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April 2008

April 30, 2008

The information contained in this summary is based on information collected by HRIC in April 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.

Torch Relay Met with Protests
Following the protests against the 2008 Olympic torch relay in Greece last month, there were more disruptions in other legs of the relay in April, particularly in London and Paris. Better human rights protection in Tibet and the rest of China were among the appeals of the protesters. In response to the protests, Jakarta, New Delhi, San Francisco, and other cities altered and shortened the routes for the relay. There was also a heavy security presence in all the torch locations. Large numbers of Chinese nationals turned out to welcome the Olympic flame in different cities, and there were clashes between these Chinese nationals and pro-Tibetan or pro-human rights protesters.[1]

Aizhixing Institute (爱知行研究所), a service organization that fights discrimination and seeks to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in China, issued a notice on April 16, stating that it will scale back services before the Olympic Games due to the increased harassment of its clients and staff. The institute’s statement, announcing the cut in services, detailed at least ten recent incidents of harassment.[2]

IOC Comments on China’s Human Rights Situation
On April 25, the President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) Jacques Rogge commented that the West must stop “hectoring” China over human rights. He added that “the Games, over time, will have a good influence on social evolution in China.” Earlier in the month, the head of the IOC inspection team for the 2008 Beijing Games, Hein Verbruggen, rejected a report by Amnesty International that claims that the Olympics have led to a worsening human rights situation in China. However, on April 7, Rogge openly called for “a rapid, peaceful resolution of Tibet.” Three days later, he asked the Chinese authorities to honor the promise to “advance the social agenda … including human rights,” and said the Beijing Olympics were in “crisis” following the protests targeting the Olympic torch relay. In response, a Chinese government spokesperson told IOC officials to “continue to adhere to the principles of the Olympic Charter [and] not bring in irrelevant political factors.”[3]

Government Strengthens Security before Beijing Olympics
It was reported on April 6 that Beijing will not issue multiple-entry visas until after the Olympic Games, and that visa applications will take longer to process. Foreigners, Hong Kong residents, and Hong Kong permanent residents are all affected. Travel agents were informed of the ban on March 27, but they have not been told of an end date. Starting in May, Beijing police will reportedly go to all households in the city to check whether residents have valid resident permits.[4]

Beijing Olympic Authorities Plan Protest Zones
On April 7, Li Zhanjun, the media director of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) reportedly announced that Chinese authorities will create special areas for protesters. An anonymous senior IOC security chief reportedly stated that the areas will be for Chinese citizens only.[5]

UN Says China Deports Refugees Before Olympics
Jennifer Pagonis, spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reported on April 8 that China deported 15 refugees in 2008. She said it is "fairly clear" the deportations happened because of the "security sweep ahead of the Olympics." China has signed the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees.[6]

Media Coverage of Olympic Flame Altered
China announced on April 22 that it has altered plans for media coverage of the Olympic flame’s ascent of Mount Everest. The changes mean that foreign reporters would likely spend only 10 days overall in Tibet—about half the time initially planned. Wang Hui, a spokeswoman of BOCOG, said it was “all because of the uncertain weather conditions,” and “has nothing to do with the situation in Tibet.”[7]

Hong Kong Authorities Deny Entry to Torch Protesters
At the end of May, Hong Kong immigration authorities denied entry to seven activists, including sculptor Jens Galschiot and two other Danes from activist group The Color Orange, the Secretary General of the Independent Chinese PEN Center Zhang Yu (张裕), and three pro-Tibet campaigners, Kate Woznow and Tsering Lama of Students for a Free Tibet and Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign. The activists reportedly came to Hong Kong to participate in peaceful protests. Previously, the Secretary for Security had said that people could demonstrate peacefully during the torch relay conducted on May 2.[8]


Activist Sues Google over Censorship
It was reported on April 2 that exiled democracy activist Jiang Pinchao (蒋品超) has sued Google for blocking his online poems in the company’s Chinese search engine. He said that an employee of Google admitted to the censorship in a meeting held in the company’s Washington office on March 31.[9]

China Lifts Ban on English Wikipedia
It was reported on April 7 that Internet users in China are now able to access the English-language version of Wikipedia, though certain sensitive terms are unavailable and the Chinese-language version remains blocked. While most articles could be read in the English-language version, articles on sensitive issues such as Tibet, Tiananmen Square, and Falun Gong could not be accessed. This apparent loosening of Internet controls comes after the IOC stated that to have the Internet restricted during the Beijing Olympics “would reflect very poorly” on the host country.[10]

China Has World’s Largest Internet Population
It was reported on April 24 that China’s online population reached 221 million by the end of February. China has surpassed the U.S. to possess the world’s largest Internet-using population.[11]

Protests and Petitions

Situation in Tibet Remains Tense
Xinhua News Agency reported that an ethnic Tibetan police officer and “an alleged riot leader” were shot dead in a gun battle in Qinghai, a western province which borders the Tibet Autonomous Region, when the police tried to arrest the suspect on April 28. The next day, the Intermediate People's Court in Lhasa sentenced 30 people, including six Buddhist monks, to jail, with sentences ranging from three years to life in prison for their alleged involvement in the March protests in the city. Earlier this month, Chinese authorities announced that 953 people were detained for their involvement in the protests. Meanwhile, Tenzin Takla, a spokesman of the Dalai Lama, said on April 27 that army troops were still surrounding monasteries and arrests were ongoing in Tibet. Amid a campaign to strengthen patriotic education in the region, Chinese authorities allegedly asked Tibetan monks in a Sichuan temple to hold a Chinese national flag and took pictures. On April 24, Tibet received its first domestic tour since the March 14 unrest. On a diplomatic level, Chinese officials continued to blame the Dalai Lama for engineering the protests and for pursing the hidden agenda to seek Tibetan independence. This is despite the Chinese government’s announcement on April 25 that it is willing to meet with an envoy of the Dalai Lama. Given the human rights concerns, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour requested a visit to Tibet, but was turned down by the Chinese government, which reportedly said “it wouldn’t be convenient at this time.” Beijing is set to hire an international public relations agency to repair its image.[12]

Petitioner Leaps from Building amid Beating
It was reported in early April that on March 6, Shanghai petitioner Ma Chunying (马春英) leapt from the second floor of a hostel while being assaulted by five or six people. She was severely injured in the incident. Ma was taken to a detention center on February 29, a few days before the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political and Consultative Conference, until she was transferred to detention in the hostel on March 5.[13]

HIV/AIDS Petitioners Detained in Hebei
On April 15, families of detained petitioners appealed to authorities to release their relatives. The petitioners allegedly contracted HIV through tainted blood transfusions at a hospital in Hebei. The petitioners were detained on April 5 for attempting to petition to Premier Wen Jiabao about their claims. The police have reportedly called the case a matter of "state secrets" and refuse to state why the petitioners were being held. Currently seven or eight of the petitioners remain in detention.[14]

Anti-Western Protests Erupted in China and Overseas
On April 19 and 20, protests broke out in nine Chinese cities, including Beijing and Xi’an. Chinese residents turned out against French supermarket chain Carrefour for supposedly supporting the Dalai Lama and in protest against the remarks made by CNN’s Jack Cafferty, and chanted slogans in support of the Beijing Olympics and China. However, it was reported on April 21 that Anhui University and several other universities barred their students from leaving campus, effectively keeping them from protests. This happened amid official calls for expressing patriotic feeling rationally and maintaining normal and stable social and economic order. Similar protests took place in the U.S., UK, and France.[15]

Yunnan Protesters Shot
Chinese police allegedly shot and killed two Yunnan villagers on April 20 amid a land dispute between villagers and a mining company. Riot police were deployed to the locale after 100 villagers clashed with Zijin Mining workers over the company's offers of compensation and relocations for buying up small mines. An unidentified police official told a Hong Kong newspaper that the shootings were in self-defense and that just one person was killed.[16]

Beijing Police Threaten Inns Housing Petitioners
Beijing police searched over 20 small inns around the South Railway Station on the evening of April 23, looking for petitioners. One petitioner told RFA that she was notified by the proprietor of the inn that the police were coming and managed to escape, while two elderly women were taken away by the police. The proprietors were reportedly told that they would be fined 10,000 yuan for housing any petitioners, and that further investigations would be carried out around Beijing beginning April 24.[17]

Human Rights Defenders

Harassment and Other Unfavorable Treatment
Human rights defender Li Jinping (李金平) was forcibly taken away by authorities on March 31 for setting up a memorial hall to commemorate former CPC General Secretary Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳). Li was reportedly under constant monitoring and harassment ahead of the Ching Ming Festival. According to a telephone call made to a fellow human rights defender Ni Yulan (倪玉兰), Li was reportedly put under house arrest in a small hotel in Beijing.[18]

The Chinese authorities targeted a group of lawyers who in late March publicly offered legal assistance to Tibetan protesters who were arrested in March and April. Some lawyers were reportedly told they should not involve themselves in the "Tibet incident." Lawyers were questioned, put under surveillance, and had their phones tapped. Lawyer Li Subin (李苏滨) said some lawyers were told that there were enough lawyers in the region where the Tibetans were being held and there was no need for outside lawyers to get involved.[19]

On April 1, Guangdong writer Hu Di (胡迪) was summoned by the authorities and released the same day. His detention is reportedly due to his open letter commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of Lin Zhao, who had refused to recognize her guilt in the “Anti-Rightist” campaign. Lin also criticized the “Great Leap Forward,” Mao Zedong, and the socialist system. Lin was arrested in 1960, sentenced to 20 years in 1962, and was secretly executed in 1968. Hu’s friend said that the authorities apparently told him to cease activities related to Lin, and warned him to consider his family's safety.[20]

On April 17, Guangzhou-based dissident Tao Jun (陶君) was reportedly detained and interrogated, but released the next day. The police asked him several times whether he or anyone he knows would take any action when the Olympic torch relay passes through Guangzhou.[21]

It was reported on April 29 that Yuan Weijing (袁伟静), wife of jailed rights defender Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), was again refused permission to see her husband. She has not been allowed to visit Chen for seven months.[22]

Trial Development
On April 9, Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court delivered a verdict in the retrial of jailed democracy activist Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫). While the original two-year sentence was upheld, the court added deprivation of political rights for two years and four months to Zhu’s punishment, to be served after Zhu is released from jail. Zhu was originally sentenced last July following an altercation with police in which both he and his son were beaten.[23]

On April 14, the Higher People’s Court in Zhejiang Province dismissed the appeal of writer Lü Gengsong (吕耿松). Lü was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on February 5 on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” for the essays he posted online.[24]

On April 3, Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced HIV/AIDS activist and human rights defender Hu Jia (胡佳) to three and a half years' imprisonment and one year's deprivation of his political rights. Hu Jia was charged with "inciting subversion of state power" on the basis of political articles that he posted online and interviews that he gave to foreign media. Hu’s lawyer, Li Jinsong (李劲松), reported that a Beijing court told him on April 21 that Hu had decided not to appeal the sentence. On the same day, the Paris City Council bestowed honorary citizenship on Hu.[25]

On April 8, Tianjin rights defender Zheng Mingfang’s (郑明芳) husband Huang Zhaoyuan (黄兆元) was told that Zheng has been sentenced to two years in Reeducation-Through-Labor. The person who told Huang the news over the phone would not reveal his name, but said he had just been released from the Xian County Detention Center in Tianjin. Huang has not received any official notice about Zheng’s sentencing. Police took Zheng away on February 29.[26]

Jailed veteran dissident He Depu (何德普) told his family during a March 27 visit that his health continues to deteriorate. He suffers from high blood pressure, as well as ear problems that have rendered him almost completely deaf. Authorities from the Beijing No. 2 Prison reportedly told He’s family in February that they could bring in a medical specialist to treat He; during the March 27 visit, however, they told the family that was no longer possible.[27]

Meizhou Prison has interfered in the communications of imprisoned human rights defender Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄). His lawyer Mo Shaoping (莫少平) has not received letters from Guo, but during a family visit on April 18, Guo said that he had sent more than five letters authorizing Mo to file a review of his case. Similarly, Guo said he never received a letter from his family sent in February. The April 18 family visit was also cut off as Guo detailed conditions in the prison.[28]

Imprisoned Inner Mongolian rights defender Hada (哈达) was allegedly mistreated after he complained about beatings by fellow inmates under the instigation of prison authorities. The Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Prison No. 4 refused to let him post an appeal letter which mentioned the beating. Also, authorities cut meat from Hada’s meals after the dispute over the appeal letter.[29]



[1] Katherine Baldwin and Raissa Kasolowsky, “Chaotic Scenes at London Olympic Torch Relay,” Reuters, April 7, 2008,; Katrin Bennhold and Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Olympic Torch Goes Out, Briefly, in Paris,” International Herald Tribune, April 8, 2008,; Jim Christie and Amanda Beck, “Olympic Torch Evades Protesters and Supporters Alike,” Reuters, April 9 2008, 80410?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews; Mian Ridge, “Eye on China, India Safeguards Olympic Torch,” Christian Science Monitor, April 18, 2008, available at; “Indonesian Police Break Up Tibet Protest amid Tight Security on Torch Relay,” Agence France-Presse, April 22, 2008, available at unrest_tibet_rights_oly2008_torch_indonesia_3.

