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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“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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“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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“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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“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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“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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“Activists: Blind Chinese activist, under house arrest for 18 months, slips away, in hiding”

I’ve felt bad about not posting anything regarding Chen Guangcheng recently, but that’s simply because there wasn’t any news… until tonight, when the man reportedly escaped from house arrest. Stunning and welcome news (via WaPo):

A blind legal activist who is a key figure in China’s rights movement escaped the house arrest he has lived under for a year and a half, fleeing to an unknown location and angering his captors, fellow rights campaigners said Friday.

Chen Guangcheng slipped out of his usually well-guarded house in Dongshigu town on Sunday, said the campaigners, who are based in China and overseas. He Peirong, a leading campaigner for Chen’s freedom, said she picked him up and drove him to “a relatively safe place” she would not further describe.

“His mental state is pretty good. He’s alive, but whether he’s safe I don’t know,” He said from her home city of Nanjing. She said she left Chen a few days ago but declined to discuss further details, other than to say he is no longer in his home province of Shandong, southeast of Beijing.

She denied an online report by Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao newspaper that Chen entered the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Thursday night. The paper did not name a source.

“I can tell you he’s not at the U.S. Embassy, and he’s not in Shandong. I did talk to the U.S. Embassy people, though,” He said.

Chen Guangcheng’s treatment by local authorities had seemed especially bitter and personal. He served four years in prison for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in his rural community. Since his release in September 2010, local officials kept him confined to his home, despite the lack of legal grounds for doing so. They prevented outsiders from visiting him and occasionally beat him up.

If he can make it out it’ll be a slap to Beijing’s face on the scale of the Karmapa escape ten years ago. Certainly more on this as it develops.

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“China Said to Detain Returning Tibetan Pilgrims”

Apparently some of the pilgrims are still in detention, prompting one of the first times this story has been carried outside of RFA:

Many of the pilgrims are elderly and have been detained for more than two months in central Tibet, or what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. The detainees are being interrogated and undergoing patriotic re-education classes, and have been ordered to denounce the Dalai Lama, who presided over the ceremony, known as the Kalachakra, say people who have researched the detentions. The detainees are being held at hotels, schools and military training centers or bases; some are being forced to pay for their lodging and meals.

The detentions are expected to stoke resentment among Tibetans toward the Chinese government at a time when tensions across the Tibetan plateau are at the highest in years.

“About the pilgrim returnees, last I heard was they were detained and many put in hotel rooms,” said Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile. He added that the detainees had been “interrogated regularly,” with questions focusing on what various officials, including himself, the Dalai Lama and the previous prime minister, Samdhong Rinpoche, had said in speeches during the Kalachakra.

Human rights organizations and Tibet advocacy groups have put out reports based on information collected through interviews. “This is the first known instance since the late 1970s in which the Chinese authorities have detained laypeople in Tibet in large numbers to force them to undergo re-education,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement. The group said that it was unclear how long the detainees were being held, and that there had been no reports of any of the 700 Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, who attended the Kalachakra being detained.

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“Scholar posts 10-year plan for social and political reform”

CMP is carrying the story, and their headline may as well have been “Liu Xiaobo is about to get a new cellmate.” Yu Jianrong is looking to get in trouble:

Yu Jianrong (于建嵘), one of China’s most outspoken intellectuals, yesterday posted a ten-year plan for social and political development in China on his Tencent microblog account. The plan called for a three-year initial phase of concerted social and judicial reforms, including the abolishment of the petitioning and household registration systems, followed by a second phase of political reforms moving China toward constitutional democracy.

Yu’s plan gives readers a general idea of many of the concrete changes proposed in China by pro-reformers under the auspices of “political reform”.

A translation of the general outline for Yu Jianrong’s plan follows.

Check out their post for the plan itself.

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“Inside China’s secret black jails”

Melissa Chan is basically an unstoppable force of journalism in a country that normally finds journalism quote stoppable:

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“Legalizing the Tools of Repression”

Nicholas Bequelin on the Criminal Procedure Law rewrite:

The more progressive-minded factions of the Communist Party and the government consider legal reforms to be integral to China’s modernization. They see enlightened self-interest in giving a greater role to the rule of law, and reforming the criminal code to offer due-process rights that resemble international norms is a key part of this effort.

The other camp is made up of the powerful security apparatus and the more conservative and hard-line elements in the party and the government. This faction has become increasingly powerful since it was assigned the leading role for the security of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

To this group, the law is purely instrumental — a tool of state power — and should not be altered to empower the citizenry and curtail the authority of the party. The hard-liners believe it is critical to allow security services to deal expediently with threats to the broadest possible interpretation of national security and public order, even if that means frequent miscarriages of justice.

Article 73 would allow the police to secretly detain citizens for up to six months on suspicion of “endangering state security” or “terrorism” — two vague charges that have long been manipulated by the government to crack down on dissidents, human-rights lawyers, civil-society activists and Tibetan and Uighur separatists.

Even more chilling, these secret detentions would be carried out in venues controlled by the police outside of regular detention facilities, greatly increasing the likelihood of ill-treatment. Gao Zhisheng, for example, was tortured while in such detention.

Why is China’s leadership considering giving more powers to the security services, when it means bringing into disrepute what otherwise could have be an important legal reform?

One reason is that on any given day, 200 to 300 protests take place across China. The scale of the protests varies from less than a dozen people to tens of thousands. The protests are fueled by a host of labor, environmental and livelihood issues, compounded by corruption and abuses of power, primarily among local officials. Unable to take their grievances to the courts, a growing number of people are taking them to the streets. Often, only the police stand between “the masses” and the party.

Second, the leadership is increasingly concerned that it is losing the battle against the spread of “global values” among the citizenry — code in China for human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression. Hard-liners believe they need the power to take dissidents and critics “off the grid,” both to silence them and to make an example of them to others. Legalizing “disappearances” provides just the tool.

The rise of the national security faction is one of the most foreboding trends in China. Whether Article 73 is adopted or not will signal a great deal about whether China is making progress toward the rule of law or solidifying the supremacy of the security state.

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“Tibetan Comedian Detained”

There were early reports of another self-immolation yesterday, but these seem to have mostly been retracted. This story still stands, though:

Authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province have detained a popular Tibetan comedian ahead of his plan to release a video criticizing Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated regions, which has been a key theme of recent Tibetan protests, according to exile sources.

“Two weeks ago, many Chinese police wearing black head gear came to his shop in the evening,” said India-based Tibetan exile parliament member Andrug Tseten, citing sources in the region.

“They searched his shop and took him away with them in the night,” Tseten said.

Athar’s relatives who went to the county police to enquire about his situation were told that the performer had been taken by police belonging to a special task force assigned to detain people involved in “serious political matters,” Tseten said.

Athar, a member of the Yuru Keta Depa family, gave his friend a short recorded message, telling him to pass it on if he should hear he had been detained. It was not immediately clear whether Athar had publicly released the video before his detention.

In a copy of the video message obtained by RFA, Athar warns that Tibet under its present status has gone down a “wrong path,” urges unity among Tibetans, and calls for a strengthened Tibetan national identity and culture.

“The Tibetan sky, which has a history of more than a thousand years, is [now] shrouded by a thick black cloud,” Athar says.

“Many in the world who are sensible and knowledgeable are shedding tears for us and extending their support.”

“We should cease all those actions that please our enemy and should shoulder our responsibility and foster unity among all three regions of Tibet and all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, protect our culture, and conserve our environment,” Athar said.

About a week ago, popular Tibetan writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, 33, was taken into custody in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county in Sichuan by special police who raided his home late at night.

Two weeks earlier, Dawa Dorje, a popular advocate of Tibet’s traditional culture and language in his 20’s, was detained by Chinese authorities as he returned to the Tibet Autonomous Region after organizing a conference promoting Tibetan culture in Sichuan.

Making statements like that, given the current situation, is undeniably brave. Dhondup Wangchen has been imprisoned for going on four years now for making a short film talking about Tibetan issues, and Tibetans considering similar acts certainly know the potential consequences.

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“What Happens During Residential Surveillance?”

Siweiluozi has an account from a Chinese activist who endured ‘residential surveillance,’ revealing how ugly the entire thing is:

On 4 November 2002, I was blindfolded by the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s Domestic Security Protection Unit (or guobao) and dragged into “residential surveillance in a designated abode.” The guobao stripped me of my clothes and kept me on a wooden bed (on which there was only a plastic sheet and a white cotton sheet), saying to me: “According to the relevant state regulations concerning residential surveillance, we can keep you lying on this bed for half a year and no one will know.”

