Failing to Deliver: An Olympic-Year Report Card on Free Expression in China
In order to win the privilege of hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, the People’s Republic of China pledged to improve its human rights record. This pledge included specific commitments to expand press freedom and protect such fundamental rights as the right to freedom of expression as it is guaranteed under international law and China’s own constitution.
On December 10, 2007, PEN American Center, PEN Canada and the Independent Chinese PEN Center launched “We Are Ready for Freedom of Expression,” a campaign aimed at holding China’s leadership to these commitments. PEN’s campaign specifically called on the Chinese government to:
· release all writers and journalists currently imprisoned and stop detaining, harassing, and censoring writers and journalists in China;
· end Internet censorship and reform laws used to imprison writers and journalists and suppress freedom of expression; and
· abide by its pledge that “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games.”
Seven months later, we are unable to report significant improvements in any of these areas.
What we have witnessed instead has been a grinding and relentless campaign to jail or silence prominent dissident voices, including many of our colleagues from the Independent Chinese PEN Center, and new and brazen efforts to restrict or control domestic and international press. This report, issued one month before the Olympics open in Beijing, summarizes this discouraging lack of progress. It also offers glimpses of the vast, intricate nature of the suppression of human rights in China—visits to families of targeted dissidents, interference with personal cell phones and computers, waylaying individuals on their way to meetings and banquets; niggling, widespread surveillance and dogged harassment often followed by detention, arrest, and in some cases, very long prison sentences.
In bidding for the Olympic Games and in offering the requisite assurances of its intentions to protect and expand basic human rights, China invited just this kind of scrutiny. In turn the nations of the world, as they send their representatives to the Beijing Olympics, should not shy away from evaluating China on the terms under which it secured the Games. With time running out, we are asking the international community to join us in holding the Chinese government accountable for its assurances that it would safeguard and expand the rights of its people.
Jailing and Silencing Writers
When we launched the “We Are Ready” campaign, PEN was following the cases of 40 writers and journalists imprisoned in China. Though three of these have since been released, nine more have been detained:
1. Wang Dejia: Internet writer and dissident, detained December 13, 2007 and released on January 12, 2008 on condition that he not write anything “attacking the leadership of the Party and State,” “inciting subversion of state power,” or any “political commentary.”
2. Hu Jia: Freelance reporter and blogger, civil rights, environmental and AIDS activist, arrested December 27, 2007 and convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” on April 3, 2008. Hu is now serving a 3 ½-year sentence.
3. Jamyang Kyi: Prominent Tibetan writer, reporter, activist and singer detained April 1, 2008.
4. Zhou Yuanzhi: Freelance writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, detained on May 3, 2008 and released on May 15, 2008. Zhou is forbidden from traveling beyond his home city without police authorization, prohibited from communicating with strangers, and banned from publishing.
5. Chen Daojun: Freelance writer and journalist, detained May 9, 2008 and charged with “inciting splittism.”
6. Guo Quan: Writer and former professor of literature at Nanjing Normal University, detained May 17, 2008 and released May 28, 2008.
7. Feng Zhenghu: Rights defender, online writer and freelance journalist, detained on June 5, 2008 on suspicion of “intentionally disturbing public order and released on June 15, 2008.
8. Zeng Hongling: Writer and retired worker, detained June 9, 2008 after publishing articles on her experiences from the May 12, 2008 earthquake.
9. Huang Qi: Cyber-dissident, writer, director and co-founder of the Tianwang Human Rights Center, detained on June 10, 2008.
Today, seven months later, we are following the cases of 44 writers and journalists who are in Chinese prisons in violation of their right to freedom of expression. A complete list of all the writers PEN has been tracking since December 10, 2007, is attached to this report.
In addition to this disturbing increase in the number of imprisoned writers and journalists, the Chinese government has intensified its ongoing harassment of dissident voices and writers. We are particularly distressed that many of our colleagues at the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) have been targeted in this crackdown. This past December, authorities halted ICPC’s annual awards dinner by paying visits to members and posting guards outside the doors of many to prevent them from traveling to Beijing. The evening’s two scheduled honorees, writers Liao Yiwu and Li Jianhong, were briefly held under house arrest. On June 4, the distinguished writer, dissident, and former ICPC president and current board member Dr. Liu Xiaobo was manhandled by police from the National Security Unit of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, and is now reportedly under surveillance at his home in Beijing.
There is also increasing evidence of an organized effort to restrict movement of dissidents and writers to keep them from meeting freely with international observers before and during the Olympics. On June 29, Teng Biao and Li Baiguang, two human rights lawyers and ICPC members living in Beijing, were detained in order to prevent them from meeting with U.S. Congressmen Christopher H. Smith and Frank R. Wolf, who had invited them to dinner to discuss human rights issues. Li Baiguang was held for three days in Huairou, a Beijing suburb, and Teng Biao, whose passport had been confiscated by authorities earlier in the year, was released but placed under house arrest.
Setting Legal Traps
The majority of writers and journalists currently imprisoned in China have been snared by China’s far-reaching, zealous efforts to restrict freedom of expression on the Internet. Of the 44 writers currently imprisoned in China, 30 are being held for writings they posted on the Internet or disseminated electronically, including Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning, who were both convicted after U.S. Internet provider Yahoo! provided the Chinese government with their user information. All nine of the writers detained since December 10 (Wang Dejia, Hu Jia, Jamyang Kyi, Zhou Yuanzhi, Chen Daojun, Guo Quan, Feng Zhenghu, Zeng Hongling, and Huang Qi) have been targeted for their online writings.
Three laws are routinely misused to try and sentence writers, journalists, and cyberdissidents in China: 1) subversion; 2) revealing state secrets; and 3) splittism or separatism. Hu Jia, a freelance reporter and blogger, is serving a 3 ½-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” for six articles he published and two press interviews. Huang Qi, who was detained on June 10, is being held on suspicion of “illegally holding state secrets” for writings published on his organization’s web site. The splittism charge, used most often against Tibetans and Uighurs, has recently crossed ethnic lines to include Han Chinese who publicly defend Tibetan and Uighur rights. Chen Daojun, a freelance writer and journalist detained May 9, 2008, has been formally charged with “inciting splittism” for an article he published declaring respect for the Tibetan people, defending their basic rights, and condemning the government’s violent crackdown on protesters.
China’s vast Internet censorship is a violation of the right of its citizens under international law to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Its vaguely-defined subversion, state secrets, and incitement laws have long been used to prosecute writers and journalists simply for practicing their professions. Rather than taking concrete steps to ease Internet restrictions and reform the laws routinely misused to jail writers and dissidents, China has continued to brandish and wield these weapons against individual writers in the weeks leading up to the Olympic Games. It has also expanded efforts to deny its citizens access to information on sensitive subjects on the Internet, shutting down many sites in the past seven months, including a site for the Tiananmen Mothers—an organization of family members of those killed or imprisoned during the 1989 crackdown—and Uighur Online, a site aimed at promoting understanding between Han Chinese and ethnic Uighurs.
Restricting the media
When bidding for the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese government made a specific promise to open up the country to free media reporting, stating “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games.” The unrest in Tibet and the May 12th earthquake, however, have revealed just the opposite: a government intent on controlling media access to important stories and on restricting the access its own people have to domestic and international media coverage.
During the crackdown on protests in Tibetan areas that began in March, government-instigated interruptions in telephone and Internet service in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and other Tibetan areas significantly hindered the flow of first-hand reports and other information as violence spread and the number of deaths rose. A recent Human Rights Watch report confirms that authorities are now confiscating mobile phones, cameras, fax machines and computers, monitoring calls, censoring and blocking emails and Internet content, and harassing Tibetans to prevent them from relaying information inside and outside of Tibet.
Since March, only a few journalists have been allowed into Tibetan areas on three government-orchestrated visits, always chaperoned and closely monitored by Chinese officials. Foreign journalists who attempted on their own to enter the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighboring Tibetan areas in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu Provinces have been detained and turned away. Meanwhile, satellite broadcasts focusing on events in Tibet have been jammed in Beijing and other Chinese cities, and foreign news sites such as the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) have been shut down entirely or selectively, leaving China’s citizens without access to the full story about monumental political and human rights issues in their own country.
We are now beginning to see similar controls exerted on reporting from areas affected by the May 12 earthquake. At first the government, of necessity, allowed an unusual level of live coverage of rescue efforts. But now that attention is beginning to turn to questions that are potentially embarrassing for Chinese officials, there is a concerted effort to rein in—and even black out—press coverage. In just one example, on June 12, Agence France-Presse reported that at least six foreign media representatives were manhandled and detained when they tried to report from collapsed schools in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province. They were reportedly told by a police officer that “You cannot report anywhere in Dujiangyan. You must leave.” The six were then ordered out of the city, despite the fact that they held passes explicitly stating that reporting was allowed in the area.
The world knows of many of these heavy-handed efforts to restrict press freedom because they have been directed at the international media. Meanwhile, China’s domestic media remains under the thumb of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese government and must follow its directives. Chinese reporters are not even included in the pre-Olympic rules that are supposedly meant to allow foreign journalists to travel and report freely. Those who wander beyond the official boundaries have been punished. On May 5, for instance, Chang Ping was dismissed from his post as deputy editor of the daily Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis Daily) after he published several editorials about Tibet that did not toe the party line.
Conclusion and Recommendations
PEN American Center, PEN Canada, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center are seriously concerned that rather than improving, the climate for freedom of expression has actually measurably deteriorated over the past year, in full view of the international community. There are more writers and journalists in prison in China today than there were seven months ago, and dissident writers and journalists who are not in prison face serious restrictions on their movements and on their ability to speak and publish freely. Internet censorship and other laws such as subversion and inciting separatism or splittism remain in force and continue to be used specifically to deny the universally-guaranteed right to freedom of expression. China’s promises to allow media to report freely throughout China have been undermined by its attempts to manage international coverage from Tibet and earthquake-affected areas and by its refusal to extend any new protections or freedoms whatsoever to Chinese journalists.
If the Olympics come and go and there are no improvements in these areas, China will only have succeeded in portraying itself in the most unflattering light possible, thus reinforcing doubts about its commitments to fundamental human rights.
With one month remaining before the Olympic Games open in Beijing, however, it is not too late for China to make good on the commitments it offered its own citizens and the international community when it announced its desire to host the 2008 Games. When all is said and done, it is not by staging a successful Olympic Games, but by honoring these commitments that China will bolster its international stature as a leader among nations.
We therefore recommend that the Chinese government:
· Release all writers and journalists currently imprisoned and stop detaining, harassing, and censoring writers and journalists in China;
· End Internet censorship, and reform laws used to imprison writers and journalists and suppress freedom of expression; and
· Abide by its pledge that “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games.”
We further recommend that nations participating in the Olympic Games:
· Use every available occasion to press the Chinese government to release all writers and journalists imprisoned in China before the Olympics; reform laws used to detain, harass, and censor writers and journalists; and lift all restrictions on all media up to and through the Olympic Games;
· Seek viable and meaningful ways to hold China accountable to the pledges it made in securing the Olympic Games to improve its human rights record; and
· Secure clear assurances from the Chinese government that no Chinese citizens, Chinese or foreign journalists, athletes or spectators will be detained or otherwise prevented from expressing their views peacefully during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
WRITERS IMPRISONED IN CHINA
As of July 8, 2008
Freelance writer and journalist, detained May 9, 2008 by the Public Security Bureau of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province and charged with “inciting splittism.” The charge most likely stems from an article Chen published following the Tibetan protests in March which declared respect to the Tibetan people, defended their basic rights and condemned the Chinese government’s violent crackdown on protesters. He has also written articles against governmental projects and the politics of the Beijing Olympics. Chen is currently being held at the Detention Center of the Public Security Bureau of Jintang County.
Dissident writer and leading member of the Zhejiang Branch of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), arrested September 14, 2006 and charged with “inciting subversion.” Chen’s case has twice been handed back to the police for lack of evidence, but on August 14, 2007 he was sentenced to four years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights. His appeal was rejected without trial by the Zhejiang High People’s Court on October 29, 2007. Chen is being held at Qiaosi Prison in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province.
Cyber-dissident arrested on May 12, 2006 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for 34 articles he published on overseas web sites attacking the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Guo was sentenced to four years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights on October 17, 2006. He is being held in Cangzhou Detention Center No. 2 in Heibei Province, and is reportedly nursing a broken leg and is in a fragile psychological state, possibly due to abuse.
Tibetan dissident arrested in November 1995 for writing pro-independence pamphlets which were posted in April 1995 as part of widespread protests against the Chinese authorities. Dawa was charged with carrying out “counter-revolutionary propaganda” and is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. He is currently being held in the notorious Drapchi Prison in Lhasa. He was reportedly severely tortured under interrogation, and has suffered numerous forms of abuse in prison, including beatings, psychological stress, and lack of access to fresh air. When he was first arrested, he was handcuffed and thrown into a dark room without food for 10 days.
Monk from Drakar Trezong monastery in Qinghai Province, where he was on the editorial team of the monastery’s journal, The Charm of the Sun and Moon. Jampel was arrested on January 16, 2005 and sentenced to three years re-education through labor (RTL). He is currently being held in Topa RTL Camp at Huangzhong Dzong, near Xining.
Owner of the Mongolian Academic Bookstore and founder and editor-in-chief of underground journal The Voice of Southern Mongolia, arrested December 10, 1995 and sentenced to 15 years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting separatism and espionage” on December 6, 1996. Hada is currently being held at No. 4 Prison of Inner Mongolia in Chi Feng City, and is suffering from stomach ulcers and coronary heart disease.
Dissident activist and writer arrested on November 4, 2002 and subsequently sentenced to eight years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion.” He’s trial lasted a mere two hours before he was convicted on charges that stemmed from his collaboration with the banned China Democracy Party (CDP) and his internet essays. He is currently being held in Beijing No. 2 Prison, and has reportedly suffered numerous abuses there, including beatings that left permanent injuries.
Freelance reporter working as Qi Chonghuai’s research assistant in the investigation of local corruption and injustice prior to his detention on June 25, 2007. He was formally charged with “blackmail” on August 2, 2007, and his case was handed to the Tengzhou People’s Procuratorate on November 2, 2007 – one month later than the law permits. He was tried by the Tengzhou City Court in Shandong Province on May 13, 2008, and sentenced to two years in prison. He is currently being held at the Tengzhou City Detention Center.
Freelance reporter and blogger, civil rights, environmental and AIDS activist, arrested December 27, 2007 at his home in Beijing on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” Hu was officially charged on January 30, 2008 by the Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate, and on March 7, his case was submitted to the prosecution. Hu stood trial on March 18, and on April 3, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights. On May 8, 2008, he was transferred from the Beijing Municipal Detention Center to Chaobai Prison, Hangu District, Tianjin City, where his health is reportedly deteriorating due to prison conditions.
University lecturer, political activist and dissident writer, arrested September 27, 1992 and charged with “counterrevolutionary crimes” for planning June 4 memorial activities in many of China’s major cities. Hu was a founding member of the China Freedom and Democracy Party (CFDP) and China Free Trade Union (CFTU) and has campaigned for government accountability for the violent suppression of the Democracy Movement in June 1989. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and five years’ deprivation of political rights and is currently being held in Beijing No. 2 Prison. His sentence has recently been reduced by a total of two years. His health is deteriorating but he is reportedly being denied medical care for a number of conditions.
Huang Jinqiu (pen name: Qing Shuijun)
Internet essayist, writer and journalist, arrested on September 13, 2003 and sentenced to 12 years in prison and four years’ deprivation of civil rights for “organizing, planning and carrying out subversive activities” and for writing “reactionary” articles on the internet. Huang was severely tortured during the first two years in jail. His situation has improved in the past year and his sentence has been reduced by 22 months.
Cyber-dissident, writer, director and co-founder of the Tianwang Human Rights Center, detained June 10, 2008 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Huang was last seen being forced into a car by three unidentified men, and was later confirmed to be held by the police at the Detention Center of the Public Security Bureau of Chengdu City on suspicion of “illegally holding state secrets.” His detention may stem from his criticism of the government’s handling of the May 12th Sichuan earthquake.
Editor of the Uighur-language Kashgar Literary Journal, arrested for publishing Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s short story «Wild Pigeon» in late 2004. Chinese authorities consider the story to be a criticism of their government’s presence in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Huseyin was sentenced to three years in prison and is due to be released in 2008.
Geologist and writer, arrested March 13, 2001 along with Xu Wei, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Jin was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to 10 years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently being held at Beijing No. 2 Prison and is suffering from multiple medical conditions whose causes are still unclear.
Internet writer and factory worker, arrested December 13, 2003 after posting five articles and seven poems on an overseas website that alleged corruption. Kong was sentenced on September 16, 2004 to 15 years in prison for “subverting state power,” a sentence that was reduced to 10 years on appeal. He is currently being held at Lingyuan City Prison in Liaoning Province and is reportedly suffering from high blood pressure and deteriorating eyesight.
