April 29 - May 12, 2002
On May 4, state media reported 34 people were killed and two others feared dead following two deadly explosions on the same day in southwestern and central China. 23 people were killed in a gas explosion at an illegal mine in Weining County, Guizhou Province. A second explosion ripped through a mine in Leidi City, Hunan province. 11 miners were found dead at the scene.
*On April 29, the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety Supervision circulated a notice reporting seven major accidents in April, all involving gas explosions and multiple fatalities.
?/b>April 2, Shenzhuang Coal Mine in Yichun City, Jiangxi Province, 16 fatalities.
?/b>April 7, Luling Coal Mine's No 3 coal tunnel, Anhui Province, 13 fatalities.
?/b>April 8, No 194 Mining Zone in East China Sea Coal Mine's No 5 Mining District, Heilongjiang Province, 24 fatalities.
?/b>April 19, Qiyi Coal Mine, Changye City, Shanxi Province, 12 fatalities.
?/b>April 22, the southern coal mine under Zhongliangshan Coal and Gas Company in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, 15 fatalities.
?/b>April 24, No 3 Huashan Mining District, Sichuan Province, 23 fatalities.
?/b>April 25 Luanlinxi Mine, Hebei Province, 11 fatalities. (BBC, Xinhua)
On April 30, Amnesty International released a report criticizing China of using imprisonment and even torture to silence labor activists. The report said that protests against lay-offs, illegal working conditions, and management corruption have been met with repression and force. “Such demonstrations are often unreported as the local authorities attempt to conceal the severity or extent of the protests," Amnesty said. (CND, DPA)
On May 10, husband and wife Hua Youchen, 83, Shuang Qiying, 72, staged a 25-minute protest in Tiananmen Square against China's labor reform system. Hua had been jailed for 20 years between 1957 and 1977 in a labor camp for his role as a Nationalist military officer during the Japanese occupation. The two were detained but released later the same day. (CND)
*During the first week of May, hundreds of people gathered in Liaoyang to press for the release of four labor leaders, Yao Fuxin, Xiao Yunliang, Pang Qingxiang and Wang Zhaomi. The four men were arrested for organizing massive demonstrations. The protestors carried banners and gathered at the entrance of the city government offices demanding their release.(SCMP)
* On May 1, Vice-President Hu Jintao faced protesters at the start of his visit to Washington DC. A number of Tibetans and pro-Tibetan activists stood outside and shouted ''Hu Jintao is a killer! Hu Jintao is a murderer! Stop the killing in Tibet” while Hu was meeting with U.S. officials. Hu is the former Communist Party chief in Tibet. (Reuters)
On May 7, Human Rights in China (HRIC) released a new report, “Shutting Out the Poorest: Discrimination Against the Most Disadvantaged Migrant Children in China’s City Schools,” to coincide with the United Nations Special Session on Children in New York. The report claims some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children in China’s major cities are being systematically deprived of their right to education because their migrant parents do not hold the sheaf of permits that would make their stay in the urban areas “legal.” “China has created a bureaucratic obstacle course for migrant children that denies them the education to which they are clearly entitled,” said Nicolas Becquelin, Senior Researcher at HRIC. (HRIC)
On May 6, London-based Tibet Information Network (TIN) reported Chinese authorities detained Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, 52, an influential Tibetan Buddhist monk, and community activist in early April. Three of his students were also detained. TIN said the authorities appeared to be seeking to tie the monk to three bomb explosions in Sichuan's Ganzi prefecture, a traditional Tibetan region where rights groups say officials have cracked down on Buddhist religious activity. (AP)
*On May 10, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed the formal arrest of Yang Jianli, a Boston-based Chinese dissident who entered China on April 19 on a borrowed passport. Yang, 38, heads the Foundation for China in the 21st Century, a Boston-based group that advocates democracy and rule of law in China. Yang has been on a government blacklist since 1989, when he traveled to Beijing to offer financial help to students protesting for democracy on Tiananmen Square. (WSJ)
Yu Zhudi, 42, a Christian jailed in January for smuggling Bibles is reportedly being forced to work more than 20 hours a day at a labor camp in Baisha, Fujian Province. On May 1, Yu’s son, Yu Huiming, 22, reported his father had asked wardens for time to rest but was told that they would "make him work until he died". Yu was arrested last May with fellow Christians Lin Xinfu and Lai Kwong-keung (Li Guangqiang) for transporting Bibles into China. All three were convicted in January. Lai and Lin were later released on health grounds. (SCMP)
On May 7, human rights activists expressed renewed fears that a draconian subversion law would soon be imposed in Hong Kong following a meeting with Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. Article 23 of the Basic Law says the SAR should enact a law covering seven areas, including subversion, sedition, secession, treason and theft of state secrets. Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said the meeting had raised more concerns than it had given assurances. (SCMP)
*On April 29, veteran reporter Jasper Becker was dismissed from his post of seven years as South China Morning Post’s Beijing Bureau Chief. Becker claims the dismissal was an act of 'self-censorship' by the paper to appease Beijing and followed his raising of grievances over the Post's China coverage. Becker accused the paper of bowing to pressure from Beijing to sanitize its coverage of sensitive stories. “I felt there was a long list of stories which had become taboo, like Tibet, like Falungong, like labor protests - things they'd rather we didn't cover" Becker said. (CNN, WSJ)
RIGHT OF ABODE
On May 8, more than 100 immigration and police officers raided the homes of abode seekers in a dramatic escalation of the deportation action against the claimants. Six claimants were arrested, and the father of one was also detained for allegedly aiding and abetting his 20-year-old son to overstay - the first parent arrested for such an offence during the right-of-abode saga. (SCMP)
On May 6, 122 unlicensed Internet cafes were closed down in Shanghai. The closures came following a May 2 government ordered crackdown on “harmful” content on the Internet. Cafe owners can face punishment if their customers access sites forbidden by the government. (AFP)
In early May, Washington DC based Free China Movement released a document from the highest levels of government in which security officers in Jilin Province are instructed to prepare for the 2008 Olympics by suppressing protests and targeting followers of Falungong. "In order to better welcome the smooth holding of the 2008 Olympic Games in our country, to stabilize social order, and to severely strike illegal gatherings, assemblies and other activities that disrupt public order, the following special notification is given," the document read. It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the document. (AP)
NORTH KOREAN REFUGEES
On May 8, 2002, Chinese security guards entered the Japanese consulate to forcibly remove five North Koreans who sought asylum. Chinese security officers dragged two women away, detaining them along with a 2-year-old girl and two North Korean men who were inside the consulate. The incident has caused a diplomatic row with Japan, which has demanded their release. The fate of the refugees has yet to be decided. At least 39 North Koreans have tried to sneak into foreign missions in China since March. China regards the tens of thousands of North Koreans hiding around its northeastern borders as economic migrants, not refugees, and often hands them back to Pyongyang. Refugees often face execution when they are forcibly returned to North Korea. (BBC, NYT)
AP/The Associated Press
AFP/Agence France Presse
BBC/British Broadcasting Corporation
CND/China News Digest
CNN/Cable News Network
DPA/Deutsche Press Agentur
HRIC/Human Rights in China
SCMP/South China Morning Post
WSJ/The Wall Street Journal