Chinese Human Rights Defenders

Chinese Human Rights Defenders is a small Hong Kong-based NGO that is a relatively new addition to the field of monitoring human rights in China, having become active in late 2005. Thanks to a well-developed network of informants and activists throughout China, it has quickly developed a reputation as a credible source of information on developments in the country.

As indicated by its name, its primary focus is on human rights defenders, particularly petitioners and lawyers. Nevertheless, in the course of its research, in recent years CHRD has issued a number of updates and reports that highlight various aspects of the persecution suffered by Falun Gong practitioners and their supporters.

Of particular note is a February 2009 report about “Re-education through labor” camps, based primarily on interviews and surveys conducted among petitioners. Over half of the interviewees covered in the study mentioned the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, stating that practitioners made up one of the largest groups of detainees in the camps where they were held.

CHRD : Re-education through Labor Abuses Continue Unabated: Overhaul Long Overdue (Excerpts) (February 2009)

  • ”Inside the camp, disobedient detainees were made to sit on the ?tiger bench, especially if they were Falun Gong practitioners. They were severely persecuted…Falun Gong practitioners were often not allowed to sleep until they promised to reform and wrote letters denouncing their beliefs.  Only then would their situations improve,” said Du Fengqin. (Interview 6)

  • ”Of all the detainees, the Falun Gong practitioners were the largest group… Normally, Falun Gong practitioners weren’t allowed to have visitors unless they admitted their guilt and worked especially hard”, said Feng Xixia (Interview 11), who spent three months in a RTL camp in Shaanxi Province.

A Civil Society Report on China’s Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (October 10, 2008)

“[…] The prioritization of political considerations over individual human rights is most clearly demonstrated by the case of Falun Gong.

After the Chinese government decided to crack down on Falun Gong, it established Office 610 to persecute Falun Gong adherents. As a political office, it has higher status than the judiciary, the PSB and the Procuratorate. In theory, Falun Gong practitioners can petition its Letters and Visits Office or sue Office 610 for torture. In practice, even these limited complaint mechanisms are closed to Falun Gong practitioners because they are treated as a “special category” and their complaints are not accepted by government offices. Falun Gong practitioners rarely lodge official complaints for fear of being subjected to even worse persecution due to their membership in [Falun Gong].

It is believed that Office 610 is responsible for the torture and cruel treatment of many Falun Gong practitioners and that its officers are never punished or held legally responsible for their crimes.”

See here for CHRD’s full submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture prior to their review of China’s implementation.

Alerts on Falun Gong deaths, imprisonment, and denial of legal rights

  • Judge Strips Lawyer’s Rights in Middle of Trial [of Falun Gong practitioners] | July 2009

    “On the morning of July 10 [2009], Beijing lawyer Jin Guanghong (???) was in Panshi City, Jilin Province to defend Liu Qingqian (???) and two other defendants on trial […] Liu and Liu’s co-defendants are Falun Gong practitioners. During the trial, however, Jin was repeatedly interrupted by the Panshi City court judge, and when Jin protested, the judge stripped Jin of his rights to speak in defense of his client, and banished him from the proceedings.”
  • Police Beat and Detain Lawyers Representing Family of [Falun Gong practitioner] Who Died in RTL Camp | May 2009

    “Jiang Xiqing (???) was a 66-year old Falun Gong practitioner who died suddenly while detained in Chongqing’s Xishanping Re-education Through Labor (RTL) camp on January 28, [2009]. His children are bringing a lawsuit against the RTL authorities as they suspect that officials are not telling them the truth about their father’s death.

    On May 13, Beijing lawyers Zhang Kai (??) and Li Chunfu (???) were in Chongqing meeting with the family of Jiang Xiqing (???). Around 4 in the afternoon, a group of more than 20 officers, including officials from the National Security Unit under the Jiangjin PSB, arrived at the home […]. [T]he officers suddenly surrounded [the lawyers], throwing the pair to the ground, beating and kicking them before leading them away in handcuffs.

    Jiang’s son, Jiang Hongbin (???), was also taken away by the officers. Zhang and Li were taken to a nearby police station, where Zhang was locked in an iron cage with his hands cuffed behind his back, hanging onto the bars of the cage. Li was cuffed to a concrete slab in another room. The pair was further beaten and interrogated. The police threatened Zhang and Li against handling the case and released the pair shortly after midnight.”

