For Immediate Release
Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that prominent dissident Fang Jue has been expelled from China.
A well-known participant in China’s democracy movement, Fang Jue has been missing since November 4, when it is believed he was detained as part of a general crackdown on dissidents prior to the 16th Party Congress.
According to family members and other reliable sources in China, Fang was escorted by Beijing police to United Airlines Flight 850 on January 24 at 4:30 p.m., Beijing time. The flight departed at 5:35 p.m. for Chicago, where Fang, accompanied by a U.S. State Department official, was to transfer for a flight to Newark Airport.
Fang was not allowed to see any family members before departing for his life in exile, and was only allowed to telephone his sister, Liu Jing, after boarding the flight for Chicago.
HRIC President Liu Qing notes, “ We’ve been objecting for some time to the deplorable way the Chinese government has been harassing Fang Jue, and of course we’re glad he’s been released from his secret detention. But we’re very disappointed that once again the Chinese government has decided that it can only deal with a dissident by ejecting him from his homeland to a life in exile. What makes it even worse is that Fang Jue was not a political prisoner like Xu Wenli, Wei Jingsheng, and others released and sent abroad. Fang had not even had formal charges brought against him since his arrest. So it appears now that the Chinese government feels it can round up dissenters and eject them from the country at will.”
HRIC deplores the forced exile of Fang Jue, and calls on the Chinese government to respect the rights of its citizens to peacefully express their political views within their own homeland.
Fang Jue’s Background:
Originally named Liu Kai, Fang Jue was born in 1955, a native of Beijing. After being sent down to work in the fields of Shaanxi for four years during the Cultural Revolution, Fang graduated from Beijing University in 1982 with a degree in Economics. He worked for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Research Institute of Political Science, and finally as vice director of the Fuzhou Planning Commission. In 1995 he left government work to set up his own trading company in Beijing, but maintained close contacts with his former government colleagues. Fang believed that his move into the private sector gave him greater latitude to express his views and stimulate discussion within official ranks, especially among liberal thinkers within the Party.
In January 1998 Fang drafted a statement entitled, “The Program Proposals of the Democratic Faction,” which he described as a synthesis of views expressed by an emerging generation of middle- and upper-level government officials frustrated with the continued dominance of China's conservative gerontocracy and disappointed by the dearth of political reforms during the 15th CCP Congress. The statement called for direct elections at all levels of government, freedom of the press, a multi-party system, and independent labor unions.
The statement was widely circulated in the United States, France, Taiwan, and elsewhere, and Fang Jue spoke openly about the statement with the Washington Post for an article published on January 12, 1998. In July 1998 he issued another statement entitled, “Broadening China’s Political Power Base.” He expressed his political views in interviews with a variety of foreign media, including Voice of America, Le Figaro and National Public Radio, sometimes criticizing the Chinese leadership.
Fang was secretly arrested on July 23, 1998, and Public Security police searched his office and home, confiscating many documents and records. Police interrogated Fang 19 times during the course of his detention, with one interrogation lasting for more than 30 hours. Finally on September 28 Fang’s family members were given formal notification of his arrest.
On March 22, 1999 Fang was charged with fraud, which he strongly denied. Police claimed Fang had illegally sold oil import quotas and pocketed 145,000 yuan while serving on the Fuzhou Planning Commission. It is believed that the real reason for Fang’s arrest was his open expression of his political views to the foreign media, and especially his criticisms of government policy and leadership.
Fang was brought to trial in Beijing on April 2, 1999, and he was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on June 10. Fang appealed, but his appeal was rejected and the original judgment and sentence were upheld. He was sent to Beijing’s Liangxiang Prison, where as a Grade 2 Felon he was subjected to the harshest treatment and the worst quality of food and living conditions. He was under surveillance 24 hours a day, and had no rights of visitation or phone calls. Because Fang refused to admit his guilt, and accused prison officials of abusing prisoners, he was further penalized with 25 days’ solitary confinement beginning on December 30, 2000. During his confinement, Fang suffered serious injuries to his arms and legs from the cold. He also contracted respiratory and digestive disorders, as well as high blood pressure. Fang’s sister Liu Jing on several occasions requested that he be released for medical treatment, but received no response.
Fang was released from prison on July 22, 2002. The release procedures, beginning at 8:00 that morning, lasted until well into the evening before Fang could actually leave the prison. Immediately after his release, Fang was tailed by more than ten policemen and five police cars until he reached his home. Police refused to return Fang’s hukou (Household Registration System) identity card, which is necessary for Chinese citizens to have access to basic resources such as housing, education and employment.
After his release Fang remained under close surveillance, but continued to fax statements calling for reform, and granting interviews to foreign reporters. On the afternoon of October 20 Fang had arranged to meet some friends at Beijing’s Great Wall Hotel, but Beijing’s Public Security Bureau, having learned of the meeting through their 24-hour monitoring of Fang’s telephone, sent several police officers to Fang’s home and prevented Fang and a friend from going to the hotel. Fang entered into a dispute with the police officers, who then arrested and forcibly detained him at the Public Security Bureau. Police interrogated Fang and his friend for more than three hours before releasing them later that evening.
On November 4 Fang disappeared. Fang’s sister Liu Jing said neighbors told her more than 10 policemen had come to Fang’s home that afternoon and taken him away. Liu Jing said police later returned and confiscated many of Fang’s documents and personal effects. Fang Jue’s housekeeper, Wang Jinzhi, was also arrested. It is believed that Fang was detained as part of a general crackdown on dissidents prior to the 16th Party Congress, which was held in Beijing in November.
For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher 212-268-9074 (English)
Liu Qing 212-239-4495 (Chinese)