Category Archives: enforced disappearance

“China ‘steals wife’s freedom’ to pressurise Liu Xiaobo”

It’s hard to find new things to write about Liu Xiaobo, who is still imprisoned and essentially cut off from the world- but the BBC has put one together with the latest:

A source close to the family has told us that Liu Xiaobo will not agree to leave China as that would lead to his voice being marginalised.

But the source said that Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia is “suffering mentally” because she has now spent two years under illegal house arrest and continues to be detained.

China’s authorities allow only three people to visit Liu Xiaobo in Jinzhou prison where he’s being held: his two brothers who can see him about once every six months, and his wife who sees the Nobel Peace Prize winner every two to three months, the source said.

They have to ask for permission in advance and wait for notification.

“They are not allowed to go and visit him together. Only one person is allowed each time. And the police watch them during the entire meeting,” our source told us.

His wife, Liu Xia, meanwhile, has not committed any crime in China but is being held in her home.

“There are two policewomen living with her in her apartment. And lots of plain-clothes police watching the compound constantly,” our source told us.

“Liu Xia’s health is not very well. Mentally she suffers a lot because of the loss of personal freedom and the worries about her jailed husband.”

“She is allowed to go out and visit her mother and meet one of her best friends roughly once a month, escorted by policewomen the entire time. Other than visits to her husband, that’s it.

“She is not allowed to go anywhere else, not even to the park or shop. And no-one is allowed to even approach her compound, let alone visit her.”

The individual added: “What the government is doing to Liu Xia is illegal. They do this routinely to dissidents in order to prevent them speaking to the press and tainting the government’s image.

“Her husband is currently the most famous dissident in China, so she suffers tighter control than other dissidents.”

“To the extent that this reflects an official strategy to counter Liu Xiaobo’s influence, it would have to be deemed successful. There’s only so much interest that can be sustained by a person’s continued absence.

“That’s why you don’t see too many headlines proclaiming ‘no news of Nobel laureate again this month’.”

And the friend of the family who spoke to the BBC says that, by being so harsh on his wife, China is trying to pressure Liu Xiaobo into cutting a deal to go into exile.

“The government is trying to force Liu Xiaobo to leave China by taking his wife’s personal freedom away. At the same time, the government threatens both their families, saying if they try to speak to the media or leak any information their right to visit Liu Xiaobo will be taken away.

“This is very cruel. It has forced the family to keep quiet.”

But, the family friend added, Liu Xiaobo will not agree to leave China, despite the fact that his prison term lasts until 2020.

“The government has always wanted Liu Xiaobo to leave China because the fact that a Nobel Peace Prize winner is in jail, is a constant reminder of China’s poor human rights situation.”

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Filed under China, enforced disappearance, Liu Xiaobo

“Updates on Labrang Jigme”

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated an oral account given by Labrang Jigme’s brother, Sonam Tsering, after briefly seeing him:

Three police officers took me to a hotel to meet Lama Jigme. After entering the room I asked my brother about his health, he said that he was not in a good state. Subsequently, Lama Jigme asked the police officers a few questions: Why did you bring me here? Isn’t it just to get some food? What are you (pointing at the policemen) planning to do? And so on.

One police officer replied that the reason why they had brought him here “was just to receive food”.

Lama Jigme said: “Well, leave the food here and take my brother back.”

The police officer replied: “You should talk to your brother.”

Lama Jigme said: “I have nothing to say. If this is really just to bring me some food, then just put the food down and take him back. But if he came to visit me, why do you need to film and take photos of a private meeting? Yesterday, I said that I was not feeling well, so you invited a doctor to see me. You videotaped and photographed the whole examination process. But in the end, I did not even receive a single drop of medicine at all.”

Lama Jigme continued: “Today, my older brother is coming to see me and you are playing an old trick. You want to publicise this visual material and then claim that Jigme is in a good state, that he is well taken care of and even allowed to meet his relatives, don’t you? I am telling you, I don’t need anyone bringing me food, I don’t need my brother to visit me, I also don’t want to live in a hotel. If you think that I am a criminal, send me to court for a trial. If I really committed a crime, well then I will gladly accept my sentence, even if it is the death sentence.”

