Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai petitioner Chen Xiaoming died on July 1, shortly after being released on medical parole. Numerous earlier requests by Chen’s family for medical parole had been refused.
As previously reported by HRIC, Chen was one of more than a dozen petitioners detained on the evening of February 15, 2006, two days after Chen brought an American consular official to the home of petitioner Fu Yuxia while a number of other petitioners were gathered there.
Early in his detention, sources told HRIC that Chen was held in a storage room of the Luwan District Public Security Bureau (PSB) and that in the middle of the night on March 6, 2006, he was stripped naked and physically abused, his cries for help audible from outside. Sources said that on March 31, 2006, Chen was transferred to a secret location, and his whereabouts remained unknown until December, when he was charged with “disturbing order in the court” in connection with his attendance at a hearing for another petitioner in 2004. On January 9, 2007, Chen was sentenced to two years in prison. He appealed, but on March 20, the Shanghai Supreme People’s Court upheld the original verdict and sentence.
Chen’s family members say that following Chen’s detention, they notified authorities at the Luwan PSB that Chen suffered from a chronic illness, and requested that he be paroled to receive medical treatment. Family members also repeatedly requested an opportunity to visit Chen and provide him with medication, but all of their requests were refused except for one visit in early April. Around the end of April, Chen was transferred to Shanghai’s largest prison – Baimaoling Prison, located in Wannan, Anhui Province, after which family members were unable to visit Chen or receive any information about his health.
On June 29, a Baimaoling Prison official notified Chen’s family that Chen was seriously ill, and that he had been transferred to Shanghai’s Tilanqiao Prison Hospital. Upon reaching the hospital, Chen’s family learned that he had actually been transferred there a week earlier. They found Chen reduced to a skeletal condition, constantly vomiting blood and barely conscious. Given Chen’s grave condition, the Tilanqiao Prison Hospital and Baimaoling Prison authorities authorized Chen’s family to apply for medical parole, and on July 1 he was transferred to Shanghai’s Zhongshan Hospital. There was no improvement in his condition, however, and at 7:30 that same night, after a massive hemorrhage, Chen Xiaoming died.
Chen Xiaoming was an individual committed to justice, and his familiarity with the law made him a leader among Shanghai petitioners and an annoyance to local authorities. In December 2006, Chen was one of seven Chinese activists presented with the 2006 Housing Rights Defender Award by the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions.
HRIC deplores Shanghai authorities’ repeated denial of medical parole to Chen Xiaoming, in violation of the UN Minimum Standards for Prisoners and the PRC Detention Center Ordinance. There are also indications that ill treatment and beatings in prison were major factors in Chen’s death. Chen’s inhumane treatment in prison and the denial of his personal dignity even in his final hours contradicts the “people-first” approach touted by the current Chinese leadership. Chen Xiaoming’s case is an extreme one with irreversible consequences, but the basic circumstances leading up to his death are dishearteningly common. HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to respect the right to petition by individuals such as Chen Xiaoming who persist in raising social issues with the authorities.
For other recent HRIC press releases exposing official abuse of petitioners, see:
“Anhui Business Owner Harassed for Defending Property Rights,” July 5, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/44186;
“Elderly Activist Ill in Prison, Denied Family Visits,” June 22, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/42693;
“International Award for Petitioners Intercepted,” April 27, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/36088;
“Mao Hengfeng Held in Abusive Conditions, Appeal Denied,” April 16, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/35941;
“Shanghai Petitioners Detained Following Protests,” April 12, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/35890;
“Sun Xiaodi Harassed, Faces Financial Hardship,” March 27, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/34797;
“Fu Xiancai Appeals to National People’s Congress,” March 5, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/33975;
“Petitioner Xu Zhengqing Beaten in Prison,” February 20, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/33477;
“Petitioners Expose Abusive Conditions in Shandong ‘Education’ Facility,” February 1, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/32268;
“Mao Hengfeng Sentenced to 2-1/2 Years for Breaking Lamps,” January 16, 2007,