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Lawyer's Wife Illegally Detained Again

March 1, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Jiang Meili, the wife of jailed Shanghai lawyer Zheng Enchong, has recently been released from three days’ unlawful detention.

According to HRIC’s sources, Jiang Meili had gone to Beijing on February 28 to petition the National People’s Congress on behalf of Zheng Enchong, who last October was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “leaking state secrets.” Jiang was asleep in her hotel room when shortly after 1:00 a.m. five women and two men burst in and bound and gagged her. Jiang was forced into some clothes, then bundled into a vehicle and taken to another hotel in Hubei’s Canzhou City. After a day in that hotel, five people escorted Jiang Meili back to Shanghai, where she was detained in the Guangdi Hotel in Hutai Road. During this time, Jiang was not presented with any warrant or reason for arrest. The persons involved in her detention included officials of the Shanghai Representative Office in Beijing, the Shanghai Letters and Petitions Office and the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Jiang’s sister, Jiang Zhongli, and her brother, Jiang Youliang, had already reported Jiang’s disappearance to the Shanghai and Beijing Public Security Bureaus after losing contact with her, but when the authorities refused to take up the case, the two decided to go to Beijing themselves to look for Jiang. At the same time, Jiang Meili’s friend Shen Ting, having learned of the situation in Hong Kong, began soliciting help from concerned persons inside and outside of China. Finally, after a day at the Guangdi Hotel Jiang Meili was released at around 4:00 p.m. on March 1 and allowed to return home. However, police have maintained close surveillance and are not letting Jiang Meili leave her home, keeping her under effective house arrest. In addition, the authorities destroyed Jiang’s two cellular telephones and disconnected her home land line, so she has no way to communicate with the outside world.

“The Chinese government’s treatment of Jiang Meili is not only appalling, it is completely ineffective,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The authorities believe they can extinguish protest with their brutal methods, but all they do is give people more reason to protest. The Chinese government hates to hear criticism, whether from the people of China or from outside parties such as the U.S. government with its recent Human Rights Report, but if it wants these criticisms to stop, it has to discontinue the behavior that raises the criticism.” HRIC calls on the central authorities to take control of the abusive actions of local officials and allow Jiang Meili and others to exercise their basic human rights in legal, peaceful appeals.

Shen Ting has agreed to accept inquiries from journalists and others concerned with Jiang Meili’s case. She can be contacted in Hong Kong at (852) 2677-8537 and (852) 9367-9702.