The guobao entrusted me to the guard of their 27-person custodial unit, which worked in four-person teams taking shifts of two hours apiece. Four guards stood on either side of the wooden bed, each guarding my palms and the soles of my feet. The head of the guards told me that according to the relevant regulations for “residential surveillance in a designated abode,” the palms and soles of the person under residential surveillance must be kept in sight of the guards and the person under surveillance must remain lying on the bed and was not permitted to leave the bed.

Since I frequently violated the regulation about “the palms and soles of the person under residential surveillance must be kept in sight of the guards,” each day I faced verbal abuse and beatings from the guards. Each night, four guards would pull on my hands and feet, forcefully stretching my body a dozen times or so in the shape of the character 大.

Having spent a long time in a fixed position on the wooden-plank bed without being allowed to move, my shoulders, back, and hips were in contact with the plank for too long and the skin was all rubbed raw and the white sheet beneath me was covered in bloodstains. I requested to see a doctor and a change of sheets but was told to “shut up.”

The details of what exactly constitutes RS probably vary based on the identity of the ‘criminal’ and the severity of the police, but apparently all of this is a possibility. Horrifying.

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“Monk Charged After Repeated Detentions”

The repression machine is still on a roll, even outside of the conflicted Ngaba area- via RFA we learn that Labrang Jigme, the man interviewed in this video:

… has been been charged with ‘splittist activities’ and may be sentenced soon:

Jigme Gyatso , a monk at the Labrang monastery in the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) prefecture of China’s Gansu province, was most recently picked up by Chinese police on Aug. 20, 2011, his brother reported at the time.

“Since then, he has been held without any word concerning his fate,” a Tibetan source close to the family told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“At the beginning of February, his brother Sonam Tsering received a notice dated Jan. 2 from the Kanlho Public Security Bureau [PSB] informing him that Jigme Gyatso had been formally charged with ‘splittist activities,’” the source said.

Meanwhile, a Tibetan traffic policeman from Machu county, also in Kanlho, was handed a four-and-a-half-year jail term for “rebelling” against the Chinese government during regionwide protests in 2008, a Tibetan living in exile said, citing contacts in the region.

“His name is Sherab, and he is from the [district of] Dzoge,” the source said.

“He had been a monk for a while, but later joined the Chinese police force, where he served for four years.”

When Tibetans in Machu rose against Chinese rule in 2008, Sherab “went to the Tibetan side and attacked the Chinese police,” the source said.

“He was detained sometime in May or June of 2008, and since then nothing was heard about him for a while.”

Although the news in China won’t report any of this, locals will definitely be following these developments. This is the kind of thing that destabilizes regions, Beijing…

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Filed under courts, enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, prison, protests, Tibet, torture

“Where is Gao Zhisheng?”

C.A. Yueng from Under the Jacaranda Tree writes about Mr. Gao, still missing:

Ms Geng has been separated from her husband for nearly 22 months. When Gao Zhisheng briefly reappeared in early 2010, Ms Geng and her children had already fled to the USA to escape persecution. As she was about to give up hopes of ever seeing her husband alive, Xinhua News English services released information on 16 December 2011 to suggest that Gao Zhisheng had been sent back to jail to serve his full sentences for violating his parole conditions. However, apart from a letter sent from Shaya prison to Gao Zhisheng’s older brother Gao Zhiyi, neither Ms Geng nor her family has ever received any formal verdict or court ruling with regard to Gao Zhisheng’s sentencing.

They also have links to an interview with his wife and more analysis.

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Filed under enforced disappearance, human rights, law

“Lessons from Ge Xun’s forced disappearance”

Seeing Red in China is really turning into a great blog- after translating Ge Xun’s account of his detainment, Tom has drawn some conclusions from it. Namely:

China is becoming bolder in its violation of human rights
The state is fully aware of its activists, and actively supports their detention
The state fundamentally misunderstands activists

Check out his reasoning here.

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Filed under enforced disappearance, violence

“21 Hours in Beijing”

For a dose of horror check out Seeing Red in China, where contributor Ya Xue has translated the account of Chinese American activist Ge Xun’s detainment in China. Here’s the introduction- please do read the whole thing:

I came to the United States to study physics in 1986 and stayed and became an American citizen. I believe in universal values such as freedom and basic human rights. I admire the best of humans wherever I see it, and I do what I do openly with nothing to hide.

My mother died at 83 on January 24, 2012, in Beijing. I flew back on the 28th for her funeral. By the 31st my siblings and I had taken care of everything and made arrangements to put my parents’ remain together.

For the rest of my stay I planned to meet a few people, among them, Ding Zilin (丁子霖), or the “Tian’anmen Mother” (天安门母亲) as she has been known. She is a retired professor, and her son, a high school student, died during the June 4th crackdown in 1989. For more than two decades, she has been working hard, against harsh and persistent obstruction by the government, to preserve the memory of the event, recover more truth, and help families of other victims. Without her own son by her side, I wished to bring her perhaps a little bit of comfort and love. I called and made an appointment to visit her at 3pm the next day.

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Filed under activism, enforced disappearance, human rights, Tiananmen, violence

February 2nd: Latest on Tibet Crackdown

Phayul reports that China has been making mass arrests in Kardze:

Chinese authorities have arrested a hundred Tibetans from Drango, eastern Tibet on suspicion of their participation in the January 23 mass protests in the region.

Chinese security personnel are reportedly arresting the Tibetans with the aid of photos and videos taken during the protests.

“We will arrest even if 10,000 people rise up,” US based radio service RFA quoted an unnamed Tibetan as being told by Chinese security officials.

The arrested Tibetans have reportedly been taken to the Ra Nga Kha prison in Bamei, located between Dartsedo [in Chinese, Kangding] and the Tawu [in Chinese, Daofu].

Exile sources say that the entire Drango region remains cut-off from outside world as phone lines and internet connections continue to be inactive.

This (Chinese language) blogger has amassed a number of pictures showing how heavy the police and military presence is in Lhasa.

ICT has new details from Golog, where Lama Sopa self-immolated two weeks ago:

Tibetan laypeople sought to protect monks in Golog (Chinese: Guoluo) from arrest by armed troops after a peaceful protest, according to new information on unrest and crackdown in the area in recent weeks.

On January 18, around 20 monks from Arkyang monastery in Pema (Chinese: Banma) county, Golog (the Tibetan area of Amdo), staged a peaceful protest in Pema county town. A Tibetan source in exile who is in contact with others in the area said that some monks were holding banners with inscriptions calling for the Dalai Lama to return home, for freedom, and for the Chinese authorities to release the 11th Panchen Lama. Some monks from another monastery in the area, Digung, also joined the protest.

The next day (January 19), a group of around ten armed police and officials from Pema county went to Arkyang monastery and called for the expulsion of monks who had taken part in the protest, threatening the monastery with closure. On January 20, armed police and troops came to the monastery again and attempted to detain monks. “At the same time, more than 500 local people came to the monastery and protected the monastery and monks from the troops. They were threatened by the armed forces but they did not back off,” said a Tibetan from Amdo who is now in exile and is in contact with sources from Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which neighbors Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi). It is not known whether the officials and troops succeeded in detaining any monks that day, or since then, due to the difficulties in obtaining information from the area and the intense climate of fear.

On January 21, officials came to Arkyang (a Jonang Buddhist monastery) again and ordered monks to carry out “legal education” instead of their religious practice. According to the same sources, a number of monks left the monastery on the first day of the “legal education” campaign.

On that subject, SFT has a transcript of the last recorded message left by Lama Sopa:

To all the six million Tibetans, including those living exile — I am grateful to Pawo Thupten Ngodup and all other Tibetan heroes, who have sacrificed their lives for Tibet and for the reunification of the Tibetan people; though I am in my forties, until now I have not had the courage like them. But I have tried my best to teach all traditional fields of knowledge to others, including Buddhism.

This is the twenty-first century, and this is the year in which so many Tibetan heroes have died. I am sacrificing my body both to stand in solidarity with them in flesh and blood, and to seek repentance through this highest tantric honor of offering one’s body. This is not to seek personal fame or glory.

To all my spiritual brothers and sisters, and the faithful ones living elsewhere: You must unite and work together to build a strong and prosperous Tibetan nation in the future. This is the sole wish of all the Tibetan heroes. Therefore, you must avoid any quarreling amongst yourselves whether it is land disputes or water disputes. You must maintain unity and strength. Give love and education to the children, who should study hard to master all the traditional fields of studies. The elders should carry out spiritual practice as well as maintain and protect Tibetan language and culture by using all your resources and by involving your body, speech and mind. It is extremely important to genuinely practice Buddhist principles in order to benefit the Tibetan cause and also to lead all sentient beings towards the path of enlightenment. Tashi Delek.

No need for Beijing to put any words in the mouths of the self-immolators now. Finally, ICT has a report about evidence of systematic job discrimination against Tibetans in Tibet:

New translations of job advertisements in Tibet, both online and as notices posted in public spaces, confirm overt discrimination against Tibetans. The ads also reveal that Tibetans are not even being offered menial, unskilled work in some sectors, or if they are, they are in some instances being offered a wage significantly lower than their Han counterparts.

The practice of advertising positions “limited to Han” is also observed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region – referred to by its historical name of East Turkistan by many Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and in exile – although based on a basic survey of online employment agencies by ICT, the practice appears to be more common in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and in Lhasa in particular.

In almost all of the ads the stipulation “limited to Han” (Ch: xian Hanzu) – or simply “Han” (Ch: Hanzu) – is placed among other requirements and qualifications for the job in question, such as age, experience or holding a driver’s license.

In at least one instance, Tibetan laborers were offered a significantly lower rate than their Han counterparts. A blackboard seen in an undated photograph outside the Hongqiao Employment Agency in central Lhasa clearly states Han laborers will be paid 50 yuan (US $8) per day while Tibetans will only be paid 30 yuan (US $4.75) per day (see here).

The practice of limiting recruitment to Chinese job applicants can be seen in other areas of the PRC which, like the TAR, are designated “nationality autonomous” in recognition of the fact that the populations of these areas are or were prevalently non-Han. In East Turkistan for example, an advertisement appeared on the Jimusa’er County government website seeking several Han health workers (see here) – according to the 2002 census, around 30% of the county’s population was non-Han, while Hotan City Tobacco Monopoly Bureau, also in East Turkistan, was hiring 10 people, and stipulated that eight should be Han and only two should be Uyghurs (see here) – Han make up less than 4% of Hotan Prefecture’s population according to official statistics, while Uyghurs make up almost 93% (See “Introduction to Hotan” (in Chinese) on the Hotan City Government website. A hotel in Ordos in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region advertised for almost 160 people in various positions, and stipulated for each of the positions that the applicants should be Han (see here). In a job advertisement for truck drivers seen on an job-search site in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the text reads “To make life easier (Ch: weile shenghuo fangbian), limited to Han”.

Putting a stop to practices like this would likely go some of the way towards lowering tensions in Tibetan regions, but doing so would involve having the government acknowledge the validity of minority concerns. Beijing is absolutely dedicated to denying them right now, and instead viewing problems as the fault of the Dalai Lama that can be resolved only by force.

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Filed under Dalai Lama, enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, intimidation, protests, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

“Will China Dragon Bite in 2012?”

Phelim Kine has a new piece in The Diplomat looking at how this year might play out for Chinese dissidents:

Strike hard and take prisoners. That’s the Chinese government’s message on how it will respond to perceived dissent in this Dragon year of 2012.

Just ask the writers Chen Xi, Chen Wei, and Li Tie. Chen Wei received a nine year prison term on December 23 on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” for online government criticism. Three days later, a Guiyang court handed down a 10-year sentence on the same charge to Chen Xi, for similar online criticism of China’s one-party rule. Then, on January 18 of this year, a Wuhan court sentenced Li Tie to a 10 year prison term for “subversion of state power” for writings that included reference to the officially taboo topic of the June 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

But while repression is nothing new in China, the government’s intolerance toward perceived dissent has grown since the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Its victims include imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion” over his role in drafting Charter ’08, an online petition advocating peaceful political change in China. His wife, Liu Xia, who hasn’t been charged with any crime, is believed to be under house arrest to prevent her from campaigning on her husband’s behalf. In February 2011, she said in a brief online exchange that she and her family were like “hostages” and that she felt “miserable.”

The government’s overriding obsession with maintaining its monopoly on power make it likely that these abuses will continue under the leadership of Xi Jinping. Foreign governments could help reverse this trend and give support to Chinese who want a more accountable government by more vigorously engaging the government on such violations.

In the longer term, governments truly committed to improving their approach to human rights abuses in China can’t rely on rhetoric alone. Instead, foreign governments, particularly the United States, the E.U. and the U.K., need to make progress on individual human rights cases a real benchmark for engagement with China and make clear that lack of progress will impact bilateral relations. Failure to do so will only ensure that in 2012 and beyond, yet more Chinese citizens will fall victim to their government’s dissent-stifling tactics of fear and intimidation.

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Filed under 2012 power transfer, activism, enforced disappearance, human rights, Liu Xiaobo