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2014-03-15

Report submitted to the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review


[English translation by Human Rights in China, October 8, 2013]
Report submitted to the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Country: The People's Republic of China
Submitter: Rights Campaign, a non-governmental organization in China
Date of Submission: March 1, 2013

Web site: http:rightscampaign.blogspot.com
Contact address: Apt. 101, Unit B, Building 6, Hangyun Jiayuan,
Qishuyan District, Changzhou City, Jiangsu Province
Contact person: Cao Shunli, email address: [email protected]
The main work of Rights Campaign, which was established in 2008, is to track websites every day to gather and record the petitioning and rights defense activities of petitioners and rights defenders in China, as well as the abuse and suppression that they suffer in the course of those activities, and to provide legal and other assistance to the victims. This report primarily recounts the basis for petitioners and rights defenders to participate in the National Human Rights Action Plan and the National Human Rights Report, their experience, and the suppression they suffered.

1. There are no Letters and Visits [petitioning] mechanisms within Chinese government departments, courts, or the procuratorate, at any levels to receive complaints by petitioners and rights defenders against these departments and their subordinate departments. In their actual work, Letters and Visits departments lack the authority and funds to resolve the issues in these petitions, and they can only transfer the problems in these petitions to other departments. Some petitioners and rights defenders are not satisfied with the results of the Letters and Visits departments’ handling of problems and the methods they use in handling these problems, and so they continue to approach departments at higher levels of government or the central government to report their problems, demanding that the government directly intervene to solve them. In recent years, many people engaging in petitioning and rights defense have been severely punished by some government departments. Some have been sentenced to Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) and prison. These groups are the main victims of the current corruption in the Chinese government and judicial injustice, and they are also the main objects of torture and arbitrary detention.
2. In November 2008, the Chinese government decided to formulate a National Human Rights Action Plan, and petitioners and rights defenders once hoped to use participation in this plan to make their human rights situation known, and to resolve their appeals for human rights. However, they were suppressed by the government.


I. The experience of petitioners and rights defenders in participating in the National Human Rights Action Plan and the National Human Rights Report and the suppression they suffered:

3. On December 10, 2008, International Human Rights Day, several petitioners and rights defenders went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit an application (see Appendix 1) to request that the government follow the standards established in the Handbook on National Human Rights Plans of Action, abide by the UN Human Rights Council's Document A/HRC/6/L.24, and include the participation of petitioners, rights defenders, and non-governmental civil society organizations in the process of the drafting, compilation, and implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan and the National Human Rights Report. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs accepted the application, but at the same time, the police took into custody around 50 people at the front gate of the Ministry, and Chen Jianfang and 28 others were put under administrative detention.[1]


4. On December 18, 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a response to the petitioners and rights defenders who had submitted the application (see Appendix 2). Based on the response by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the petitioners and rights defenders proceeded to submit the application to the Information Office of the State Council. The Information Office did not accept the application, remained silent, and did nothing when great numbers of policemen and police vehicles blocked the advance of the individuals who tried to submit the application, and detained them. At that time, Yang Guiying and four others were punished with administrative detention, Cao Shunli and others were taken into custody and detained in a police station, and some were detained at the Ministry of Civil Affair's Jiujing Zhuang Relief and Assistance Center in the Fengtai District of Beijing.[2]


5. On March 27, 2009, China Newsweek, a media organization under the jurisdiction of the Information Office of the State Council, published an interview with a professor from the law department of Peking University. This professor said: Ninety-nine percent of the long-term petitioners have mental disorders, and committing them to psychiatric institutions is the best way of protecting their human rights. A number of petitioners and rights defenders went to seek an explanation and protest these comments. On April 12, public security officers detained Cao Shunli and ten others at the entrance to Peking University. Afterwards, Cao Shunli was sentenced to serve one year of RTL.[3]


6. On April 13, the Information Office of the State Council issued the government's first National Human Rights Action Plan. In April, two other people, Chen Jianfang and Li Xuehui, who had requested to participate in the drafting of the plan, were also criminally detained for going to Peking University to ask for an explanation. After the National Human Rights Action Plan was issued, some 30 people were taken into custody on May 27 in front of the Information Office of the State Council. Among them, five individuals, including Zhu Guiqin, Li Li, Wu Xiuwen, and Chen Shuxia, were sentenced to serve one year of RTL. Chen Fengqiang, Zhou Guangfu, and Sun Lijing were sentenced to one year to three years in prison for gathering people to go to the Information Office of the State Council, and for welcoming the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to China, in the hope that she would pay close attention to the human rights situation in China.[4] At this point, those petitioners and rights defenders who took part in the activities related to the application to participate in the drafting of the National Human Rights Action Plan have been prevented from continuing their effort as a result of government suppression.


7. According to statistics, during the two years of implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan 2009-2010, Beijing sentenced no fewer than 15 petitioners and rights defenders to RTL and prison terms, the highest number of petitioners and rights defenders being sentenced in a two-year period since 2000. Among them, four individuals were tortured and abused during their incarceration because they refused to admit guilt, and had protested against the inhuman management system of the facilities where they were being held. During these two years, four people were sentenced to prison twice. In the approximately one year before and after the Shanghai World Expo in May 2010, Beijing and Shanghai sentenced 11 people to RTL.


8. In a situation where the cases of many petitioners and rights defenders dragged on unresolved, with many individuals arbitrarily detained and arrested and suffering torture, the government, on July 14, 2010, issued an assessment of the National Human Rights Action Plan 2009-2010, stating that the goals set by the National Human Rights Action Plan had been met as scheduled.


9. In September 2011, the media reported that the Chinese government was about to formulate its second Human Rights Action Plan. On December 9, 2011, some petitioners and rights defenders proceeded to submit an application to the Information Office of the State Council requesting participation in the second Human Rights Action Plan (see Appendix 3). Cao Shunli, who had gone there to submit the application, was detained by police who were waiting at the entrance to the Information Office and was taken to a police station,[5] and 11 petitioners and rights defenders in Beijing were put under house arrest in their homes. On December 12, the Information Office of the State Council accepted the application, but it has refused to give a response.


10. On June 11, 2012, the government issued its second Human Rights Action Plan. On June 25, Cao Shunli, Chen Fengqiang, and some 100 other people went to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to apply for permission to hold demonstrations[6] on July 1 and July 2 in the vicinity of the Information Office of the State Council and the Ministry of Public Security. Furthermore, they submitted an Open Government Information application (see Appendix 4) and an open letter to the Ministry of Public Security (see Appendix 5). On June 30, Chen Fengqiang, who was one of those who applied for permission to hold demonstrations, was taken into custody, and soon after was formally criminally detained.[7] In the night of June 30, those individuals residing in Lü Village in the Fengtai District, who had applied for permission to demonstrate, and other petitioners and rights defenders, were taken into custody and sent back to their original hometowns.[8] On July 1, Cao Shunli, Chen Jianfang, and others went to the Information Office of the State Council to submit their Open Government Information application, and the police who were stationed at the Information Office once again took Cao Shunli to a police station, where she was held for 24 hours. Soon after, she was sent back to her residence, where she was put under house arrest for one day.[9] Beginning on July 23, Cao Shunli, Liu Xiaofang, and other petitioners and rights defenders persisted in going to the entrance of the Information Office of the State Council every Monday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to request that the Information Office abide by the State Council's Regulations on Open Government Information, make public to petitioners and rights defenders information related to the National Human Rights Action Plan, and include the participation of petitioners and rights defenders in the second National Human Rights Action Plan. On the afternoon of August 13, Peng Lanlan and four others went to the Information Office of the State Council to deliver an Open Government Information application signed by 200 people from different parts of China and 270 copies of a “Survey on the human rights conditions of petitioners and rights defenders.” Police in the vicinity of the Information Office took Peng into custody and criminally detained her.[10] To date, she is still being kept in a detention center awaiting trial.


11. Between December 2008 and August 2012, of those who applied to participate in the drafting and compilation of the National Human Rights Action Plan and the National Human Rights Report, at least 70 people were punished by the government. Of these, eight were sentenced to RTL, while four were criminally convicted and sentenced. Cao Shunli, Chen Jianfang, and Chen Fengqiang were imprisoned twice.


12. On December 10, 2012, a number of petitioners and rights defenders, in accordance with the State Council’s Regulations on Open Government Information, reported to the General Office of the State Council that the Information Office was derelict in its duties, guilty of malfeasance, and unlawfully ignored Open Government Information applications (see Appendix 6). Police detained Cao Shunli, Liu Xiaofang, and 14 others in front of the State Council’s General Office at Zhongnanhai and took them to four police stations in the vicinity of Zhongnanhai, where they were questioned and detained for about ten hours before being released.


13. On October 18, 2012, some 100 people again went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver an application (see Appendix 7) and request that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs make public information related to the National Human Rights Report (see Appendix 8).[11] On November 15, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the Open Government Information application (see Appendix 9), defining information related to the National Human Rights Report as state secrets, and thus something that cannot be made public. On January 15, 2013, 64 people again put forward a proposal for administrative reconsideration (see Appendix 10), requesting that the Ministry, in accordance with the norms and international practices establishing the Universal Periodic Review that are set forth in the UN Human Rights Council Document A/HRC/6/L.24, treat petitioners and rights defenders as important stakeholders of the National Human Rights Report, and make public to them related information. To date, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not responded to the request by petitioners and rights defenders to participate in the process of drafting and compilation of the National Human Rights Report or the reconsideration of the Open Government Information application.

II. Our suggestions and recommendations:
14. We recommend that the Information Office of the State Council consult the UN Handbook on National Human Rights Plans of Action and international practices, and include representatives of petitioners and rights defenders and of other vulnerable groups and civil society NGOs in the participation of the joint conference of the National Human Rights Action Plan.


15. We recommend that the joint conference and evaluation conference of the National Human Rights Action Plan be publicly announced one week in advance, and that representatives of petitioners and rights defenders be allowed to attend the meetings as observers.


16. We recommend that, in the process of drafting and formulating the National Human Rights Report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs make the petitioners and rights defenders who have had their human rights seriously violated the main stakeholders of the report, and that it engage in consultation and communication with these petitioners and rights defenders.

Appendices:
1. December 10, 2008, application submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
2. December 18, 2008, response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
3. December 9, 2011, application submitted to the State Council Information Office;
4. July 1, 2012, application submitted to the State Council Information Office requesting the disclosure of information;
5. July 2, 2012, open letter to the Ministry of Public Security;
6. December 10, 2012, report submitted to the General Office of the State Council;
7. October 18, 2012, application submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
8. October 18, 2012, application submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting disclosure of information;
9. November 15, 2012, response by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
10. January 15, 2013, application for reconsideration submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


[1] “The people have lost their human rights on human rights day,” www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanri-12102008124312.html.
[2] “Cao Shunli and others arrested again in Beijing for requesting to participate in the drafting of the National Human Rights Action Plan,” http://www.msguancha.com/Article/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=1748.
[3] “Police arrest petitioners protesting at Peking University, has the period for tolerating the Sun Dongdong Incident already expired?” (video)
http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/sundongdong-04082009165449.html.
[4] “1,000 petitioners go to the State Council Information Office to appeal to U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to pay close attention to the human rights situation in the People’s Republic of China,” http://rightscampaign.blogspot.com/2009/05/1000.html.
[5] “Petitioner Cao Shunli taken away after attempting to submit a request to participate in the ‘National Human Rights Action Plan,’” http://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2011/12/blog-post_2466.html.
[6] “More than 70 human rights activists from around China apply at the Public Order Department of the Beijing Public Security Bureau for permission to hold a gathering,” http://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2012/06/70.html.
[7] “Application for July 1 demonstration rejected, applicants detained and questioned,” http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/ql2-07032012103644.html.
[8] “Urgent Attention Needed: Beijing authorities carry-out mass arrests of rights activists early morning,” http://rightscampaign.blogspot.com/2012/06/blog-post_30.html.
[9] “Cao Shunli and others detained by police while attempting to deliver an application to the State Council Information Office,” http://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2012/07/blog-post_7438.html.
[10] “Many detained by police for requesting disclosure of information regarding the ‘Human Rights Action Plan,’” http://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2012/08/blog-post_8939.html.
[11] “Cao Shunli and more than 100 other rights activists go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand disclosure of information,” http://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2012/10/blog-post_6632.html.
[Translator’s note: The original Chinese of this report provided a 12th end note, which is not indicated in the text:
“Chinese petitioners demanding information disclosure from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are intercepted by police,” www.voachinese.com/content/petitioner-demand.../1533180.html.]