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Fu Xiancai’s Family and Friends Harassed by Police “Minders”

July 20, 2006

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that authorities in Zigui County, Hubei Province are keeping friends and family members of injured Three Gorges activist Fu Xiancai under close surveillance that is tantamount to harassment.

Sources in China told HRIC that Fu Xiancai has recovered movement to his arms and feeling in his fingers since surgery on June 18 to mend vertebrae crushed in an assault on June 8. He still relies on a chest tube because of pulmonary difficulties resulting from his injuries. Fu Xiancai was paralyzed from the shoulders down after suffering a blow to the neck from an unidentified assailant shortly after he was called to the Zigui County Public Security Bureau (PSB) for questioning regarding an interview he had provided to a German television station. The attack was the latest in a string of harassment and threats Fu had suffered over the course of more than a year because of his petitioning on behalf of villagers in resettled for the Three Gorges Dam project.

Sources say that following international interest in Fu’s case, local authorities have intensified efforts to control the release of information concerning Fu’s condition, and the number of police officers guarding his hospital ward has been increased from three to five. Zigui County Public Security officials have publicly stated that no one is allowed to visit Fu Xiancai without prior permission from the PSB. Only one family member at a time is allowed to visit Fu for a maximum of 30 minutes, and family members are not allowed to bring a cell phone to the hospital ward, cutting Fu off from his previous mode of communication. Hospital officials have refused to allow Fu or his family members to view his medical records.

In addition, sources say police are keeping Fu’s family members and close friends under constant surveillance. The family of Yan Kehua in Jiuli Village, Maoping Township has six police officers watching their home around the clock, and Yuan Jiusheng, who lives in Yangguidian Village, has also reportedly had his movements hampered and been subjected to threats by police.

Fu Xiancai’s younger brother, Fu Xianjin, was taken on a “vacation” to ShazhenxiTownship in late June by Zigui County PSB officers. Meanwhile, Fu’s other family members find themselves surrounded by police officers wherever they go, and when they inquire about why they are being followed, police tell them it’s for their protection. One police officer surnamed Mei reportedly told Fu’s family that he had no choice, as he had been deployed to the task by his superiors, and added, “Our rice bowls are in your hands.”

Last week, when Fu’s son left the hospital, he found himself trailed by the PSB officer surnamed Mei. Protesting that the police officer was infringing on his rights, Fu’s son called for a taxi, but the police officer hopped into the car ahead of him and said, “We’ll go together. I’ll pay.” The police officer only left the taxi after Fu’s son directed the driver to the PSB dispatch station and telephoned the police hotline.