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U.S. Citizen Detained in Beijing for Attempt to Deliver Letter to Obama

Posted by Author on November 17, 2009

Human Rights in China, Nov. 17, 2009 –

On the afternoon of November 17, 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, a U.S. citizen, Julie Harms, who was waiting outside the embassy in order to deliver an appeal letter for the President, was picked up by Chinese police officers. According to Ms. Harms, she was then detained and interrogated for two-and-a-half hours at the Maizidian Police Substation in Chaoyang District, Beijing.

Julie Harms, a graduate of Harvard, told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that over many months she had petitioned unsuccessfully to central authorities – including the National People’s Congress, Ministry of Public Security, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and State Bureau for Letters and Calls (the state agency responsible for receiving petitions) – on behalf of her fiancé, Liu Shiliang (刘士亮).  Liu was detained on June 17, 2009, by the Wuhe County Public Security Department in Bengbu, Anhui, and was tried at the Wuhe County People’s Court on September 14, 2009, for “trespassing” (非法侵入他人住宅), a charge brought by a neighbor with whom Liu had a dispute in 2007. (The neighbor is now serving a five-year prison term after being convicted of beating and seriously injuring Liu.) The court, required under the Criminal Procedure Law to issue a ruling within one month after accepting a case, has yet to render a decision on Liu Shiliang’s case.

Harms first met Liu in 1999 in Hefei, Anhui, during her travels. Liu was then working as a security guard at a local post office. They were engaged in 2007, but have delayed their wedding because of the legal problems involving Liu’s neighbor.

“Sadly, Ms. Harms’ experience is a microcosm of the ordeal that hundreds of thousands of Chinese petitioners go through when they try to appeal to higher authorities for justice,” said Sharon Hom, HRIC executive director. “In this case, the Chinese authorities prevented a U.S. citizen from delivering a petition to her own president. This incident should be a cautionary tale for the U.S. government and the international community about the true face of China’s progress and the limits of redress for Chinese citizens.”…… (more details from Human Rights in China)

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