Philip Wen and Natalie Thomas July 15, 2017 / 2:41 PM / 16 minutes ago
BEIJING (Reuters) – One of China’s most prominent rights activists was released by the authorities on Saturday after serving a four-year sentence that prompted international criticism, with his lawyer saying he hoped he would be allowed to live as a free man.
Xu Zhiyong, whose “New Citizens’ Movement” advocated working within the system to press for change, was detained in 2013 and subsequently convicted of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”.
One of the group’s main demands had been for officials to publicly disclose their assets, a demand taken against the backdrop of the ruling Communist Party’s own efforts to crackdown on deep-seat corruption under President Xi Jinping.
Xu’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, told Reuters he had brought Xu up to speed with “events on the outside”, including the death of fellow activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo. He said Xu was “upset” upon hearing the news.
Zhang said Xu, who was released from his jail on Beijing’s outskirts on Saturday morning, was in good physical condition and had few immediate plans beyond spending time with family.
At the height of Xu’s activism, he attracted hundreds of supporters who participated in activities related to the movement, having first gained prominence in 2003 for helping victims of tainted baby formula and migrant workers without access to healthcare and education.
It prompted a crackdown from the Communist Party, which swiftly crushes any perceived challenge to its rule.
“The idea of the New Citizens Movement is not to overthrow, but to establish,” he wrote in a 2010 essay. “It’s not one social class displacing another social class, but allowing righteousness to take its place in China.”
Xu refused to defend himself in his 2014 trial, and remained silent as a way to protest what Zhang said was a controlled legal process where a guilty outcome was a foregone conclusion.
As international rights groups and foreign governments call for Chinese authorities to guarantee freedom for Liu Xiaobo’s widow, Liu Xia, Xu’s supporters have also expressed concern whether he will remain under close watch or effective house arrest. Some said on social media they were barred by security guards and plain-clothed officers from entering Xu’s apartment compound on Saturday.
Other high-profile and politically sensitive prisoners released from jail, including rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and journalist Gao Yu, remain closely watched by Chinese authorities.
“I hope he will be completely free,” Zhang said.
Xu taught law at a Beijing university and ran in a local election. He became prominent over a drive to abolish “custody and repatriation” powers, a form of arbitrary detention used by local governments to sweep homeless people off the streets.
Editing by Ben Blanchard and Jacqueline Wong
Source: Reuters “Prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong freed from Chinese jail”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Prominent Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli, detained in September for staging sit-ins at the Foreign Ministry, has organ failure and only a few days to live after being denied medical treatment in detention, said a close friend on Saturday.
Cao’s death would generate an outcry from China’s fledgling rights community and criticism from the West, which has expressed concern about her case.
News of Cao’s deteriorating health comes two days before the start of a session in Geneva of the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body to which China was elected with controversy last November.
“Yesterday at 10 am, the hospital informed the family members to rush to the hospital and said the condition is terminal,” Liu Xiaofang, a close friend of Cao, told Reuters.
Liu also went to the hospital and spoke with a doctor surnamed Su who was treating Cao.
“He stressed one point: that Cao Shunli’s situation is extremely bad and was caused by her long time in detention. He’s extremely dissatisfied with the situation and told the police: this is a person’s life, you can’t treat this as a game.”
Cao’s kidneys were failing and the doctor told Liu she had two or three days to live.
Cao staged a two-month sit-in with other activists outside the Foreign Ministry beginning in June to press for the public to be allowed to contribute to a national human rights report.
She went missing in mid-September after authorities prevented her from flying to Geneva for a human rights training program. She was formally arrested in October on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”, the watchdog group Human Rights in China said.
Human Rights in China had quoted her lawyer last month as saying she suffered from tuberculosis, liver disease and other conditions. Medical parole had been denied until she was seriously ill.
Wang Yu, Cao’s lawyer, told Reuters that Cao’s younger brother planned to sue the Chaoyang District Detention Centre in Beijing, where Cao was being held, for its “criminal acts” in refusing to give Cao medical treatment, resulting in her malnutrition and deterioration in health.
Hundreds of activists along with Cao had urged officials to reply to their requests to participate in drafting China’s national human rights report ahead of the country’s Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations in October.
Cao had been at the forefront of efforts to take part in the process to join the Universal Periodic Review since 2008.
Source: Reuters “Detained China dissident Cao Shunli near death-close friend”
- EU ‘seriously concerned’ about China crackdown on rights activists dated February 2, 2014
- China Sentences Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong to 4 Years in Jail dated January 26, 2014
- Democracy, Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Issues Defiant Statement during Court Trial dated January 23, 2014
- China arrests activist who campaigned about leaders’ wealth dated August 25, 2013
- China: Unusual appraisal of activists by state media dated August 25, 2013
- China: Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre date August 8, 2013
- China: Democracy activist Xu Zhiyong defiant despite pressure dated December 1, 2012
Detained academic Xu Zhiyong says he’ll give up his freedom to help drive political change
The detained activist and legal scholar Xu Zhiyong said he was willing to exchange his freedom for a China with “liberty, justice and love” in a brief video apparently shot and smuggled out of police detention last week.
The 40-year-old lecturer at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications was detained by Beijing police more than two weeks ago on a charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb order in public places”.
Appearing in the video in handcuffs and an orange jail vest, Xu said the real reason he was being detained was his advocacy for ordinary citizens to exercise their constitutional rights and responsibilities, his push for equal education rights for migrant children and his call for officials to declare their assets.
Xu founded the New Citizen social initiative last year, which pushes for democracy, rule of law and basic civil rights. Xu has said previously that he estimates the movement has thousands of supporters across the county.
“In this ludicrous day and age, these are my three major crimes,” he said. But, he added, no matter how “rotten and absurd this society is”, the country needed courageous citizens to stand up for their beliefs.
“For society to progress, someone has to pay a price. I am willing to pay that price for the sake of my belief in freedom, justice and love,” he said in the video which lasts less than 90 seconds.
He called on his supporters to respect their rights and responsibilities as citizens to fight for democracy.
“We will be able to build a China with liberty, justice and love,” he said.
In a phone interview with the South China Morning Post in December during house arrest, Xu that he was not afraid of jail. It’s not clear who shot the video but only lawyers normally have access to people held in custody. Xu is at the Beijing No3 police detention centre.
The video has been available online since Wednesday.
Although liberals were heartened by President Xi Jinping’s rhetoric on constitutional rule in December shortly after he assumed the party leadership, the detention of Xu and others campaigning for official accountability has raised fears that the government still has little tolerance for its critics.
As of Wednesday, 2,675 people had signed an online petition for the release of Xu and other activists detained for demanding officials disclose their assets. One of the initiators of the petition, journalist Xiao Shu, was himself detained by police for two days last week.
Xu has been held in custody or placed under house arrest without charge numerous times since 2009, after authorities closed his non-profit legal aid centre, called Gongmeng, or the Open Constitution Initiative, and detained him for nearly a month. He has been barred from teaching at his university since then.
Xu’s close friend, legal scholar Teng Biao, said earlier Xu’s detention was the latest in a crackdown on dozens of activists across the country who were involved in the campaign for official accountability.
Source: SCMP “Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre”
According to our sources, Xu Zhiyong, one of China’s best known dissidents and activists, has been criminally detained on Tuesday, July 16. Per an earlier report by weiquanwang and information circulated on Twitter, Dr. Xu was taken away from his Beijing home Tuesday afternoon, and his computers and cellphones were seized.
Dr. Xu is one of the founders of Gong Meng, or the Open Constitution Initiative, and a lecturer at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications. In the last couple of years, he has been tirelessly advocating civil action such as same-city citizen dinner gatherings, equal education rights, and what is more generally known as the new citizens’ movement.
According to the Notice of Detention, Dr. Xu was detained for allegedly “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public venues.”
In addition, Song Ze has been disappeared since the night of July 12, and no relatives and friends have been able to get in touch with him. He is a volunteer with Gong Meng, and for much of 2012, he had been “residing under surveillance.” Because another two activists associated with Gong Meng, Li Huanjun and Li Gang, were criminally detained also on the evening of July 12, it is believed that Song Ze was also detained.
The detention of Dr. Xu’s and three others are believed to be part of the crackdown on civic actions that is on the rise in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. In April, Beijing police detained 10 citizens for publicly demanding asset disclosure by government officials. In May, the government announced the formal arrest of the ten on trumped up charges such as “illegal assembly”, “provoking disturbances”, “gathering to disrupt social order”, “inciting to subvert state power” and more. One of the ten, Qi Yueying, a native Beijinger whose house was demolished in a grotesquely unfair compensation deal, was charged with “extortion.”
