In a phone interview on April 25, 2010, Shanghai rights activist Feng Zhenghu (冯正虎) told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he has been placed under heavy “protection” since April 19, 2010, when his home was searched, with four computers and other electronic equipment confiscated, while he was being questioned by the police for “libel and slander.” The April 19 police action was carried out one week after he posted on the Internet the contents of what he calls “Feng Zhenghu’s Expo of Judicial Injustice” and one day after he tweeted his plan to mount the expo to coincide with the Shanghai World Expo, scheduled to open on May 1.
In his “Expo of Judicial Injustice,” Feng detailed 12 examples from his own experience illustrative of the current judicial system in Shanghai, where “law becomes a piece of decoration that only looks good on paper,” and judges are “the maidservants of those in power.” Human Rights in China has translated Feng’s plan and the first part of the “Expo” into English and will make the full translation available on HRIC’s website in the next few days.
In his brief interview with HRIC, Feng said that since early March, the authorities have stationed five men in front of his house to watch him round the clock. Recently, they also began interfering with his phone, which had become his primary means of communicating with the outside world after his computers were confiscated.
HRIC also learned from other Shanghai petitioners that when they went to visit Feng recently, the guards at the door immediately called the police. The police told the petitioners that they were required to go to the police station to explain their reason for visiting Feng and that there was no guarantee that they would be allowed to see Feng afterwards. The police told the petitioners: “Feng Zhenghu is now an international figure and we must protect his safety. Therefore, we have to investigate anyone who wants to see him.”
Feng told HRIC: “To me, this situation is a form of attack.” He continued, “This should have been a perfectly good World Expo, with everyone happy – but now some people’s freedom is restricted, and property is being confiscated without rhyme or reason. I hope that the Shanghai authorities will quickly rectify a situation that is also extremely detrimental to themselves.” Feng thanked the people and media organizations in China and abroad for their concern.
Originally an economist, Feng Zhenghu was imprisoned for three years (2001-2003) and fined 400,000 yuan (about $58,500) on conviction of “illegal business activities” relating to his publication of an e-book without official permission. After his release, he sued the Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau for denying him the permission to publish without a valid reason. He lost the case. After leaving prison, Feng became an active human rights defender in Shanghai, where he disseminated basic legal information and helped petitioners seek redress through legal means. As a result, he has been repeatedly harassed by the authorities. In mid-2009 to early 2010, he was denied re-entry into China eight times despite having a valid passport. In an episode that attracted widespread international attention, Feng camped out in Japan’s Narita Airport, where he fought for 92 days before finally being allowed to Shanghai on February 12, 2010.
“Feng Zhenghu’s ‘Expo of Judicial Injustice’ is a call to the Chinese authorities hosting the Shanghai Expo and to all the foreign sponsors and participants to realize the Expo’s theme of ‘Better City, Better Life’ for all the people in China. HRIC urges the international community to support rights defenders like Feng Zenghu who are working toward achieving that goal.” said Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC.
April 25, 2010
HRIC: The Shanghai Expo is opening soon. You were detained on April 19, 2010, while your home was searched and belongings confiscated. After you released your “Shanghai Expo of Judicial Injustice Planning Announcement” (冯正虎冤假错案博览会的规划启事), you currently cannot even get online. Is there anything that you would like to say to the public?
FZH: I hope that this kind of situation will come to an end soon. This is an infringement on my rights. They didn’t even follow a lawful procedure when they searched my house and confiscated my computer and so on. It made things very inconvenient for me. My mobile phone connection has been interfered with, which has brought me harm, and has also limited my personal freedom. But at the same time, the way they’re handling this is also having a negative effect on the Shanghai government. For instance, the day before yesterday, Wednesday, when a Hong Kong TV station came to my home to interview me, they also videotaped the scene. So I hope that the Shanghai authorities can change this kind of practice.
This should’ve been a perfectly good World Expo, with everyone happy – but now some people’s freedom is restricted, and property is being confiscated without rhyme or reason. I hope that the Shanghai authorities will quickly rectify a situation that is also extremely detrimental to themselves. I also thank the many people here and abroad as well as the international mainstream media for their attention, and hope that this situation will end quickly.
