Human Rights in China (HRIC) condemns the October 11 attack on religious and housing rights activist Hua Huiqi (华惠棋), reportedly involving police and private security guards. HRIC calls for an immediate, independent, and transparent investigation into the incident, and urges that those responsible be held accountable. The increased harassment of petitioners and rights defenders in the lead up to the 17th Party Congress violates their legally protected rights to petition and right to freedom of expression, and undermines China’s promises of greater openness in advance of the Olympics next year.
With the eyes of the world upon Beijing ahead of the Games, China needs to demonstrate much greater respect for the rights of its own citizens, and tolerance for critical voices, which are protected by its own laws.
— Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC
According to media reports, Hua Huiqi, his father and his wife were forcibly removed from their residence by the police from Chongwen District and sent to Fengtai District on October 8. Police informed Hua this move was due to the upcoming 17th Party Congress, and they would be required to remain there for a month, sources told HRIC.
Fengtai police brought Hua back to Chongwen on October 11. When they arrived at the Chongwen house, a fight broke out between them and the Chongwen police, as well as private guards from the company New World China Land, which has been demolishing old houses in the neighborhood. Hua was knocked unconscious during the fight. Police and the hospital where Hua was admitted have reportedly declined comment.
Earlier this year, Hua and his mother, Shuang Shuying, attempted to petition the National People’s Congress over the forcible clearance of their home, but were detained and harshly beaten by police from the Public Security Bureau’s Asian Games Village division. Hua was sentenced to six months in prison for “obstructing official business,” and was released on July 25 upon completion of his sentence. Shuang was arrested while protesting Hua’s detention, and on February 26, was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 5,000 yuan (US$625) for “intentional damage of property,” and is being held in Beijing Women’s Prison.
“With the eyes of the world upon Beijing ahead of the Games, China needs to demonstrate much greater respect for the rights of its own citizens, and tolerance for critical voices, which are protected by its own laws,” said HRIC Executive Director Sharon Hom “The ongoing harassment of Hua Huiqi and his family, and the intensifying crackdowns on petitioners are not sending the right messages.”
For additional information on Hua Huiqi and Shuang Shuying, see: