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Three Shanghai Petitioners go to Trial, Others Abused in Detention

November 7, 2006

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that three petitioners, Du Yangming, Wang Shuizhen and Tian Baocheng, are scheduled to appear in Shanghai’s Zhabei District People’s Court on November 8 and 9 on charges of “causing a disturbance.” All three were detained and charged in connection with their activities around the time of the meeting of the intergovernmental Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June.

Sources in China told HRIC that Du Yangming, now in his 60s, was detained on June 2, when police came to his home and took him away for questioning. Du has been petitioning the authorities for years over the demolition of his former home. He has previously spent 18 months in Reeducation Through Labor (RTL), and has been put under criminal detention three times, during which he reportedly suffered serious physical abuse.

Wang Shuizhen was detained on June 5 while on her way to accompany lawyer Zheng Enchong’s wife, Jiang Meili, to Tilanqiao Prison to await Zheng’s release upon completion of his three-year prison sentence on charges of revealing state secrets overseas. Wang was formally arrested in early July. She previously served two years in prison for “causing a disturbance” when in April 2003 she refused to undergo ideological training as ordered by her local housing committee chairman.

Tian Baocheng and his wife Zhang Cuiping were detained on June 2, after which Tian was formally charged with “causing a disturbance” on July 8, and Zhang was sentenced to 18 months of RTL. Both Tian and Zhang had previously served terms of RTL in 2003, and during his detention, Tian was reportedly subjected to serious physical abuse that resulted in the loss of two teeth and multiple injuries to his head, chest, arms and legs.

Sources say that neither Du, Wang nor Tian can afford a lawyer, and will be defended by court-appointed counsel. However, family members report that they have been unable to talk to or meet with the lawyers. Wang Shuizhen’s husband requested a copy of the indictment against Wang from her lawyer after the court refused to provide it to him. The lawyer reportedly also refused to assist him, saying, “That’s up to the government—don’t bother me!” Du Yangming’s lawyer, who reportedly kept putting off a visit to Du in prison, was recently involved in a traffic accident and as a result is not expected to see Du at all before the trial.

HRIC has also learned of that two other Shanghai petitioners have been abused in detention. Sources say that Duan Chunfang and Duan Huimin, who are brother and sister, went to Beijing to petition the central authorities at the beginning of November. Early on the morning of November 3, a dozen plainclothes police officers burst into the resthouse where they were staying and took them away. While in the police van, Duan Chunfang felt ill and asked to be allowed to sit near the window, but police officers reportedly responded by yanking her hair. Sources say that when Duan Huimin saw what was happening to his sister, he tried to move near her, only to be pulled from the vehicle and beaten by more than 10 police officers. Witnesses to the incident told HRIC that Duan was then handcuffed and forced into the rear of the vehicle. Duan Chunfang and Duan Huimin were kept separate on the train back to Shanghai, and Duan Chunfang was unable to find her brother upon arriving in Shanghai. Some petitioners report having seen Duan Huimin on the train with obvious injuries, and sources say he has now been placed under criminal detention on accusations of assaulting a security officer with a weapon. Duan’s parents reportedly spent all day and night outside of the detention center trying to see him, until police finally forced them to return home.

HRIC has heard of other recent instances of police abusing petitioners while forcibly bringing them back to Shanghai. Ju Ronglin was reportedly kicked and beaten after requesting a drink of water. Another petitioner, Hu Peiqin, was slapped in the ears when she said she was hungry. Petitioners Ge Meiling and Xu Guining objected to Hu’s treatment and were themselves beaten. Zhou Jianguo, who had gone to Beijing to petition three times within a month, was reportedly beaten after accidentally bumping an escorting police officer. Tong Guoqing, Zhu Libin, Feng Yuzhen, Zhou Youlan and Wu Dangying are among other petitioners reported to have recently suffered abuse in detention.

HRIC is deeply concerned that petitioners Du Yangming, Wang Shuizhen and Tian Baocheng do not have effective representation for their upcoming criminal trial, and deplores the abusive treatment they and other petitioners have suffered in detention. Only by addressing the serious social problems fueling social unrest, and respecting the legal rights of citizens, can the central government promote a truly stable “harmonious society.” HRIC calls upon the Shanghai authorities to take steps to curb the abusive treatment of petitioners, and to ensure that the rights of Du, Wang and Tian, including the right to effective legal representation, are fully respected.