簡訊 :

Clashes As Hubei Workers Are Sent 'On Leave,' Factory Razed

Written on 2014年8月15日星期五 | 15.8.14

[ 时间:2014-08-15 13:20:10 | 作者:Qiao Long | 来源:RFA ]


Chinese SWAT policemen stage an anti-riot drill in Xiangfan, Hubei province, in a file photo. EyePress News

Hundreds of textile workers clashed with police in the central Chinese province of Hubei over loss of income after their factory halted production, amid reports that five protesters were detained and others hospitalized, workers said.

More than 300 women employees of the Yinhe Jiutian Textiles Factory in Hubei's Xiangfan conurbation began a protest outside municipal government offices on Monday after management told them to "take a three-month holiday," after the factory stopped production.

But local authorities deployed riot police armed with batons, who beat up many of the workers, detaining five of them, protesters said.

"When we came to the city government today, they injured some of us, and they are still in the hospital, and the government didn't even [pay their expenses]," protester Shi Junfang told RFA on Tuesday.

Riot police had accused the women of "gathering a crowd to stir up trouble," and beat up a number of them, or shoved and dragged them in the ensuing clashes, she said.

"How were we gathering a crowd to stir up trouble? We were standing there, not even saying anything," Shi said. "Then they came over and dragged a few of us away ... onto their bus."

"There were 200-300 police, all men. We are all women, not nearly a match for them," she said. "No one came out [from the government offices]. We are still sitting in the complaints office, but they won't speak out on behalf of ordinary people."

Shi said workers had been told that their status would be decided after a three-month period of "leave." "But we don't have jobs now," Shi said. "What are we supposed to do?"

Five detained

Meanwhile, protester Li Shuang told RFA on Tuesday she saw five women detained during the protest.

"Three hundred of us came here to the city government offices today," Li said. "We are outside the gates, and we haven't crossed the police line they have set up."

"We were just standing here, but then they took away five of our number," she added.

"[The police] said we were affecting civic pride standing here at the gates of the city government, so they detained our leaders," Li said. "The riot police carried them away."

The dispute was sparked by a "three-month furlough" imposed on the women by the factory, which gave them just 10 yuan (U.S. $1.60) a day each to cover living expenses during that time, the workers said.

According to the Sichuan-based Tianwang rights website, the branch factory where the women were employed has already been demolished, but employees were being given no severance or redundancy pay as stipulated by China's labor laws.

"Management said we should take three months off, but our factory has actually been demolished ... and all the production line has been taken away," Li said. "They don't want to give us the compensation they owe us."

"We want them to pay us according to the Labor Law [of the People's Republic of China], because 300 yuan (U.S. $49) a month isn't enough to live on; you can't feed a family on that," she said.

Officials who answered the phone at the police department and government offices in Xiangyang, one of the two cities that make up Xiangfan, declined to comment on the dispute on Tuesday.

Hope lost

According to a third protester, Kang Ling, most of the women have now lost all hope of getting their jobs back.

"They are saying that the land has already been taken over by someone, and that the factory made a loss for many years," Kang said. "But they wouldn't say whether they were bankrupt or not."

"They just gave us 10 yuan a day as a subsidy."

Kang said some 100-200 workers in a second factory owned by the same company were in a similar situation.

Chinese factories have been hit by a wave of industrial disputes amid a slowdown in economic growth, but the ruling Chinese Communist Party doesn't tolerate any independent organization of workers.

The party-backed All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is charged with protecting workers' rights, but independent labor groups and workers say it has a poor track record when it comes to negotiating with management and government officials.

Meanwhile, rights groups say police are increasingly employing public order offenses as a means of silencing peaceful activism on almost any topic.

The Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin recorded 202 labor disputes in the country during the first quarter of 2014, mostly in the manufacturing sector, a year-on-year increase of more than 30 percent.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Beijing learns lessons on quakes

Written on 2014年8月9日星期六 | 9.8.14

[ 时间:2014-08-09 00:22:46 | 作者:Scott Murdoch | 来源:THE AUSTRALIAN ]


Beijing learns lessons on quakesEarthquake survivors wash clothes in a river near a temporary tent village at Longtoushan, in China’s southwest Yunnan province. Source: AFP < PrevNext >

THE image of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang walking 5km to the Yunnan province earthquake epicentre has prompted praise for the official response to the -nation’s latest natural disaster, which has killed 615 people.

For once, China reacted swiftly. It sent more than 12,000 -People’s Liberation Army soldiers, doctors and paramedics to the region after the 6.1-magnitude quake ripped through -remote, mountainous villages late on Sunday.

The response was in stark contrast to the time an earthquake shook Sichuan province in May 2008, killing almost 80,000 -people.

While the death toll from the Yunnan quake stands lower than in Sichuan, China has shown it has learnt from the criticism it faced in 2008 when it was savaged for being far too slow to respond.

Mr Li has been dubbed “China’s chief comforter” for his swift response, reaching the Ludian County epicentre early on Monday to co-ordinate the -official response. However, there are now questions whether China should be putting in place better preventive measures to reduce the damage from future natural disasters, -especially in earthquake-prone centres in the -nation’s south.

China Tianwang Human Rights Service founder Huang Qi told The Weekend Australian that authorities needed to be more proactive in ensuring buildings in prone areas were prepared for -potential quakes.

Most of the Ludian county population are migrant farmers who survive on about $US1 a day and live primarily in mud-brick houses.

“I want to emphasise that prevention is much more important than rescue,” Mr Huang said.

“The area where this earthquake has happened has suffered several quakes in the past few years, which makes it very fragile.

“The damage this time is to dilapidated houses. The authorities should have known that something like this could happen and helped residents there fit out their houses, reinforce them and help them to rebuild to make them stronger before this happened.”

Mr Huang said the damage had been exacerbated because building codes had not been adhered to.

“In the countryside, in distant and poor areas, there are few building regulations and people do not pay attention to them,” he said. “So that means there are many zones where the government should be supporting and subsidising people to improve their living conditions to make them safer.”

Independent commentator Wu Zuolai said the government needed to be more proactive in improving safety and living conditions in damage-prone areas, such as Yunnan.

“This earthquake, in terms of magnitude, was not that high but the damage has been major,’’ he said.

“In the past 10 years this area has suffered at least three earthquakes which caused damage. But the government has not taken local construction seriously so they should take a big responsibility for the damage this time.”

Despite a huge rescue effort, 114 people are still missing and 3134 are injured, of whom 343 are in a critical condition. It is estimated that 800,000 houses collapsed and a further 129,100 -were severely damaged.

Authorities expect the death toll to rise steadily in the next few days as the “golden hours” window, when people can be found alive, closes.

A new risk now is the rising prospect of a disease outbreak -because of high temperatures, dirty water and a lack of medication.

Additional reporting: Wang Yuanyuan

Beijing Activist Hu Jia Attacked by 'Trained Men'

Written on 2014年7月19日星期六 | 19.7.14

[ 时间:2014-07-19 14:38:42 | 作者:Gao Shan | 来源:FRA ]


Hu Jia in a self-portrait taken after being beaten on a Beijing street, July 16, 2014.Photo courtesy of Hu Jia's Twitter feed

Chinese activists have hit out at a late-night attack on Beijing-based veteran rights campaigner Hu Jia that he said was carried out by "plainclothes cops."

"Just now, at 8:12 p.m. today, July 16, I was set upon and injured by some plainclothes personnel about 100 meters (330 feet) from the eastern exit of the Caofang subway system, on the north side of the road," Hu wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday.

"Afterwards, they got into their vehicle and drove away. I couldn't see the registration because I had dropped my glasses," he wrote.

"I feel terrible right now; I'm leaning on the side of the road, and am about to call the police," Hu added, posting a photo of himself.

Later, Hu tweeted: "I recall very clearly that some plainclothes guys in black kicked me in the stomach. They fought like professionals, grabbing my throat and then landing the first punch on my eye."

"It was a heavy blow, and made my nose bleed immediately."

Hu later wrote that local police had been unable to identify the car registration from surveillance cameras, and that he planned to seek treatment for his injuries in hospital.

Hu told RFA on Thursday that he was still in pain from the injuries to his head.

"They smashed one side of my nose in and broke it, and the doctor said I'd need three or four days in hospital and minor surgery to set it straight again," he said.

"I have basically decided to go ahead with the surgery because it won't heal by itself, but I'll get a second opinion ... today."

'Like rabid tigers'

Hu said he had met with a Spanish photographer and documentary filmmaker on Wednesday who is planning a film about rights activist Cao Shunli, who died shortly after being released from police custody earlier this year after her lawyer said she was denied adequate medical care in a Beijing detention center.

He said the attackers were waiting for him as he returned to his parked car after the meeting.

"As soon as they saw it was me, they jumped on me like rabid tigers, grabbed me and punched me in the eye, on the frame of my glasses, and the blood came out instantly," he said.

"The glasses smashed and the glass cut me; it hurt a lot," Hu added. "Then they carried on beating me with fists and feet for about two minutes, which passed very slowly."

"These guys were about 1.78 meters (5.8 feet) tall, the other one maybe about 1.85 meters (6.1 feet), and they had definitely been trained," he said.

Attacks more common

Sichuan-based rights activist and founder of the Tianwang rights website Huang Qi said such attacks on dissidents and rights campaigners had become more and more common over the past decade.

"[They] are targeted in all sorts of ways, including being locked up in black jails, and being beaten up by plainclothes personnel," Huang said. "This attack on Hu Jia is just one example."

Huang called on President Xi Jinping to end the use of "illegal methods" against critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

"[Activists] are targeted openly and covertly, and ... they can also have their personal freedom limited or their right to work stripped from them, or be prevented from leaving the country, to attend academic conferences," Huang said.

He lauded Hu's reporting of the attack on social media.

"Any activist who is targeted should stand up and speak out," Huang said. "That is the only way that there will be any hope for human rights in China."

'Gangster tactics'

Meanwhile, U.S.-based rights activist Liu Qing said the Chinese government is quite capable of stooping to "gangster tactics" when it chooses.

"They have an utter lack of respect for the law," Liu said. "They use it or ignore it or tweak it [to suit their own purposes]."

He said Hu, a long-time campaigner on AIDS issues and for civil rights in general, has previously been subjected to prolonged "criminal detention" and periods of house arrest at his Beijing home.

"Why do the authorities in Beijing employ such gangster tactics? Because they can't find any pretext on which to arrest activists," Liu said.

"So they resort to illegal methods ... and such incidents are likely to become more common."

Hu was handed a three-and-a-half year jail term in 2008 for "incitement to subversion" after he wrote online articles critical of China's hosting of the Olympics.

A campaigner for human rights and AIDS victims in China, Hu was awarded the Sakharov Prize, a major human rights award, by the European Union in 2008.

He had acted as a key source of information for foreign media on human rights and environmental violations, government abuses, judicial injustices, and the mistreatment of dissidents.

More recently, Hu has been a vocal supporter of jailed Uyghur dissident Ilham Tohti, regularly speaking out against Chinese government policy in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Reported by Qiao Long and Gao Shan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Twelve Chinese Petitioners in Pesticide Suicide Bid

Written on 2014年7月17日星期四 | 17.7.14

[ 时间:2014-07-17 13:13:44 | 作者:Qiao Long | 来源:六四天网 ]


Police take away a petitioner in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Dec. 4, 2013.AFP

Twelve people are in hospital in Beijing after two mass suicide attempts apparently triggered by failure by the authorities to look into their grievances, including forced evictions, witnesses said.

Five petitioners from the southwestern province of Guizhou on Wednesday attempted suicide in a Beijing police station by drinking pesticide simultaneously, an eyewitness said.

The five, who had pursued complaints against local government officials to no avail and were in the process of being detained at a Beijing police station, downed the pesticide within a few feet of an Anhui petitioner surnamed Zhu.

"There was an iron railing between us, and they were outside the security checkpoint and we had already passed through it," Zhu said.

"Then they drank the pesticide and fell to the floor."

She said one of the women had remained conscious briefly.

"We asked her where she was from, so we could send out a tweet on their behalf," Zhu said. "She said a couple of things, and then white foam started coming out of her mouth and she fainted away."

Photos blocked

Zhu said police at the scene had stopped people from taking photos of the petitioners.

"When they fell to the floor, all the petitioners gathered round and started shouting, but the police corralled us and wouldn't let us see," Zhu said.

"One policeman saw me taking photos and dragged me into an office where he snatched my cell phone and deleted the photos," she added.

An officer who answered the phone at the Fuyou Street police station on Wednesday declined to comment on Zhu's account.

"I don't know about this," the officer said, before hanging up the phone.

Earlier, seven petitioners from the eastern province of Jiangsu had staged a similar collective suicide bid outside the offices of the China Youth Daily newspaper group.

"They have all been taken to hospital," an employee who answered the phone at the newspaper offices said on Wednesday.

But she declined to comment further. "I don't know about this," she said.

Media reports said the five men and two women from Qingyang township in Jiangsu's Sihong county had been taken to a nearby emergency room after swallowing liquid pesticide.

Black jails

Complaints documents found on the petitioners indicated they were pursuing a complaint about forced eviction from their homes last year, and had been locked up in an unofficial detention center, or "black jail," by local officials in retaliation.

China's army of petitioners frequently report being held in "black jails," beaten, or otherwise harassed,if they persist in a complaint beyond its initial rejection at a local level.

"They probably had reached the end of the road and the end of all hope," a petitioner from the northeastern province of Liaoning surnamed Zhao told RFA.

"There are a lot of journalists outside a newspaper office, so it's pretty sensitive, and there is a chance it will get reported," he said.

"If they did it outside a government building, the authorities would lock down any information about it, and it would have all been for nothing."

Attempted suicides are growing increasingly common among disgruntled petitioners, many of whom are forced evictees, and most of whom pursue complaints against local officials for years or even decades with no result.

Growing numbers

Tianwang rights website founder Huang Qi said his group now hears a growing number of reports of such protests across China.

"There were two cases of petitioners attempting mass suicide in Beijing today," Huang said. "The escalation in this sort of extreme incident shows that China's petitioners have nowhere to have their complaints heard."

"It also shows that the nationwide anti-corruption campaign isn't helping the interests of ordinary people at the grass-roots level," he said.

"The highest levels of leadership need to launch a high-level campaign immediately against corruption at the village and township levels, and to pay out compensation to disadvantaged groups, who are mostly farmers who have lost their land," Huang said.


On June 24, five petitioners who drank pesticide in a suicide pact in Beijing to protest their forced eviction "disappeared" after being taken to hospital, relatives said at the time.

And last December, 13 protesters staged a mass suicide attempt in Beijing after a failed bid to win compensation over forced eviction from their homes.

Petitioners file nearly 20,000 grievances in person every day to complaints offices across the country, according to official figures released last November.

The government's complaints website currently receives around 1,200 complaints on any working day online, many of them linked to forced evictions.

Violent forced evictions, often resulting in deaths and injuries, are continuing to rise in China, as cash-strapped local governments team up with development companies to grab property in a bid to boost revenue, rights groups say.

Amnesty International collected reports of 41 cases of attempted or completed suicide by self-immolation from 2009 to 2011 linked to forced evictions, compared with less than 10 cases reported in the entire previous decade.

Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

China Probes Three High-Ranking Allies of Former Security Chief

Written on 2014年7月16日星期三 | 16.7.14

[ 时间:2014-07-16 18:48:15 | 作者:Hai Nan | 来源:FRA ]


Zhou Yongkang at the National People's Congress opening session in Beijing, March 5, 2012.

China's state prosecution service said on Monday it is proceeding with a criminal investigation into three top allies of former security czar Zhou Yongkang, in a further sign that the government may be deepening the anti-graft probe into him and his former power base.

Former vice minister of public security Li Dongsheng and Jiang Jiemin, formerly a top regulator of state-owned enterprises, along with former China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) senior manager Wang Yongchun, are all under formal investigation by the Supreme People's Procuratorate, according to an announcement on the prosecutor's official website.

Until now, the majority of investigations have been carried out by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's own internal investigations department, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

The move to criminal proceedings could signal that Zhou will be formally targeted in a high-level corruption investigation that will have wide-ranging political implications.

Since taking office in March 2013, President Xi Jinping has vowed to go after high-ranking "tigers" and low-ranking "flies" amid a nationwide anti-corruption drive. However, no direct announcement has been made regarding Zhou's fate.

Zhou retired from public office in November 2012, and could become the highest-ranking party official to be targeted by an anti-graft campaign if he is eventually openly accused.

"Whether Zhou Yongkang can be formally prosecuted is a threshold Xi Jinping's government and the CCP is facing," New York-based Chinese human rights activist Liu Qing said.

"If Zhou Yongkang's case is finally made public, it means that the CCP can cross that threshold and that the highest-ranking leaders can be punished. But I am still not sure whether Xi can cross this threshold."

Sources following the investigation say dozens of Zhou's former colleagues, political allies, and family members have been detained or are helping the authorities with their enquiries.

Political, business empire

While state media has reported on the detention of many of Zhou's associates, it has only obliquely mentioned the probe into Zhou's political and business empire, which spanned the petrochemical and mining industries, a regional power base in Sichuan, and China's hugely powerful domestic security apparatus.

"I think Jiang Jiemin and the two others have a relatively close relationship with Zhou Yongkang, and everyone would guess their probe means that Zhou Yongkang investigation may soon be publicly announced, but it's hard to say," said Liao Ran, the senior program coordinator of the Berlin-based global corruption watchdog Transparency International.

Zhou, who was once a political mentor to jailed former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, stepped down from his post as Politburo standing committee member and head of the political and legal affairs commission in November 2012, where he wielded huge power, political analysts say.

His post has since been downgraded to report to the all-powerful Politburo standing committee.

According to Pin Ho, editor of New York-based Chinese news magazine Mingjing News, who has been following the probe in detail, said the sheer numbers of officials being investigated makes it hard for the party to keep tabs on attempts to fight a rearguard action.

"Some of my sources are telling me that because so many corrupt officials have been detained, some of them are seeking to muddy the waters," Ho said.

"They want to create a distraction and to put a spanner in the works of the agencies going after tigers," he said.

Little grass-roots benefit

Sichuan-based rights activist Huang Qi said Xi's anti-graft campaign has spread throughout China, but with little tangible benefit for the country's 1.3 billion people, however.

"Although the fact that a lot of officials have lost their jobs makes people happy, a lot of people who lost their land, petitioners pursuing complaints, have yet to have them resolved," Huang said.

"Most people see the high-level anti-corruption campaign as a form of power struggle, and nothing more," he said.

He said the campaign would need to strike at grass-roots officials in government and party who typically hold sway over ordinary people's lives to make ordinary Chinese feel any benefit.

"When the anti-corruption campaign gets deep into the grass-roots levels of government, and in among the village and township-level officials, only then will people will enjoy the benefits," Huang said.

Meanwhile, the party could make a formal announcement on the Zhou investigation as early as next month, Hong Kong's English-language South China Morning Post reported.

It quoted sources as saying that the authorities are worried that publicly accusing Zhou, who was in charge of law and order for more than a decade, will shake public confidence in the legal system.

However, the party may bring its traditional fourth central committee plenum, which will focus on the rule of law, forward to late August or early September, amid mounting speculation on the Zhou probe, the paper said.

Zhou, 72, is believed to have been detained last December at an unknown location. Top leaders, including those now retired, will make a final decision on the case at an annual party conclave in the seaside resort of Beidaihe, the paper said.

Reported by Xi Wang for RFA's Mandarin Service and Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie and Ping Chen. Written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Veteran Chinese Opposition Activist Held on Subversion Charges

Written on 2014年7月11日星期五 | 11.7.14

[ 时间:2014-07-11 18:08:52 | 作者:Gao Shan | 来源:RFA ]


An undated photo of activist Lu Gengsong.Photo courtesy of Lu Gengsong's family

Authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou have once more detained a veteran pro-democracy activist on suspicion of subversion, his wife and rights groups said.

Activist and member of the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP) Lu Gengsong was criminally detained by Hangzhou police on Monday on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power."

However, his wife said the move was likely a form of retaliation for Lu's advocacy work on behalf of ordinary people with grievances against the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

"Lu Gengsong came to see me at my workplace at around 8:00 p.m. [on Monday], and the police took him away as he was coming out," Lu's wife Wang Xue'e told RFA.

"The police didn't give us a reason."

According to a copy of the police detention notice seen by RFA, Lu is currently being held at the Hangzhou detention center.

Wang said more than 20 officers had then searched the couple's home, seizing a computer and two cell phones.

"The Hangzhou police didn't send the notification of criminal detention to us until Tuesday morning," Wang said.

The charge against Lu, 58, was listed as "incitement to subvert state power," she added.

She said she planned to hire top rights attorney Mo Shaoping to defend Lu.

"That's what Lu Gengsong told the state security police, and they gave me the message," Wang said.

Recent posts

Meanwhile, fellow CDP activist Chen Shuqing said Lu's detention could be linked to recent posts he had made online regarding rampant official corruption.

"My guess is that this something to do with articles Lu Gengsong posted online in recent days about corrupt officials, and also his reporting on the cases of petitioners in Jiangsu province," Chen said.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has launched a nationwide anti-graft crackdown, targeting high-ranking "tigers" and low-ranking "flies," since coming to power in November 2012.

But the party regards any popular involvement in the anti-corruption campaign as highly sensitive and potentially threatening, and has sentenced a number of activists to jail for calling on officials to reveal their wealth.

Meanwhile, Sichuan-based rights activist Huang Qi said Lu had done a great deal of advocacy work on behalf of disadvantaged people in recent years.

"Starting in 2005, Lu Gengsong began working with us at Tianwang on some rights-defending activities," Huang said. "He was then locked up on a trumped-up charge after he annoyed some people in the local government."

"The authorities are using his online writings about democracy and his membership in the CDP as an excuse," Huang said. "The authorities make a habit of interrogating him and searching his home under suspicion of incitement to subvert state power."

Previous harassment

Lu was last detained under similar charges last November. His home was also searched and computers confiscated at that time, although he was later released under close surveillance.

According to the New York-based group Human Rights in China, the couple's home has been under 24-hour surveillance since February, and Lu has been restricted to his home with limited freedom of movement.

Lu was sentenced by a Hangzhou court to four years' imprisonment for "incitement to subvert state power" in February 2008, in a trial that Wang said took about 15 minutes.

A history graduate from eastern China's Zhejiang University, Lu taught at a police college before being expelled in 1993 because of his pro-democracy activities.

Since then, he has published several books, and is best known for "A History of Chinese Communist Party Corrupt Officials," published in Hong Kong in 2000.

The CDP was banned in 1998 and several of its founder members sentenced to lengthy jail terms for subversion the same year.

Rights record

Beijing has repeatedly hit out at international concern over its human rights situation, saying that only the Chinese people have the right to speak out on the subject.

But the authorities repeatedly detain and harass any activists who try to do so.

China signed the U.N. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1998, ahead of its bid to host the Olympics, but neither treaty has been ratified by its parliamentary body.

Reported by Gao Shan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Voices in Danger: Journalists detained on anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre

Written on 2014年6月10日星期二 | 10.6.14

[ 时间:2014-06-10 23:13:18 | 作者:ANNE MORTENSEN | 来源:The Independent ]

The prominent Chinese journalist Huang Qi was recently arrested for reporting on a protester who set themselves on fire

A Chinese policeman blocks photos being taken outside Zhongnanhai which serves as the central headquarters for the Communist Party of China

Chinese authorities began a nationwide crackdown of journalists well before the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Huang Qi, a prominent journalist at The China Centre for Human Rights and founder the news website Skynet, was issued with a criminal summons and taken in for questioning on 14 March. His crime? Publishing a report of a protester who set herself alight in Tiananmen Square earlier in the month.

He says that he is psychologically prepared for possible re-imprisonment.

During his latest interrogation by Chinese security, Huang says they demanded he hand over his news sources and cease reporting allegations of on human rights violations. Though Huang was released the same day despite his non-compliance, this time he is ready for the worst.

Huang has already served two prison sentences totalling eight years, for “suspicion of state secrets” and “suspected trouble”.

“The last time the Chinese security department sent officers to arrest me directly," he says, "they also confiscated my office equipment. I had no opportunity to tell my family where I was.”

During his imprisonment, he reported enduring long stretches of interrogation that resulted in sleep deprivation. The near-constant stress has taken a toll on his health and his personal life.

In his second prison stint, he developed tumours in his stomach and chest. “My wife of several decades divorced me two years ago after much pressure from the Security Ministry. I was under surveillance for a long time after that,” he says.

Huang Qi also stated that Chinese officials have threatened his family and claims they have issued direct physical threats to Skynet volunteers. He further claims: “One of our volunteers also met with a mysterious car accident.“

He has seen a rounding-up of journalists and human rights protesters take place like clockwork every year prior to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Incident.

”After 1989, China's press freedom made some progress," he says. "This is not due to anyone's 'gift'. It is due to the countless journalists who have fought for their rights by going to jail or by giving their own lives so that there can be progress towards the country's return to freedom."

The latest round-up includes three Skynet journalists. Wing Jin, who took pictures of the self-immolating protester, was arrested days after his work appeared on the news website. Two other Skynet journalists were also taken into custody for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. None have been heard of since.

