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Anyone asking for justice in China can end up in prison

ICC Note:

China continues to crackdown on citizens crying out for justice.


3/27/09 China (AsiaNews) Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) reports that tens of residents from the faraway province of Heilongjiang have been arrested, badly beaten by police, sent to prison or hospital after travelling to Beijing to ask the authorities for justice.

Chen Jinxia, a petitioner from Dailing District, Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province, has suffered nearly two years of arbitrary detention since she was first intercepted on 24 April 2007. Over the past 23 months, she has been separated from her son, beaten, sent to a Re-education-through-Labour (RTL) camp, and is now held in what is called a “black jail”, that is an unofficial detention centre.

According to her family, Chen started petitioning after her husband developed a mental illness as a result of repeated detention by local authorities in retaliation for his persistent petitioning. When Chen left for Beijing on 24 April 24 2007 to petition higher authorities, she brought her then 12-year-old son, Song Jide. They were intercepted in Beijing and sent to Ma Jia Lou, a “black jail” in the capital.

Upon her return, Chen was administratively detained for ten days. She was beaten, her spine was injured, and she was left paralysed. On 5 May 2007, Chen was released from the detention center. On 13 May the Dailing Letters and Visits Office told Chen that the child could not be found. After hearing the news, Chen spent two days going to various government offices pleading to speak with officials, but she was repeatedly rebuffed and dragged away. On 15 May, local authorities sent Chen to Dailing Hospital for “treatment”. She was held there until 30 June, when she evaded her monitors and attempted to take a taxi to Yichun to petition the mayor. Chen was caught by the police, and at the local police station, she broke a sheet of glass in anger.

Because of the offence, Chen was ordered held in a RTL camp for “damaging public property” for 18 months. After serving the 18 months, and immediately upon her release on 24 December 2008, Chen was sent to a “black jail” at No.226 Kangan Community in Dailing District. Currently held in a windowless room, Chen is guarded by four people who will not allow her to step outside.

“This wrenching tale of a mother’s anguish and suffering offers fresh evidence of a province where officials have been particularly ruthless towards petitioners and rights activists whilst enjoying total impunity,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director.”

In the past 18 months, CHRD has documented many cases of arbitrary detention of petitioners and human rights activists in Heilongjiang Province for exposing misconduct by local authorities. At least five of those documented involved torture and beating while in custody. One petitioner, Luo Shubo, died on 24 August 2008 after local officials repeatedly prevented her from seeking medical treatment while detained in an RTL camp.

The brazenness of the Heilongjiang authorities is also illustrated by the case of human rights activist, Yang Chunlin, who was repeatedly beaten and tortured in police custody. Once, he was beaten with electric batons by a court policeman for merely attempting to speak with his family during his sentencing hearing.

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