HRIC: Are regular people able to easily meet with you?
FZH: Aside from some mainstream foreign media outlets that receive the protection of the state and can visit me, it’s terribly bothersome for ordinary people in Shanghai to come to my home. They need to register and also go to the police station. This is not some strategic location for government officials! So I don’t get it, just why do they need to “protect” me so strictly? I hope to be an ordinary person so that people can openly meet with me. And I don’t want to bring trouble for the ordinary people who want to visit me, and cause them to be harassed by the authorities.
HRIC: Is your being tightly “protected” directly related to your “Expo of Judicial Injustice Planning Announcement”?
FZH: They have been “protecting” me for a long time; even before I had made public the “Expo of Judicial Injustice Planning Announcement” they were already “protecting” me like this. Beginning in March, they placed a group of five people outside the door of my home, to take turns watching after me 24/7. They have orders from their superiors to follow me whenever I go out. They are watching me so tightly, ostensibly to “protect my safety.” It’s basically unnecessary and hinders my freedom. Later, after I posted the “Expo of Judicial Injustice Planning Announcement” online, they became even more tense, even interfering with my phone. I wish they wouldn’t be so nervous.
HRIC: Finally, what are you trying to tell everyone by publishing the “Expo of Judicial Injustice Planning Announcement”?
FZH: I think that [the “Expo of Judicial Injustice”] could have a positive effect on improving society. Premier Wen Jiabao has said time and time again, “Impartiality and justice are more brilliant than the sun,” and “Let the people live their lives with more happiness and more dignity.” This [sentiment] is ultimately what will resolve the impartiality problem in the judiciary, and, at the same time, reflects the correct beliefs among the high-ranking officials in the central government. The judicial problem is indeed a major problem here in China, and I myself have first-hand experience with so many problems, so many cases. It’s also rather regretful that these cases all involve some of the basic freedoms – of the press, of speech, and of the Internet, etc. I published 12 typical cases. I believe that they can improve our judiciary and can have significance for society.
HRIC: Thank you for speaking with us. Please take care.
FZH: You’re welcome. Let everyone rest assured; I can’t get online easily. Through your spreading [of my case], there should not be any problem with my safety. I thank everyone for their concern.
HRIC: Thank you.
April 18, 2010
Judicial inaction and judicial injustice occur when the judiciary doesn’t act in accordance with the law. If judges do not respect the law, no matter how sound the legal system is, the law becomes a piece of decoration that only looks good on paper. The law doesn’t have any authority in real life, carrying less weight than the words of high-level leadership. If the judiciary doesn’t act in accordance with the law, there wouldn’t be any minimum standards on what is good and evil, as well as what is right and wrong in a society. Social justice wouldn’t be guaranteed and human dignity wouldn’t be safeguarded. Even a good policeman or a good official would have no choice but to perpetrate evil deeds. Judges would be reduced to be maidservants for those in power.
At the time when authorities in Shanghai are hosting the World Expo 2010, Feng Zhenghu is planning to host his own expo - an expo of judicial injustice. Among the many legal cases in which he has been involved, Feng will present 12 typical examples to illustrate the current judicial situation in Shanghai. During his interviews with the national and Shanghai media, Yu Zhengsheng, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Communist Party Committee stated: “When we usher in the World Expo 2010, we are not expecting to see a perfect Shanghai. It is impossible to achieve perfection and it’s not the real Shanghai either. A real Shanghai has her progressive and good sides but also faces challenges and problems.” Cases of judicial injustice in Shanghai resemble the city’s old dilapidated houses, which are dirty and shabby. Efforts need to be made to demolish and eliminate them.
Feng Zhenghu’s Expo of Judicial Injustice will be divided into six major sections:
1. Personal freedom; 2. Freedom of publication; 3. Free flow of information on the internet; 4. Freedom of speech; 5. Protection of private properties; 6. Judicial inaction. I want to use this opportunity to announce my expo plan to the public, welcoming public participation, supervision and assistance.
