12, an open letter urging welfare protection was signed by 150,000 unemployed teachers and posted online. Many of the petitioners were formerly private school teachers whose unemployment, retirement, and health care benefits were allegedly not well protected.
Shanghai Authorities Crack Down on Anti-Corruption Protesters
On May 27, over 1,000 police officers and urban management officers were allegedly dispatched to quash anti-corruption protesters in Xingxing Village, Shanghai. The protesters demanded that the local village committee account for the financial status of a collectively-owned factory and a piece of acquired land, both of which villagers believe to have been secretly sold. The authorities beat and detained protesters, including some elderly.
XUAR Religious Protesters Charged
On May 28, XUAR authorities reportedly charged 14 Uyghurs with “inciting splittism” over their participation in a religious protest. These Uyghurs, including three middle school children from Karakax County (Qaraqash), Hotan Prefecture (Khotan), were arrested in late March after they participated in a protest on a local ban on worship.
Human Rights Defenders
Harassment and Other Unfavorable Treatment
On May 14, a Beijing court upheld the August 2007 decision by the Beijing General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection to prohibit Yuan Weijing (袁伟静) from leaving China to receive a human rights award in the Philippines. Yuan planned to attend on behalf of her husband, prominent jailed rights defender Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚). Yuan was prevented from attending Chen’s May 5 hearing because she was under house arrest in her Shandong home. Furthermore, she was not allowed to visit Chen for eight months.
Freelance writer and Independent Chinese PEN Center member Zhou Yuanzhi (周远志) was released on May 15 and allowed to return home. Zhou was taken away by police on May 3 under suspicion of "inciting subversion to state power" and was detained inside a guest house. He was placed under police surveillance after release and ordered to not accept interviews or publish articles.
On May 27, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said it would look into reports of Chinese human rights defenders placed under increased surveillance ahead of the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, held in Beijing on the week of May 25. Activists targeted for harassment during the rights dialogue include Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), Li Hai (李海), Gao Hongming (高洪明), Jia Jianying (贾建英), Wan Yanhai (万延海), Zhang Xingshui (张星水), and Xu Yonghai (徐永海).
On May 28, Nanjing democracy activist Guo Quan (郭泉) was released after ten days in detention. Authorities said Guo’s online essays on the Sichuan earthquake did not meet official requirements and questioned him on his role in the China Netizen Party.
Several rights defense lawyers, including Teng Biao (滕彪), Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), and Zhang Jiankang (张鉴康), reportedly were not able to renew their lawyers’ licenses before the annual deadline on May 31, 2008. Teng and Jiang have offered legal assistance to Tibetans who were arrested during and following the March protests.
On May 27, an Intermediate People's Court in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region held a six-hour closed trial for a Uyghur Christian, Alimujiang Yimiti, on charges of "inciting splittism" and "divulging state secrets abroad." His wife Gulnur told RFA that after the trial a prosecutor notified her that Yimiti's case will be sent back to police for supplementary investigation due to insufficient evidence.
RFA reported on May 6 that Zhao Changqin (赵长芹) was informed that her husband, imprisoned rights defender Guo Qizhen (郭起真), was beaten in jail. Zhao has suffered economic hardship since losing her job as a result of police harassment.
On May 8, HIV/AIDS activist and human rights defender Hu Jia (胡佳) was transferred to Chaobai Prison in Tianjin to serve his sentence. His lawyer, Li Fangping (李方平), reported that he was not notified until May 14 that Hu had been transferred, and did not receive an explanation for the transfer. A friend of Hu says that he is worried about Hu's health, because Hu suffers from liver disease and may be required to work in the prison. Hu's family, including his wife and daughter, are in Beijing.
 “Shenzhen Dispatches 10,000 Police Officers to Protect Olympic Flame” [深圳传聖火逾万警员戒备], Ming Pao [明报], May 9, 2008; Li Rongtian [李荣添], “Democracy Activists Detained as Olympic Torch Relay Takes Place in Guangzhou and Shenzhen” [奥运火炬在广州深圳传递期间民运人士遭拘留], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 7, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/aoyun-05082008160226.html; Gao Shan [高山], “Rights Defenders Taken Away by Authorities Prior to Torch's Arrival in Shenzhen” [当局在奥运火炬抵达深圳前带走数名维权人士], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 8, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/olympics_torch_rights-05072008124420.html.
 “Man Arrested for Chat-room Threat to Grab Torch,” Associated Press, May 12, 2008.
 Fang Yuan [方媛], “Over 20 Shanghai Petitioners Put Under House Arrest During Torch Relay with One Beaten” [二十多名上海访民在圣火传递期间被软禁 一人被打], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 26, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/fangmin-05262008081645.html.
 Tsewang Norbu and Dolkar, “Tibetan Detained for Media Contact,” Radio Free Asia (via Phayul.com), May 28, 2008, available at http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?article= Tibetan+Detained+for+Media+Contact&id=21408.
 Andrew Jacobs, “Anti-French Boycott Falters in China,” New York Times, May 2, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/02/world/asia/02china.html?ref=world; Lin Ping [林坪], “China Strengthens Internet Censorship to Rein in Protests Against Carrefour” [中国加强网络封锁并给“抵制家乐福”等抗议活动降温], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 3, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/jia-05032008003020.html.
 Gao Shan [高山], “China AIDS Museum Website (aidsmuseum.cn) Shut Down by Authorities” [中国艾滋病博物馆网站遭到关闭], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 7, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/aids-05072008171957.html.
 Benjamin Kang Lim, “Chinese Editor Fired over Tibet Commentaries,” Reuters, May 7, 2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSPEK15387820080506.
 Lindsay Beck, “China Quake-Lake Fears Ease as Angry Parents Grieve,” Reuters, May 31, 2008, available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080601/wl_nm/quake_dc_78.
 Jamil Anderlini, Geoff Dyer, and Mure Dickie, “Beijing Reins in Coverage of Quake,” Financial Times, May 14, 2008, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e0b77a34-21e0-11dd-a50a-000077b07658.html; Lindsay Beck, “China Quake-Lake Fears Ease as Angry Parents Grieve,” Reuters, May 31, 2008, available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080601/wl_nm/quake_dc_78.
 “Reporter Who Wrote About Violent Official Jailed 4 Years,” Associated Press, May 16, 2008.
 Human Rights in China, “HRIC Press Release: ‘Tiananmen Mothers’ Publish Maps Including Locations of June Fourth Victims' Deaths,” May 27, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/54976; Human Rights in China, “HRIC Press Statement: ‘Tiananmen Mothers’ Website Blocked in China,” May 28, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/55084.
 Qiao Long [乔龙], “Seven Nuns Sentenced Following Secret Trials in Sichuan” [甘孜炉霍七名尼姑被秘密判刑], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 4, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/7-05042008163151.html.
 Feng Riyao [冯日遥], “Shanghai Lawyers Issue Letter to Premier Wen Jiabao Demanding that Forced Demolitions Cease” [上海律师上书温家宝要求停止强制拆迁], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 7, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/demolishing_shanghai-05072008121207.html.
 “Five Thousand Students Riot in Hebei” [河北5000学生骚乱], Ming Pao [明报], May 13, 2008.
 Sarah Jackson-Han, “Tibet Sees Scattered Protests, Arrests,” Radio Free Asia (via UNHCR), May 15, 2008, http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?page=&docid=4833cb991e.
 Li Rongtian [李荣添], “Sichuan Police Arrest Six Participants in Protest Against Chemical Plant” [四川六名曾参与反石化厂项目游行的人被拘捕], Radio Free Asia [自由亚州电台], May 12, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/rights_protest- 05122008132118.html?encoding=simplified05122008132118.html; Gao Shan [高山], “Freelance Writer Chen Daojun Detained by Chengdu Police on Suspicion of ‘Inciting Subversion of State Power’” [成都自由撰稿人陈道军被警方拘留], Radio Free Asia [自由亚州电台], May 14, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/chendaojun-05142008165446.html.
 Xin Yu [心语], “Organizer of Chengdu ‘Silent March’ Protesting Chemical Plant Taken Away” [五四「集体散步」骨干成员因发短信号召再次散步遭拘留], Radio Free Asia [自由亚州电台], May 22, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/sanbu-05222008092417.html.
 Xin Yu [心语], “150,000 Unemployed Teachers Sign Open Letter Urging Authorities to Help Resolve Questions of Livelihood” [15万下岗教师联署发表公开信], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 12, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/jiaoshi-05122008105508.html.
 Fang Yuan [方媛], “Over 500 Police Officers Dispatched to Quash Anti-Corruption Protesters in Shanghai Village” [上海发生大规模镇压村民事件], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 27, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/cunmin-05272008083909.html.
 Minnie Chan, “Uyghurs Charged over Protest on Religion,” South China Morning Post, May 28, 2008.
 Human Rights in China, “HRIC Press Release: Wife of Jailed Activist Targeted and Harassed,” May 14, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/52841.
 Shen Hua [申铧], “湖北自由作家周远志获释回家” [Freelance Writer Zhou Yuanzhi Released], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 17, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/zhou-05172008003736.html.
 Human Rights in China, “HRIC Press Release: HRIC Deplores Intimidation of Rights Activists Ahead of U.S.-China Talks on Human Rights,” May 27, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/54948; “US 'Takes Seriously' Reports of China Rights Clampdown,” Agence France-Presse, May 27, 2008, available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080527/pl_afp/ uschinadiplomacyrightsinternet_080527230944;_ylt=Ao976.ROitDnR4XCJQypksZPzWQA.
 Li Jingwen [李静文], “Guo Quan Released after 10 Days of Detention” [郭泉被拘留10天后获释], Radio Free Asia [李静文], May 30, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/dissident_guoquan -05302008105241.html?encoding=simplified.
 Min Lee, “Chinese Lawyers Unable to Renew Licenses,” Associated Press, May 30, 2008, available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080530/ap_on_re_as/china_rights_lawyers; He Ping [何平], “Beijing Municipal Judicial Bureau Refuses to Renew Licenses for Human Rights Lawyers Who Offered to Help Tibetan Protesters” [愿为遭起诉的西藏人辩护 维权律师年检受阻], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 27, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/lawyer-05272008105254.html; “Hu Jia Will Not Challenge Verdict, Lawyer Says,” Agence France-Presse, April 23, 2008.
 Zhang Min [张敏], “Closed Trial for XUAR Christian Alimujiang Yimiti Lasts for Six Hours; Case Sent Back to Police for Supplementary Investigation” [新疆维族基督徒阿里木江案不公开审理六小时后休庭退查], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 27, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/jidu-05272008171324.html.
 An Pei [安培], “Wife of Imprisoned Rights Defender Guo Qizhen Calls for Attention to Guo's Health” [河北狱中维权人士郭起真妻子呼吁关注丈夫身体状况], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 7, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/guo-05062008105433.html.
 Shen Hua [申铧], “Hu Jia Transferred to Tianjin to Serve Sentence” [胡佳被转至天津服刑 友人担忧他的健康], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 14, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/hujia-05142008165235.html.