Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that a number of prominent petitioners have been detained or placed under house arrest in an apparent attempt to limit their activities during the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) sessions, which began on March 3.
• According to HRIC’s information, Jiang Meili, the wife of imprisoned Shanghai lawyer Zheng Enchong, was detained along with her sister by security police on March 10 outside the home of lawyer Guo Guoting. A police officer told an HRIC staff member that Jiang and her sister were being held at the Beicai Dispatch Station in Pudong Xinqu District. Jiang Meili herself told HRIC that neither she nor her sister had been presented with a detention warrant.
According to HRIC’s sources, Jiang Meili had gone to Guo Guoting’s home to verify reports of Guo’s disappearance, and also, if Guo was present, to update him on Zheng Enchong’s situation, given that Guo has been acting as Zheng’s defense lawyer. HRIC’s source says that Jiang Meili had gone to visit Zheng Enchong at Tilanqiao Prison on March 9 and found that he had been severely beaten by prison police. Zheng reportedly told Jiang that he had been beaten after requesting paper on which to report to the central government the names of more than 200 people who had died in connection with their forced relocation in urban redevelopment projects. Zheng asked his wife to request that the Beijing government arrange for him to be transferred to a prison outside of Shanghai, as he was afraid he would not survive his prison term in Shanghai.
• Sources further reported to HRIC that Li Jianhong, operator of the Qimeng Web site, which was shut down by the authorities last year, was detained by police outside of the building where Jiang Meili lives. Li had originally arranged to accompany Jiang to Guo Guoting’s home. There is no further information on Li’s current situation.
• Sources also told HRIC that Wu Xuewei, the husband of detained petitioner Mao Hengfeng, has been under strict surveillance since February 25. A five-man surveillance team is reportedly monitoring Wu’s every move, and places a bench in front of his door at night to ensure he doesn’t go out. Sources say that when Wu and his daughters visited Mao Hengfeng at the Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) camp on February 28, Mao told them that camp guards had recently subjected her to restraints and other physical abuse.
• Sources further reported to HRIC that Shen Yongmei, a woman who had gone to Beijing to petition over redevelopment projects, was detained and forced to return to Shanghai on March 6. She is now being held at 381 Hefei Lu.
• HRIC had previously reported the detention of petitioner Xu Zhengqing on February 25 on charges of “creating a disturbance in a public place.” Xu’s 74-year-old father, Xu Yongdao, was reported detained on March 5 while petitioning in Beijing, and is currently being confined to house arrest back in Shanghai.
• Petitioners Tian Baocheng and Zhang Cuiping, a husband and wife, were reportedly taken from their Shanghai home by public security police on March 3, and are now being held in a training center. Tian and Zhang had just been released from an RTL camp after being detained in October 2003 with 80 others petitioning Beijing over forced relocation.
• Elsewhere in China, dissident artist Yan Zhengxue was reported to have experienced a run-in with the authorities. According to HRIC’s sources, around 8 a.m. on March 8, Yan went to the court in Jiaojiang District, Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province to obtain a written judgment relating to his lawsuit alleging abuse of power and other unlawful activity by various local officials. When Yan requested two copies of the judgment, two police officers reportedly beat and kicked him. They were joined by another dozen police officers, who reportedly contributed their own physical abuse, then forced Yan into a holding pen measuring 90 cm by 120 cm by 60 cm and transported him to Jiaojiang Prison. Sources said Yan infuriated local officials, not only by the allegations in his lawsuit, but by challenging the appropriateness of head judge Ge Peiyu handling the case.
“The Chinese authorities tend to be more sensitive to potential unrest when the NPC and CPPCC are in session,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “But that does not in any way excuse the abusive treatment dealt out to these individuals while they are engaged in entirely peaceful and lawful activities.” HRIC calls for the immediate release of all of the detained persons.