The Office of Safeguarding the Constitution and Protecting Citizens’ Civil Rights
Shanghai, April 18, 2010
Feng Zhenghu’s contact information:
Address: Apartment 302, Building 3, Lane 240, Zhengtong Road, Shanghai 200433
Is there judicial justice in Shanghai? Can the colorful economic boom in Shanghai and the big glamorous skyscrapers cover the backward judicial system in Shanghai? Shanghai resident Feng Zhenghu’s personal experiences in the past ten years bear the best witness.
Or perhaps, not so many people in Shanghai were granted this rare opportunity to have first-hand experiences with many of Shanghai’s judicial organs. Feng Zhenghu was “lucky” enough to be thrown into jail on unjust charges. His cases offer social science researchers a field study of the current administrative and judicial situation in Shanghai. Since November 13, 2000, when Feng Zhenghu was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for editing and publishing the Chinese version of An Overview of Japanese Enterprises in Shanghai (2001), he has personal experiences with the following executive and judicial entities:
Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau; the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau; the Shanghai Municipal Detention Center; the Shanghai Municipal Prison for New Prisoners; Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison; Shanghai Municipal Judicial Bureau; Shanghai Municipal People’s Procuratorate, the Branch No. 1 of Shanghai Municipal People’s Procuratorate; Branch No. 2 of Shanghai Municipal People’s Procuratorate; Shanghai Municipal Higher People’s Court; Shanghai Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court; Shanghai Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court; Luwan District People’s Court of Shanghai, Hongkou District People’s Court of Shanghai; Zhabei District People’s Court of Shanghai; Jing’an District People’s Court of Shanghai; Yangpu District People’s Court of Shanghai; Pudong New Area People’s Court of Shanghai; the Procuratorate, the Public Security Bureau and the detention center of Shanghai’s Yangpu District; Chongming County People’s Court of Shanghai as well as its Public Security Bureau; and the Baoshan District Procuratorate. The above list does not include agencies such as the Bureau of Letters and Calls and the Politics and Law Committee of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, and the Bureau of Letters and Calls as well as the Internal Judicial Committee of Shanghai People’s Congress.
Feng Zhenghu has been involved in 12 major cases:
The Chinese version of An Overview of Japanese Enterprises in Shanghai (ISBN 7-900609-33-4, Tongji University Press, 2001) and the Japanese version of An Overview of Japan-Affiliated Enterprises in China (ISBN 4-931548-98-9, Sino Japan Prospect Publishing House) were the first e-reference books in both China and Japan that specialized in the study and introduction of Japanese enterprises in China, Japanese enterprises that engage in investment and trade in China as well as key industries in Shanghai and its nearby districts and counties. We used the latest editing and publishing technology and filled in a gap in the gathering and study of information related to Japanese enterprises in China. Following their releases, the above two e-books received good reviews from leaders in both Chinese and Japanese organizations, businesses, the media and from other readers. Shanghai Tianlun Consulting Ltd (上海天伦咨询有限公司) was invited as a business operated by a student returning from overseas to attend free of charge the Second Shanghai International Industrial Fair held on October 24-28, 2000. The above e-books were displayed as one of the new hi-tech accomplishments of 2000.
However, 15 days after the fair ended, a tragic fate befell Shanghai Tianlun Consulting Ltd. and Feng Zhenghu. The same two e-books plunged Feng Zhenghu and Shanghai Tianlun Consulting Ltd. into unjust legal woes. On November 13, 2000, Feng Zhenghu was put under criminal detention by the Investigative Branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau for “illegally operating a business.” Then, he was officially arrested and sentenced. In June 2001, Feng Zhenghu received a three-year prison sentence for “Illegally operating a business” from Shanghai Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court in the first instance trial. Shanghai Tianlun Consulting Ltd. was fined 400,000 yuan [about $58,500]. Feng Zhenghu filed an appeal and in its final ruling in August 2001, Shanghai Higher People’s Court upheld the verdict.
The e-books were written and compiled by Feng Zhenghu, and published by Tongji University Press. The editorial unit of Shanghai Tianlun Consulting Ltd, which owned the copyrights, sold more than 226 copies. Revenue from the sales totaled 78,000 yuan and the company paid taxes in accordance with the law. These books brought three years of imprisonment for Feng Zhenghu. It was a flagrant case of injustice in Chinese history and became a notorious scandal in Shanghai. Following his release on November 12, 2003, Feng Zhenghu continued with his appeal, but Shanghai Higher People’s Court refused to offer judicial relief and closed its door on him. The court repeatedly denied his request for a retrial. As a consequence, the unjust verdict still stands today.
