Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that lawyer Zheng Enchong, released earlier this month after serving a three-year prison term for “revealing state secrets,” has been put under de facto house arrest and subjected to other restrictions on his personal freedom.
Sources in China told HRIC that during the recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Shanghai authorities insisted that Zheng remain within the boundaries of his neighborhood. After the meeting ended, Zheng’s freedom was not restored, but rather restricted further, and he has been obliged to remain at home. On June 27, Zheng insisted that the police officers on watch outside his home allow him to go to the local Public Security dispatch station to apply for a new identification card. Under the terms of his release from prison on June 5, Zheng was required to obtain a new identification card and residency permit by June 15. He was finally allowed to go on the morning of June 27, but only with a police vehicle trailing him the whole way, and upon arriving at the dispatch station, he was told that the residency officer was not available to process his application.
Sources say Zheng and his wife attempted to go to the Shanghai Municipal Government offices on the morning of June 28 to submit a complaint about interference in Zheng’s application, but they were stopped by four plain clothes police officers, who said that Zheng had no freedom of movement because he was still deprived of his political rights under the terms of his sentence. Zheng staged a one-hour sit-in on the spot in protest.
Sources say the lack of an identification card has made it impossible for Zheng to obtain employment. In addition, he is unable to access court documents relating to his case, and has been unable to travel to Beijing to consult his attorney, Zhang Sizhi. At present his wife, Jiang Meili, provides sole financial support for their family, and money has been so tight that they have resorted to eating their meals with Jiang’s sister and brother. Now that Zheng is prevented from leaving home, even that option has become unavailable.
Sources say that since Zheng’s release, the local Zhabei District Guoqing Lu PSB dispatch station has called him in twice for questioning because he accepted interviews from news media outside of Shanghai. His home’s telephone line has been repeatedly cut off, and his neighborhood is constantly surrounded by dozens of uniformed and plain-clothes police officers who bar entry to outsiders. Sources say that an American legal expert attempted to visit Zheng recently, but police prevented him from entering the building, and he was obliged to rely on police officers to pass on some items he had brought for Zheng. When the lawyer called Zheng later that evening, Zheng had still not received the items.
HRIC calls on the Shanghai authorities to immediately desist in their harassment of Zheng Enchong. Zheng’s additional sentence of one year of deprivation of political rights does not extend to being denied freedom of movement and the ability to make a living. Zheng should be allowed to obtain his new identification card immediately, and should not be subjected to any further interference in his daily life.