Dr. Xu has been under house arrest since April 12.
We also learned on Twitter that Guo Yushan, founder of the Transition Institute and the man who picked up Chen Guangcheng, after the latter escaped, and sent him to the safety of the US Embassy in Beijing, has also been under house arrest for two weeks. It might have to do with his organizing the “Meal Delivery” activities on Weibo that raise money for political prisoners and civil activists or their families who face extreme financial difficulty and need urgent relief.
Since Xi Jinping took power, close to 80 citizens have been detained or arrested for activities ranging from dinner gatherings to displaying banners in the streets to June 4th-related activities. Given the moderate nature of these acts, it is clear that the authorities are becoming extremely intolerant of anything they perceive as threatening, especially when the activities show any form of “organization.”
Source: China Change “Xu Zhiyong Criminally Detained, Home Searched”
SCMP carries Agence France-Presse report from Beijing: “Chinese police barred prominent dissident Hu Jia from leaving home on Monday after he proposed marking UN Human Rights Day near the home of a jailed Nobel laureate’s wife, who is herself under house arrest.
“Authorities have detained Liu Xia at home without charge since her husband Liu Xiaobo – the co-author of a human rights petition – won the 2010 peace prize. He was convicted in 2009 of inciting subversion and sentenced to 11 years in jail.
“December 10 marks the day the Charter 08 petition was signed and the day Liu should have received his Nobel award.
“Hu had posted a note on Twitter on Friday suggesting that a park near Liu Xia’s home would ‘be a good place to hold a human rights press conference’ to mark the date.
“But on Monday he told reporters: ‘The police are keeping me in my home until Tuesday to prevent me from meeting with people like you so that I will not be photographed or filmed for Human Rights Day.’
“Hu served three years in jail starting in 2008 after years of campaigning for civil rights, the environment and Aids patients, and has remained under surveillance since being released.”
For details, please visit SCMP website at:
Reuters report from Beijing: “A Chinese court upheld a $2.4 million tax evasion fine against China’s most famous dissident Ai Weiwei on Thursday, ending his long legal battle with the authorities but paving the way for him to be jailed if he does not pay.
“The loss of Ai’s second appeal in a higher court means that the world-renowned artist could risk arrest if he does not pay a remaining fine of around 6.6 million yuan ($1.05 million), in a case that has further tarnished China’s poor human rights reputation.
“He has paid a bond of 8.45 million yuan already lodged with the tax authorities to contest the tax charge.
“Ai, whose 81-day detention last year sparked an international outcry, told Reuters he will not pay the remaining fine as that would be tacit acknowledgement of the case’s legality, which he has always maintained is trumped up.
“Ai said he is uncertain whether he faces arrest if he doesn’t do so.
“‘If I need to go to jail, there’s nothing I can do about it,” Ai said. ‘This country has no fairness and justice, even if I’ve paid the 6 million yuan, I still could possibly go to jail. They don’t need an excuse to arrest me – they can always find another excuse at any time.’
“The case is widely seen by activists as an attempt to muzzle the outspoken artist, who has repeatedly criticised the Chinese government for flouting the rule of law and the rights of citizens.”
For Details of Reuters report, please visit Reuters website at:
In an exclusive report, Hong Kong’s Ming Pao says “Well-known Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was awarded a Ten Best Rights Lawyers Prize by the Association of Chinese Rights Lawyers. Gao’s wife Geng He received the prize at Capital Hill, Washington on her husband’s behalf. She said that those rights lawyers were China’s pillars and hope.
“In her address, Geng He said, ‘Gao Zhisheng wants freedom! My children and I will be without freedom as long as Gao Zhisheng is without freedom.’ Since the end of last year, Gao has been incarcerated in Shaya Prison, Xinjiang and so far his family members have only been allowed to meet him once.”
Gao Zhisheng (1966 – ) is a Chinese human rights lawyer and dissident who defended activists and religious minorities and wrote about human rights abuses in China. He was debarred and detained several times by the authorities and then imprisoned for 3 years commencing from the end of 2011.
Ming Pao says, “Three other rights activists Dr. Fan Yafeng, Teng Biao and Jiang Tianyong were awarded Safeguarding Religion Freedom and Courage in Rule of Law Prizes for the year 2012.”