Chinese authorities have intensified crackdowns on rights defenders and petitioners during the current annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), commonly known as the “Two Congresses”, convening in Beijing.
Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that authorities have imposed a 15-day administrative detention on two representatives of a group of aggrieved peasants who signed an open letter addressed to the deputies of the NPC and members of the CPPCC. At the same time, the authorities have subjected a large number of rights defenders and dissidents to surveillance, harassment and even beatings.
The annual NPC and CPPCC sessions should be an opportunity for citizens to petition and for the leaders to solve problems. Leaders attending the ‘Two Congresses’ have the responsibility to listen to the people. But the authorities are not only stripping the rights of the people that are protected under the Constitution, they are actively persecuting the people.
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC
Feng Jiusheng (冯九胜) and Chen Heying (陈荷英), two villagers from Wuma Village near Changzhi City in Shanxi Province, led the protest against local officials accused of illegally selling to developers the land that peasants in Wuma Village relied on for their livelihood. Feng and Chen were the organizers of the open letters signed by the villagers. On the morning of March 3, 2009, the Changzhi City Public Security Bureau detained Feng and Chen, and shortly after, punished each with a 15-day administrative detention.
Sources told HRIC that at 9:00am on March 2 in Beijing, the day before the opening of the CPPCC session, Wang Xiuzhen (王秀珍), a 64-year-old petitioner, was detained by police when she tried to leave her house, and forcibly taken to the Xinyuan police station in the Chaoyang District. Wang was a victim of the “Xin Guo Da”(新国大) investment scam in 1998, which defrauded workers of tens of millions of dollars, and she has been petitioning for an investigation ever since.
The police station director told Wang that she was not allowed to go out for the duration of the NPC and CPPCC sessions, which will conclude on March 18 and March 13, respectively. When Wang started to protest, the police station director slapped her in the face. She was then punched and kicked by four or five police officers. She went into convulsions and lost consciousness. She was then rushed to a hospital for emergency treatment.
Later that morning, according to reports HRIC received, Beijing rights activist Ye Jinghuan (野靖环), who was also a victim of the 1998 investment fraud, went to visit Wang in the hospital and saw that “the left side of her face was crooked, red and swollen like a loaf of bread, and she was shaking all over.” Another Beijing petitioner, Liu Xiuzhen (刘秀贞), accompanied Ye on this visit. As they helped Wang to go for an electrocardiogram, six to seven police officers pushed Ye to the floor, and pinned Liu against the wall. One police officer snatched away Ye’s notebook, in which Ye had taken down the ID numbers of the police officers. The police officer shouted: “You ‘Xin Guo Da’ people are illegally gathering here. It is the Communist Party that owes you money. I don’t owe you. When you come to my territory, you listen to me.” They were then taken to the police station and detained until 5:00pm that day. Ye was previously detained and sentenced to one year and nine months of Reeducation-Through-Labor.
According to Li Xuehui (李学会), son of petitioner Wu Dianyuan (吴殿元), Wu and fellow petitioner Wang Xiuying (王秀英), both of whom were sentenced to one year of Reeducation-Through-Labor during the Beijing Olympics but whose sentences were later rescinded by the authorities, are being followed everywhere they go. Li himself is being made to ride in police cars to and from work.
Many rights defenders in Beijing have been put under tight surveillance. They include Zhou Li (周莉), who was forcibly taken by the police at 8:00am on March 3 to the outskirts of Beijing, and held there until 8:00pm. Jia Jianying (贾建英), the wife of China Democracy Party member He Depu (何德普), who is now serving an eight-year sentence for “subversion of state power,” was told that she would have to wait until the end of the NPC and CPPCC sessions before she would be allowed to travel to work on her own. In addition, Beijing June Fourth dissident Jiang Qisheng (江棋生), house church activists Hua Huiqi (华惠棋) and Xu Yonghai (徐永海), and Zha Jianguo (查建国), a founder of the China Democracy Party, have been kept under residential surveillance. They were informed that this surveillance operation will continue until the conclusion of the NPC and CPPCC sessions.
“The annual NPC and CPPCC sessions should be an opportunity for citizens to petition and for the leaders to solve problems. Leaders attending the ‘Two Congresses’ have the responsibility to listen to the people. But the authorities are not only stripping the rights of the people that are protected under the Constitution, they are actively persecuting the people,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China.
Recently representatives of the Chinese government declared in Geneva during the United Nations review of China’s human rights record that China pursues a development policy that “places people first, in an effort to build a harmonious society characterized by democracy, the rule of law, equity and justice.” Human Rights in China urges the Chinese authorities to adhere to the declared policy and immediately stop the surveillance and harassment of rights defenders and dissidents, and to guarantee the lawful rights that are conferred to the people by the Constitution.
For more information on Ye Jinghuan, see:
For more information on Jiang Qisheng, see:
For more information on Hua Huiqi, see:
For more information on He Depu, see: