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Beijing Authorities Take Hard Line on Christian Activist Hua Huiqi

January 6, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Beijing officials have retaliated against Christian activist Hua Huiqi and his family following their protests against forced removal for redevelopment of their neighborhood.

Hua Huiqi and his family, along with members of four other families, in the early hours of January 4 marched from Hua’s home to Tiananmen Square to protest the forced clearance of their neighborhood, and the cutoff of electricity and water to their homes as a tactic to speed their departure. Public Security police intercepted the protesters en route, but news of the aborted protest was circulated to the international news media. Public Security police retaliated soon afterwards. According to reports to HRIC by Hua Huiqi and other sources, around 8 p.m. on January 5 around 10 unidentified men burst into Hua’s house and forced all the occupants to the floor, including Hua’s elderly parents. The intruders then removed all of the portable heaters in the house, and mockingly said to Hua, “Why don’t you go on another protest to Tiananmen!” All this occurred while Hua’s home was surrounded by police officers.

Hua Huiqi and other observers believe the intruders were sent by the police, and could even have been plain-clothes policemen. Hua says his family is under heavy pressure to leave their home peaceably, but as they have no other alternative than to live in the street, they are determined to fight the removal. Even after being assaulted by the intruders, Hua’s elderly parents, Hua Zaichen and Shuang Shuying, braced themselves against the cold and protested outside of the government offices at Zhongnanhai. But when the two old people reached Zhongnanhai, Public Security police manhandled them into a police vehicle and escorted them back home. Beijing’s temperature has dropped to well below freezing, and without their heaters the family is blue with cold. The Hua home in Fengtai district remains surrounded by a dozen police officers led by the head of the Fengtai district division of Beijing’s Public Security Bureau. A friend who tried to visit the family reports that a police officer warned him, “If you come here again we’ll arrest you and take you away.”

Hua Huiqi’s family has for some time been protesting the redevelopment of their old neighborhood and the payment of more than RMB 100,000 required of them to move to a new neighborhood. Their original home was demolished last year, and when the family insisted that they had no money to move, they were forcibly removed to temporary accommodations in Fengtai. Since then the family has been under virtual house arrest, surrounded 24 hours a day by police officers and vehicles. At the end of last year officials told Hua and several other Fengtai families that the neighborhood was being cleared for redevelopment, and they would have to move again by December 31. In spite of having their electricity and water cut off, five families, including Hua Huiqi’s, refused to leave, and staged the protest to Tiananmen Square on January 4.

Hua Huiqi and his wife Ju Mei are leading members of China’s underground church, and Hua has been arrested and beaten several times because of his religious activities. Hua’s father, Hua Zaichen, has been an active protester against Reeducation Through Labor after spending more than 20 years in a RTL camp for serving as an officer in the Kuomintang army during the Sino-Japanese War. Over the past half year the entire family has been subjected to official oppression for their protests alleging official complicity with business interests carrying out forced clearance in Beijing.

HRIC strongly protests the oppressive tactics Beijing officials are using against Hua Huiqi’s family. HRIC president Liu Qing observes, “Even if the men who broke into Hua Huiqi’s home and beat up his family were not police officers, they entered the home while it was surrounded by police officers, who did nothing to intervene and thereby became accessories to the assault.”

HRIC once again calls on the Chinese government to take an objective mediating role in the dispute between displaced residents and developers to work toward an equitable and amicable resolution, rather than taking the side of the developers in trying to force the residents out through physical abuse and deprivation of liberty.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495