“If you still want me to talk to my brother, well then I want to tell my brother to help me to appeal”. Lama Jigme turned his head towards me and said, “Go lodge an appeal for me… Find me a good lawyer and sue these policemen! When the police from Gansu Province came here, I already very clearly raised the same points. I am a victim. But you don’t need to suffer from the same persecution (as I have).”

“The police told me that I was not allowed to meet foreigners, so I never met any. The police told me that I was not allowed to meet with the well-known writers Woeser and Wang Lixiong who live in Beijing, so I never met them. I followed the orders that the police had given me, I never went to any place that was on your list of places that I should not go to, I never met anyone who you did not want me to meet. Why are you spending so much money on me? Why do you spend so much money to let me live in a hotel and have 4 to 5 people watching me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Why are you wasting this money on me?”

As I stood next to and heard my younger brother saying these things, I felt like crying but had no tears. Every single time that I had gone to the Security Bureau I had told the police my opinion and asked them to tell me what crimes my brother had committed. They never gave a me an explicit response. My brother is innocent, I told the police to let him go immediately. I said that I would bring this case to the county level, prefectural level, provincial level, yes even to the attention of the central government. You can’t just imprison a person for no reason for over 70 days. My brother has already been arrested 4 times. Every time, he would disappear without a word or trace and then after a while he would be let go without any charges.

Hopefully some day Labrang Jigme, Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaobo, and Dhondup Wangchen will all be able to kick back together and reminisce about the fall of the single-party state in China over a good cup of chang. Until then, keeping these prisoners of conscience in the spotlight and publicizing their cases seems to be the only thing we can, while foreign governments remain relatively uninvolved.

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Filed under enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, Tibet

“Police Detain Tibetan Singer”

I see these stories come up on a news feed and I almost ignore them, assuming that they’re just repostings of an old story. Nope, according to RFA yet another Tibetan singer has been detained:

He is the latest target of Chinese authorities who have been rounding up Tibetan performing artists known to be effective in mobilizing support for political change in Tibetan-populated areas.

“He had been hiding in the hills to escape the police for about two to three months,” the source said.

“Three monks from the Golog region who wrote the lyrics to some of Phuljung’s songs have also been hiding in the hills for over a month and are now facing acute shortages of food,” he added.

Among the 13 songs released in May on Phuljung’s fifth DVD, titled “Our Heavy Responsibility,” are songs praising the Dalai Lama and Tibet’s exile prime minister Lobsang Sangay, an exile-based friend of the singer said, speaking in an earlier interview.

The Dalai Lama sits “on a golden throne,” and Lobsang Sangay, “a leader of Tibetans,” sits “on a silver throne,” the songs say.

In another song, Phuljung describes the Tibetan people as a “kind and just race” and urges them to resist China’s domination by speaking “only pure Tibetan” and by “uniting and working together.”

This is cultural genocide. It’s as if China heard the accusations and decided to do everything they could to prove them right.

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Filed under enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, Tibet

“China instability rising with fungible rule of law”

Well… then there’s this. In the age of Neil Haywood and Chen Guangcheng, does anything about this story sound far-fetched?

Warren Rothman, a San Francisco lawyer, was having dinner with a Chinese legal colleague in Shanghai a few years ago, he said, when the colleague “blurted out” that he’d helped pay a $3 million bribe to ensure that his client, an iconic American company, could win a contract to work in China.

Rothman was stunned. He berated his younger colleague, a legal assistant for a Western law firm. He tried to defend himself and “looked very embarrassed,” Rothman recalled. Then within days, Rothman alleges that he found himself trapped in a Kafka-esque nightmare — poisoned, placed in a mental hospital, tortured and tormented in ways that were intended to trigger a fatal stroke to make sure he never revealed what he had learned about the bribe.

“Why’s it taking so long?” Rothman claimed one of his Chinese torturers mused to another one as he sat drugged, strapped to a chair. But unlike Neil Heywood, the British businessman who died under suspicious circumstances in China last fall, Rothman managed to get away and return to the United States.

“The only difference between me and Neil Heywood,” Rothman said, is that he’s not corrupt, and “I didn’t come home in an urn.”