[2] Human Rights in China, “HRIC Statement: HRIC Condemns Growing Harassment against HIV/AIDS Petitioners,” April 21, 2008,

[3] “IOC Rejects Amnesty Report on China's Human Rights Record,” Voice of America, April 3, 2008,; “IOC's Rogge Condemns Violence in Tibet,” Agence France-Presse, April 7, 2008, available at chinaunresttibetrightsoly2008rogge_080407034101; Peter Simpson, “IOC Denies Rift with Beijing on Torch Relay,” South China Morning Post, April 11, 2008; Roger Blitz and Richard McGregor, “Olympics Chief Tell West Not to Hector China,” Financial Times, April 26, 2008,, dwp_uuid=9c33700c-4c86-11da-89df-0000779e2340.html.

[4] Samantha Spiro, “Multi-entry Visa Ban Until After Games,” South China Morning Post, April 6, 2008; He Ping [何平], “Beijing Police to Start Checking Residents' IDs in May” [北京奥运警力加大,实行挨门入户检查身份证制度], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 28, 2008,

[5] Peter Simpson, “Games Protest Zones Planned for Mainlanders,” South China Morning Post, April 8, 2008.

[6] Stephanie Nebehay, “China Deports Refugees Ahead of Olympics – UN,” Reuters, April 8, 2008,

[7] “China Alters Coverage of Olympic Flame's Everest Ascent,” Associated Press, April 22, 2008, available at;_ ylt=AleV7OBZ3vHIAjhdLIlO7JxPzWQA7OBZ3vHIAjhdLIlO7JxPzWQA.

[8] Eva Wu, “Torch Protest Trio Denied Entry to HK,” South China Morning Post, April 27, 2008; John Ruwitch, “Update 1 – Hong Kong Blocks Tibet Activists, Open Image Tested,” Reuters, April 29, 2008, pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true; Dikky Sinn and Binaj Gurubacharya, “3 Pro-Tibet Activists Deported Ahead of Olympic Torch,” Associated Press, April 30, 2008, available at

[9] He Shan [何山], “Democracy Activist Jiang Pinchao Accuses Google of Censorship” [民运人士蒋品超控告GOOGLE封锁], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 2, 2008.

[10] Jeffrey Hodgson and Lucy Hornby, “China Allows Access to English Wikipedia,” Reuters, April 7, 2008,

[11] Nick Madfie, “China Becomes World’s Largest Internet Population,” Reuters, April 24, 2008, feedType=RSS&feedName=internetNews&rpc=22&sp=true.

[12] Jim Pickard and Richard McGregor, “Beijing Seeks PR Advisers on Tibet,” Financial Times, April 4, 2008,; Benjamin Kang Lim and Guo Shipeng, “Tibet Governor Says 953 Detained for Riots,” Reuters, April 8, 2008,; Stephanie Nebehay, “China Rejects Bid by UN Rights Boss for April Visit,” Reuters, April 10, 2008,; Qiao Long [乔龙], “Tibetan Monks Forced to Take Photos with National Flag; One Monk Commits Suicide” [当局逼藏民持国旗合影 甘孜再有藏人自杀], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 22, 2008,; “Tibet to Receive First Tour Group Since March 14 Unrest,” Xinhuanet, April 24, 2008,; Pratap Chakravarty, “Dalai Lama Says No Use Talking If China Not ‘Serious,’” Agence France-Presse, April 27, 2008, available at; “China Sentences 17 for Alleged Involvement in Tibet Riots,” Associated Press, April 29, 2008, available at; “China Slams Dalai Lama Despite Talks Offer,” Agence France-Presse, April 28, 2008, available at chinaunresttibetrightsdalaimedia_080428190516; _ylt=AoPjZuC_PvSRsUhDzbwPn3lPzWQA; Ben Blanchard, “Chinese Policeman Killed in Tibetan Unrest – Xinhua,” Reuters, April 29, 2008,; Henry Sanderson, “China Sentences 30 People – Some to Life – over Tibet Riots,” Associated Press, April 30, 2008, available at

[13] Han Qing [含青], “Petitioner Ma Chunying Leapt from Building following Beatings and Persecution, Severely Wounded” [上海访民马春英因不堪殴打折磨跳楼摔成重伤], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 2, 2008.