Writer and teacher, arrested on March 9, 2005 in Lhasa, Tibet for allegedly endangering state security in his unpublished book, The Restless Himalayas, which was comprised of 57 chapters he had written on various topics: democracy, sovereignty of Tibet, Tibet under communism, colonialism, religion and belief, and so forth. Dolma was charged with “espionage” and “illegal border crossing” at a trial conducted in secrecy, and sentenced to ten and a half years in prison. In July 2007, he was reportedly moved from Chushul Prison in Lhasa to Seilong Labor Camp in Xining, and is seriously ill.
Prominent Tibetan writer, reporter, activist and singer detained April 1, 2008 in Qinghai Province. Kyi was reportedly escorted from her office at the state-owned Qinghai TV in Xining by plainclothes police officers and has not been seen since April 7. Police searched her home and confiscated her computer and contacts lists. Her whereabouts are currently unknown.
Internet writer and financial officer in the Dazhou municipal government in Sichuan Province, arrested August 11, 2003 after posting essays accusing Sichuan officials of corruption on an overseas website. Li was sentenced to eight years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights on December 10, 2003 on charges of “subverting state power.” Evidence was supplied by Yahoo!, which passed on his user information to the authorities. He is currently being held in Sichuan No. 3 Prison in Dazhu County.
Writer and human rights activist, arrested on August 24, 2007 after his articles critical of the authorities were published online. Lu was formally charged with “inciting subversion of state power” on September 29, 2007, and stood trial before the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court on January 22, 2008. He was convicted, and on February 5, 2008 he was sentenced to four years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights. In a closed trial on April 14, 2008, the Zhejiang Provincial High Court rejected an appeal. He is currently being held in Xijiao Prison, Hangzhou City.
Research professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Deputy Director of the Public Policy Research Center, and Executive Director of the China Development Strategy, arrested in April 2005 on charges of “leaking state secrets” to Hong Kong-based reporter Ching Cheong. After a secret trial lasting only 90 minutes on December 18, 2006, Lu was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is reportedly being held incommunicado in Beijing City jail.
Falun Gong member and internet writer, sentenced on February 19, 2004 to 10 years in prison for writing an online publication which “tarnished the image of the government by broadcasting fabricated stories of persecution suffered by cult members.” The newsletter alleged ill-treatment in prison of a fellow Falun Gong member.
Writer, teacher and translator from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, arrested July 26, 2002 after providing information to the East Turkestan Information Centre (ETIC), a Uighur rights and pro-independence group run by exiled Uighurs in Germany. Memetemin was convicted in June 2003 by the Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court of “illegally providing state secrets to overseas organizations” and sentenced to nine years in prison. He was reportedly denied legal representation at his trial and has been tortured in prison.
Internet writer and factory worker, arrested December 13, 2003 after posting online essays supporting the establishment of trade unions and the China Democracy Party (CDP). Ning was sentenced on September 16, 2004 to 12 years in prison for “subverting state power,” a sentence that was reduced to eight years on appeal. He is currently being held at Shenyang Prison in Liaoning Province.
Journalist detained June 25, 2007 following the publication on the Xinhuanet web site of an article alleging official corruption in the Tengzhou Communist Party. Qi was formally charged with “blackmail” on August 2, 2007, and his case was handed to the Tengzhou People’s Procuratorate on November 2, 2007 – one month later than the law permits. He was tried by the Tengzhou City Court in Shandong Province on May 13, 2008. Immediately following the 11-hour proceedings, Qi was convicted of “extortion and blackmail” and sentenced to four years in prison. He is currently being held at the Tengzhou City Detention Center, and has endured abuse at the hands of court policemen.
Journalist, poet, and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested November 24, 2004 after he emailed the government’s plans for controlling media during the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Shi was sentenced on April 30, 2005 to 10 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “illegally divulging state secrets abroad” after Yahoo! supplied his user information to authorities. He is currently being held in Deshan Prison, Changde City, Hunan Province.
Sun Lin (pen name: Jie Mu)
Reporter for the overseas Chinese web site Boxun News, arrested May 30, 2007 after writing articles on sensitive subjects including crime and police brutality. His wife, writer He Fang, was also charged and given a suspended sentence. On June 27, 2008, during a hearing in which neither his family nor lawyer were present, Sun was handed a four-year prison sentence for “gathering crowds to cause social unrest” and “illegal possession of firearms.” Before his arrest, he had documented several instances of police harassment.
Internet writer and editor, arrested July 9, 2002 in his home in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region while in the process of posting articles on the internet. Tao was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to seven years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Changji Prison in Changji City, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Tohti Tunyaz (pen name: Muzart)
Ethnic Uighur historian and writer, arrested February 6, 1998 while on a research trip in Urumqi for his studies at Tokyo University, where he was working towards a Ph.D. in Uighur history and ethnic relations. Tunyaz was sentenced on February 15, 2000 to eleven years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “stealing state secrets” and “inciting national disunity.” He is currently being held in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Prison No. 3 in Urumqi.
Internet writer and dissident, arrested on September 1, 2002 and charged with subversion for articles published online between 2000 and 2002. Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights on July 25, 2003 after Yahoo! supplied his user information to Chinese authorities. He is currently being held in Beijing No. 2 Prison and has reportedly been tortured.
Internet writer and China Democracy Party (CDP) activist, arrested in June 1999 for circulating pro-democracy articles on the internet and for his work with the magazine Zai Yedang (Opposition Party). Wu was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of subversion on November 9, 1999. He is currently being held in Zhejiang No. 4 Prison in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province.
Reporter for Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), arrested March 13, 2001 along with Jin Haike, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Xu was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to 10 years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently being held at Beijing No. 2 Prison, where he has suffered ill-treatment, and has gone on hunger strike several times.
Research professor at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, arrested June 24, 2000 and sentenced on December 20, 2001 to 13 years in prison for leaking state secrets and illegal business activities related to his research on Chinese military operations during the Korean War. Xu is reportedly being held in a section of Xichuan Prison reserved for elderly and sick prisoners and is suffering from serious health conditions.
Dissident writer, painter and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested October 18, 2006 for his critical writings published online on overseas websites. Yan was sentenced to three years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power” on April 13 2007. He is being held in Shiliping Prison in Quzhou City, Zhejiang Province.
Yang Maodong (pen name: Guo Feixiong)
Dissident writer, independent publisher and civil rights activist, arrested on September 14, 2006 and sentenced on November 14, 2007 to five years in prison for “illegal business activity.” Yang has endured intense torture at the hands of prison authorities, including beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and suspension by his arms and legs while attacked with electric prods. The abuse has reportedly driven him to attempt suicide. Yang began a hunger strike at Meizhou Prison, Meizhou City, Guangdong Province on December 13, 2007 to protest the deprivation of his basic rights.
Yang Tongyan (pen name: Yang Tianshui)
Dissident writer and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested without a warrant on December 23, 2005 in Nanjing and held incommunicado until January 27, 2006. Yang was convicted of subversion for posting anti-government articles on the internet and organizing branches of the China Democracy Party (CDP), and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. He is currently being held in Nanjing Prison in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, and his diabetes is reportedly worsening in prison.
Writer and computer engineer, arrested March 13, 2001 along with Xu Wei, Jin Haike, and Zhang Honghai after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Yang was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to eight years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently suffering from numerous ailments but has yet to receive any medical treatment.
Freelance Uighur writer, arrested on November 29, 2004 for the publication for his short story “Wild Pigeon” (“Yawa Kepter”), which Chinese authorities consider to be a criticism of their government’s presence in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. After a closed trial in February 2005 at which he was denied a lawyer, Yasin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “inciting Uighur separatism,” and is currently being held in Urumqi No. 1 Prison. He has been denied all visitors since his arrest.
Falun Gong member and internet publisher, sentenced on February 19, 2004 to 10 years in prison for publishing an online publication which “tarnished the image of the government by broadcasting fabricated stories of persecution suffered by cult members.” The newsletter alleged ill-treatment in prison of a fellow Falun Gong member.
Writer and retired worker from Mianyang, Sichuan Province, detained June 9, 2008 by plainclothes police from the Public Security Bureau of Mianyang on suspicion of “illegally providing information overseas” for articles published on an overseas Chinese web site. The articles, part of a series entitled “The Accounts of My Personal Experiences During the Earthquake,” were published along with her own photographs under a pen name, Shanshan. Zeng is currently being held incommunicado at the Detention Center of the Mianyang Public Security Bureau.
Freelance writer, arrested March 13, 2001 along with Jin Haike, Xu Wei, and Yang Zili after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Zhang was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to eight years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently being held at Qiaosi Prison in Zhejiang Province. Zhang is reportedly suffering from several medical conditions and has been ill-treated in prison.
Zhang Jianhong (pen name: Li Hong)
Freelance writer, playwright, poet and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested on September 6, 2006 and charged with “incitement to subversion of state power” for his critical articles published on overseas websites. Zhang was sentenced to six years in prison on March 19, 2007. He is reportedly suffering from muscle necrosis, a condition that has led to partial paralysis and continues to worsen despite his transfer to the General Hospital of Zhejiang Prison in Hangzhou City. He applied for medical parole on May 31, 2007, but that application was denied. He has not yet received a response to a more recent application.
Dissident writer, pro-democracy advocate and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested January 27, 2005 for a number of “subversive” articles he had written and subsequently posted on the internet between August 2003 and January 2005. Zhang was convicted of “incitement to subversion” by the Bangbu Intermediate People’s Court on July 28, 2005 and sentenced to five years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Nanjiao Prison in Hefei City, and is said to be very weak and suffering from several medical conditions.
Poet, professor and freelance journalist, arrested December 3, 2004 in connection with 63 articles he had written for foreign-based publications and websites. Zheng was convicted of “incitement to subversion of state power” on July 21, 2005 and sentenced to seven years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Jinzhou Prison, Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province, where he is suffering from diabetes.
Internet writer, founder and editor of the China Democracy Party’s magazine, arrested April 18, 2007 and sentenced to two years in prison on July 10, 2007 after pushing a policeman during his arrest. On March 28, 2008, Zhu was re-tried by the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, and on April 9 he was sentenced to an additional two years, four months and 26 days’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Zhejiang No. 6 Prison in Haining City, Zhejiang Province. Zhu had been previously imprisoned and was released in 2006 after serving seven years for his dissident activity.
RELEASED SINCE DECEMBER 10, 2007
Hong Kong-based correspondent for Singapore’s The Straits Times, arrested April 22, 2005 and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of espionage after Chinese authorities claimed he received state secrets from academic Lu Jianhua. Ching was released on parole on February 5, 2008, two years before his sentence was due to expire.
Rights defender, online writer and freelance journalist, detained on June 5, 2008 by police from the Yangpu District Branch of the Public Security Bureau in Shanghai on suspicion of “intentionally disturbing public order.” The charge is believed to stem from a collection of articles Feng published and distributed alleging wrongful convictions by the Shanghai courts, along with other writings. Police reportedly raided his home and confiscated written materials and three computers. Feng was released on June 15, 2008, and his belongings were returned on June 18.
Writer and former professor of literature at Nanjing Normal University, detained May 17, 2008 following seven articles he published on mainland Chinese web sites that criticize the government’s emergency response to the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the safety of certain infrastructures. Guo’s computers were confiscated by authorities. He was released from administrative detention on May 28.
Deputy news director of the Fuzhou Daily, arrested December 16, 2004. After a series of charges, Li was finally sentenced to three years in prison on January 24, 2006 by the Gulou district court in southern China’s Fuzhou city for “spreading false and alarmist information.” He was released upon expiration of his sentence on February 4, 2008.
Wang Dejia (pen name: Jing Chu)
Internet writer and dissident, arrested December 13, 2007 at his home in Quanzhou in Guangxi Province on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” in relation to his online articles critical of the Chinese government in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wang was held at the Detention Center of Quanzhou County before being released on January 12, 2008, pending trial, on condition that he not write anything “attacking the leadership of the Party and State,” “inciting subversion of state power,” or any “political commentary.”
Deputy Editor-in-chief and general manager of the Guangzhou-based daily Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis News), arrested January 14, 2004 for alleged financial irregularities, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. It has been reported that the evidence presented in court did not support the charges, and it is widely believed that Yu’s imprisonment was part of a targeted campaign to silence the newspaper, which is known for its aggressive reporting on social issues and official corruption. Yu was released on February 8, 2008, after his sentence was reduced for the third time.
Freelance writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, detained by the National Security Bureau of Zhongxiang City, Hubei Province on May 3, 2008 on suspicion of “inciting subversion” for his critiques on social issues and official corruption. Zhou was released on May 15, 2008 and is forbidden from traveling beyond his home city without police authorization, prohibited from communicating with strangers, and banned from publishing. These restrictions could last up to six months under Chinese law, during which he could be formally detained and questioned at any time.