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April 2006

April 30, 2006

The information contained in this summary is based on information collected by HRIC in April and is not intended as a complete list. Rather, it should be viewed as a representation of larger trends of dissent and repression in China.

Labor

Media Censorship

Petitions and Protests

Human Rights Defenders

Death Penalty


Labor

Unemployment
With its large labor supply and economic uncertainty, China is expected to see a rise in its unemployment rate during the second and third fiscal quarters, despite an increase in new jobs during the first quarter. According to the government's state planner, approximately 1.64 million new jobs were created between January and March. However, 25 million jobs will need to be created this year in order to maintain the country's current unemployment rate of 4.2 percent amidst China's growing number of university graduates and workers laid off from state firms.[1]

Disasters
Six miners were confirmed dead in a mining accident in Lengshuijiang City, Hunan Province on April 6. A gas blast ripped through the Dongtang Coal Mine at 10:24 PM while 14 miners, including six women, were working in the mine. Three miners who remained missing as of April 9 are assumed dead. The Human provincial government had ordered the mine to suspend production in March because of heavy concentrations of gas.[2]

Thirty-two miners died as the result of a gas explosion at the Wayaobao Coal Mine in Zichang, Shaanxi Province on the afternoon of April 29. Only eight of a reported 39 miners on duty at the time survived the blast, and one of four who were seriously injured died later at the hospital. An investigation is underway at the Wayaobao Township Coal Mine, which is a legal, privately invested company with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tons.[3]

Five miners were killed in an explosion at a coal mine in Yegou Village, Huangdong Township, Jiaxian County on April 26. Seven other miners among the 66 reportedly working underground at the time were injured. The mine is operated by Daliushan Coal Mine, a subsidiary of the Henan Yuantian Corporation.[4]

The collapse of an ore tailing dam at the Miaolinggou iron ore mine in Qian'an, Tangshan City, Hebei Province resulted in the death of one worker, with five still missing. The accident, which occurred around 7 AM on April 23, is being investigated.[5]


Media Censorship

Foreign magazines censored
A media moratorium that has been in place for over a year was first reported on April 7 by The Asian Wall Street Journal. The moratorium limits the ability of foreign magazines to publish Chinese editions within mainland China. The government has not formally publicized the policy, though officials have anonymously confirmed its existence. The Chinese version of Rolling Stone Magazine was discontinued in March after publishing one translated issue.[6]

Google's stance
Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt argued that compliance with official Chinese regulations is necessary for the company to fulfill its mission to "serve all the people in the world." Speaking at the launch of Google's new Chinese name on April 12, Schmidt asserted that the company's "number one goal, by far, is to serve the Chinese citizen who wants information."[7]

Companies agree to self-censor
On April 9, fourteen Beijing-based web portals, including Sina.com. Sohu.com, Baidu.com, and Yahoo's Chinese Web site, stated in a joint proposal that they would block "unhealthy" content from their sites. This followed a call by the Internet Society of China (ISOC) for companies to sign a "Public Pledge of Self-Regulation." Eleven news websites, including Xinhuanet.com, People.com.cn, China.com.cn,
Chinadaily.com.cn, and Chinanews.com, have also make a similar statement of support. The proposal states that the intent is to oppose and crack down on indecent messages, sex or violent content, and photos of "poor taste."

Skype partner censors
VoIP firm Skype confirmed on April 19 that its Chinese partner, Tom Online, censors text messages. Niklas Zennström, Skype's chief executive, told reporters that its joint venture partner in China is operating in compliance with domestic law. "Tom had implemented a text filter, which is what everyone else in that market is doing," said Mr Zennström. "Those are the regulations." He also cites instances in which Western countries censors information: "I may like or not like the laws and regulations to operate businesses in the UK or Germany or the US, but if I do business there I choose to comply with those laws and regulations. I can try to lobby to change them, but I need to comply with them. China in that way is not different." He says that Skype will not put its users at risk, nor jeopardize their privacy.[8]


Petitions and Protests

Donzhou villagers silenced
Families in Dongzhouken, Shanwei, Guangdong Province, where police killed at least three protesters last year, have been forced to sign a statement of silence regarding the incident, according to a news report published on April 1. A victim's family member said that relatives have been kept under strict surveillance since February, and that some villagers had attempted to contact foreign media to highlight the case. "They [local government officials] forced all relatives of victims, injured people and their family members to sign a statement which said they wouldn't say anything to overseas media or make contact with outsiders, otherwise they would be punished," said the foster father of Lin Yidui, a 26-year-old victim. Isolated since the meeting of the National People's Congress last month, the villagers are afraid to leave their homes.[9]

Farmers protest corruption
Hundreds of Tianjin farmers gathered outside of a local government office calling for the removal of their village head, Yu Guanglong, and several other officials over the embezzlement of funds from the Second Jingjintang Expressway, which connects Hebei Province with Beijing and Tianjin. According to an April 4 news report, the Dongditou farmers joined hundreds of other people from area villages who have been demonstrating outside the township office over related issues since March 20. A spokesperson for the villagers said that officials told them that 17.5 hectares would be used for the expressway, but that 40 hectares had been appropriated. The villagers have not received any of the 525,000 yuan per hectare that the central government paid to village officials.[10]

