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Crackdown on Activists Prior to NPC Meeting

February 26, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Beijing authorities have taken suppressive action against more than 200 activists in preparation for the upcoming session of the National People’s Congress.

According to sources in Beijing, certain persons identified by the authorities as “unsafe” have had their daily life subjected to close scrutiny and regulation, with fixed timetables for going to work, shopping or any other activities away from home. Police have also instructed targeted persons to go to and return from their destinations without detour from now until the NPC meets from March 5-20.

One such case is Jia Jianying, the wife of dissident He Depu. He Depu was sentenced to eight years in prison in November 2003 for “incitement to subvert state power” in connection with his participation in an open letter to the 16th Party Congress signed by 192 dissidents calling for political reform. Jia Jianying was first allowed to visit her husband on February 17, and found his health badly deteriorated due to abusive treatment in custody. He Depu is suffering from deafness and dizziness brought about by blows to his head, and his weight has dropped from 165 lbs to only 100 lbs. When Jia Jianying went to prison authorities to request better treatment for her husband, she was warned to stay close to home during the NPC, or she would bear the consequences. Her supervisor at her workplace, a Beijing hospital, also warned her to restrict her outside activities to her regular working hours, and added that these orders “came from above.”

Another example is Li Shanna, the wife of house church activist Xu Yonghai, who was recently charged with “revealing state secrets.” When going to and from work on February 14 and 15, Li was intercepted by a police vehicle and forcibly “escorted” between work and home. She was also warned by her work supervisor that she should not leave home except for work until the NPC session ends on March 20.

A spokesman for a group of residents displaced by urban redevelopment, Ye Guozhu, said around 200 people had decided to deliver a petition to the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress on February 16, anticipating strict security closer to the opening of the NPC session on March 5. However, public security police stopped them from delivering the petition and have since put all of the petitioners under close surveillance. Ye Guozhu’s brother, Ye Guoqiang, was sentenced to two years in prison after attempting suicide in protest of his displacement in a forced clearance. Ye Guoqiang was tried in secret without legal representation, and his family members have never been notified of where he is imprisoned.

HRIC calls for the Chinese authorities to desist in the suppressive action taken against Jia Jianying, Li Shanna and the Beijing petitioners. “Petitioning the National People’s Congress is a normal and proper exercise of the people’s basic human rights,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “According to China’s constitution, NPC delegates are the elected representatives of the people, and there is no reason for them not to accept the people’s requests and complaints. The Chinese government should recognize that public discontent cannot be dissipated by force and intimidation, but only through consensus and appropriate legal redress.”

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