Rothman supplied emails, documents from the American Consulate in Shanghai and other evidence that largely backed his story.

Earlier this month, in fact, labor rights activist Li Wangyang was found hanging from a sheet tied to the prison bars of his hospital room window. Government officials called the death a suicide. The problem was, Li had just been released from more than 20 years in prison. He’d been perfectly healthy when first jailed, but repeated torture had left him blind and nearly deaf, prompting the widely asked question: How could he have managed to find the sheet, fashion a noose and choose a place to tie it?

Li was just the latest in a long string of suspicious deaths. Last August, Xie Yexin, a Hubei Province official who’d made a name for himself as an anti-corruption campaigner, was found dead in his office — stabbed 11 times in his chest, neck and abdomen. The knife lay next to his body, its handle wrapped in tissue paper. Government authorities called that a suicide, too.

“It’s not a criminal case, and we have no obligation to investigate,” said Wang Jianping, a local police official.

All of this comes as “the factors for instability in China are rising,” Kamm said. “The economy is falling; home prices are dropping; there are more bankruptcies. The government is certainly very worried,” and “there’s a massive expansion in state security spending” as public anger and ferment rapidly escalate nationwide, causing the government to grow ever more consumed with keeping control of a fast-changing society.

China now spends $110 billion a year on internal security — more than is budgeted for its military. Sending more than 1,000 police to a remote village on short notice, for example, is not inexpensive.

The $3 million bribe the legal aide described went to a shell company, Rothman said — one that Chinese government officials almost certainly set up. And without government help, he added, the legal aide could never have carried out the complex plan to commit him to a government mental hospital and try by various means to induce a stroke. Earlier, Rothman, 68, had told the aide and others he was vulnerable to strokes.

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Filed under bribery, enforced disappearance, prison, torture

“Brother of Blind Chinese Dissident Escapes Guarded Village”

Although Chen Guangcheng is safely in America by now, people have been worried about his extended family and the activists who helped him escape from Linyi. Apparently the guards who have kept them under wraps are farcically incompetent, though, because another Chen has escaped and made it to Beijing:

The brother, Chen Guangfu, said he came to Beijing to advocate on behalf of his son, who has been in police custody since attacking a group of plainclothes officers who broke into the family home in their search for Chen Guangcheng. He also said the family’s village in the northeastern province of Shandong has been subjected to the same severe restrictions that drove his brother to seek sanctuary in the American diplomatic compound.

Mr. Chen, 55, a farmer and itinerant laborer, said he slipped out of the village on Tuesday around 3 a.m. while his minders slept.

In the unwritten deal that paved the way for Mr. Chen to leave the embassy, Chinese officials said they would investigate the local Shandong officials who orchestrated his 19 months of house arrest — and the retributive beatings periodically administered to him and his wife.

It is unclear whether such an investigation has begun.

“There is still some hope but if nothing is done, it shows that these were just empty promises,” said Wang Songlian, a researcher at Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

So far it appears that Mr. Chen’s relatives in rural Shandong have suffered the most. Chen Guangfu, the older brother who arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, says he was whipped and stomped on by angry interrogators who wanted to know how a blind man could have evaded dozens of guards and scaled several high walls. The abuse, he said, lasted 48 hours.

But it is Chen Guangfu’s son, Chen Kegui, 32, who stands to lose the most. He is being held at a detention center in Yinan County and faces attempted homicide charges. According to lawyers the family asked to defend him, Chen Kegui slashed several officers who broke down the door of his family’s home shortly before midnight on April 27. The men, he claims, did not identify themselves as police officials and were beating his mother.

Chen Kegui went into hiding but was later apprehended.

The authorities have rebuffed the dozen or so lawyers who stepped forward to represent Chen Kegui. One says he had his license revoked, and several others claim travel bans or threats have prevented them from traveling to Shandong.

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“China moves long-missing Mongolian dissident to “luxury resort”

After the “vacation-style therapy” claims we heard a few months ago it looks like the Chinese government wants to outdo itself in terms of bizarre imprisonment classifications:

China has moved a prominent ethnic Mongolian rights activist to a “luxury resort”, a rights group said on Thursday, in the first account of his whereabouts in more than a year since he was put under house arrest.