Ditian Village blockade
Residents of Guangdong Province's Ditian Village have been blockading an industrial park in protest over the detention of five villagers in early April during a clash with police. The villagers were protesting the allocation of more than 200 hectares of farmland for the construction of the Foshan National High-Tech Industries Development Zone without village approval. A villager said that the crowd at the blockade ranged from 20 to 3,000, depending on the circumstances. "When we need people, we beat the gong to summon them and thousands can come quickly." The protesters say they will remain until the five detainees are released.[11]


Human Rights Defenders

Detained
Sun Xiaodi (孙小弟), a longtime petitioner exposing uranium contamination in Gansu Province, has been detained since April 6 after participating in a protest over the detention conditions of a fellow petitioner, Yue Yongjin. Sun was detained for eight months without cause last year, and held under house arrest until March 20. Sun had gone to visit Yue at the Sujiatun District Detention Center, and reported that Yue was emaciated as a result of being forced to perform prison labor while fed just three flour buns a day. The protest took place on March 30 at Yue's native Zhangliangbao Village. There has been no word on Sun's whereabouts since April 6.[12]

Harassed
The survival of the family of Beijing-based dissident Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇) has been threatened since Qi was arbitrarily detained on February 8. Qi was a worker protester at Tiananmen Square who lost a leg as a result of being shot during the June 1989 crackdown. In the years since 1989, he has been placed under official surveillance and periodic house arrest, as well as being attacked by police-sanctioned thugs. As a result of his participation in the hunger strikes organized by Gao Zhisheng earlier this year, he was placed under house arrest and was then detained for 42 days by the Xuanwu District National Defense Squad. Following his release on March 28, Qi learned that Lu Shiying, his wife, had been dismissed from her job because of his activities. Two days later, the family received notice from the Xuanwu District Business and Development Department that as of April 11, the family's small shop would be closed down on the grounds of "building code violations." The couple has a young daughter in primary school.[13]

Trial Developments
The sister of imprisoned dissident Zhao Changqing (赵常青) received an update on his conditions in solitary confinement on April 10. Zhao had been placed in solitary confinement for more than 40 days after he refused to sing a socialist anthem during the prison's flag-raising ceremony on February 18. Prison officials told Zhao's sister that he will remain in solitary confinement for three months because of his unwillingness to accept prison procedures, and for his unauthorized contact with some Falun Gong practitioners who had also been placed in solitary confinement. Zhao was detained for more than four months following his participation in the 1989 democracy movement, and again for various periods since then. Currently serving five years for "incitement to subvert state power," he has been in prison since August 2003.[14]

The Zibo City Intermediate People's Court in Shandong Province on April 12 began hearing the subversion case of Chinese dissident Li Jianping (李建平). Li, 40, a businessman and writer, was arrested in May 2005 after posting pro-democracy articles on the Internet. Li had been charged with libel at the time of arrest, but the charge was upgraded to "incitement to subvert state power" after the case was transferred to the People's Procuratorate. The maximum penalty for subversion is 15 years in jail.[15]

HRIC learned in April that dissident Wang Xiaoning (王小宁) was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the basis of essays he distributed through the Internet. Wang was sentenced more than two years ago, but his case has only recently come to light. He was detained on September 1, 2002 on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power." He was formally arrested on September 30, 2002, and went to trial at the Beijing Municipal First Intermediary People's Court on July 25, 2003. On September 12, 2003, the court sentenced Wang to 10 years in prison and two years' subsequent deprivation of political rights.[16]

Zhao Yan (赵岩)'s lawyer announced on April 18 that the authorities have resumed their case against his client. Earlier this year there had been speculation that Zhao would be released after previous charges were dropped prior to Hu Jintao's visit to the United States.[17]

Released
Thai immigration officials released Chinese dissident Lu Decheng (鲁德成) from a Bangkok detention center on April 11 following delays to his planned release on March 14. Upon release, Lu flew to Vancouver, where he had been granted political asylum. Lu been released on parole in early 1998 after serving just over nine years of a 16-year jail term for defacing a portrait of Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in 1989. He fled to Thailand in November 2004, and was arrested by Thai police a month later. Held by Thai authorities under threat of deportation, Lu was granted asylum in Canada with the aid of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On March 14, the day that he had been scheduled to leave for Canada, Lu was detained by Thai immigration officers after his Canadian sponsors received an e-mail informing them that the Chinese government had intervened and prevented Lu from leaving Thailand.[18]


Death Penalty

Violent Crimes
Ding Qiwei (丁其伟), Yang Dajun (杨大军) and Sun Peijun (孙培俊), gang members convicted of murdering the former deputy chief of the Gansu Province Propaganda Bureau in November 2005, were sentenced to death by the Lanzhou Intermediate People's Court in Gansu on April 19.[19]

Lin Ping (林平), a billionaire businessman convicted of murder of his business rival, was sentenced to death by the Baotao Intermediate People's Court in Inner Mongolia on April 20.[20]

Hu Yaonong (胡跃龙), Cao Ying (曹英) and Yin Xiaomin (尹晓敏), unemployed men in their 40s, were executed on April 25 after the Xi'an People's High Court convicted them of raping, robbing and murdering nine women between 1993 and 2005.[21]

Shi Changyou (史长有), 28, convicted of murdering his cousin after being refused a loan, was sentenced to death by the Beijing No.1 Immediate People's Court on April 26.[22]

Liu Limin (刘利民), a police officer in Shanxi Province convicted of instigating a group of gang members to beat another police officer to death on May 3, 2005, was sentenced to death by the Taiyuan Intermediate People's Court in Shanxi on April 27, 2996.[23]

Financial Crimes
Zhang Dewang (張德旺), a businessman convicted of tax evasion, was sentenced to death by the Qiqihar Intermediate People's Court in Heilongjiang Province on April 20.[24]

Hu Guiding (胡桂定), a former policeman convicted of appropriating 5.5 million yuan from a Hunan post office where he was working as a security guard, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve by the Yueyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan Province on April 21.[25]

Li Youcan (李友灿), a former trade official in Hebei Province convicted of taking bribes totaling 47 million yuan, had his death sentence upheld on appeal by the Hebei People's High Court on April 26.[26]


//

ENDNOTES

[1] "China says unemployment to worsen later in year," Reuters, http://asia.news.yahoo.com/....

[2] "Rescue work ends in central China coal mine accident," Xinhua News Agency, April 15, 2006.

[3] "Death toll of NW China coal mine gas blast rises to five, 26 still trapped," Xinhua News Agency, April 30, 2006.

[4] "Coal mine blast kills five, injures seven in central China," Xinhua News Agency, April 28, 2006.

[5] "Iron ore tailing dam collapse leaves 1 dead, 5 missing in N. China," Xinhua News Agency, April 23, 2006.

[6] "Rolling Stone Magazine at Risk in China," Associated Press, http://news.yahoo.com/....

[7] "Google defends censorship in China," Mail & Guardian Online, http://www.mg.co.za/....

[8] Alison Maitland, "Skype says texts are censored by partner in China," Financial Times, April 19, 2006.

[9] "Villagers forced to sign 'hush form' over shootings," South China Morning Post, April 1, 2006.

[10] Villagers escalate land row protest," South China Morning Post, April 4, 2006.

[11] "Protest continues until five released, say villagers," South China Morning Post, April 11, 2006.

[12] Human Rights in China, "Environmental Activist Sun Xiaodi Detained Again," April 7, 2006.

[13] Human Rights in China, "Dissident's Family in Financial Crisis Following Unexplained Detention," April 6, 2006.

[14] Human Rights in China, "Dissident Zhao Changqing Back in Solitary Confinement," April 11, 2006.

[15] "山东省异议人士李建平将在本周三开审 (Shandong-Based Activist Li Jianping to Be Tried on Wednesday)", Radio Free Asia, April 12, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/....

[16] Human Rights in China, "Yahoo! Cited in Decision Sentencing Internet Dissident Wang Xiaoning to 10 Years," April 27, 2006.

[17] Mure Dickie, "China resumes probe on journalist," Financial Times, April 19, 2006.

[18] "Mao Portrait Protester Freed, Travels to Canada," Radio Free Asia, http://www.rfa.org/....

[19] "甘肃宣传部原副部长石星光被害案开庭 三被告死刑 (Three Sentenced to Death for Killing Former Deputy Chief of Gansu Publicity Department)", Xinhuanet, April 20, 2006, http://news.xinhuanet.com/....

[20] "亿万富翁杀亿万富翁案宣判 (Billionaire in Inner Mongolia Gets Death Sentence for Killing Another Billionaire)", The Beijing News, April 21, 2006.

[21] "西安殺人狂肢解9女子 (Three Sentenced to Death for Killing Nine Women)", Ming Pao, April 27, 2006, http://www.mingpaonews.com/....

[22] "表哥绑架杀害表弟被判死刑 (Man Gets Death Sentence for Kidnapping and Murdering Cousin)", The Beijing News, April 28, 2006, http://news.thebeijingnews.com/....

[13] "中国警察打死警察 一审两名被告判死刑 (Two Policemen Sentenced to Death for Killing Fellow Policeman)", Chinesenewsnet.com, April 27, 2006, http://www1.chinesenewsnet.com/....

[24] "小废品公司牵出17亿惊天税案 六年来全国案情最复杂涉税案件主犯被判死刑 (Death Sentence Handed Down in Biggest Tax Evasion Case in Six Years)", Xinhuanet, April 21, 2006, http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/....

[25] "平江金库大盗被判死缓 (Former Policeman Receives Death Sentence for Larceny)", The Beijing News, April 24, 2006.

[26] "河北原外经贸厅副厅长李友灿被执行死刑(Former Trade Official in Hebei Executed for Taking Bribes)", Radio Free Asia, April 27, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/....

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