The verdict is clearly a violation of Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (freedom of publication); Article 10 of the Copyright Law (the rights and interests of a copyright owner); Article 5 of the Company Law (self employment in accordance with the law); Article 3 of the Criminal Law (the principles of a legally prescribed punishment for a specified crime); and Article 5 of the Regulations of the State Council on Publication Administration (the government shall protect the rights of its citizens to freedom of publication).
The plaintiff: Feng Zhenghu
The defendants: The Investigative Branch of the Public Order Division, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau; the Second Branch of Shanghai People’s Procuratorate; Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court; and Shanghai Higher People’s Court.
The case involves issues relating to a citizen’s rights to free publication, the right and interest of a copyright owner and an individual’s personal freedom.
Case objectives: Revoke in accordance with the law the unconstitutional and illegal court ruling and verdict (Shanghai Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court Criminal Verdict of the First Instance Trial No. 69 2001) and (Shanghai Municipal Higher People’s Court Final Criminal Verdict No. 127 2001); declare Feng Zhenghu’s innocence in exercising a citizen’s right guaranteed in the Chinese Constitution and laws; protect Feng Zhenghu’s legal rights; and order the offender, Shanghai Higher People’s Court, to pay compensation to victims Feng Zhenghu and Shanghai Tianlun Consulting Ltd.
The legal entity that has jurisdiction over the case: People’s Supreme Court.
The response by Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau on June 14, 2000 violated the rights and interests of Feng Zhenghu, Shanghai Tianlun Consulting Ltd. and Tongji University Press, leading to the wrongful conviction of Feng Zhenghu. On October 20, 2004, Feng Zhenghu filed a lawsuit with the Luwan District People’s Court against Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau, charging that the decision by the bureau had no legal basis and that it was a violation of a citizen’s legal rights and interests. The Luwan People’s Court accepted the case, but reached a wrongful verdict in the first instance trial, supporting the practice of using a Communist Party document as law. Then, in the second instance, the presiding judge of Shanghai Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court avoided the key questions raised by appellant Feng Zhenghu in his appeal against the initial ruling by the Luwan District People’s Court. The Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau did not submit its response to the charges brought by plaintiff Feng Zhenghu within the statutory limitation period. When the court lost the argument, the judge went ahead to deprive plaintiff Feng Zhenghu of his right to appeal. Shanghai Municipal No. 1 People’s Court overturned the verdict of the first instance trial but simultaneously issued a more preposterous ruling. Oblivious to the fact that the plaintiff had already been imprisoned and lost personal freedom for three years, Shanghai Higher People’s Court deprived Feng Zhenghu of his right to appeal on grounds that he had missed the limitation period. Shanghai Municipal Higher People’s Court refused to offer judicial relief and closed its door on him. The court repeatedly denied his request for a retrial. As a consequence, the unjust verdict still stands today.
The first instance trial involves a merit trial error and the second instance trial involves a procedural error.
The error in the first instance trial is clearly a violation of Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (freedom of the press); Article 10 of the Copyright Law (the rights and interests of a copyright owner); Article 5 of the Regulations of the State Council on Publication Administration (the government shall protect the rights of its citizens to freedom of publication); Article 14 and Article 15 of the Administrative License Law of the People’s Republic of China (no administrative penalties shall be created in any other regulatory documents in addition to the ones as stipulated in this law); Article 53 of the Administrative Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (in handling administrative cases, the people’s courts shall take, as references, regulations formulated and announced by ministries or commissions under the State Council in accordance with the law and administrative rules and regulations); Article 70 and Article 79 of the Law on Legislation of the People’s Republic of China (the legal effect of the Constitution is the highest, and no laws, administrative regulations, local regulations, autonomous regulations, separate regulations or rules whatever may contradict it); Measures on the Recording of Important Topics of Books, Periodicals, Audio/Visual Productions, and Electronic Publications promulgated by the General Administration of Press and Publications on October 10, 1997 (recording doesn’t equal review and approval).
