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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Chengdu’ Category

Leading Chinese artist Ai Weiwei claims police attacked him

Posted by Author on August 10, 2010


Tania Branigan in Beijing , Guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 10 August 2010 –

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist commissioned to create an installation for the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, says that plain-clothes police assaulted him and his assistant today as he attempted to file a complaint about a previous attack.

The artist who designed the Beijing national stadium, known as the Bird Nest, said that he was kicked and shoved outside a police station in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in south-west China.

“Some undercover police tore our shirts and tried to grab our cameras. There were maybe 10 of them. They pushed and kicked us,” he said in a telephone interview. “Now we are being attacked because we complained about last time. It is so ironic.”

Ai and several other activists were detained in Chengdu last year to prevent them attending the trial of a campaigner investigating schoolchildren’s deaths in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. The subject has become highly sensitive because of allegations that shoddy construction, linked to corruption, was to blame for the high death toll in schools.

Ai said a policeman punched him in the head in that incident, leaving him with painful headaches, and he underwent surgery in Germany weeks later after doctors spotted internal bleeding.

Today he went to Chengdu’s city police department, but says it refused to take his complaint and referred him to the police station at Jinniu.

He said that as he arrived at that building he was surrounded by men who assaulted him and his assistant, and told him: “If you want justice, go back to the US.”

Ai lived in America for several years but is still a Chinese citizen…….(More details from The Guardian)

Posted in Activist, Artists, Chengdu, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | 1 Comment »

China Court Upholds Five-Year Sentence for Earthquake Activist Tan Zuoren

Posted by Author on June 10, 2010


Human Rights in China, June 9, 2010 –

The Sichuan Provincial Higher People’s Court has upheld the five-year sentence, with three years of deprivation of political rights, of Tan Zuoren (谭作人), the Sichuan environmental activist and writer convicted of “inciting subversion of state power.” The decision was announced on June 9, 2010, in a 12-minute-long hearing held in the Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People’s Court, the court that originally tried Tan on August 12, 2009.  In the appeal statement he filed after the original guilty verdict, Tan declared: “I am not guilty; I don’t accept [the verdict]; I protest; I appeal.”

Tan’s lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he did not expect a different outcome. “This was not a trial in accordance with law, but a trial to protect the interests of the local government,” said Pu.

Tan was first detained in March 28, 2009, three days after the online release of a report titled  Independent Investigation Report by Citizens, which presented findings of an investigation he conducted with a colleague, Xie Yihui (谢贻卉), into the causes of the widespread collapse of school buildings during the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. The subsequent indictment, which charged Tan with “inciting subversion of state power,” did not, however, mention his earthquake investigation.  Rather, the indictment cited as evidence his 2007 essay on the 1989 Democracy Movement, “Bearing Witness to the Ultimate Beauty—Diary of an Eyewitness from the Square” (见证最后的美丽——一个目击者的广场日记), and his proposal for a blood drive to commemorate the 20th anniversary of June Fourth.

Before the August 2009 trial, prominent artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未), who had traveled to Chengdu and prepared to be a witness for Tan, was beaten by Chengdu police and detained in his hotel room for 11 hours. The court did not allow any defense witnesses to attend the trial.  During the trial, the judge repeatedly interrupted Pu, and Tan was not allowed to make his final statement.

The Chengdu court announced its guilty verdict on February 9, 2010, nearly half a year after the trial, in violation of the Criminal Procedure Law which allows a maximum period of two-and-a- half months for a trial court to issue a ruling after accepting the case (Article 168). Tan appealed one day after the verdict was issued. The appeal decision, handed down today, four months afterwards, is also in violation of the Criminal Procedure Law which stipulates in Article 196 that an appeal trial should be concluded within one-and-a-half months after the filing of the appeal.

Human Rights in China

Posted in Chengdu, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World, writer | Comments Off on China Court Upholds Five-Year Sentence for Earthquake Activist Tan Zuoren

Two Tibetan writers being arrested, attacked at Southwest China

Posted by Author on June 10, 2010


Reporters Without Borders, June 10, 2010 –

Reporters Without Borders condemns two new serious cases of detention and use of violence against Tibetan journalists and writers in the past few days.

Two magazine editors were arrested by police in Chengdu on 5 June and were mistreated all night before being released, while a writer and monk was arrested without a warrant for the second time in 13 months on 24 May in Ngaba, in eastern Tibet, and has been held ever since without being able to see his family.

“The Chinese authorities are offering an idealised vision of a peaceful Tibet in the 2010 Shanghai World Expo but the information coming from the Tibetan areas is very different,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Arrests, violence and surveillance are the common lot of those who defend Tibetan identity. We urge Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to give clear orders for the release of all imprisoned Tibetan intellectuals.”

Goyon and Thupten Gedun, the editors of the magazines Tibet and Purgyal Kyi Namshey (Soul of Ancient Kings), were circulating on foot in Chengdu on the evening of 5 June when around 15 policemen descended from two vehicles, used tear-gas on them, and then took them to a police station. After confiscating their mobile phones, cameras, ID cards and wallets, they tied them to chairs and interrogated them.

“The police officers used violence to interrogate us,” the journalists said. “They asked us about our work and our political activities, all the while hitting us. They also threatened us by putting guns against our heads. When we asked what we had done wrong, they hit us even harder.” One of them was tortured with electrical equipment to make him confess.

“The next day, the police checked our police records and discovered they were empty. So they let us go, but not without threatening to arrest us again.”

In Ngaba, writer Dokru Tsultrim was arrested on 24 May in Gomang monastery, where he has been staying for the past five years. A relative living in exile in the Indian city of Dharamsala said he was arrested because of two articles by him that have been published.