Human Rights organisations are calling for their release, along with dozens of other journalists who have been detained by Chinese authorities in the wake of this year's round-up.

“Perhaps if Chinese authorities would allow the media to give voice to ordinary citizens, they'd find fewer people so desperate to be heard that they are willing to set themselves on fire,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz in New York.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, “It is in the interests of everyone to finally establish the facts surrounding the Tiananmen Square incidents. China has made many advances over the past 25 years, particularly in the area of economic and social rights, as well as legal reforms. Learning from events of the past will not diminish the gains of the past 25 years, but will show how far China has come in ensuring that human rights are respected and protected.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists' 2013 Prison Census ranks China the second worst jailer of journalists, close behind Turkey.

Representatives for the Chinese government were invited to comment on the points raised in this article. They did not respond.

Thousands gather in Hong Kong to remember Tiananmen killings

Written on 2014年6月5日星期四 | 5.6.14

[ 时间:2014-06-05 15:03:36 | 作者:Telegraph | 来源:六四天网转载 ]

Crowds pack Hong Kong's Victoria Park to demand the truth about the Tiananmen crackdown 25 years ago and to call for an end to an assault on Communist Party critics that many view as the worst since 1989

By Tom Phillips, in Hong Kong and Malcolm Moore in Beijing5:55PM BST 04 Jun 2014

Tens of thousands of people flocked to an outdoor vigil in Hong Kong on Wednesday night to mark 25 years since the Communist Party's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.

As Chinese security forces fought to extinguish any attempt to commemorate the landmark anniversary in Beijing, demonstrators streamed into Hong Kong's Victoria Park to remember the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people killed when troops were ordered to clear protesters from Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4, 1989.

The protesters came bearing banners, photographs of the dead and a message for China's rulers.

Organisers say the turnout was more than 180,000, which would be a record, while Hong Kong police say it was just under 100,000.

"We have not forgotten," said Andrew Shum, a 27-year-old NGO worker who was attending the annual candlelit vigil for the 14th time. "The government must investigate what happened in Beijing and why."

A man in a mock People's Liberation Army tank makes his way towards Victoria Park (JEROME FAVRE/EPA)

For HK$80 Mr Shum was selling T-shirts that could earn you a prison sentence in mainland China, including one featuring the slogan: "Our government, our choice". "We can still say what we think in Hong Kong. That is why we need to come here every year," he said.

Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy politician and one of the vigil's organisers, said: "Tonight is a struggle of remembrance over forgetting, of truth versus lies."

"The Chinese Communist Party has been spreading lies about the 1989 democracy movement and trying to eradicate its memory from history," he told The Telegraph.

Throughout the afternoon, demonstrators from both semi-autonomous Hong Kong and mainland China, where public commemoration of the crackdown remains strictly forbidden, braved scorching temperatures to flock to Victoria Park.

They were greeted by a replica of the "Goddess of Democracy" statue that was erected in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and banners that read: "Rectify the June 4th Verdict" and "Fight Until The Very End".

One poster featured a cartoon of Xi Jinping, China's president, and the caption: "Protest against the Communist Party's frenzied campaign of arrests. Release the dissidents immediately".

Wreaths of white lilies and bouquets of chrysanthemums had been placed around a replica of Tiananmen Square's Monument to the People's Heroes, around which protesters camped in the weeks before the 1989 massacre. "End one-party dictatorship," read one tribute placed there.

"The students did not attack the government or the army but the Chinese government used tanks and guns against them. It is unacceptable," said Raymond Lam, an 18-year-old journalism student who was attending his first vigil.

A woman closes her eyes as she joins tens of thousands of people attending a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park (KIN CHEUNG/AP)

"I deeply appreciate what the students did in 1989," said Jeffrey Lao, a 21-year-old student from Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology. "Unfortunately some of them were killed and those who survived are kept silent or in prison."

Kin Tse, a 27-year-old labour activist, said: "We are fighting for a common goal: for democracy in China. June 4 is a cornerstone of the fight for democracy."

Activists were no longer just protesting a lack of democracy in mainland China, Mr Kin added. They were increasingly alarmed about the erosion of such rights in Hong Kong, "especially press freedom".

Academics and activists have flown into Hong Kong from around the world to attend commemorations of the 25th anniversary. However, with Beijing currently waging what many describe as its harshest crackdown on critics since 1989, an air of despondence has hung over their meetings.

"This is a discouraging time," Jerome Cohen, a veteran China expert and law professor at the New York University School of Law, told a seminar here on Tuesday. "The situation with respect to freedoms of association, speech, religion – all the basic freedoms – seems to be getting worse despite all the economic and social progress."

Attempts by Xi Jinping, China's president, to centralise power, "reminds me of what Stalin did after Lenin's demise," Prof Cohen added. "We see something that really is beginning to look ugly."

Sharon Hom, the executive director of Human Rights in China, said the last twelve months had seen a "tremendous deterioration, perhaps the worst human rights situation that we have had in China since 1989".

However, the emergence of an active and vocal civil society provided some hope of change in the longer-term.

"If you look a little further out you are seeing these other very powerful processes already in place and I actually don't think the Chinese Communist Party can stop those developments. They just can't," she said.

The Communist Party's obsession with control was on full show on Wednesday in Beijing, where the illusion of a normal day was enforced by one of the largest security operations since the Tiananmen era itself.

On Chang'an avenue, where the tanks rolled into the square 25 years ago, police teams were stationed every hundred metres or so, starting from roughly a mile away from the square.

Walking to the square, pedestrians encountered at least four checkpoints where their bags could be searched and identity documents checked, before a final red-roofed hut at each corner of the square itself, in which bags were x-rayed and identities scanned into a computer, both for Chinese and foreigners.

Long queues, some stretching for up to an hour at busy points in the day, soon formed.

Tens of thousands of people flocked to an outdoor vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park (GETTY)

At least 20 coaches of police and armed police stood on the square and on the pavements on the east side while a huge number of plain-clothes policemen carefully watched for any signs of dissent. A couple who had posed for photographs, shaping their hands into a six and a four to mark the date, June 4, were detained. A man who threw leaflets was dragged away.

According to Huang Qi, who monitors protests, the police detained 445 people between 9am and 4pm outside Zhongnanhai, the leadership compound to the north of the square. Buses were laid on to transport the detained to other holding cells.

Teng Biao, a respected Chinese rights lawyer who is based in Hong Kong and has been unable to return to the mainland since last November for fear of arrest, said Beijing had prevented many mainland activists from attending the vigil.

"Some have been arrested, some placed under house arrest and others blocked from coming to Hong Kong," he said.

But attempts to prevent discussion of Tiananmen and political change were futile, Mr Teng added. "The Communist Party cannot hide the truth forever."

Lee Cheuk-yan, who took part in the 1989 protests, said this year's vigil hoped to draw attention both to the Tiananmen killings and the current crackdown.

"We want to challenge the Communist Party over the massacre and also to challenge them over today's repression," he said.

"It is a very, very bad moment, worse than at any time in the past."

"For a very short period some people thought Xi Jinping would maybe be more open but he has shown that he is even more hardline than Hu Jintao," added Mr Lee. "Our vigil is not just about the suppression 25 years ago. June 4 is happening every single day in China."

Alberto Ho, one of Hong Kong's best known pro-democracy politicians, said the former British colony, which returned to Chinese control in 1997, would continue to lead a "crusade" for the truth about Tiananmen.

"We have the courage to stand up and continue to speak truth to power," Mr Ho said.

In Victoria Park tens of thousands of demonstrators, many weeping, lifted their candles into the sticky night air as video footage of the bloodied bodies of Tiananmen's victims was shown.

"The night is long," Mak Hoi-wah, a veteran Hong Kong activist, told the crowd. "Vindication awaits."

Beijing Targets Artists, Students on Tiananmen Anniversary

Written on 2014年6月4日星期三 | 4.6.14

[ 时间:2014-06-04 11:06:33 | 作者:Yang Fan | 来源:FRA ]

Armed Chinese police stand guard on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 3, 2014. AFP

Chinese authorities were keeping a close watch on artists, college students and other activists ahead of Wednesday's 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement at Tiananmen Square, activists said.

On the eve of the anniversary, United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay asked Beijing to reveal the truth about the army's violent suppression of Tiananmen protests and to release dozens of people held in the run-up to the June 4 event.

"It is in the interests of everyone to finally establish the facts surrounding the Tiananmen incidents," Pillay said, noting that Chinese authorities had clamped down on social media, traditional media and Internet users to block discussions on the tragedy.