The error in the second instance trial is a clear violation of Article 43 of Explanation of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues Concerning the Implementation of the Administrative Procedure Law (for a person who fails to appeal due to restrictions on his or her personal freedom, the time when his or her personal freedom is restricted shall not be counted in the limitation period”
The plaintiff: Feng Zhenghu
The defendant: Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau
The third party: Tongji University Press
This case involves issues relating to Chinese citizens’ rights to freedom of publication and the right to appeal their cases.
Case objectives: Revoke in accordance with the law the first instance ruling by Luwan District People’s Court, as well as the administrative ruling of Shanghai Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court (Shanghai Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, Doc. No. 20, 2005); invalidate the response by Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau (No. 047 Response Letter relating to E-books, 2000)
The legal entity that has jurisdiction over the case: The People’s Supreme Court.
During his incarceration at Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison, Feng Zhenghu filed an appeal in accordance with the law against the court ruling. He suffered discrimination and unfair treatment, even abuse. What was more serious was that he was subjected to 56 days of physical punishment inside a closed cell at the No. 6 Division of Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison. The mistreatment endangered his life and his health, and infringed upon his dignity and his other rights. In addition, Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison is still in possession of Feng Zhenghu’s journals and other personal belongings.
A prisoner’s personal freedom is restricted when he or she is serving time in jail. It shows that he or she is receiving punishment in accordance with the Criminal Law and that he or she has been deprived of personal freedom. However, a prisoner’s other rights are still protected by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the Prison Law, and other laws and regulations. Their lives, health and personal dignity should not be jeopardized. Feng Zhenghu received punishment, with his personal freedom restricted in jail like other prisoners, but his life, health, his personal dignity and his other rights and private properties should have been protected by laws and regulations.
The facts in this case indicate that the punitive acts carried out by prison guards during regular work hours constituted violations of plaintiff Feng Zhenghu’s other personal rights and his right of private properties. Or, perhaps, was it because certain judges couldn’t tell if Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison was an executive unit or a judicial organ? A judicial organ does not have to be regulated by the Administrative Procedure Law. However, a prison is a law enforcement entity, affiliated with the Ministry of Justice and the Shanghai Municipal Judicial Bureau. The word “sifa” (justice), is not the same as the judiciary [also “sifa”] of the court system. This should be common knowledge.
Feng Zhenghu filed an administrative appeal at the Hongkou District People’s Court on November 7, 2005, asking the defendant, Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison to issue an official apology, pay 56 yuan in compensation and return the confiscated personal belongings to the plaintiff. However, Hongkou District People’s Court issued an unjust ruling – refusing to handle the case. The Shanghai Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court also made a wrongful decision to uphold its final ruling. The Shanghai Municipal Higher People’s Court refused to offer judicial relief and closed its door on him. The court repeatedly denied his request for a retrial. As a consequence, the unjust verdict still stands today.
The judgment on this case is clearly a violation of Article 2 of the Administrative Procedural Law of the People’s Republic of China (the rights of citizens to initiate an administrative litigation), Article 11 (scopes of accepting administrative litigation and administrative compensation cases), Provision 2 (a compulsory administrative measure, such as restricting freedom of the person or seizing or freezing of assets, which one refuses to accept), Provision 8 (cases where an administrative organ is considered to have infringed upon other rights of the person and of property), and Provision 1 of Article 67 (a citizen’s right to claim administrative compensation).
The plaintiff: Feng Zhenghu
The defendant: Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison
This case involves the rights of detainees in Chinese prisons to other personal rights and the right to claim compensation for damaged personal possessions.
Case objectives: Revoke in accordance with the law the administrative ruling by the Hongkou District People’s Court (Hongkou Ruling of the First Instance Trial No. 36 2005) and the administrative ruling by Shanghai Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court (Shanghai Municipal No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court Ruling of the First Instance Trial No. 151 2005), demand that officials at Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison to issue an official apology and pay 56 yuan in compensation, and return confiscated personal items to Feng Zhenghu.
The legal entity that has jurisdiction over the case: The People’s Supreme Court.
[Note: The following are headings of the remaining cases. HRIC will provide full English translation of the contents in the near future at http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/174291]
For more information on Feng Zhenghu, see: