Government must end collective punishment of family members of imprisoned activists
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, July 7, 2007) – Yuan Weijing, the wife of jailed human rights defender Chen Guangcheng, a human rights defender herself, and her 2-year-old daughter have been surrounded in an apartment building in
Beijing, where they are visiting, and are at risk of being abducted by police from Shandong, their home province.
Yuan Weijing arrived in Beijing with her daughter on July 4 (Photo: Hu Jia)
"I am not a criminal, nor under any legal order of restraint. I am a free person! I should never have to ‘escape’ from my village to come to Beijing! What power the
Shandong authorities have in sending police to Beijing to get me? My child and I are in danger – if I step out of this apartment, I am hundred percent sure they will grab us into that van!" said Yuan Weijing.
Ms. Yuan and her daughter are staying at the apartment of Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan, two rights activists, who have been under police surveillance, in the suburb of
Beijing, where the usual team of police are joined today by at least three police from Shandong Province. In the past two years, Mr. Chen Guangcheng himself in 2005, and his mother and his child in 2006, had been abducted in
Beijing by Shandong police, when they tried to meet with supporters and lawyers.
Ms. Yuan evaded police surveillance in her village in Yinan County, Shandong Province, and traveled by bus to Beijing on the 4
th of July. She plans to meet her husband’s lawyers, journalists and supporters, seeking help for her husband. Mr. Chen is blind.
Ms. Yuan wants to find reading assistance to Chen Guangcheng so he can read and write in jail.
This morning, on the 7th of July, Ms. Yuan and Hu Jia were prevented by police standing guard outside from leaving the housing compound for a meeting with an official from the US Embassy.
Later, the US diplomat was able to talk on the phone with Ms. Yuan. In the afternoon, journalists from AP and other news agencies were able to enter the apartment for interviews with Ms. Yuan.
In the early evening, when Ms. Yuan, her daughter, Hu Jia, and his pregnant wife Zeng Jinyan went downstairs for a walk, police surrounded them.
Hu Jia did not back down and clashed with policemen. In the scuffling, police tore Hu Jia’s clothes, grabbed his eye glasses, knocked off his cap, while Ms. Zeng, Ms. Yuan and the child went back into the apartment before the
Shandong police could grab them. During the clash, Ms. Yuan recognized at least three familiar police from Linyi, Shandong, including one policewoman.
They also saw a Toyota Crown with Shandong license plate and a white mini-van without license plate, which Ms. Yuan recognized as the same van that took her mother-in-law and her son back to Shandong after they were abducted in
Beijing in summer 2006. A total of fifteen were at the scene tonight. They all dressed in plainclothes.
Judging from previous abductions of Mr. Chen Guangcheng and his family members by Shandong police in Beijing, we fear that Ms. Yuan and her daughter are at high risk of being abducted either when they try to get out of the apartment again, or if the police decide to force their way into Hu Jia’s apartment, a smaller possibility, nonetheless a possibility that can’t be ruled out at this point.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders urges the government authorities not to violate Ms. Yuan Weijing, Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan’s freedom of movement (Article 12 (1), ICCPR, which China has signed, though not ratified) and their right not to be arbitrarily detained (Article 9 (1), ICCPR).
We urge the Chinese authorities to end the illegal practices of collective punishment of family members, including women and children, of criminalized human rights activists.
This practice has put women, children, and the elderly, already vulnerable in the Chinese society, under further risk at police violence.
Attachment: Recording – Yuan Weijing’s appeal
For a profile of Yuan Weijing, view http://crd-net.org/Article/Class9/Class48/Class62/200705/20070531232542_4508.html
For more information about Chen Guangcheng, read http://crd-net.org/Article/Class9/Class48/Class62/200702/20070222165944_3485.html
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