More than 10 members of Beijing's iconic Songzhuang contemporary arts community have been placed under surveillance by state security police after creating works to commemorate the crackdown by the People's Liberation Army (PLA), residents said on Tuesday.

"They have been very nervous about the art world, and more than 10 households have been put under house arrest or surveillance," Songzhuang artist Zhui Hun told RFA.

"Artists like us with a certain viewpoint or cultural attitude will turn our attention to historical problems," said Zhui.

"Anyone who does something for justice, or with a social conscience, has to pay the price here," he said, adding that controls were much stricter this year than in previous years around the sensitive anniversary.

"Last year they put only me under house arrest, but this year the number has risen to more than 10 households," Zhui said.

'High-pressure tactics'

Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based poet Meng Lang said a number of his friends across the internal border in mainland China were being targeted by the authorities.

"A lot of friends in mainland China have been targeted by the authorities in this crackdown this year, and some have even been detained, just because they commemorated June 4," Meng said.

"I think such high-pressure tactics are insulting," said Meng, who recently published a book of poems to mark the anniversary in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Meng, whose poem "Death is Under Way" speaks of guns targeting "glorious faces" with the purpose of exterminating them, said he wanted to mark the anniversary as an act of public memorial.

"I chose 25 poems as a memorial, because it's the 25th anniversary," he said.

Meng's collection comes just days after a group of 23 Chinese artists put out a book of prints of artistic works to mark the crackdown in Hong Kong, which has traditionally been a focus for Tiananmen-related memorial events.

Beijing-based artist Huang Rui, whose work is based on the 64th hexagram of the ancient Chinese "Book of Changes" divination system, said he felt compelled to revisit the scene of the crackdown in his imagination.

"June 4 has become a taboo subject in China, and so this hexagram of the I Ching is also taboo," Huang said. "It is aimed at this historical event, as well as being aimed at a tragic reality suffered by the human race."

Sheng Qi, a second contributor to the book, titled "Blood-red Crossroads," said even violence had a rightful place in art.

"This is a wake-up call, a reminder that we shouldn't forget, and that we should face up to history and shouldn't hide from it," said Sheng, who is currently living in the U.K.


The authorities are also targeting Beijing's universities, the seat of the 1989 student movement, as the anniversary draws near.

A directive issued by the China University of Politics and Law's international education department and circulating on the Chinese Internet this week called on international students to take an out-of-town trip to "enjoy the natural scenery" on June 3-4.

The all-expenses-paid trip would include a number of activities, with a choice of the countryside near Beijing, or Inner Mongolia, the directive said.

A student at the university contacted by RFA confirmed that the directive was genuine, but said students were still unsure whether the trip would go ahead.

"The details aren't very clear, so I'm not really sure. I think it might have been canceled," the student said.

Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia said the authorities had also stepped up controls on Chinese students at the capital's major universities, many of which are clustered together in the west of the city.

"For the past 25 years, there has been a tight surveillance program targeting Qinghua, Beijing University, Beijing Normal University and other schools like that on June 4," said Hu, who launched a bid to commemorate the crackdown this year with his "Return to Tiananmen" online campaign.

"There are large numbers of police cars and patrols on the campuses, particularly Beijing University," he said. "This has now been extended to some of the offices of overseas news organizations now, as well."

"State security police are now going directly to their offices and telling them that they mustn't carry out any interviews relating to June 4, nor must they go anywhere near Tiananmen Square," Hu said.

He said many Internet users had reported problems using Google services, including Gmail, ahead of the anniversary.

"You can't open it at all unless you use circumvention software," he said. "And if you use Google to search for 'June 4' or 'Tiananmen massacre', the screen just goes blank and white immediately."

"Also, you can't view any video or photos originating from IP addresses in Hong Kong and Taiwan."

Tight security

Asked about the June 4, 1989 crackdown at a regularly scheduled news conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not refer directly to Tiananmen Square or the military action.

"Regarding the political incident which happened in the late 1980s in China, as well as issues related to it, the Chinese government reached a conclusion a long time ago," Hong said before launching into a defense of Beijing’s economic reforms.

Hong also denied cases of political persecution, saying: "In China, there are only law offenders. The so-called dissidents as you mentioned do not exist," the Associated Press reported.

The tight security on the ground isn't limited to Beijing, activists said on Tuesday.

"Sichuan is under tight security right now, with people being taken 'on vacation' or put in detention," Tianwang rights website founder Huang Qi said.

"I would say there are at least 300 people affected, and at least 100 from Chengdu," he said, referring to Sichuan's provincial capital.

"It's because we're approaching June 4, so there's a huge stability maintenance operation going on," Huang Qi said.

"Some petitioners have been getting text messages from the local government warning them they'll have a fight on their hands if they think of telling tales on them in Beijing."

Death toll

China's leadership has ignored growing calls for a public reappraisal of the 1989 student protests, which the party once styled a "counterrevolutionary rebellion."

The number of people killed when PLA tanks and troops entered Beijing on the night of June 3-4, 1989 remains a mystery.

Beijing authorities once put the death toll at "nearly 300," but has never issued an official toll or list of names, and has always maintained that the violence was necessary to end the unrest.

Reported by Xin Yu and Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Women Detained After Naked Protest on Beijing's Tiananmen Square

Written on 2014年5月31日星期六 | 31.5.14

[ 时间:2014-05-31 23:31:35 | 作者:Hai Nan | 来源:RFA ]

Visitors walk on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, May 29, 2014. AFP

Authorities in the Chinese capital on Friday released from police detention two elderly petitioners who staged a naked protest on Tiananmen Square, although relatives said they were on their way back home under escort by local officials, known as interceptors.

Xing Jiaying and He Zeying from Xinyang city in the central province of Henan were detained on May 25 on a seven-day administrative jail term for "disturbing public order" after they staged the protest along with one other petitioner from their hometown.

"We took off all our clothes and protested on Tiananmen Square about injustices we have suffered," He said.

"We were surrounded by a large number of police officers and taken to the Tiananmen branch police station," she said, adding that she and Xing had been roughly treated during their days in detention.

"I don't know yet whether we can go straight home," she said. But she gave no details of the third protester, who is believed to have escaped detention at the time.

The two women and their male relative—He's son-in-law and Xing's son—were met by interceptors from their hometown on Friday and escorted home, He told RFA.

"I have been in detention for the past few days," she said by phone on her way back to Henan under the escort of four police officers. "They said I was disturbing public order on the Square."

"Now we are out. We were released by police officers from Xi county [under the administration of Xinyang city]," she said.

Traffic accident

He's son-in-law Xing Wangli, known online by his nickname Wu Quanli, a pun on "powerless," said the women were protesting at a lack of compensation or redress after Xing's grandson was involved in a traffic accident.

"The family has been petitioning for a long time, but they have been subjected to revenge attacks by the government," he said.

He said the authorities had organized a student protest against him in Xi county on Thursday, for allowing his mother to shed her clothes on Tiananmen Square.

Sichuan-based rights activist Huang Qi, whose Tianwang website first reported the incident, said he had been contacted by officials and told to delete the original news story from his site.

"A guy calling himself the head of the Xi county chamber of commerce called up and ... said Tianwang should delete the report," Huang said.

"They said they would give Wu Quanli 500,000 yuan (U.S. $80,000) and three mu (one-half acre) of land near his home at [a discounted price]," he said.

Huang said he had refused the takedown request, however.

"Tianwang hasn't deleted a post in 16 years, even when there is a risk of going to jail," he said.


Faced with thousands of complaints about its officials every day, China recently moved to ban its citizens from taking petitions directly to the central government without first going through local authorities.

From May 1, departments at higher levels of the central government have refused to accept petitions that bypass the local government and its immediate superiors, and have rejected petitions deemed to be the preserve of the judiciary or legislative bodies.

Beijing has repeatedly tried to stem the flood of thousands of petitioners who descend on the capital with complaints, often ahead of key political events, when petitioners hope their cases will get a more sympathetic hearing.

Next week, activists will mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on student-led pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square.

Petitioners say corrupt networks of power and influence at local levels ensure that a fair hearing is all but impossible, and that they are repeatedly stonewalled, detained in "black jails," beaten, and harassed by local authorities if they try to take complaints to the top.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

China's Quake Parents 'Dragged Away' From Memorials For Children

Written on 2014年5月13日星期二 | 13.5.14

[ 时间:2014-05-13 22:22:19 | 作者:Qiao Long | 来源:FRA ]


Residents give offerings before the Sichuan earthquake monument on the 5th anniversary of the disaster in Yingxiu township of Wenchuan county, May 12, 2013. AFP

Parents of children who died in collapsed school buildings in the massive 2008 Sichuan earthquake clashed with police on Monday after they tried to hold a public memorial for victims of the disaster.

Around 200 bereaved parents in Dujiangyan city, one of the worst-hit areas near the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu, were confronted by police ahead of a planned ceremony for their children, who died in the collapse of the Juyuan Middle School.

A bereaved parent surnamed Fan said clashes broke out after the crowd tried to burst in past a police cordon at the site.

"They got there at around 6.00 a.m., and they wouldn't let anyone in," Fan said. "They even beat us up."

"There were one or two hundred of us, and we tried to shove through by force, and they wouldn't let us," he said, adding, "They dragged one person away."

Since the quake, parents have tried to keep up pressure on Beijing for a full investigation into the deaths of at least 5,300 schoolchildren in the worst-hit areas.

The May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake killed more than 80,000 people and flattened swathes of southwest China, leaving millions homeless.

'Excuses to stop us'

Bereaved parent Zhou Xinrong, who has been repeatedly harassed and detained by police for her activism, said parents went to lay wreaths at the site of the old middle school building on Monday before being stopped by police.

"They said there were disaster relief exercises taking place in Dujiangyan ... but they were just finding excuses to stop us from getting to the site," Zhou said.

"Now a lot of us are staging a sit-in just outside, and we have been shoved back behind the police cordon by them a number of times."

"They won't let us get close," she said. "They're not doing exercises; they're just standing guard there, behind their police tape."

"The parents come here every year, but they never let us in," she said.

A parent surnamed Lu said some parents had also been prevented from lighting incense and burning paper offerings for their dead children.

"We wanted to burn paper offerings, but they came over in the water truck ... a lot of people came to drag us away," Lu said.

"I was dragged away by several people, and my wrists and ankles still hurt," she said. "A lot of people were weeping at the time."

An officer who answered the phone at the Dujiangyan police department declined to comment, however.

"I don't know about this," the officer said.

No inquiry held

Meanwhile, parents in Sichuan's Mianzhu county said that an official inquiry promised by the ruling Chinese Communist Party has never been implemented,

Around 100 parents who lost children in the quake marched to city government buildings in Mianzhu, at the heart of the disaster zone, calling for an official probe into the widespread collapse of school buildings during the quake, which killed more than 5,000 schoolchildren.

"The parents all went to the Mianzhu municipal government today," bereaved parent Sang Jun told RFA. "There were about 100 of us."

"We wanted to complain to the government ... that the exhaustive inquiry into shoddy building construction, as promised by [former premier] Wen Jiabao, never took place."

Photos of the protest posted on Chinese social media sites showed police officers registering personal details of the petitioners.

However, local leaders declined to meet with the parents, Sang said. "It was just some low-ranking people [who came out]."

Parents beaten, detained

While China's official media has hailed the province's reconstruction in the wake of the disaster a success, victims—especially parents who lost schoolchildren—say they have been harassed, beaten, and detained in their fight to be heard.

Meanwhile, police were also on guard outside the Dujiangyan government building, a separate group protesting forced evictions in the wake of the earthquake said on Monday.

"There were 24 of us who went, all of whom were forcibly evicted after the May 12 earthquake," a protester surnamed Wu told RFA.

"The police were at the gates and they wouldn't let us come up to the barriers, but forced the villagers to stay about 50 meters back from the main gate," she said.

She said repeated official promises to rehouse local evictees had come to nothing.

"They just keep promising, but they never sort it out," Wu said. "It has dragged out all this time."

The bereaved families say they want an inquiry into allegations of shoddy construction of "bean curd" school buildings, many of which collapsed while other buildings remained standing.

Lawyers warned away

But lawyers have been warned off accepting cases linked to Sichuan's child quake victims, on pain of losing their license to practice.

Sichuan-based rights activist and writer Tan Zuoren, along with fellow activist Huang Qi, were both handed jail terms for subversion after they tried to investigate the collapse of school buildings during the 8.0 magnitude earthquake.

Tan, 59, arrived back at his Chengdu home after his March 27 release, but has been held under house arrest ever since, his friend Yang Yu said last week.

On his release, he told RFA that he would continue his unfinished probe into corruption allegations surrounding the collapse of school buildings in the 2008 quake.

"I'm not a parent of a student [who was killed], and I'm not their representative, either. All I can do is carry out an independent investigation as a citizen," Tan said in an April 15 interview.

"I will continue to exercise my right to freedom of expression and opinion," he said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

China detains man who wrote for foreign website

[ 时间:2014-05-13 09:35:42 | 作者:DIDI TANG | 来源:AP ]

Ng Han Guan / AP Photo In this photo taken April 11, 2004, Chinese dissidents, from left, Zhang Chunzhu, Xiang Nanfu and Ye Guozhu share an Easter meal at a brick home in Houbaihujian village, on the outskirts of Beijing. Xiang who supplied information to to a dissident-run U.S.-based news website has been detained on charges he made up stories that disparaged the Chinese government, police announced Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

BEIJING -- A Beijing man who supplied information to a dissident-run U.S.-based news website has been detained on charges he made up stories that disparaged the Chinese government, police said Tuesday.

Xiang Nanfu was accused of providing false stories to Boxun.com that authorities harvested organs and buried people alive, according to a police statement. It said Xiang worked with Boxun.com to incite public dissatisfaction against the government.

Last week, China announced the detention of a prominent journalist, Gao Yu. She was accused of leaking a document from the ruling Communist Party to a publication abroad.

Chinese leaders want "to stop the flow of embarrassing and damaging information to overseas websites," said Willy Lam, a longtime political analyst in Hong Kong.

Lam said publications abroad are a battleground for Chinese political factions, which use them to attack each other by leaking information such as about the wealth of leaders' families.

Boxun.com, founded in 2000 and based in New York City, is known for publicizing allegations of corruption and human rights abuses. Access to the site is blocked in China.

Boxun gained prominence in 2012 when it publicized information it said came from insiders about the downfall of Bo Xilai, a leading ruling party figure.

Xiang, 62, was detained under a law against troublemaking, according to the police statement. Violators usually are punished with fines, but the law also allows a prison sentence of up to five years.

Xiang was shown on the national state television noon newscast confessing and expressing contrition.

"I have made up things that are not facts," said Xiang, who was shown wearing the green vest of a jail inmate. "My behavior has had a very bad impact. I realize that I have smeared the ruling party and the government."

The founder of Boxun.com, Watson Meng, denied it had reported that organ harvesting or burying people alive had occurred. But he said an April report described petitioners who made such allegations in front of the Beijing office of the United Nations.

"The authorities could have used some means to extort the public confession, although we do not know what means they have used," Meng said by phone from New York.

Meng called Xiang trustworthy and said he backed up his reports with photos and video footage. Meng said most were about people who petitioned the government seeking redress to what they perceive as injustice done by local authorities.

Meng rejected a police allegation that Boxun paid Xiang "large amounts of U.S. dollars" for his reports.

Another veteran activist, Huang Qi, said authorities regularly investigate his website, which documents efforts of petitioners and the government's response. The site, 64Tianwang.com, also is blocked in China.

"We condemn all forms of illegal suppression of freedom of the press and citizen journalists," Huang said.

China Bans Public from Petitioning Beijing Over Local Grievances

Written on 2014年5月2日星期五 | 2.5.14

[ 时间:2014-05-02 06:22:11 | 作者:Rebecca Valli | 来源:VOA ]

Protesters hold banners and placards during a protest outside a Nike shop at a shopping mall during Labor Day in Hong Kong, May 1, 2014 to support workers on strike at Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd. in China.

May 01, 2014 8:56 AM

HONG KONG — For decades, China's capital has been the last resort for citizens whose grievances could not be solved through the legal system at the local level.  But starting Thursday, legal reforms ban petitioners from taking their case to higher authorities, in a move that analysts say highlights the leadership's uneasiness with local grievances reaching the capital.

The new rules give local governments up to 60 days to answer petitions.  Those whose issues are not resolved locally are banned from appealing to central authorities.

Policymakers in China said the move is part of a general reform to promote rule of law and efficiency at the local level.

But critics believe authorities have become wary of the potential instability that petitioners can bring to the capital when they visit to file complaints.

Huang Qi is a human rights activist from Sichuan province.

They are not looking for a way to handle these citizens' problems, he said.  He believes the so called "reform of the petitioning system" is done only get rid of petitioners from Beijing and protect the interests of the central authorities.”

Analysts also see the reform as an admission of failure of the system.

Officially established in 1951, the petitioning system assures, on paper, that citizens can appeal to the central government when they perceive injustices in how their cases are handled locally.

But surveys have shown that resolving a grievance through the system is the exception, and most petitions are ignored.

Huang said petitioners come to Beijing because their cases involve local corruption.  Shifting responsibilities back to the local level will not help.

He said the idea local governments can solve the problems of more than 10 million people who petition in China is a very naïve dream of scholars, showing they [scholars] do not know where these grievances come from.

Petitioners have turned to Beijing for personal matters ranging from land grabs, forced eviction or corruption.

In 2002, a local court in Hubei province ruled against Liu Yujie in a divorce proceeding on the grounds her whereabouts where unknown.  Liu said her ex-husband had colluded with the court, and she was left homeless and alone in caring for her disabled child.

She has been petitioning for the court to reverse the ruling, and has made trips to the capital because she said she has exhausted all her other options.

In her last trip to the capital, Hunan authorities found her in Beijing and brought her back to her hometown.

She said we have gotten back to the original point.  If the local government does not accept our cases, and we also cannot go to Beijing anymore, we have no channel left to solve our problem.

Reform of the legal system has become a buzzword in China, where the leadership acknowledges corruption and lack of independence of the courts as a major threat to its legitimacy.

Proposals to reduce local governments' influence on courts by shifting responsibilities over the court's budgets and personnel to higher authorities have been debated for years.

The topic has gained prominence again in the fall, when Xi Jinping announced his blueprint for reform.

Analysts agreed the move might in fact help make courts more independent, and reduce the number of grievances that have not been solved locally.

Four Chinese journalists, activists named world ‘information heroes’ by watchdog group

Written on 2014年4月30日星期三 | 30.4.14

[ 时间:2014-04-30 14:28:47 | 作者:Patrick Boehler | 来源:South China Morning Post ]

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 12:38pm

A truck, displaying a portrait of President Xi Jinping, passes near the Eiffel Tower on in Paris in March as part of a demonstration by Reporters Without Borders. Source: AFP

The press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders has included four Chinese citizens in its first ever list of the world’s 100 “information heroes”.

In a telling reflection of China’s media landscape, none of them are currently working at a media organisation.

The only one of the four who is not facing persecution had been fired from his job and faced alleged death threats and kidnapping attempts.

Li Jianjun met journalists in Hong Kong last year to expose graft at the China Resources conglomerate. Photo: Sam Tsang

Li Jianjun has for years pointed to corruption at the top of the state-owned China Resources conglomerate. The former investigative reporter at the Shanxi Evening Post was vindicated earlier this month, when the chairman, Song Lin, and two leading executives were placed under investigation by Communist Party discipline inspectors in a graft probe.

Liu Hu seen in a photo shared on microblogs.

The other Chinese journalist included in the list is Liu Hu, a reporter for the Guangzhou-based Modern Express. He is currently in pre-trial detention in Beijing awaiting a trial on charges of defamation. The muckraking reporter had shared corruption allegations against senior government officials on his Weibo microblog.

The only Tibetan to be included in the list released on Tuesday is monk Jigme Gyatso, who, along with Dhondup Wangchen, secretly shot the documentary Leaving Fear Behind ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Their film showed Tibetans expressing their frustration with Chinese governance and migration of ethnic Han Chinese to Tibetan areas.

Jigme Gyatso in an undated photo shared online.

Jigme was last reported to have been detained in Qinghai province on unknown charges in 2012, Tibetan exile media reported. He has been missing since, according to Reporters Without Borders. Dhondup is currently serving a six-year prison sentence on subversion charges.

The fourth "information hero" to be included is Huang Qi, an award-winning human rights activist based in Chengdu who founded the country’s first human rights news website, 64tianwang. Since the early 1990s the website has carried reports documenting human rights violations in China. Huang has served two prison terms totalling eight years for his activism since 2000.  

Huang was detained again last month on charges of “stirring trouble” for sharing reports of the alleged self-immolation of a protester on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on March 5. He was released on bail on April 11.

An undated photo of Huang Qi with his son at their home in Chengdu. Photo: AFP

While sharing information in China remains difficult, Huang said he was optimistic about the future. “Millions dare to use their names to post messages online,” he told the South China Morning Post on Wednesday. “There are ever more different voices on microblogs, forums and websites.”

The Reporters Without Borders list also included Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the two journalists who have been instrumental in releasing information on American cyber-espionage leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden last year, after he fled to Hong Kong.

Asians Among 100 Honored for Promoting Press Freedom

[ 时间:2014-04-30 09:55:41 | 作者:Joshua Lipes | 来源:FRA ]

Undated photo of Golog Jigme Gyatso.Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A young Cambodian reporter who has been subjected to repeated attacks for exposing rights abuses and a Myanmar journalist jailed after investigating a scholarship program are among 100 “information heroes” honored by a global media watchdog ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

Also included on the list is a Tibetan Buddhist monk and rights activist who filmed a documentary about the plight of Tibetans under Chinese rule, as well as three Chinese journalists and three others from Vietnam, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Tuesday.

“World Press Freedom Day … should be an occasion for paying tribute to the courage of the journalists and bloggers who constantly sacrifice their safety and sometimes their lives to their vocation,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

RSF said that the new initiative aimed to show that the fight for freedom of information should not be limited to providing support for the victims of abuses, but also to the promotion of those who can serve as models.

Cambodia’s photojournalist Oudom Tat, 25, and the youngest of those honored, had previously worked with a nongovernmental organization and as a fixer for foreign reporters seeking to cover land conflicts in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh and other provinces.

In 2011, he joined Voice of Democracy—one of the few independent radio stations that dare to criticize the government—where he covered politically sensitive stories, including conditions for workers in Cambodia’s garment sector, protests by people evicted from their land, and campaigns for land rights.

According to RSF, as a result of Oudom Tat’s reporting, he has been “threatened and attacked repeatedly since the start of 2013, both by unidentified men in civilian dress and government officials,” but remains committed to his work promoting human rights in the country.

Zaw Phay, a veteran reporter who covered Myanmar’s monk-led Saffron Revolution in 2007 for the Democratic Voice of Burma, was given a three-year jail sentence in 2010 for filming “without permission” a water shortage issue in central Magway region.

He was released in January 2012 as part of an amnesty, but was sentenced to a year in prison this month after being found guilty of trespassing on government property and disturbing a civil servant while investigating a Japanese-funded scholarship program nearly two years earlier. He is serving the sentence in Thet prison.

Also included on the list is Jigme Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and rights activist who filmed “Leaving Fear Behind,” a 25-minute documentary that includes interviews with more than 100 Tibetans about their experiences living under Chinese rule.

After showing the film in a secret screening on the opening day of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he was arrested, sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment, beaten and tortured. He was released in October 2008, but seized again in 2012 by authorities, who RSF said are holding him in secret.

Zaw Phay in an undated photo. Credit: RSF

China and Vietnam

Three others from China also made RSF’s list, including Huang Qi, Li Jianjun and Liu Hu.

Huang, who runs the rights website 64tianwang.com, has documented tens of thousands of human rights violations and won at least 10 billion yuan (U.S. $1.6 billion) in compensation for victims throughout China.

Li’s exposition of corruption cases led to the removal of the head of the powerful state-owned conglomerate China Resources Holdings Co., Song Lin, by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection this month.

Liu, a journalist with the Guangzhou-based Modern Express daily, was held in detention and charged with defamation after posting information about embezzlement by a local official on his personal page on the Weibo social network, because he knew that censorship would prevent its publication in the newspaper.

Three Vietnamese honored by RSF are Catholic priest Anton le Ngoc Thanh, former military officer and ex-Vietnamese Communist Party member Pham Chi Dung, and blogger Truong Duy Nhat.

Thanh, who works for Vietnam Redemporist News, has been arrested at least twice, including last year during a demonstration in support of blogger and activist Dinh Nhat Uy who has been campaigning for the release of his jailed younger brother. Thanh remains under constant police surveillance.

After quitting the Vietnamese Communist Party, Dung devoted himself to critiquing Vietnam’s political class through his writings and was arrested in July 2012 on charges of “conspiring to overthrow the government” and “anti-government propaganda,” though he was released seven months later.

Nhat resigned from state media in 2010 to focus on his blog “Another Point of View,” posting more than 1,000 articles in the space of three years. After four orders to close his blog, he was finally arrested in May 2013 and sentenced to two years in prison for 12 of his most sensitive writings.

Annual ranking

China and Vietnam were among Asian nations whose rankings dropped this year in RSF’s annual press freedom index, released in February and which measures the overall level of violations of freedom of information in 180 countries year by year.

