On August 17, during the Beijing Olympics, Wu Dianyuan (吴殿元), 79, and Wang Xiuying (王秀英), 77, petitioners who had been forcibly evicted from their Beijing homes in 2001 to make way for Olympics construction, were ordered to serve one year of Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL).* Their crimes: applying repeatedly to the Beijing authorities for permits—which they never received—to demonstrate in the government-designated “protest zones.” Their sentence was widely reported and prompted an international outcry. On August 29, the authorities rescinded the sentence. The two women recently asked Human Rights in China to release the following letter.
To our friends in the international media who showed their concern for our sentence:
When we received our Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) order on August 17, 2008, friends from the international media showed their genuine concern by their active reporting on our story. That gave us enormous comfort and moral support, and further strengthened our resolve to defend our personal rights according to law. Through the efforts by different circles, the Beijing Municipal RTL Decision Committee rescinded its order. This is a mark of progress and a victory for civilization.
We hereby give our deep gratitude to the international community and media for their concern for our case and for the human rights situation in China. We will continue to defend rights. Even though our RTL order was rescinded, we care even more deeply about the petitioners who have been sentenced to RTL and others whose rights were violated in different manners. We sincerely hope that the international community and media continue to pay attention to human rights in China. Let us join our hands in our efforts to usher in the era of rights for the Chinese people.
Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying
September 12, 2008
* Reeducation-Through-Labor sentences are administrative detentions of up to four years, ordered by police without judicial review as punishment for minor crimes.
For additional information on Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying, see: