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Petitioners detained in Shanghai and Beijing during Bush Visit

November 21, 2005

New Release from HRIC

Several Shanghai petitioners and rights defenders remain missing after having been monitored and detained during President Bush’s visit to China and the commemoration of former leader Hu Yaobang’s birth.

Sources told HRIC that Shanghai police have kept Xu Zhengqing’s father, Xu Yongdao, under surveillance since November 16. A police car is stationed in front of Xu’s home, and four police officers continue to conduct surveillance 24 hours a day. Xu Zhengqing is a longtime petitioner who was recently sentenced to three years imprisonment as a result of his attempt to pay his respects to former leader Zhao Ziyang in Beijing in January. Xu Yongdao had submitted an open letter through HRIC to President Bush asking him to inquire into his son’s case. It is believed the police aimed to prevent Xu Yongdao from bringing his letter directly to President Bush.

On November 17, Shanghai rights defender Ma Yalian was reportedly prevented from leaving her house by police officers. After she explained that she had to file a complaint against the district government that day or it would be void, she was forcibly taken to a guesthouse in Qingpu in the outskirts of Shanghai and put under house arrest. Ma Yalian has not been reachable by phone since the 17th.

Also on November 17, Shanghai rights defender Wang Liqing was forcibly pushed into a police car and taken to unmarked basement lodgings at New City Market on North Sichuan Road by Zhang Jianping and several other police officers from the North Sichuan Road Police Station. When she was detained there, her cell phone was forcibly confiscated by several people at the direction of the neighborhood committee leader. On the second day of her detention, Wang was transferred to a naval boarding house on Zhongzhou Road. Wang was released upon President Bush’s departure, on the morning of November 21. She was warned by members of the local neighborhood committee that she would be sent back to the basement lodgings if she made her grievances public.

Additionally, 30 Shanghai petitioners, including Zhang Cuiping and his wife Tian Baochang, Wang Shuizhen, and Wang Qiaojuan’s sister Wang Qiaohua, arrived in Beijing several days before Bush’s visit. On the morning of November 20, they attempted to attend a service at the Xishiku Church at the same time President Bush attended a service at Gangwashi Church in the Xidan district, but they were intercepted and forcibly taken to Fuyou Police Station. That evening, they were repatriated to Shanghai, where they were taken into custody by their local police stations. According to sources, they still have not returned home nor are they reachable on their cell phones.

HRIC condemns the recent detentions which were carried out without appropriate procedures required by law, and which reflect a pattern of official crackdowns by the government when hosting important international meetings or events. HRIC calls upon the PRC government to release the detainees whose whereabouts are still unknown. These detentions directly contradict State Council member Tang Jiaxuan’s recent declaration that China is a country with the best human rights conditions.   In the wake of President Bush’s visit and during the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, these illegal detentions also send an alarming message to the international community.