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In Name of "Petitioners Relief Campaign" Local Authorities in Guizhou Deceive Petitioners in Death Case

August 1, 2008


Human Rights in China has learned that, under the banner of the nationwide "Petitioners Relief Campaign," authorities in Liupanshui city, Guizhou province have tricked petitioning couple Ding Fayou and Chen Hong who have been seeking redress for Chen's brother who was shot dead by a policeman in May 2006. They have also manipulated the media to create the impression that they have resolved the case. Beijing launched the "Petitioners Relief Campaign" in July 2008 in an effort to ensure a "Safe Olympics," and called upon local authorities to take responsibility for local cases and resolve the long-standing grievances of the petitioning masses.

To guarantee the safe convening of the Olympics, the Chinese central government has strictly ordered local governments to 'take responsibility for their territories,' and prevent petitioners from going to Beijing.
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC

"The actions of Liupanshui's authorities fully reveal the hypocrisy of many local governments," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. "To guarantee the safe convening of the Olympics, the Chinese central government has strictly ordered local governments to 'take responsibility for their territories,' and prevent petitioners from going to Beijing. Local authorities are instead cajoling petitioners and making promises on the surface, apparently just trying to prolong the process, without any intention of addressing grievances."

Chen Hong told Human Rights in China that on May 19, 2006, Liu Deyong, a public security officer in Liupanshui, intervened in a civil dispute and fatally shot Chen's brother, Chen Jun, in front of onlookers. The local government disregarded the testimonies of over thirty people and concluded that Liu's action constituted "legitimate self-defense." Since December 2006, Ding Fayou and Chen Hong have repeatedly gone to the municipal, provincial, and central governments to seek justice. In August 2007, during one of his seven trips to Beijing to petition, Ding was hauled back to Liupanshui and was sentenced to one year of Reeducation-Through-Labor on the charge of "libeling the public security police." The case was later dropped.

Local authorities are instead cajoling petitioners and making promises on the surface, apparently just trying to prolong the process, without any intention of addressing grievances.
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC

In the beginning of July 2008, when the "Petitioners Relief Campaign" was underway, the party secretary of Zhongshan district proposed a "traffic accident subsidy" payment of 250,000 or 260,0000 yuan (about US $36,500–$38,000) to resolve the case, and advised Chen not to return to Beijing to petition. Chen refused, vowing that she would persist even if it meant selling her blood.

Later in July, Chen and her husband were told that the local petition committee would hold a public hearing before the end of the month and that they should assemble witnesses to testify. They found 23 of them. In a visit to the Liupanshui Petition Office on July 29, the couple was met by the city's party secretary, as well as officials from the public security bureau, the procuratorate, the court, and other departments. The local government television station filmed the meeting and reported that the "petitioners were very pleased" about the handling of their case. But Chen said, "None of our problems were actually solved, how could we be pleased?"

Chen heard nothing more. On July 31, she called He Hongbo, head of the criminal police at the Zhongshan Branch office to inquire about the public hearing. He Hongbo apologized, "I am embarrassed; I have not received notification either. I have been deceived too." To wait for the notification of the hearing, Chen had not dared leave her home, even to pick wild vegetables in the mountain. Nearly two years of petitioning have left Chen and her husband penniless—they now resort to picking wild vegetables to make a living.