Annual Prison Census 2009: China
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||8 December 2009|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2009: China, 8 December 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b220ca228.html [accessed 1 December 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2009
Xu Zerong (David Tsui), freelance
Imprisoned: June 24, 2000
Xu was serving a 13-year prison term on charges of "leaking state secrets" through his academic work on military history and "economic crimes" related to unauthorized publishing of foreign policy issues. Some observers believed that his jailing may have been related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) magazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for a Malaysian insurgency in the 1950s and 1960s.
Xu, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was arrested in Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 18 months until his trial. He was tried by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court in December 2001, and his appeal to Guangzhou Higher People's Court was rejected in 2002.
According to court documents, the "state secrets" charges against Xu stemmed from his use of historical documents for academic research. Xu, also known as David Tsui, was an associate research professor at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. In 1992, he photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China's role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea.
The verdict stated that the Security Committee of the People's Liberation Army of Guangzhou determined that the books had not been declassified 40 years after being labeled "top secret." After his arrest, St. Antony's College at Oxford University, where Xu earned his doctorate and wrote his dissertation on the Korean War, was active in researching the case and calling for his release.
Xu was also the co-founder of a Hong Kong-based academic journal, Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). The "economic crimes" charges were related to the "illegal publication" of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing's relations with Taiwan.
He was arrested just days before an article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue of Yazhou Zhoukan, in which he accused the Communist Party of hypocrisy when it condemned countries that criticized China's human rights record.
Xu began his sentence in Dongguan Prison, outside of Guangzhou, but was later transferred to Guangzhou Prison, where it was easier for his family to visit him. He was spared from hard labor and was allowed to read, research, and teach English in prison, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation. He suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes.
In 2006, Xu's family members were informed that he had received a nine-month reduction in his sentence, according to Dui Hua. He was given another 10-month reduction in April, and is scheduled for release in 2011, the group reported.
Jin Haike, freelance
Xu Wei, freelance
Imprisoned: March 13, 2001
Jin and Xu were among four members of an informal discussion group called Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group) who were detained and accused of "subverting state authority." Prosecutors cited online articles and essays on political and social reform as proof of their intent to overthrow the Communist Party leadership.
The two men, along with their colleagues, Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai, were charged with subversion on April 20, 2001. More than two years later, on May 29, 2003, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced Jin and Xu each to 10 years in prison, while Yang and Zhang each received sentences of eight years. All of the sentences were to be followed by two years' deprivation of political rights.
The four young men were students and recent university graduates who gathered occasionally to discuss politics and reform with four others, including an informant for the Ministry of State Security. The most prominent in the group, Yang, posted his own thoughts, as well as reports by the others, on topics such as rural poverty and village elections, along with essays advocating democratic reform, on the popular Web site Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi's Garden of Ideas). Xu was a reporter at Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer's Daily). Public security agents pressured the newspaper to fire him before his arrest, a friend, Wang Ying, reported online.
The court cited a handful of articles, including Jin's "Be a New Citizen, Reform China" and Yang's "Choose Liberalism," in the 2003 verdict against them. The Beijing High People's Court rejected their appeal without hearing defense witnesses. Three of the witnesses who testified against the four men were fellow members of the group and later tried to retract their testimonies.
Yang and Zhang were released on the expiration of their sentences on March 13, 2009, according to international news reports. Xu and Jin remained imprisoned at Beijing's No. 2 Prison. Jin's father told CPJ in October that his son was suffering from abdominal pain, for which he had undergone surgery in 2007. Xu was suffering from psychological stress while in prison, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Abdulghani Memetemin, freelance
Imprisoned: July 26, 2002
Memetemin, a writer, teacher, and translator who had actively advocated for the Uighur ethnic group in the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was detained in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, on charges of "leaking state secrets."
In June 2003, the Kashgar Intermediate People's Court sentenced Memetemin to nine years in prison, plus a three-year suspension of political rights. Radio Free Asia provided CPJ with court documents listing 18 specific counts against him, which included translating state news articles into Chinese from Uighur; forwarding official speeches to the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC), a news outlet that advocates for an independent state for the Uighur ethnic group; and conducting original reporting for ETIC. The court also accused him of recruiting reporters for ETIC, which is banned in China.
Memetemin did not have legal representation at his trial.