[14] Human Rights in China, “HRIC Statement: HRIC Condemns Growing Harassment against HIV/AIDS Petitioners,” April 21, 2008,; Ben Blanchard, “Release Our Relatives, China AIDS Victims Say,” Reuters, April 16, 2008,

[15] “Protests against ‘Tibet Independence’ Supporters Erupt in Chinese Cities,” Xinhuanet, April 19, 2008,; “Overseas Chinese Rally in Support of Beijing Olympics, against Western Media's Biased Coverage,” Xinhuanet, April 20, 2008,; “Protests Continue, Restraint Urged,”, April 21, 2008,; “University Students Stay in Campus for ‘Seminars,’ Effectively Barred from Protesting” [大学生留校研讨 禁出外示威], Mingpao, April 21, 2008,; “As Dalai Lama Speaks Inside, Protesters Trade Barbs Outside,” Associated Press, April 21, 2008, available at as-dalai-lama-speaks-inside-protesters-trade/; Lana Groves, “Protestors Clash over China Olympics,” Daily Utah Chronicle, April 21, 2008, paper244/news/2008/04/21/News/Protestors. Clash.Over.China.Olympics-3337543.shtml.

[16] Donny Kwok, “China Police ‘Shoot Two’ in Village Land Protest,” Reuters, April 22, 2008,

[17] Li Rongtian [李荣添], “Beijing Police Threaten Inns Housing Petitioners with Arrests and Fines” [北京公安大举搜查.访民住宿的旅店], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 23, 2008,

[18] Xin Yu [心语], “Human Rights Defender Li Jinping Taken Away Before Ching Ming Festival” [维权人士李金平计划悼念赵紫阳被带走软禁], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 7, 2008.

[19] Human Rights in China, “HRIC Statement: Chinese Authorities Target Lawyers Offering Legal Assistance to Tibetans,” April 9, 2008,

[20] Yan Xiu [严修], “Guangdong Writer Hu Di Summoned” [自由作家胡迪被传唤], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 1, 2008.

[21] Feng Riyao [冯日遥], “Dissident Writer Tao Jun Detained for Questioning; Told Not to Speak Out during the Olympic Torch Relay” [广州异见人士陶君被公安拘留问话], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 18, 2008,

[22] Ding Xiao [丁小], “Activists Call for China to Release Political Prisoners 100 Days Before Beijing Olympics” [倒数京奥法各界吁放政治犯 家属困境中继续维权], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 29, 2008,

[23] Xin Yu [心语], “Hangzhou Court Adds Deprivation of Political Rights to Zhu Yufu's Sentence After Retrial” [朱虞夫父子案再审维持原判], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 9, 2008.

[24] Human Rights in China, “HRIC Statement: Writer Lü Gengsong's Sentence Upheld,” April 16, 2008,

[25] Human Rights in China, “HRIC Statement: HRIC Denounces Conviction of Prominent Activist Hu Jia,” April 3, 2008,; “Hu Jia Will Not Challenge Verdict, Lawyer Says,” Agence France-Presse, April 23, 2008.

[26] Han Qing [含青], “Tianjin Rights Defender Zheng Mingfang Sentenced to Two Years of Reeducation-Through-Labor” [天津藓县维权人士郑明芳被劳教两年], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 8, 2008.

[27] Human Rights in China, “HRIC Case Update: Health at Risk for Jailed Democracy Activist He Depu,” April 2, 2008,

[28] Human Rights in China, “HRIC Statement: HRIC Condemns Official Interference in Access to Justice in Rights Defense Cases: Hu Jia, Guo Feixiong,” April 21, 2008,

[29] Shen Hua [申铧], “IMAR Dissident Hada's Health Deteriorates in Jail” [内蒙古异见人士哈达狱中状况每况愈下], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 22, 2008,

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