Labor Camp For Embassy Protesters


Authorities in southern China's Fujian and Guangzhou detain petitioners airing grievances in front of U.S. buildings.

Authorities in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian have sentenced three people to a year in labor camp after they tried to air grievances against their local government near the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, a rights group said on Friday.

Wu Fasheng and Hu Shuyuan were among a group of nine petitioners detained on Feb. 27, ahead of the annual parliamentary sessions in Beijing. They had traveled to the capital with complaints over their eviction from their homes.

A third petitioner from the same group, Xiong Fenglian, was attempting to lodge a complaint about her alleged torture at the hands of the authorities in 2007.

The three are now in the Fuzhou City Re-education Through Labor facility, according to an e-mailed statement from the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

Wang Weizhu, a petitioner from the same group of detainees, was held for 15 days' administrative detention after ingesting pesticide in an apparent suicide attempt, CHRD said.

Guangzhou petition

Meanwhile, authorities in the southern province of Guangdong detained four people who tried to hand in a document at the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou detailing the alleged torture of a family member during a 13-year jail term, a rights lawyer said.

Guangzhou resident Zheng Jianyi died at the end of February after being released from prison a month before and telling his family of the torture and ill-treatment he had suffered while in jail, Guangzhou-based lawyer Tang Jingling said on Thursday.

His ex-wife Cui Minyi was now being held at an undisclosed location after visiting the consulate along with three friends, Tang said.

"We don't have any definite news of her," he said. "Her relatives said she was being detained for 10 days, but they didn't know what she was accused of."

Two of the friends who accompanied her had now been released, but Lin Jiqiang had gone incommunicado a day after calling Tang to say he had been detained, Tang added.

"The authorities didn't really have a good reason to detain them," he said. "All they wanted to do was deliver a document, and they didn't even try to cross the police line."

He said the group had written the document as evidence of Zheng's account of torture when he came out of jail, when a medical check-up had revealed extensive internal injuries and broken bones.

Zheng was found guilty of "fraud" in 2000 and sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment, which he served in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Cui only found out his whereabouts in 2006, and her divorce had been approved only because she believed him to have abandoned her, Tang said.

Parliamentary sessions

Authorities across China tightened their surveillance of rights activists and dissidents ahead of the annual parliamentary sessions, holding many under house arrest or forcing them to take a "vacation" under police escort for the 10-day duration of the meetings.

The clampdown also coincided with the first anniversary of online calls for a "Jasmine" revolution, inspired by a series of uprisings in the Middle East.

CHRD said that Jiangsu-based petitioner and evictee Xiao Jinmei has been held in a police station since Feb. 27, just before the parliamentary sessions began.

"Xiao initially went to the Huangxiang Police Station ... to ask why officers had been harassing her family," the group said. "Officers took her into custody that day because, according to the police, she had been petitioning in Beijing."

"Her family has unsuccessfully sought her release," the group said.

Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.