Chinese Christian activist Hua Huiqi told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that his 78-year-old mother is being held a virtual hostage in an effort to pressure him into becoming a police informant. Hua says that when he refused to provide information, police threatened that he would never see his mother, Shuang Shuying, again.
Earlier this year, Hua and Shuang attempted to petition the National People’s Congress over the forcible clearance of their home, but were detained by police officers of the PSB’s Asian Games Village division and harshly beaten. Hua was subsequently arrested on February 8 for interfering in official business, and in June was sentenced to six months in prison for "obstructing official business." Meanwhile, Shuang was arrested while protesting Hua’s detention, and on February 26, 2007, she was sentenced to two years in prison for "intentional damage of public and private property."
Hua Huiqi was released on July 25 upon completion of his sentence, but Shuang is still being held in Beijing’s Qinghe Prison. According to her family, Shuang suffers from a severe diabetic condition and high blood pressure, and family members have only been allowed to visit her once, on July 20, in spite of repeated requests.
According to Hua Huiqi and his family, Domestic Security Protection Officer Meng Zhuang of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB) came to Hua’s home a week after his release and promised to take Hua to visit his mother if he agreed to provide information on people who came to his home. Meng reportedly indicated that Shuang could be released at any time at the bureau’s discretion if Hua cooperated with the authorities. Hua told HRIC that he firmly refused to provide the police with information on his visitors, and Meng responded by threatening that if Hua failed to cooperate with the authorities, he might never see his mother again. Hua said his wife and elder sister were present when Meng made his threat. Hua said that Meng had made a similar approach to him in prison, and that the family expected repeated harassment as a result of their refusal to cooperate with the police.
Hua Huiqi has been detained repeatedly in recent years for leading an underground house church, as well as for as his rights defense efforts on housing and other issues. Shuang Shuying is also a committed member of the underground church.
HRIC strongly condemns the attempts of a Beijing police officer to turn an activist into a police informant by threatening his access to his elderly mother in prison. HRIC also objects to Shuang Shuying being arbitrarily denied her right to the family visits provided for in both domestic law and in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. HRIC urges the Beijing authorities to cease harassing Hua Huiqi and Shuang Shuying and others for exercising their constitutionally protected right to practice their religion. HRIC also urges the authorities to resolve the complaints of Hua and Shuang over compensation for their home, instead of repeatedly punishing them for exercising their legal right to petition the government.