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Petitioner Wang Qiaojuan Sentenced to RTL

August 30, 2005

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai petitioner Wang Qiaojuan has been sentenced to one year of Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) on a charge of “obstructing the execution of public duty.”


Sources in China told HRIC that Wang was one of more than 30 petitioners that were attacked by dozens of police officers on the evening of June 24 as they prepared to depart for Beijing from Shanghai’s west train station for the purpose of petitioning the central authorities. On the afternoon of July 7, public security police detained Wang at her home and two days later informed her family that she had been formally detained on a charge of “disturbing the peace in a public place.” Five other petitioners were detained on similar grounds in the following days, but all were subsequently released. On August 17, the Shanghai RTL Administrative Committee notified Wang’s family of the decision to sentence Wang to one year of RTL.

The RTL Administrative Committee decision states that Wang was convicted on the basis of the following charge: “On the evening of June 24, 2005, Wang Qiaojuan and others were in the waiting room of the Shanghai west train station when they attempted to board a train without holding tickets. When a train station employee tried to prevent them from boarding the train, Wang and the others paid no attention. Police officers on duty at the station heard of the incident and tried to prevent Wang and the others from boarding the train, but they paid the police officers no heed, and forced their way into the train by climbing through the windows. In the process of climbing through the window, Wang Qiaojuan bumped her head on the window frame, after which she cried, ‘The police are beating me!’ and began grabbing at the private parts of one of the policemen, causing him injury. She was subsequently detained.” The decision states, “The aforementioned facts were attested to by police officers and other eyewitnesses, and supported by an injury treatment certificate and other evidence. The facts are clear and the evidence is conclusive. Wang Qiaojuan did not testify.”

However, more than a dozen petitioners who witnessed the incident have signed a statement describing a completely different course of events. According to the eye-witness account provided by the petitioners (appended in full to this press release), two police officers grabbed Wang and slammed her head against the window frame, causing her to bleed heavily and lose consciousness. The witnesses say Wang herself did not assault anyone.

Sources also point out that the RTL decision refers to a previous instance in 2003 when Wang was detained for 10 days on the grounds of disturbing the peace in a public place, but that conviction was subsequently withdrawn due to police falsification of evidence, and should not have been referred to in the present decision.

Wang Qiaojuan was originally a relatively prosperous operator of two small storefront businesses run from her home. But due to a redevelopment of the neighborhood, Wang’s family was forcibly removed from their home in November 2001, and the premises were leveled. For nearly four years now, Wang has been pursuing justice in the matter, traveling to Beijing more than 30 times to petition the central authorities, and delivering innumerable petitions to local authorities as well. In the course of her petitioning, Wang has been detained
and beaten on many occasions, and has initiated civil actions against the police.

On January 27 this year, Wang was among 22 people who went to Beijing to express their condolences to the family of deposed leader Zhao Ziyang following Zhao’s death. The group was detained in Beijing and forcibly escorted back to Shanghai, in the process of which one of the petitioners, Xu Zhengqing, was reported to have been brutally beaten by police. Xu has been detained since then on charges of “disturbing social order,” and on June 28, Wang Qiaojuan and other petitioners subsequently issued an open letter protesting Xu’s treatment. Sources suggest that Wang’s recent sentencing may be in retribution for her efforts on Xu Zhengqing’s behalf.

HRIC deplores the sentencing of Wang Qiaojuan to Reeducation Through Labor, a system of administrative detention that offers no due process protection to individuals. Wang Qiaojuan has now joined the list of Shanghai human rights defenders sentenced to prison or RTL as a means of persecution. HRIC calls on the Shanghai authorities to cease their persecution of Wang Qiaojuan and to revoke the decision sentencing her to one year of RTL. With the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, now visiting China, HRIC also calls on China’s central government to review and monitor the Shanghai authorities’ law enforcement practices in order to protect the rights of Shanghai residents to exercise their constitutional right to petition the authorities without unlawful retaliation.

Appendix:

Statement of Eye-Witnesses
On the evening of June 24, 2005, we went to Shanghai’s west train station and prepared to buy last-minute tickets for a train to Beijing for the purpose of delivering a petition to the State Council’s Letters and Petitions Office about the obstruction by local officials of our application for access to public document relating to Shanghai’s urban redevelopment. At the train station, we saw Wang Qiaojuan grabbed by two police officers, who slammed her head against a window frame, causing her to bleed heavily and lose consciousness. After a very long time she was finally taken to Huashan Hospital. Subsequently we heard a police officer say that police had been ordered not to allow petitioners to board the train. During this incident, we did not see Wang Qiaojuan assault any person.
Signed by the following eye-witnesses: Yang Weiming, Chen Enjuan, Tan Lanying, Ding Juying, Xi Hedi, Xi Rendi, Wang Mingqing, Lu Shanming, Zhu Jindi, Zhu Hua, Li Xingxian, Wang Linzhen, Chen Wanfeng, Wei Yuhua, Xu Ting.