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Petitioner Appeals for Help from the Hong Kong Government

October 30, 2003

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Hong Kong resident Shen Ting, who has been involved in protests by Shanghai residents displaced by redevelopment schemes, has sent out an emergency appeal for assistance from the Hong Kong government.

HRIC has obtained a copy of Shen Ting’s letter, which she sent to the Hong Kong government after Beijing police took her money, plane ticket and travel documents, making it impossible for her to return to Hong Kong. (The letter is appended in full to the Chinese press release.)

Shen Ting has been spending significant amounts of time in Shanghai and Beijing on behalf of her parents, who are among hundreds of householders currently engaged in a dispute with Shanghai authorities over their forced removal and compensation in connection with major urban redevelopment schemes. Shen Ting has also been actively involved in advocating the release of lawyer Zheng Enchong, who after representing families in relocation disputes was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets to people outside of China.

In her letter, Shen Ting states that she left Hong Kong on October 7, arriving in Beijing around 6:00 p.m. on October 8 for the purpose of petitioning the central government regarding her parents’ case. From the moment of her arrival, Shen Ting writes, she was under round-the-clock surveillance by police. At 11:40 a.m. on October 25, in broad daylight, two of the police officers who had been following her suddenly grabbed her handbag, which contained her identification papers, her money and credit cards, plane ticket, camera and other belongings. Shen Ting says she went to the Liuliqiao Dispatch Unit of the Public Security Bureau to report the theft, and identified the thieves as two of the police officers who were at that moment still following her. Shen Ting says that the police officers at the dispatch unit simply allowed the culprits to walk away, and refused to accept Shen Ting’s report of the incident or to carry out any investigation. Shen Ting says that as a result of the theft, she is unable to return to Hong Kong, and she calls on the Hong Kong government to fulfill its duty to its residents by interceding with the Beijing authorities on her behalf and securing the means by which she might return to Hong Kong.

“This abusive treatment of Shen Ting is a blatant case of oppression by the authorities,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “We urge the Hong Kong authorities to provide every assistance to Shen Ting, and also hope the international community will take note of this case and put pressure on the Chinese government to desist in this unacceptable behavior.”