“Dokru Tsultrim refused to give his laptop to the police but they confiscated documents they found in his room,” the relative said. “Until now our family has been denied the right to see him.” Tsultrim is very involved in promoting literature among young Tibetans but is not a member of in any political movement, the source added……. (more details from Reporters Without Borders)

Posted in Chengdu, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, Tibetan, World, writer | Comments Off on Two Tibetan writers being arrested, attacked at Southwest China

China-linked Cyberspies hacked government offices on several continents, security researchers say

Posted by Author on April 6, 2010


By JOHN MARKOFF and DAVID BARBOZA, New York Times, April 5, 2010-

TORONTO — Turning the tables on a China-based computer espionage gang, Canadian and United States computer security researchers have monitored a spying operation for the past eight months, observing while the intruders pilfered classified and restricted documents from the highest levels of the Indian Defense Ministry.

In a report issued Monday night, the researchers, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, provide a detailed account of how a spy operation it called the Shadow Network systematically hacked into personal computers in government offices on several continents.

The Toronto spy hunters not only learned what kinds of material had been stolen, but were able to see some of the documents, including classified assessments about security in several Indian states, and confidential embassy documents about India’s relationships in West Africa, Russia and the Middle East. The intruders breached the systems of independent analysts, taking reports on several Indian missile systems. They also obtained a year’s worth of the Dalai Lama’s personal e-mail messages.

The intruders even stole documents related to the travel of NATO forces in Afghanistan, illustrating that even though the Indian government was the primary target of the attacks, one chink in computer security can leave many nations exposed.

“It’s not only that you’re only secure as the weakest link in your network,” said Rafal Rohozinski, a member of the Toronto team. “But in an interconnected world, you’re only as secure as the weakest link in the global chain of information.”

As recently as early March, the Indian communications minister, Sachin Pilot, told reporters that government networks had been attacked by China, but that “not one attempt has been successful.” But on March 24, the Toronto researchers said, they contacted intelligence officials in India and told them of the spy ring they had been tracking. They requested and were given instructions on how to dispose of the classified and restricted documents.

Location of Sichuan, China

On Monday, Sitanshu Kar, a spokesman for the Indian Defense Ministry, said officials were “looking into” the report, but had no official statement.

The attacks look like the work of a criminal gang based in Sichuan Province, but as with all cyberattacks, it is easy to mask the true origin, the researchers said. Given the sophistication of the intruders and the targets of the operation, the researchers said, it is possible that the Chinese government approved of the spying. …… (more details from New York Times)

Posted in Asia, Chengdu, China, India, military, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, spy, SW China, World | Comments Off on China-linked Cyberspies hacked government offices on several continents, security researchers say

Chinese author barred from going to Germany festival, hauled from plane

Posted by Author on March 1, 2010


DPA, Via The Earthtimes, Mar. 01, 2010-

Beijing – China police on Monday removed banned writer and government critic Liao Yiwu from a plane and took him into custody, preventing him from travelling to Germany for a literary festival, a friend said. Officers hauled Liao, who had a German visa, from the plane in the south-western city of Chengdu shortly before it was to take off for Beijing, from where he was to catch a flight to Germany, the friend, whose identity is not being released to protect her, said in a telephone interview.

“His passport and visa were in order,” said the friend, whom Liao phoned as he was being taken to an airport security office. Since then, she has been unable to contact him, she said.

“I contacted the police at the airport but was unable to find out anything,” she said, adding that shortly before his departure, Liao had met with a high-ranking German diplomat.

Liao, 50, who had also been barred from leaving China to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair this past autumn, had planned to take part in Festival lit.Cologne on March 19.

Liao’s book The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up was published in the West last year after being banned in China. He wrote it from interviews with toilet cleaners, prostitutes, older monks, political prisoners and street artists.

The writer was imprisoned for four years beginning in 1990 after he published the poem Massacre in 1989 about the bloody crackdown that year on pro-democracy demonstrations, which were centred in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Since then, Liao has been on a black list and not allowed to publish in China.

The EarthTimes

Posted in Chengdu, China, Human Rights, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, SW China, World, writer | Comments Off on Chinese author barred from going to Germany festival, hauled from plane

24 Chinese Activists’ Letter Slams Communist Party Using “oppressive measures against justice in order to protect its dictatorship”

Posted by Author on February 16, 2010


Chinese activists want colleagues released during the Year of the Tiger.

HONG KONG
— As Chinese worldwide welcomed the Year of the Tiger, a group of activists in southwest China has called on the ruling Communist Party to free prisoners of conscience in their region and to open up debate on political change.

The activists also called for the release of Tan Zuoren, jailed recently after he launched a personal investigation into allegations of shoddy construction of the region’s schools following the deaths of thousands of children during the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

“The government has made little effort to change in the past year,” wrote the Sichuan and Chongqing-based activists in an open letter to China’s leaders released online during the Lunar New Year holiday.

“It continues to use oppressive measures against justice in order to protect its dictatorship,” the activists wrote, in particular with regard to the 11-year jail term handed to Liu Xiaobo, who helped draft Charter 08, a document calling for sweeping political change in China.

‘Product of a dream’

In Chongqing and Sichuan, the authorities had handed down jail terms to rights activists Tan Zuoren, Huang Qi, and Zhang Qi, and detained a number of others less formally, the letter said.

It also cited a heavy prison sentence for former Nanjing Normal University professor Guo Quan, who had claimed to set up a new political party.

“Charter 08 was the product of the dream of a constitutional government,” the letter said.

“There has been a huge increase in the number of meetings to discuss this in the past year, and yet the government has stepped up pressure on such activities to the boiling point.”

The letter was signed by 24 activists from southwest China, including freelance writer Zhang Xianchi, Chengdu-based online writer Ran Yunfei and activist Chen Yunfei, and Leshan-based freelance writer Mo Zhixu.

Chongqing-based democracy activists Deng Huanwu, He Bing, Bai Heping, and Deyang-based Li Yu also signed……. (Radio Free Asia)

Posted in Activist, Chengdu, China, Chongqing, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on 24 Chinese Activists’ Letter Slams Communist Party Using “oppressive measures against justice in order to protect its dictatorship”

RSF condemns China’s long jail sentences of two earthquake rights activists

Posted by Author on February 10, 2010


Reporters Without Borders, Feb. 9, 2010-

Reporters Without Borders condemns the long jail sentences that judges in Chengdu (in the southwestern province of Sichuan) have imposed on two human rights activists and netizens in the past 48 hours. A three-year sentence was upheld for Huang Qi  yesterday while Tan Zuoren was given a five-year sentence at a hearing today during which police arrested and manhandled nine Hong Kong journalists.

“Bloggers and human rights defenders who dared to contradict official reports about the victims of the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan are being treated like criminals,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We deplore the severe jail sentences that have been passed without due process and we appeal to the supreme court and justice ministry to review these two cases and to investigate the use of violence against the Hong Kong journalists who wanted to cover Tan’s hearing.”

The press freedom organisation added: “After convicting human rights activist Liu Xiaobo on Christmas Day, the authorities are now using the Chinese New Year period to announce very harsh sentences for dissidents who are well known in China and abroad.”

Tan, who was tried last August, seemed to be in good shape when he appeared in court today to hear the court’s verdict and sentence. According to one of his lawyers, he thanked those who have supported him, reaffirmed his innocence and described the proceedings as “illegal.” The court imposed the five-year sentence after finding him guilty of subverting state authority. His lawyers said they would appeal.

Tan’s wife was not allowed into the courtroom for today’s hearing, while nine journalists who had come from Hong Kong to cover the hearing were briefly detained and roughed up, and their press cards were taken. Two of the journalists were injured. The press cards were returned after the hearing.

Tan, who had urged fellow netizens to come to Sichuan to cover the plight of the families of the earthquake victims, was arrested in March 2009. Several journalists and activists were manhandled when they tried to attend his trial in August.

Yesterday’s decision by a Chengdu intermediate court to reject human rights activist Huang Qi’s appeal against his three-year sentence was taken without any hearing being held, thereby denying his defence lawyers a chance to present arguments. Huang was notified by letter that his sentence had been upheld.

His lawyers, including Mo Shaoping, have repeatedly complained of irregularities in the proceedings and submitted to a petition to the court last month listing their complaints, including the fact that they were being denied access to case documents……. (more from  Reporters Without Borders)

Posted in Activist, Chengdu, China, earthquake, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, SW China, World, writer | Comments Off on RSF condemns China’s long jail sentences of two earthquake rights activists

China jails quake activist Tan Zuoren to 5 years for subversion

Posted by Author on February 9, 2010


Jane Macartney in Beijing , The Times Online, UK, Feb. 9, 2010-

In a sign of Beijing’s renewed hard line against dissent, a Chinese activist has been jailed for five years after he investigated whether shoddy construction contributed to deaths of thousands of schoolchildren in the devastating 2008 earthquake.

The charges against Tan Zuoren, 55, a longtime activist in southwestern Sichuan province, involved “inciting subversion of state power” because of essays in which he criticized the bloody crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

But friends and his lawyers were in little doubt that Mr Tan’s efforts to document and produce an independent report on the collapse of school buildings in the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, when some 90,000 people died, were behind the sentence.

His lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, told The Times: “The court can do whatever it likes. His crime was inciting subversion of the state, but they did not have a scrap of evidence. In fact Tan Zuoren had only voiced differing views about June 4 and written some essays over the course of 20 years. After 20 years he is to go to jail. This is tragic and a cause of much anger.”

Mr Pu said: “The court is violating the constitution since Tan Zuoren was merely exercising his right to freedom of speech.”

Mr Tan had been put on trial in the provincial capital, Chengdu, last August. In China, most verdicts are announced within hours or days of the trial, but in this case the court waited until the final day of the legally stipulated period before passing sentence.

The sentence against Mr Tan was the maximum possible for his crime. The severity of the term highlighted the increasingly tough approach adopted by the Government in recent months against any hint of dissent.

Leading dissident Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in December for subversion – the harshest sentence ever handed down since the charge was introduced in 1997.

It took the court just 10 minutes to read out the verdict against Mr Tan. His lawyer said: “There were no charges related to the quake. All of the proceedings were linked to June 4 (1989).”

Mr Tan was the first person in a decade to be sentenced for actions linked to the 1989 crackdown. Most supporters and human rights activists were in little doubt that it was his attempts to document whether schools had been built on the cheap and were thus particularly vulnerable when the earthquake hit that had angered the authorities.

His wife, Wang Qinghua, told The Times she had been prevented from entering the court to hear the verdict.

“I was mentally prepared for such a long sentence and we will appeal. I understand that my husband tried to make a statement but he was not allowed to finish,” she said.

Ai Weiwei, a prominent and outspoken artist who helped to design the Bird’s Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics and had also campaigned for a full accounting for child victims of the earthquake, said the case was a travesty of justice.

He said: “I think this is a very important case for China, more important than that of Liu Xiaobo. It shows the Chinese legal system has taken a big step backwards. Tan’s ‘crime’ was entirely one of speech, of conscience.”

Last year, a court in Chengdu sentenced activist Huang Qi to three years for “revealing state secrets” after he tried to gather information on faulty construction of school buildings that critics say contributed to the children’s deaths. More than 5,000 of the dead were children.

The Times

Posted in Activist, Chengdu, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on China jails quake activist Tan Zuoren to 5 years for subversion

China Earthquake Activist Huang Qi Sentenced for 3 Years

Posted by Author on February 8, 2010


(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, February 8, 2010) – CHRD learned today that Chengdu City Intermediate Court rejected the appeal of human rights activist and director of Tianwang Human Rights Center (www.64tianwang.com), Huang Qi (黄琦). Huang was convicted of “illegal possession of state secrets” and sentenced to three years in prison on November 23, 2009.

According to one source at the Chengdu City Detention Center, where Huang was held, a judge from the Chengdu City Intermediate Court announced the decision to Huang at the Detention Center this morning. Huang was not given an oral appeal hearing before the decision was made. Huang’s wife and his lawyer have not yet been formally notified of the decision.

“The Chengdu Court has denied us access to the relevant files and information. Obviously, they want to make it difficult for us to defend [Huang effectively],” one of Huang’s lawyers told CHRD earlier. The lawyer also said they were not optimistic about a public appeal hearing.

Reportedly, Huang has just been transferred from the Detention Center to a midway house for the newly convicted before they are sent to prisons.

Huang is from Chengdu City in Sichuan Province. In 1998, Huang established the first website in China that disseminated news about people who had been trafficked and disappeared. The website evolved to report on issues of injustice and complaints against the government (www.64tianwang.com). In May 2003, Huang was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to five years in prison and one year of political rights deprivation. After his early release on June 4, 2005, he continued his human rights work.

However, Huang disappeared on June 10, 2008. It was later discovered that he had been detained by the police. A few days before his detention, Huang met with some of the families who wanted to file lawsuits against officials allegedly responsible for the shoddy school buildings that killed the children in the Sichuan earthquake.

During Huang’s detention, he was barred from accessing his lawyers for over three months after he was first taken into custody. Huang’s family has not been allowed to visit the activist despite repeated requests.

CHRD reiterates its call for Huang’s immediate and unconditional release. CHRD believes that Huang is jailed for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and to defending human rights.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders

Posted in Activist, Chengdu, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World, writer | Comments Off on China Earthquake Activist Huang Qi Sentenced for 3 Years

Online journalist to be tried for taking photos of demonstration in Southwest China

Posted by Author on January 29, 2010


Reporters Without Borders, Jan 29, 2010-

Reporters Without Borders
is very worried about the state of health of online journalist and writer Huang Xiaomin, who has been detained since March 2009 in the southwestern province of Sichuan and is due to be tried on 1 February. “We urge the authorities to drop the charges against him and free him at once,” the organisation said.

Huang Xiaomin was arrested by the Jinniu district public security bureau in connection with his coverage of a 23 February demonstration outside the intermediate people’s court in the provincial capital of Chengdu for the release of cyber-dissident Huang Qi, the creator of the Tianwang website and human rights network, who has been unjustly detained since June 2008.

A contributor to several independent websites, Huang Xiaomin is accused of “disturbing the social order” although all he did was take photos of the dozen or so protesters. He has been held since April in a detention centre in the city of Leshan. His family has never been given a copy of any arrest warrant……. (more details from Reporters Without Borders)

Posted in Chengdu, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, Speech, SW China, World | Comments Off on Online journalist to be tried for taking photos of demonstration in Southwest China

China essayist gets three years in prison for Tibet related articles

Posted by Author on November 22, 2008


Reporters Without Borders, 21 November 2008 –

Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of essayist Chen Daojun, who was sentenced today by a people’s court in Chengdu, in the western province of Sichuan, to three years in prison and three years’ loss of political rights for “inciting subversion of state authority” in three articles posted online.

“Chen Daojun is guilty only of expressing his views on Chinese politics,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is the second cyber-dissident to be convicted this year by a Chengdu court, following Huang Qi, who was arrested on 10 June because of his online articles criticising the management of humanitarian aid after the 12 May earthquake in Sichuan. By jailing Internet users in this fashion, the authorities have once again shown they are unable to handle criticism.”

An environmental activist, Chen, 40, was arrested on 9 May on a charge of “trying to subvert state authority” after taking part in a protest against an environmental threat. In an article posted four days before on YiBao (ChinaEweekly), an overseas Chinese website, he had called for a halt to the construction of a petrochemical plant 40 km outside the city.

On 5 November, the Chengdu court formally charged him with “separatism” in connection with the three articles for which he was finally convicted on the subversion charge.

The three offending articles were:

–   “Misgovernment drives people to Revolt – My Respect to the Tibetans struggling heroically” (http://2newcenturynet.blogspot.com/2008/04/blog-post_7713.html). It referred to the street rioting in Lhasa in March.

–   “What to Do after the Seventeenth Congress?” (http://www.newcenturynews.com/Article/gd/200711/20071117100747.htm). It commented on the Communist Party congress held in November 2007.

–   “The Backgrounds of the Anti-West Chinese” (http://www.fireofliberty.org/article/7867.asp). It looked at the Chinese boycotts of certain French and US products in April 2008.

“This is one of the most important cases in recent years,” Zhang Yu of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre told Reporters Without Borders. “No one has been given such a severe sentence for just a handful of articles since 2006, when Li Changqing got three years for writing about the 2004 dengue epidemic in Fuzhou [the capital of the southeastern province of Fujian].”

Zhang added that only one lawyer in the Chengdu region, Xiang Yang, was notified that the trial was going to take place. He was told on 17 November. The next day, the police summoned him and asked him to explain why he was defending Chen, whose own lawyer, Zhu Jiuhu, had not been told.

A Tibetan activist, Walza Norzin Wangmo, was also convicted today. She got a five-year prison sentence for disseminating information about the current situation in Tibet by telephone and Internet.

Reporters Without Borders: Political essayist gets three years in prison for three articles posted online

Posted in Chengdu, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, Speech, SW China, World | Comments Off on China essayist gets three years in prison for Tibet related articles

House Church Files First Suit in China Against Government Religious Authority

Posted by Author on September 21, 2008


Human Rights in China, September 18, 2008-

In what is believed to be the first suit against a government religious authority in China, the chief organizer of the Qiuyu Blessings Church—a Christian house church in Chengdu city—is suing the Shuangliu County Bureau of People’s Religious Affairs for illegally shutting down a religious gathering held by the church on May 2, 2008.

“This is a test case about the extent of the religious freedom that the Chinese government says its people enjoy,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “We are encouraged that house church members are beginning to use the law as a tool to defend their rights. This is the only way toward building a civil society.”

On May 2, about 40 officials from the county religious authorities and the police interrupted the gathering held at a resort hotel in Shuangliu county that day, photographed and questioned worshippers, and told them they were “suspected of being involved in illegal religious practices.” They also confiscated bibles and religious educational material. A few days later, the church received an after-the-fact official order banning the gathering.

In July this year, representatives of the Qiuyu Church unsuccessfully challenged the ban. The Chengdu authorities affirmed the earlier decision, stating that “the facts were clear, the evidence was ample … the procedure was lawful.”

The complaint, filed by Wang Yi (王怡) on behalf of the church, charges that the raid was illegal because the raiding officers did not provide a legal basis for their action, and the subsequent unsigned order banning the event also failed to cite specifically what regulations were violated. Wang wants this order annulled.

Human Rights in China learned that when Wang Yi delivered the complaint to the Shuangliu County Court on Wednesday, September 16, the judge in charge of receiving complaints said the evidence Wang presented was insufficient to support the case. Wang returned the following day with more documentation, but the judge refused to issue a receipt for the complaint and the supporting documents, or a notification to accept the case. By law, a court has seven days to decide whether it accepts a case.

The right to freedom of religious belief and practice in China is guaranteed by both the PRC Constitution and the 2005 Regulations on Religious Affairs (Article 36 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the 2005 Regulations state that citizens of China “enjoy freedom of religion.”) However, the Chinese government allows public worship only in state-sanctioned churches controlled by government authorities. Those who want to practice their faith without official interference are permitted only to worship at home—in “house churches.” But the government often resorts to a provision in the 2005 Regulations that prohibits religious activities from taking place in “non-religious” locations in order to raid house churches and harass religious practitioners.

On August 10 this year, during the Beijing Olympics, Beijing house church activist Hua Huiqi (华惠棋) was abducted by State Security police while on his way to a service at a state-sanctioned church—a service to which the Chinese government had invited U.S. President George Bush. Hua escaped his captors and is still in hiding.

Wang said that he hopes this case will prompt other house churches in China to use legal procedures and the court to assert their right to freedom of religion. “Through this case, we hope to be able to pursue our freedom of religion without going to jail, and that the government will use rational and lawful means to deal with its conflicts with house churches,” Wang said.

– Original: Human Rights in China

Posted in Chengdu, China, Christianity, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Religion, Religious, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on House Church Files First Suit in China Against Government Religious Authority

China human rights website founder kidnapped by police in earthquake capital city

Posted by Author on June 14, 2008


Reporters Without Borders, 12 June 2008-

Reporters Without Borders is worried about the kidnapping of leading cyber-dissident Huang Qi, the founder of the human rights website 64Tianwang. He and two other activists were forced to get into a car by three unidentified men at around 7 p.m. on 10 June in Chengdu, the capital of the earthquake-hit province of Sichuan.

The Chengdu police claim they know nothing about their whereabouts but their abduction bears all the hallmarks of an operation by the Bureau of Public Security and could be linked to the arrest the previous day of Zheng Hongling, a retired university professor who posted a series of three articles about the earthquake on a US-based website.

“The abduction of Huang and his two companions one month to the day after the Sichuan earthquake shows that the crackdown on press freedom activists continues,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the authorities to conduct an investigation to find out where they are, and to free them at once.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We also voice our support for Zheng, who was just using her right to free expression when she wrote three articles criticising the way the authorities in Mianyang, the city where she lives, handled earthquake relief operations. We call for her immediate release as well.”

The editor of the 64Tianwang website, Zhang Guo Ting, said he thought the abduction was linked to the latest article posted by Huang, which was about Zheng’s arrest on a charge of “divulging information abroad.” Aged 53 and a former professor at the University of Technology of the Southwest, Zheng and her husband fled from the earthquake damage in Mianyang on 12 May and went to stay with a friend, Huang Shaopu, in Chengdu.

From there, Zheng wrote her three articles, entitled “Tales of my adventures during the earthquake,” for Observe China, a Chinese website hosted in the United States. She was charged on 9 June with publishing articles criticising the authorities for not letting NGOs do their job. She is being held in Mianyang prison. Huang Shaopu was questioned by the police because the articles were sent from his computer, but he said he did not know they were being published.

Every since the earthquake, 44-year-old Huang Qi had been posting articles on 64Tianwang criticising the way the relief was being organised. He wrote on 20 May: “The reports we are seeing are biased. In reality, it is very difficult for NGOs to deliver food aid. They are obliged to go through government channels. The government is using its propaganda to portray itself as a saviour to little avail. Few citizens trust the government because of the corruptions scandals that already occurred during similar disasters in the past.”

Huang spent five years in Nanchong high security prison after being arrested on 3 June 2000, the eve of the 11th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He was charged with subversion under articles 103 and 105 of the criminal code for posting articles about the massacre by exiled dissidents on his website, which he originally created as bulletin board for messages about missing persons.

Reporters Without Borders awarded him its Cyber-Freedom Prize in 2004 for his online defence of free expression and human rights.

Meanwhile police today expelled around 10 foreign journalists from a neighbourhood of Dujiangyan, one of the cities that was badly hit by the earthquake, Agence France-Presse reported. Two of them worked for the French agency. They were trying to do a story about a school that collapsed in the quake. Police manhandled some of the journalists and damaged their equipment.

“We are seeing an all-out hunt for press representatives, with police and soldiers blocking access roads and searching all vehicles,” said Tom Van de Weghe, the China correspondent of Belgian radio and TV broadcaster VRT, who was arrested in Dujiangyan and Juyan. Yesterday, the Sichuan authorities had nonetheless renewed press accreditation for journalists wanting to visit quake-hit areas.

More information about Chinese government restrictions on press freedom regarding the 12 May earthquake in Sichuan

The interview that Huang Qi’s wife gave to TF1 in 2003

The October 2007 report “Journey to the Heart of Internet censorship”

– Original from Reporters Without Borders: Cyber-dissident Huang Qi kidnapped, foreign journalists arrested in Sichuan

Posted in Activist, censorship, Chengdu, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Internet, Law, News, People, Politics, Press freedom, Sichuan, Social, SW China, website, World | 1 Comment »

Japanese Rescuers Sad to Leave China: Move Twice in 4 days, Found No Survivors

Posted by Author on May 21, 2008


Takeru Makino / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer, Japan, May. 21, 2008-

CHENGDU, China– The leader of the Japanese rescue team dispatched to seek survivors of the May 12 earthquake in southwest China said Tuesday the team did its best, but regretted leaving the area struck by the massive temblor without saving any survivors.

“It was unfortunate we weren’t able to get to work immediately after the earthquake,” Takashi Koizumi, 57, said at a press conference held Tuesday morning at a hotel in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.

Koizumi, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Overseas Disaster Assistance Division, leads 60 elite specialists sent from the Foreign Ministry, the National Police Agency, the Japan Coast Guard, the Tokyo Fire Department and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The 32-member team brought with it high-tech rescue equipment, such as radar detectors that can locate survivors. But the team was only able to arrive at the afflicted areas after the 72-hour window in which people can realistically be expected to be rescued.

After reaching the afflicted area Friday, the team recovered about 20 bodies, but could not find any survivors.

At the press conference, Koizumi said: “I found some Chinese authorities were unaccustomed to dealing with a rescue team from a foreign country. We were unable to obtain some of the information we needed.”

“At the afflicted areas, I saw things that are difficult to describe in words.” Koizumi said. “But our activities were restricted in such areas.”

Koizumi said the team had done what needed to be done. However, he also said all the team members wanted to stay in the area and continue relief operations.

A member staying at the hotel said he had been able to sleep well for the first time in days.

“I’m not yet ready to explain my feelings [about leaving here without rescuing any survivors],” he said.

The hotel staff warned the team early Tuesday morning that a huge aftershock might strike the region.

“It’s difficult for me to leave here in such a situation,” he said.

After the press conference, all the members moved to another hotel to meet with Huang Yanrong, vice governor of Sichuan Province.

“You’ve won respect from Chinese citizens by conducting operations to the best of your abilities for five days, battling difficulties and dangers,” Huang said.

No lives saved

The limited achievements of the Japanese rescue team in a harsh environment showed the difficulty of international cooperation.

The team had to move twice in four days after reaching the quake-hit area. With time wasted traveling, members were able to search for survivors for only about two days. The team had to travel about 460 kilometers by car after arriving in Sichuan Province.

The rescue team reached Guanzhuang district in Qingchuan County of the province at about 10 a.m. Friday. However, team members discovered the area had been battered by landslides. Koizumi decided his team should move from the area because the team is specialized in urban disasters and was not equipped to handle the situation.

The team reached the Qiaozhuang district shortly after 4 p.m. and began search-and-rescue operations at the site of a collapsed hospital. Team members searched for survivors throughout the night, but were only able to find the bodies of a woman and her child.

On Saturday, the team moved to Qushan district in Beichuan County after another 29 members joined the team. Together, they conducted rescue activities at collapsed houses and a middle school building. They were able to recover the bodies of 14 people, but found no survivors.

The team was told to withdraw from the area to Chengdu at about 1 p.m. Monday. All the members, who had been waiting to move to another afflicted area, looked disappointed to hear the instruction. “There are still lots of things we can do in the disaster area,” one member told The Yomiuri Shimbun.

– Details from Yomiuri Shimbun: Japanese rescuers sad to leave China

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(photo) China earthquake: fissure on the road from Wenchuan to Chengdu city

Posted by Author on May 13, 2008


Photo from Internet, Via The Epochtimes, May. 13, 2008-

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Posted in Chengdu, China, disaster, earthquake, Environment, Life, News, Photo, Sichuan, SW China, transport, World | Comments Off on (photo) China earthquake: fissure on the road from Wenchuan to Chengdu city

China: Protestor charged of ‘inciting subversion’ for against chemical plant in Chengdu City

Posted by Author on May 12, 2008


Reuters, Sun May 12, 2008-

BEIJING, May 12 (Reuters) Chinese authorities arrested one person on a charge of inciting subversion and warned or detained five for their roles in a protest in the southwest against plans for a petrochemical project, local media reported on Monday.

Police were seeking another two on charges of illegally demonstrating in Chengdu, capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, the Beijing News reported.

“The police accused them of using the Internet and other means to spread rumours, inciting trouble or illegally marching or demonstrating, or using the Internet to spread rumours and harmful information,” the report said.

