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Human Rights Situation in China Worsens as Bush Calls for a More Open Society

August 7, 2008

On the eve of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, as President Bush urges Chinese leaders to grant greater freedom to the people of China, sources from within the country have informed Human Rights in China that Chinese authorities continue to detain, harass, coerce, and monitor rights defenders and dissidents in different parts of China.

"In order to ensure a 'Safe Olympics,' the Chinese authorities have put society under a virtual lockdown. The Beijing Olympics is in danger of going down in history as the 'Olympics of Fear.'"

— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC

In the cases documented by Human Rights in China, lawyers, academics, scholars, petitioners, and rights activists have been put under strict surveillance. In several instances, they have been told that they are being monitored so that they cannot go to Beijing during the Olympics.

"These cases, where the police employed the same method of constant surveillance, reveal the authorities’ systematic strategy for dealing with rights defenders and dissidents," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. "In order to ensure a 'Safe Olympics,' the Chinese authorities have put society under a virtual lockdown. The Beijing Olympics is in danger of going down in history as the 'Olympics of Fear.'"

Recent activity by Chinese authorities to control rights defenders and dissidents is described in the cases below.

  • The Beijing Municipal police have been constantly harassing Beijing lawyers since the end of July. Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) informed Human Rights in China that many lawyers are being followed by police. Some of them, including Jiang and Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵), have decided to leave the city during the Games. Another lawyer, Li Fangping (李方平), also told Human Rights in China that he and Li Heping (李和平) will leave the city to avoid such close surveillance. Li said that the current atmosphere in Beijing is one of "extreme anxiety."
  • Yao Lifa (姚立法), a prominent supporter of civil elections and a former delegate to the National People's Congress from Qianjiang City in Hubei Province, has been under round-the-clock surveillance by local police. There are now over 20 policemen posted outside his home who follow him whenever he leaves the house. The police have told him that they are there to prevent him from going to Beijing.
  • Zhejiang dissident Wang Rongqing (王荣清) has been arrested. On August 1, Hangzhou Municipal Security Bureau notified Wang Rongqing's younger brother Wang Rongyao (王荣耀) that Wang was arrested for suspicion of "subversion of state power." Wang, a member of the Zhejiang Democratic Party, was detained on June 25. In 1981, he was sentenced to three years in prison for participating in activities with the Chinese National Association for People's Journals. After his release, Wang continued to engage in democracy movement activities.
  • Beijing-based intellectual Yu Jie (余杰) has been under round-the-clock surveillance by the Chaoyang District state security police since July 31. Yu is also made to ride with state security police whenever he leaves his home, even if just to go to the grocery store. The police told him that he will be followed until September 17, the conclusion of the Paralympics.
  • Zhang Cuiping (张翠平) and four other petitioners were detained by authorities from the Shanghai Municipal Bureau for Letters and Complaints on July 28 and were held in Diaoyu Village, Xiao Kunshan County, in the Songjiang District of Shanghai. Fellow detainees are Zhang Zhiying (张智英), Wang Shanbao (王山葆), Wang Shuizhen (王水珍), and Zhu Libin (朱黎斌). Zhang Cuiping felt that their detention was intended to prevent them from going to Beijing during the Olympics. A friend of Zhang Cuiping told Human Rights in China that on the evening of August 2, Zhang Cuiping escaped from the location and is currently missing.
  • Beijing house church member Xu Yonghai (徐永海) has been under 24-hour surveillance since July 24 by the Deshengmenwai Police Substation of the Xicheng District Public Security Office. Police explicitly told Xu that he would remain under surveillance until the end of September. Xu says that the police interrupted a recent church meeting to inspect the identification cards of those present, and demanded that any church members from out of town register with the local police. The house church has decided to stop meeting in order to avoid implicating others.
  • Jia Jianying (贾建英), wife of imprisoned Beijing dissident He Depu (何德普), has been under 24-hour surveillance by the Zhanlan Road Police Substation of the Xicheng District Public Security Office since July 24. Police told her explicitly that the surveillance will last until September 24, and have instructed her to "keep interviews with overseas media to a minimum."
  • Chen Xi (陈西), a dissident from Guizhou, has been under 24-hour surveillance by the Guiyang municipal police since July 7, who said that they are there to prevent him from traveling to Beijing. In addition, dissidents Liao Shuangyuan (廖双元) and Wu Yuqin (吴玉琴) are being watched and followed.
  • Wang Xue'e (汪雪娥), wife of jailed Zhejiang dissident Lü Gengsong (吕耿松), was warned by the Hangzhou police not to go to Beijing during the Games and is currently under 24-hour surveillance. The police are keeping watch outside her home. Her daughter, Lü Piaoqi (吕飘旗), is also under surveillance.
  • In late July, Xia Chunrong (夏春蓉), wife of recently imprisoned Hubei Internet dissident and writer Du Daobin (杜导斌), was forbidden by police to talk to anyone and was told to change her cell phone number. She has not been heard from since.
  • Guizhou petitioners Ding Fayou (丁发有) and Chen Hong (陈红) have been harassed and kept under close watch by the local government. Ding and Chen have been actively seeking redress for Chen’s brother, who was shot dead by a policeman in May 2006. On August 4, local officials dragged Chen Hong from her home, demanding a "confession." Chen was returned to her home that afternoon, but 30 people remain stationed outside her home, keeping her and her husband under surveillance and accompanying them whenever they leave the house.
  • Retired Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang (孙文广) has been under 24-hour surveillance since August 6. He is required to ride with the police when he leaves his home, and the party secretary of his University instructed him not to go to Beijing during the Games. Sun's friends have also been threatened by police and are not permitted to contact him. On June 24, Sun was harassed by unidentified persons who scrawled "Traitor, Rapist" on the walls of his home. Additionally, Sun's home was searched on June 11 and July 22 by the state security police. Two computers, manuscripts, and some books published in Hong Kong were seized.

In its response to President Bush's speech, China states that it is a government for the people which puts its people first and protects their basic rights and freedom. We urge the Chinese government to put this ideal into practice so that the Beijing Olympic Games can truly become a People's Olympics as it had promised.

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