China's ranking fell from 173 to 175 as the Communist Party ramps up online censorship and keeps in jail the largest number of journalists and netizens in the world, including Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Vietnam, which dropped to 174th place from 172nd, has stepped up information controls to the point of being "close to catching up with its Chinese big brother," according to RSF. The nation remains the world’s second largest prison for bloggers and netizens.

The report also questioned whether Myanmar's reforms and democratization under President Thein Sein are beginning to run out of steam as the government struggles to resolve sectarian and ethnic conflicts. Myanmar's ranking rose seven notches to 145 in the global index.

Cambodia’s ranking fell to 144 from 143.

China's Complaints Ban Could Spark 'More Extreme' Protests

Written on 2014年4月25日星期五 | 25.4.14

[ 时间:2014-04-25 09:41:43 | 作者:Xin Lin | 来源:FRA ]

Chinese with complaints stand on a street as they queue outside the petitions office in Beijing on March 8, 2013.AFP

Faced with thousands of complaints about its officials every day, China has moved to ban its citizens from taking petitions directly to the central government without first going through local authorities.

From May 1, departments at higher levels of the central government will not accept petitions that bypassed the local government and its immediate superior, and petitions will be rejected if they are within the jurisdiction of the legislative and judicial branches, according the new regulations unveiled Wednesday.

However, complaints about corrupt officials of provincial and central governments and petitions about issues that should be addressed across provinces and sectors, as well as those that are not properly handled by provincial governments, will continue to be accepted, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The new rules also instruct local governments to resolve complaints within a period of 60 days, and not to extend that period by more than 30 days, reports said.

"The purpose of this regulation is to clarify the jurisdiction, regulate the procedure and improve the efficiency of handling petitions," Zhang Enxi, spokesman for the State Bureau for Letters and Visits, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

"It is expected to help citizens file petitions in a stepwise manner,” he said.

Beijing has repeatedly tried to stem the flood of thousands of petitioners who descend on the capital with complaints, often ahead of key political events, when petitioners hope their cases will get a more sympathetic hearing.

But petitioners say corrupt networks of power and influence at local level ensure that a fair hearing is all but impossible, and that they are repeatedly stonewalled, detained in "black jails," beaten, and harassed by local authorities if they try to take complaints to the top.

Sparking new methods?

Sichuan-based rights activist Huang Qi said petitioners would likely come up with other ways of making themselves heard.

"For the authorities to take this channel away will, I believe, give rise to a whole range of new protest methods, including some pretty extreme methods," Huang warned.

Last October, petitioner Ji Zhongxing was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for setting off a home-made explosive at Beijing's international airport after he was crippled in an act of police brutality in the southern province of Guangdong and had failed to win redress for several years.

And in November, a series of roadside explosions near the ruling Chinese Communist Party's provincial headquarters in the northern city of Taiyuan killed one person and injured eight others in an area frequented by petitioners.

Rights activists said the new rules will also do little to stem the tide of petitioners swamping Beijing with complaints.

"At local level, networks of vested interests control every possible channel for complaint: the courts, the prosecution service and the police," Huang said.

"The only reason people petition in Beijing is because they can't get their grievances heard at the local level."


Guangzhou-based rights activist Xiao Qingshan agreed that the move would likely lead to greater popular unrest.

"If they close off this channel for complaint entirely, then petitioners will hit the streets with protests and demonstrations," Xiao said.

"If they require local governments to deal with all complaints, then the central government will lose control over the local governments."

He said local governments were unlikely to be honest with the public or with higher levels of government about their activities.

"We are in this mess precisely because the central government has tried to get local governments to maintain stability," Xiao said.

"Actually, it's more effective to take to the streets than it is to lodge a complaint," he said. "Petitioning is meaningless; it doesn't solve anything."

Overload of complaints

China's army of petitioners files nearly 20,000 grievances in person every day to complaints offices across the country, according to official figures released last November.

The government's complaints website receives around 1,200 complaints on any working day online. The website crashed on its first day of operation last July, amid widespread speculation that the sheer number of petitioners had overloaded the server.

Petitioners said at the time they were skeptical that it would offer a genuine opportunity to redress grievances.

Many of those who pursue official complaints against government wrongdoing in their hometowns have already done so to no avail for several years; some for decades, petitioners said.

"Some have been petitioning for 20, 30 or even 50 years," Beijing petitioner Han Suhua said after the rules were announced. "The local governments won't deal [with their complaints]."

"So what are they supposed to do?... I can't explain it," Han said. "It's just aimed at curing [the problem of] petitioners and rights activists."

"The government is just passing the buck," she said.

Vulnerable to harassment

Others fear that requiring petitioners to complain in their hometowns will render them more vulnerable to harassment and abuse.

Jiangsu-based petitioner surnamed Shen said she was threatened when she took a complaint to her local government.

"The municipal police and [Communist Party] political and legal affairs committee appropriated our compensation money, so I took it to the complaints bureau, where a city official told me he'd 'sort me to death'," Shen said.

"How will it work to complain at city and provincial level? They are all in it together," she said.

Repeated calls to the State Bureau for Letters and Visits rang unanswered during office hours on Thursday.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

China Demands Local Solutions for Grievances

Written on 2014年4月24日星期四 | 24.4.14

[ 时间:2014-04-24 20:51:55 | 作者:DIDI TANG | 来源:AP ]

BEIJING April 24, 2014 (AP)
By DIDI TANG Associated Press

For decades, members of the Chinese public with grievances against local governments have been traveling to Beijing in the time-honored tradition of appealing to the country's highest authorities.

The practice will be banned after May 1 in most cases.

The central government on Wednesday issued a new set of rules, demanding local governments resolve complaints within 60 days, but also banning petitioners from bypassing local authorities, according to state media reports.

Beijing officials say the new regulations would improve the system's efficiency by laying out clear rules for both local mediating officials and petitioners. Critics say the reform — without building an effective, fair way to address grievances at the local level — would be futile or even exacerbate the tensions.

They say petitioners turn to Beijing because they bump into walls locally, where courts and mediation offices lack independence but are controlled by local governments.

"The absence of the last lawful resort (to petition Beijing) would only cause more conflicts between members of the public and the government," rights activist Huang Qi said.

Established in the 1950s, China's petitioning system — with offices at all levels of governments — is supposed to provide a channel for the public to lodge complaints and for policymakers to be kept abreast with social issues. Every year, millions of complaints are filed about what petitioners see as injustice or incompetence by local officials in issues such as land expropriation, forced home demolitions and labor disputes, or the failure of local authorities to prosecute crimes.

China's ombudsman-type agencies at both the local and central government levels, called Offices for Letters and Calls, are charged with channeling the issues to relevant agencies for settlement. But chances generally are slim for the petitioners to hold local officials accountable.

"When court officials have to take orders from local government officials, how can we get our justice?" said Gu Guoping, a Shanghai resident who has been petitioning what he believes to be unfair seizure of his home for more than 10 years.

"Ordinary people do not petition at will. They have no choice but to seek higher authority when they have exhausted local venues."

Beijing has been the ultimate destination. Following the feudal tradition of an "imperial appeal," petitioners frustrated with local governments travel to the capital, hoping they could get the ear of the highest authority and a shot at justice.

When their grievances are still ignored, many camp out in Beijing in what has become known as petitioners' villages, threatening the social stability and undermining the rule of the Communist Party, which considers the petitioners as an embarrassing reminder of shortcomings in its ability to govern.

"No one wants to travel thousands of miles to Beijing, to suffer black jail or other forms of harassment," said Maya Wang, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. "To go to the central authority is a big symptom of a lack of effective redress at the local level."

To goad local governments into better solving petitioners' grievances, Beijing once penalized local authorities based on the number of petitioners from their jurisdictions who turned up in the capital and lodged complaints.

Local governments then turned their efforts to preventing petitioners from going to Beijing, intercepting them en route to Beijing and placing them in illegal lockups. Workers at the national bureau have been accused of taking bribes from local governments to erase filed complaints.

China's new administration under President Xi Jinping wants more grievances solved at the root level and referred to courts when appropriate.

It is also eager to discourage petitioners from traveling to Beijing. "We do not need to mince words that it is widely but mistakenly believed among petitioners that the bigger fuss they make, the more likely their grievances will be addressed," an editorial in the party-run People's Daily read.

However, the new measures fail to offer effective ways to tackle grievances at the local level, Wang said.

"Unfortunately, those mechanisms do not appear to be genuinely or fundamentally changing the system," she said. "It is treating the symptom rather than the underlining cause."

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