About 200 people took to the streets last week to demonstrate against plans for the ethylene plant and oil refinery in Chengdu’s northern outskirts, an echo of a protest movement that forced the government to scrap plans for a chemical plant in the southern city of Xiamen.

In March, officials in Xiamen confirmed they would shift a proposed plant to make paraxylene, a petrochemical used in polyester and fabrics, after thousands took to the streets and forced a rare invitation from the government for public comment.

China’s Communist authorities frown on public protest, but demonstrations are becoming more common due to anger over official corruption and pollution and tensions between industrialisation and environmental concerns.

The Chengdu protesters, who news reports said were orderly and did not carry banners, worried the plant would lead to degradation of air and water quality.

The ethylene plant was due to produce 800,000 tonnes a year of the industrial compound commonly used in packaging and insulation.

The refinery, which would process 10 million tonnes of crude oil a year, had been approved by China’s top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, last year, the Beijing News earlier reported.

– Original from Reuters: China punishes 6 for protest against chemical plant

Posted in Business, Chengdu, China, City resident, Economy, Environment, Health, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, pollution, Protest, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on China: Protestor charged of ‘inciting subversion’ for against chemical plant in Chengdu City

200 Villagers in SW China Surround Government Building Protesting Arrest of 12 Petitioners

Posted by Author on September 29, 2007


By Xin Fei, The Epoch Times, Sep 28, 2007- (excerpt)200 residents of Taiping Village gathered to protest the arrest of twelve villagers

On September 24, nearly 200 villagers from Taiping Village, Chendu City, Sichuan Province surrounded the Hongpai Building belonging to the local township government. The villagers were demanding the release of 12 local residents who had been arrested after travelling to Beijing to appeal. Three of the villagers have been released. Nine villagers remain in police custody.

Chinese citizens customarilly travel to Beijing during meetings of the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (NCCCP) to petition the Congress for redress of wrongs committed by local governments. This is the only method available to Chinese citizens who are victim of government malfeasance.

However, the Beijing regime does not welcome these petitions, seeing them as social disturbances, and blaming the petitioners rather than corrupt local officials.

Villagers Yuan Zhongli and Wu Deyu told The Epoch Times that they appreciate the support they have received from journalists and friends inside and outside of China. The villagers expressed their hope that continued support will result in the release of the nine villagers still remaining in police custody.

Yuan said that the villagers had surrounded the township government office building. Their demands included speaking with the general secretary of the office Yang Ping and identification of the locations of the nine villagers now in police custody. After their meeting, the general secretary promised that she would respond to the villager’s demands within 24 hours……. (more details from the Epochtimes)

Posted in Chengdu, China, Incident, Law, News, People, Petitioner, Politics, Protest, Rural, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on 200 Villagers in SW China Surround Government Building Protesting Arrest of 12 Petitioners

6 Chinese University Scholars’ Open Letter Demanding Human Rights Before Beijing Olympics

Posted by Author on August 21, 2007


The Epoch Times, Aug 20, 2007-

Six university scholars in China wrote an open letter to the communist regime on Aug. 14, demanding human rights compliance before the 2008 Olympics. Their letter follows:

The spirit of the Olympics is peace, justice, democracy, and the sanctity of human rights. The 2008 Olympics will be held in Beijing. We maintain, however, that the Chinese government must improve human rights conditions in China. A government that cannot safeguard its citizens’ basic human rights has no [moral] right to sponsor the Olympics.

Subsequently, we are presenting an eightfold proposal to the Chinese government for the improvement of human rights in China:

1. Release political and religious prisoners. Cease political and religious persecution.

2. Abolish the labor-camp system in China. The system allows the government to deprive citizens of their human rights without observing due process under the law. Millions of Chinese citizens have been imprisoned in labor camps over the past 50 years.

3. End newspaper censorship. Insure freedom of speech and of the press. Stop blocking and interfering with foreign media. Abolish the policy of prohibiting people from installing satellite TV antennae.

4. Abolish the violent “one-child” policy. This policy gravely violates the human rights of women, infants, and other family members.

5. Review cases of injustice. Many unjust cases in China have not been vindicated. The victims and their family members have endured injustice and suffering for years.

The foremost aberrations of justice should be immediately vindicated, such as those relating to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Democratic Movement, Falun Gong, the Anti-Rightist Movement, violently enforced birth control, and the like.

6. Resolutely implement the Property Rights Law, and stop the barbaric demolition of private property and other abuses of owners’ rights.

7. Stop depriving the Chinese people of the right to legally leave and enter China. At present, many Chinese people are restricted from leaving or entering China, based solely on their political views and their beliefs.

8. Abolish torture. All torture methods existing in China should be banned

9. If the Chinese government does not resolve all the forgoing problems, all law-abiding people in China and throughout the world must boycott the Beijing Olympics.

[signed:]

Shi Ruoping (Shandong University)

Li Changyu (Shandong University)

Sun Wenguang (Shandong University)

Hu Fengdazzle (Jiao Tong University)

Teng Biao (China University of Political Science and Law)

Wang Yi (Chengdu University)

Aug. 14, 2007

– Original report : Chinese Scholars Demand Human Rights Before Olympics

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, Birth control, censorship, Chengdu, China, East China, Event, Freedom of Belief, Freedom of Speech, Health, Human Rights, intellectual, Labor camp, Law, Media, News, People, Politics, Religion, Shandong, Sichuan, Social, Sports, SW China, World | Comments Off on 6 Chinese University Scholars’ Open Letter Demanding Human Rights Before Beijing Olympics

Highly Infectious Pig Virus Spread to 75% Areas of China Causing International Concern

Posted by Author on August 16, 2007


By DAVID BARBOZA, New York Times, August 16, 2007-

CHENGDU, China, Aug. 9 — A highly infectious swine virus is sweeping China’s pig population, driving up pork prices and creating fears of a global pandemic among domesticated pigs.

Animal virus experts say Chinese authorities are playing down the gravity and spread of the disease.

So far, the mysterious virus — believed to cause an unusually deadly form of an infection known as blue-ear pig disease — has spread to 25 of this country’s 33 provinces and regions, prompting a pork shortage and the strongest inflation in China in a decade.

More than that, China’s past lack of transparency — particularly over what became the SARS epidemic — has created global concern.

“They haven’t really explained what this virus is,” says Federico A. Zuckermann, a professor of immunology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. “This is like SARS. They haven’t sent samples to any international body. This is really irresponsible of China. This thing could get out and affect everyone.”

There are no clear indications that blue-ear disease — if that is what this disease is — poses a threat to human health.

Though the Chinese government acknowledges that the current virus has devastated pig stocks in coastal and southern areas, it has not admitted what experts say is clear: the virus is rapidly moving inland and westward, to areas such as this one in Sichuan Province, China’s largest pork-producing region.

“This disease is like a wind that swept in and passed from village to village,” said Ding Shurong, a 45-year-old farmer in a village near here who lost two-thirds of his pigs . “I’ve never seen anything like it. No family was left untouched.”

No one knows for sure how many of this country’s 500 million pigs have been infected. The government says officially that about 165,000 pigs have contracted the virus this year. But in a country that, on average, loses 25 million pigs a year to disease, few believe the figures. In part, the skepticism comes from the fact that pork prices have skyrocketed 85 percent in the last year — an increase that, absent other factors, suggests the losses from disease are more widespread than Beijing admits.

And there are other signs. Field experts are reporting widespread disease outbreaks. Fear among pig farmers that their livestock will contract the disease has led to panic selling. And the government and media here have issued alarming reports that farmers are selling diseased or infected pigs to illegal slaughterhouses, which could pose food safety problems.

International health experts are already calling this one of the worst disease outbreaks ever to hit Asia’s livestock industry, and they fear the fast-mutating pathogens could spread to neighboring countries, igniting a worldwide epidemic that could affect pork supplies everywhere.

A similar virus has already been detected in neighboring Vietnam and Myanmar, and health experts are trying to determine if it came from China.

Health experts say China has declined to send tissue samples to testing labs outside the country for independent verification by a lab affiliated with the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris.

The Chinese government says that it has reported the disease to international health bodies and insists that the disease is under control and that a vaccine has been developed and distributed.

But, some scientists say there is no truly effective vaccine against blue-ear pig disease (which is also known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome); other experts say they are not even certain that the blue-ear virus is the one that is spreading.

Scientists who track blue-ear pig disease are puzzled because the disease is generally not so deadly.

“This virus generally makes them ill but on its own it doesn’t cause a lot of deaths,” said Steven McOrist, a professor of pig medicines at the University of Nottingham in England. “The evidence they put up so far is not conclusive.”

If it is blue-ear pig disease, which has infected most parts of the world, including the United States, it may be a new and more virulent strain.

“This is more severe than we’ve seen elsewhere,” said Derek Armstrong, a senior veterinary scientist at the Meat and Livestock Commission in Britain. “It may be a co-infection of pigs with other things.”

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is now pressing China to share its research and tissue samples……. ( more details from the New York Times)

Posted in Asia, Business, Chengdu, China, disaster, Food, Health, Life, News, Pig epidemic, Plague, Politics, Pork, Sichuan, Social, SW China, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Highly Infectious Pig Virus Spread to 75% Areas of China Causing International Concern

Three Editors Sacked Over Tiananmen Massacre Ad: China

Posted by Author on June 7, 2007


Reporters Without Borders, 7 June 2007-

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the sacking of three senior editorial staff on a Chengdu daily in the southwest China, that carried an advertisement saluting mothers of victims of the 4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in which thousands of demonstrators died – to which all reference is banned in China.

“These three journalists are innocent victims twice over,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “They let through this ad, because one of their staff didn’t know what happened on 4 June 1989, so relentless is censorship about this episode.”

“These journalists have as a result fallen victim to a purge, which is typical of this government. We call on the authorities to lift these sanctions and to put an end to the censorship of the events of 4 June 1989”, it said.

The organisation said it also feared that whoever sent in the advertisement to the paper would be arrested and given a harsh prison sentence.

The Reuters news agency reported today that three editorial staff on Chengdu Wanbao in Sichuan province had been dismissed for letting through a one-line advertisement paying tribute to the brave mothers of 4 June, in reference to the mothers of the victims who keep alive the memory of their children and seek justice for them.

The deputy chief editor, Li Zhaojun, is reportedly one of those hit by the dismissal, which was decided on after an official investigation. The previous evening a Hong Kong daily said that the young employee who passed the ad did not know about the events of June 1989.

She did however phone the person who placed the ad to ask for an explanation and he told her it was in tribute to the victims of a mining accident. Two other papers in Chengdu were asked to take the same ad but its editorial staff refused to take it, realising the risks involved.

For the past 18 years, the government, through its propaganda department has banned all reference to the events in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989, in which thousands died.

orginal report from Reporters Without Borders

More about Tiananmen Square massacre

Video: Tiananmen Square Massacre 18 Years Ago in China
China: Tiananmen Legacy Defies Olympic Gloss, Human Rights Watch, June 1, 2007

Posted in censorship, Chengdu, China, employment, Human Rights, Journalist, June 4, Media, News, Newspaper, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, Special day, Speech, SW China, Tiananmen | Comments Off on Three Editors Sacked Over Tiananmen Massacre Ad: China