Hada, who like many ethnic Mongolians in China uses a single name, was tried in China’s vast northern Inner Mongolia region in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which seeks greater rights for ethnic Mongolians.

He was released in December 2010 and then had to serve a separate sentence, “four years of deprivation of political rights”, Tao Jian, the deputy Communist Party boss of Inner Mongolia’s law and order committee, said in March.

Haschuluu told the group that Hada was in poor health and had rejected an offer to go free along with family members in exchange for signing a paper that would be tantamount to admitting wrongdoing.

Hada’s wife, Xinna, who has denied her husband is a separatist, was jailed for three years in April for “engaging in illegal business”, the group said.

“This is a completely trumped-up charge used by the authorities to have the family cooperate and keep them quiet,” Enghebatu Togochog at the SMHRIC said in emailed comments to Reuters.

Xinna was living in her rented warehouse with her son, Uiles, in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, because their house had been confiscated, the group said, citing Haschuluu.

Chinese authorities had offered Xinna and Uiles good jobs, nice cars, a luxury house and a special offer of a “beautiful girlfriend” to Uiles if they cooperated with the authorities, or risk arrest, detention and imprisonment, the group said.

Hanshuulan, Xinna’s mother, told SMHRIC that they had rejected the offer.

Do you think they actually had a girl on hand for this offer, or were they just going to go around China trying to find a ‘beautiful’ girl who wouldn’t mind dating the son of a prominent Mongolian dissident? How is that deal supposed to work?

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Filed under enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, Inner Mongolia

“Chen Guangcheng went to U.S. Embassy for protection, friends say”

There are a few more details about Chen’s escape now, although his exact location now is still unknown. The US embassy seems like a good bet though, based on what his friends and allies are saying:

The activists interviewed — some of whom were involved in helping Chen evade authorities for a week here in Beijing — said they believed Chen did not intend to seek political asylum but was sheltering in a U.S. diplomatic compound for protection and wanted to remain in China to continue his campaign for democratic rights and the rule of law.

“He believes that China is in a period of intensive changes now and it’s not far away from the final fundamental change,” said Hu Jia, a Beijing activist who said he met with Chen on Wednesday. “He told me he didn’t want to ask for political asylum in the U.S. Instead, he wants to ‘stay in this land and continue to fight.’ ”

Hu said he and Chen met in the same room in Beijing where Chen recorded a video, broadcast on YouTube, in which he calls on Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to protect his family and investigate corruption in Linyi City, in Shandong province, where Chen’s home village of Dongshigu is located. Hu described going to meet Chen at a safehouse, wearing a raincoat for concealment, and said he did not take a cellphone, to avoid being tracked.

He said that after their hour-plus-long meeting, where they first hugged and then held hands the entire time, Chen moved to a new secret location.

“We discussed where was a safe place for him in Beijing,” Hu said. “But we couldn’t figure out any absolutely safe place in Beijing except the U.S. Embassy.”

The Beijing activists were also concerned about the fate of their Nanjing-based colleague He Peirong, also known as Pearl, who had driven Chen to Beijing and dropped him off but was arrested after returning to Nanjing. The activists said that He’s only role was to bring Chen to the capital and that they deliberately left her in the dark about the plan to get him into the hands of U.S. diplomats so that she would not be implicated.

Chen’s brother and nephew were also detained, and there were growing fears for the safety of Chen’s wife, mother and daughter, left behind in the village.

Also Saturday, new details emerged from activists about Chen’s spectacular escape. His plan was two months in the making, and late on April 21, a moonless night, he waited until the normal time for the changing of the guards who were keeping him under house arrest.

Chen had to climb over a high wall, but he hurt his leg badly when he jumped down on the far side, the activists said. After a long pause, he limped away in the darkness — not an impediment for Chen, who has been blind since childhood — past eight lines of plainclothes thugs blocking access to his farmhouse. He told friends he walked alone, and fell more than a hundred times, before he finally managed to contact He Peirong for a ride to Beijing.

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Filed under activism, Chen Guangcheng, enforced disappearance