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Ten Petitioners and Rights Defenders Sentenced in Wake of Official Statistics on Decline of Petitions

September 28, 2010

A court in Sichuan Province convicted ten petitioners and rights defenders of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” in connection with a February 2009 protest they staged to draw attention to their previously unanswered petitions. The sentences, issued by the Shizhong District People’s Court of Leshan (乐山市市中区法院), came just two days after the release of a government white paper on human rights stating that a 2.7 percent drop in the number of petitions in 2009 over the previous year indicated human rights progress.

The defendants are Bao Junsheng (鲍俊生), Liu Jiwei (刘继伟), Zeng Li (曾理), Yang Jiurong (杨久荣), Zeng Rongkang (曾荣康), Xu Chongli (徐崇丽), Huang Xiaomin (黄晓敏), Yan Wenhan (严文汉), Xing Qingxian (幸清贤), and Lu Dachun (陆大春). Most of them are victims of forced eviction, inadequate compensation for land requisitioned by government authorities, and other injustices, and have been petitioning various authorities for several years for redress.

The sentences range from a three-year prison term to one year of surveillance by public security authorities. At trial, all but one of the defendants maintained their innocence, and asserted that the right to express their grievances through protest and the right to freedom of expression are guaranteed by Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution. (See below for a detailed list of the sentences.)

On Februrary 23, 2009, six of the defendants – Bao, Liu, Zeng, Yang, Zeng, and Xu – staged a protest outside the gate of the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court (成都市中级人民法院). Several dozen other petitioners joined them. Bao, Liu, and others hung banners from the top of the 3U Department Store (三友百货) across from the court and made gestures to jump from the building. Other protestors carried placards and wore paper hats emblazoned with the words “defend rights” (维权) and “injustice” (冤). The protestors used iron chains to link themselves together in front of the gate of the court. As a result, the incident has come to be known as the “Chain Gate” case.

The other four defendants – Huang, Yan, Xing, and Luhelped spread the news of the protest by taking photos and videos and writing a report that they circulated online on overseas websites such as 64 Tianwang (64tianwang.com), Chinese Human Rights Defenders (crd-net.org), and Boxun (boxun.com). The photos and videos show a peaceful protest. (See below for links to the photos and videos.)

Ran Tong (冉彤), the lawyer for Lu, who received a two-year sentence, said: “The only weapon that [my client] had was the constitutional right to freedom of expression and to supervise and criticize the government. Depriving him of this weapon runs contrary to the promise made by our premier Wen Jiabao that the government ‘should create opportunities for the people to supervise and criticize the government’ (应该创造机会让人民监督和批评政府).

Huang Xiaoqin (黄晓芹), the sister of Huang Xiaomin (黄晓敏), a rights defense activist, said that her brother intends to appeal. “They gave him such a heavy sentence [two years and six months] because he was the one who broke the story of the protest on the Internet, and that enraged the authorities.”

“Among the netizen comments we have seen in reaction to the Chinese government’s just-released Human Rights White Paper, by far the greatest number expressed dismay and disbelief at the claim that a decline in the number of petitions is an indication of human rights progress in China. This case perhaps shows us the real reason contributing to the decline,” said Sharon Hom, HRIC Executive Director. “Instead of addressing the grievances of petitioners, the authorities simply lock them away.”

No.

Defendant

Accused Action1

Sentence2

1.

鲍俊生
Bao Junsheng

策划、签署共同呼吁书、组织维权群体、悬挂标语、头戴维权帽、将维权者用铁链串在一起、呼喊口号
Planned the event, co-signed the Joint Appeal, organized petitioners, hung slogans, wore a “defend rights” (维权) cap, linked petitioners together with an iron chain, and shouted slogans.

Three years’ imprisonment for the crime of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” (聚众扰乱社会秩序罪).

2.

刘继伟
Liu Jiwei

策划、签署共同呼吁书、悬挂标语、头戴维权帽、将维权者用铁链串在一起、呼喊口号
Planned the event, co-signed the Joint Appeal, hung slogans, wore a “defend rights” (维权) cap, linked petitioners together with an iron chain, and shouted slogans.

Two years of public surveillance (管制) for the same crime, a lighter sentence because he helped the authorities to detain other suspects. 

3.

曾理
Zeng Li

策划
Planned the event.

Two and a half years’ imprisonment for the same crime

4.

杨久荣
Yang Jiurong

策划、签署共同呼吁书、向其他上访人员通报策划情况及组织签署共同呼吁书并之后交给鲍俊生、邀约徐崇丽
Planned the event, co-signed the Joint Appeal, notified other petitioners of the planning and organized the signing of the Appeal, handed the Appeal to Bao Junsheng, and invited Xu Chongli.

Two and a half years’ imprisonment for the same crime.

5.

曾荣康
Zeng Rongkang

策划、现场拍照、在网上发布照片
Planned the event, took photos of the protest, published photos.

Two and a half years’ imprisonment for the same crime.

6.

徐崇丽
Xu Chongli

邀约严文汉参加, 到现场
Invited Yan Wenhan to participate, and went to the scene of the protest.

One year of public surveillance (管制) for the same crime.

7.

黄晓敏
Huang Xiaomin

通知严文汉到场、现场拍摄照片和视频、向幸清贤提供照片、接收严文汉照片、注解照片、发给“六四天网”等境外媒体
Called Yan Wenhan to the protest, took photos and videos of the protest, provided photos to Xing Qingxian, received photos from Yan Wenhan, annotated the photos, and sent photos to 64tianwang.com and other overseas media outlets.

Two and a half years’ imprisonment for the same crime.

8.

严文汉
Yan Wenhan

通知黄晓敏、现场拍摄照片和视频、将照片传给黄晓敏
Called Huang Xiaomin to the protest, took photos and videos of the scene, and sent photos to Huang Xiaomin.

Two years’ imprisonment for the same crime.

9.

幸清贤
Xing Qingxian

听陆大春关于现场的口述、网上搜集现场照片、接收黄晓敏照片、撰写报道、在自己博客上刊登报告、将报道发给“维权网”“博讯网”等境外媒体
Listened to Lu Dachun’s dictation of the scene, collected photos of the protest on the Internet, received photos from Huang Xiaomin, wrote a report, posted the article on his own blog, and sent the article to overseas websites such as Chinese Human Rights Defenders (crd-net.org) and Boxun (boxun.com).

Two years’ imprisonment for the same crime.

10.

陆大春
Lu Dachun

现场拍照、通知黄晓敏到场、事后向幸清贤口述现场情况
Took photos of the scene, called Huang Xiaomin to the scene, and dictated the scene to Xing Qingxian.

Two years’ imprisonment for the same crime.

Notes

1. Based on Shizhong District People’s Procuratorate of Sichuan Indictment [乐山市市中区人民检察院的起诉书], No. 07 (2010) [乐市中检刑诉(2010)07号], January 4, 2010, http://gb.hrichina.org/public/contents/21398. ^

2. Based on HRIC conversations with defense lawyers, September 28, 2010. ^


For videos and photos of the February 23, 2009 protest, see:

For more information on the Chain Gate case, see: