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Wife of Jailed Activist Targeted and Harassed

May 14, 2008

Human Rights in China is deeply concerned by the Chinese authorities' continuing misuse of the law to persecute Yuan Weijing (袁伟静), the wife of jailed blind activist and barefoot lawyer Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚).

Most recently, a Chinese court on May 14 upheld a decision by Beijing authorities to prohibit Yuan from leaving the country in August 2007 to receive an award on her husband’s behalf in the Philippines.

Particularly during this pre-Olympics period, when the eyes of all the world are on China, the authorities must stop the ongoing harassment of Yuan Weijing and investigate those responsible.
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC

The court delivered this ruling in a lawsuit brought by Yuan to challenge the decision of the Beijing authorities. When the court heard Yuan’s lawsuit on May 5, 2008, it held the hearing behind closed doors, and Yuan was unable to attend because she was confined to her home by local authorities. The court closed the hearing, sources said, on grounds that the case involved “state secrets,” including Yuan’s status as a criminal suspect, and the invalidation of her passport. Yuan plans to appeal the court ruling as well as the invalidation of her passport and her classification as a criminal suspect.

“Politicizing the law, especially by invoking the vague and broad state secrets law as the basis for targeting activists and their families, is simply unacceptable,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. “Particularly during this pre-Olympics period, when the eyes of all the world are on China, the authorities must stop the ongoing harassment of Yuan Weijing and investigate those responsible.”

“The authorities cannot deny Yuan’s right under international human rights law – including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – to freely leave and return to her country simply by labeling her a ‘criminal suspect’ without any foundation,” Hom said.

Wednesday’s ruling by the Beijing Municipal Chaoyang District People’s Court was issued in the lawsuit Yuan filed to challenge an administrative review decision by the Beijing General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection. The administrative decision had barred Yuan from going to the Philippines in August 2007 to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award on Chen’s behalf.

Chen is serving a sentence of four years and three months for “intentional damage of property” and “organizing people to block traffic.” The authorities have been harassing Yuan, a young mother, since her husband’s detention in 2006. She lives under the strict surveillance of more than 10 men, her son has been sent away to live with grandparents, and she has not been allowed to visit her husband for eight months. At the time of the 2007 decision barring her from traveling to the Philippines, she was reportedly beaten, her passport was revoked, and she was forced to return to her home in Shangdong Province.

For more information on Yuan Weijing and Chen Guangcheng, see:

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