Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Wang Mingqing, a Shanghai resident who has been petitioning the Chinese authorities over the destruction of his home in an urban redevelopment project, was placed under administrative detention on February 16.
Wang’s sister, Wang Minglan, on February 17 requested that the local Public Security Bureau provide her with the reasons for his detention. According to HRIC’s sources, an officer at the Zhabei District dispatch station told Wang Minglan that Wang Mingqing had been detained for “causing trouble,” and that he was being held in the Zhabei District PSB Detention Center.
Wang Minglan protested that Wang Mingqing was only exercising of his lawful right to petition, and said she would take the matter to Beijing. Soon thereafter, Wang Minglan herself was detained in a reception center in Zhonghua Lu, and was only released on February 22.
According to information provided to HRIC, dozens of Shanghai residents are currently being held under administrative detention such as Reeducation Through Labor for their petitioning activities. Among them are Mao Hengfeng, Ma Yalian, Zhu Donghui, Chen Enjuan, Gong Minghao, Du Yangming, Tan Lanying, Sun Jian, Ye Gensheng, Liu Hualin, Zhang Cuiping, Wang Yinghe, Cai Wenjun and Tian Baocheng, as well as Xu Zhengqing, who was recently detained after attempting to attend a memorial on behalf of late Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. These petitioners are usually detained for offences such as “causing trouble” or “disorderly conduct in a public place” while engaged in lawful petitioning activities, typically in connection with forcible displacement in redevelopment projects.
In the case of Wang Mingqing, his family of more than ten people lost their ancestral home in an urban clearance in July 2000. Since then, various family members have continued to petition the authorities, with Wang himself traveling to Beijing some 25 times. Wang has been detained in Beijing a number of times and escorted back to Shanghai, and on at least two occasions was detained for more than 10 days following his return.
“Peaceful petitioning is a lawful right of China’s citizens,” said HRIC president Liu Qing, “and the Chinese authorities themselves have recognized that at least 95 percent of petitioners’ complaints are justified. It is completely unreasonable for the authorities to detain petitioners on trumped-up charges instead of addressing the long-standing issues that form the basis for their discontent.”