    See also:
  • Beijing Lawyer Cheng Hai Assaulted by Officials for Representing Falun Gong Practitioner | April 2009

    “In the early morning hours of April 13 [2009], Beijing lawyer Cheng Hai (??) was attacked and beaten while on his way to meet with a client in Chengdu. […] Cheng is in Chengdu representing Tao Yuan (??), a former Beijing Normal University graduate student and Falun Gong practitioner imprisoned… Tao, an inmate at Chengdu’s Hanyuan Prison, is now applying for release for medical treatment. Cheng was on his way to meet Tao’s mother, Zhang Chengrong (???), who lives in Wuhou District, when four or five men who had been monitoring and following Cheng encircled him and began striking him, pushing him onto the floor and kicking him.”
  • Falun Gong Practitioner Convicted Without Access to Legal Counsel | December 2008

    “On December 15, Sun Fengli (???), a Falun Gong practitioner from Lubei District, Tangshan City, Hebei Province, was tried for “using a [heretical] organization to undermine law enforcement” without ever having been given access to legal counsel, even though he had hired two Beijing lawyers to represent him. Sun’s lawyers, Tang Jitian (???) and Jiang Tianyong (???), were repeatedly barred from meeting Sun. The police officers at Tangshan City No.1 Detention Center, where Sun is held, said ‘higher authorities’ had decided that the lawyers were not allowed to meet suspects in Falun Gong-related cases.”

Alerts on assaults against lawyers who defended Falun Gong

  • Debarred Lawyer Tortured and Arrested in Northeastern China for Defending Falun Gong | August 27, 2009

    “CHRD learned today that Wang Yonghang (???), a former lawyer from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, has been formally arrested… When Wang was taken into police custody on July 4, he was severely beaten, causing fractures in his right ankle. Wang’s family and lawyer have not been allowed to meet Wang because, according to the police, his case involves “state secrets”. It is believed that Wang has been detained for his work defending Falun Gong practitioners….”

    [Editor’s Note: Wang was subsequently “sentenced” to 7 years in prison in November 2009 following an unfair trial, see here
  • Three Lawyers Detained for Defending Falun Gong Practitioners | July 15, 2009

    “CHRD learned on July 15 that three lawyers in different locations in Northeastern China have been detained in recent weeks by local authorities. The three, Liu Ruiping (???), Wang Yonghang (???), and Wang Ping (??), who have previously been harassed because of their work defending Falun Gong practitioners, were seized between July 2 and July 8 in Shandong and Liaoning Provinces.”

Non-practitioners punished for suspected association with Falun Gong or for expressing supportive views

The following cases are included here as they highlight the extent to which the CCP has been willing to go in order to silence voices critical of the campaign against Falun Gong. Together with intenstive anti-Falun Gong propaganda, such measures are a key factor in the distorted views that many Chinese hold about Falun Gong. The cases also point to the risk Falun Gong practitioners face for merely possessing printed materials or CDs related to the practice.

  • Xi’an Activist Harassed after Interviews with Foreign Media | November 2009

    “CHRD learned on November 27 that Xi’an activist Ma Xiaoming (???) was harassed by local police after conducting a number of interviews with foreign journalists. Ma, a former reporter for Shaanxi Television, was asked for commentary on a Spanish court’s decision to accept a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin (???) and other former high-ranking Chinese government officials alleging their complicity in genocide and torture of Falun Gong practitioners. Ma reported that police visited his home on a number of occasions, and, on November 26, twice interrupted phone calls from members of the foreign media to prevent Ma from answering questions.”
  • Liaoning Petitioners Detained due to Falun Gong Documents “Found” in their Computers | December 2007

    “On December 2, Liaoning petitioners, Liu Chunbao (???) and Guan Chunrong (???), were detained as they went to re-claim Liu’s computer held at the Yangqiao Police Station, Beijing. The police said Liu’s computer contained materials related to the Falun Gong, and they refused to allow Guan to eat or use the toilet until she signed a form admitting that that was true. Guan was released that evening, but Liu’s whereabouts remain been unknown. On October 17, during the 17th Party Congress, the Beijing police confiscated Liu’s computer from his residence while he was using it to prepare information for other petitioners. Guan believes that the police made up the charges to persecute them for petitioning in Beijing.”
  • Activist Chi Jianwei Sentenced, Tortured during Detention [for possessing Falun Gong-related CDs] | 2007

    “CHRD received information that Zhejiang activist Chi Jianwei told family he had been so seriously tortured at the detention center that he requested a transfer to prison before his appeal period ended […]. Family found him covered with wounds. He said he was chained in heavy shackles which were normally used on death penalty inmates, which caused his legs to swell and he had difficulty walking. Chi was charged with “using [a heretical organizaton] to hinder law enforcement” and sentenced to three years in prison on March 27, 2007 […]. Police searched his home and claimed that they found Falun Gong publicity CDs.”
  • Poetry website editor sentenced to six years imprisonment for publishing articles about Gao Zhisheng and organ harvesting from FG practitioners | March 2007

    “On March 19, 2007, the Ningbo Municipal Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province sentenced Zhang Jianhong (???, also known as Li Hong, ??), editor-in-chief of the poetry website, freelance writer and playwright, to six years’ imprisonment […]. His conviction was based on his having published 62 articles with topics such as lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s hunger strike and the forcible organ harvest of Falun Gong members. […] Zhang had just started serving his 6-year term in Changhu Prison, Zhejiang Province when he was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy. Zhang’s application for release for medical treatment was denied in September 2007. Reportedly, Zhang’s medical condition has deteriorated rapidly.”