Annual Report: China 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: China 2011

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  • On 5 July, Liu Xianbin, a member of the banned Chinese Democracy Party, was detained in Suining city, Sichuan province, for "inciting subversion of state power". The charge was linked to his support for human rights activists and articles he posted on overseas websites.
  • In July, Gheyret Niyaz, an ethnic Uighur, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for "leaking state secrets". Evidence used against him included essays he had written on the economic and social conditions of Uighurs in China. It was reported that his sentence was also linked to comments he made to foreign media which criticized government policies in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Freedom of religion

The state required all religious groups to register with the authorities, and controlled the appointment of religious personnel. Followers of unregistered or banned religious groups risked harassment, persecution, detention and imprisonment, with some groups labelled "heretical cult organizations" by the authorities. Churches and temples constructed by religious groups deemed illegal by the state risked demolition. More than 40 Catholic bishops of unregistered "house churches" remained in detention, under house arrest, in hiding or unaccounted for.

  • In December, over 100 students from a Catholic seminary in Hebei province protested against the appointment of a non-Catholic government official as school head – the first protest of its kind since 2000.
  • Alimjan Yimit’s 15-year sentence was upheld on appeal by the XUAR People’s High Court in March. Alimjan Yimit was detained for "leaking state secrets" after he spoke twice with an American Christian in Urumqi city in April and May 2007.

Falun Gong

The authorities renewed the campaign to "transform" Falun Gong practitioners, which required prison and detention centres to force Falun Gong inmates to renounce their beliefs. Those considered "stubborn," that is, those who refuse to sign a statement to this effect, are typically tortured until they co-operate; many die in detention or shortly after release.

Falun Gong members continued to be targeted in security sweeps carried out prior to major national events. Falun Gong sources documented 124 practitioners detained in Shanghai prior to the World Expo, with dozens reported to have been sentenced to terms of Re-education through Labour or prison. Human rights lawyers were particularly susceptible to punishment by the authorities for taking on Falun Gong cases, including losing their licences, harassment and criminal prosecution.

  • Guo Xiaojun, a former lecturer at a Shanghai university and a Falun Gong practitioner, was detained in Shanghai in January and later charged with "using a heretical organization to subvert the law". He was sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly having distributed Falun Gong materials. He was tortured in detention, kept in solitary confinement and eventually signed a confession that was used to uphold his sentence at a closed appeal hearing. He had already previously served a five-year prison term for his beliefs.
  • Lawyers Tang Jitian and Liu Wei had their licences permanently revoked in April by the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau, on grounds of "disrupting the order of the court and interfering with the regular litigation process". The two had represented a Falun Gong practitioner in April 2009 in Sichuan Province.

Human rights defenders

Civil society continued to expand, with increased numbers of NGOs operating in the country. However, the authorities tightened restrictions on NGOs and human rights defenders. In May, under pressure from the authorities, Beijing University severed links with four civil society groups, including the Center for Women’s Law and Legal Services.