Huang Jinqiu (Qing Shuijun, Huang Jin), freelance
Imprisoned: September 13, 2003
Huang, a columnist for the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News, was arrested in Jiangsu province, and his family was not notified of his arrest for more than three months. On September 27, 2004, the Changzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison on charges of "subversion of state authority," plus four years' deprivation of political rights. The sentence was unusually harsh and appeared linked to his intention to form an opposition party.
Huang worked as a writer and editor in his native Shandong province, as well as in Guangdong province, before leaving China in 2000 to study journalism at the Central Academy of Art in Malaysia. While he was overseas, he began writing political commentary for Boxun News under the pen name Qing Shuijun. He also wrote articles on arts and entertainment under the name Huang Jin. Huang's writings reportedly caught the attention of the government in 2001. He told a friend that authorities had contacted his family to warn them about his writings, according to Boxun News.
In January 2003, Huang wrote in his online column that he intended to form a new opposition party, the China Patriot Democracy Party. When he returned to China in August 2003, he eluded public security agents just long enough to visit his family in Shandong province. In the last article he posted on Boxun News, titled "Me and My Public Security Friends," he described being followed and harassed by security agents.
Huang's appeal was rejected in December 2004. He was given a 22-month sentence reduction in July 2007, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation. The journalist, who suffered from arthritis, was serving his sentence in Pukou Prison in Jiangsu province.
Kong Youping, freelance
Imprisoned: December 13, 2003
Kong, an essayist and poet, was arrested in Anshan, Liaoning province. A former trade union official, he had written articles online that supported democratic reforms, appealed for the release of then-imprisoned Internet writer Liu Di, and called for a reversal of the government's "counterrevolutionary" ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.
Kong's essays included an appeal to democracy activists in China that stated, "In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful, and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing." Several of his articles and poems were posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP), an opposition party. In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with co-defendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being vice chairman of the CDP branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation. On September 16, 2004, the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years' deprivation of political rights. Ning received a 12-year sentence.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. He received a sentence reduction to 10 years after an appeal, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. In 2009, the group reported that his eyesight was deteriorating.
Shi Tao, freelance
Imprisoned: November 24, 2004
Shi, the former editorial director of the Changsha-based newspaper Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Trade News), was detained near his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, in November 2004.
He was formally arrested and charged with "providing state secrets to foreigners" by sending an e-mail on his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of the Web site Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In an anonymous e-mail sent several months before his arrest, Shi transcribed his notes from local propaganda department instructions to his newspaper, which included directives on coverage of the Falun Gong and the upcoming 15th anniversary of the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square.
The National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets retroactively certified the contents of the e-mail as classified, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
On April 27, 2005, the Changsha Intermediate People's Court found Shi guilty and sentenced him to a 10-year prison term. In June of that year, Hunan Province High People's Court rejected his appeal without granting a hearing.
Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the e-mail. Yahoo's participation in the identification of Shi and other jailed dissidents raised questions about the role that international Internet companies play in the repression of online speech in China and elsewhere.
In November 2005, CPJ honored Shi in absentia with its annual International Press Freedom Award for his courage in defending the ideals of free expression. In November 2007, members of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs rebuked Yahoo executives for their role in the case and for wrongly testifying in earlier hearings that the company did not know the Chinese government's intentions when it sought Shi's account information.
Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft later joined with human rights organizations, academics, and investors to form the Global Network Initiative, which adopted a set of principles to protect online privacy and free expression in October 2008.
Human Rights Watch awarded Shi a Hellman/Hammett grant for persecuted writers in October 2009.
Zheng Yichun, freelance
Imprisoned: December 3, 2004
Zheng, a former professor, was a regular contributor to overseas news Web sites, including the U.S.-based Epoch Times, which is affiliated with the banned religious movement Falun Gong. He wrote a series of editorials that directly criticized the Communist Party and its control of the media.
Because of police warnings, Zheng's family remained silent about his detention in Yingkou, Liaoning province, until state media reported that he had been arrested on suspicion of inciting subversion. Zheng was initially tried by the Yingkou Intermediate People's Court on April 26, 2005. No verdict was announced and, on July 21, he was tried again on the same charges. As in the April 26 trial, proceedings lasted just three hours. Though officially "open" to the public, the courtroom was closed to all observers except close family members and government officials. Zheng's supporters and a journalist were prevented from entering, according to a local source.
Prosecutors cited dozens of articles written by the journalist, and listed the titles of several essays in which he called for political reform, increased capitalism in China, and an end to the practice of imprisoning writers. On September 20, the court sentenced Zheng to seven years in prison, to be followed by three years' deprivation of political rights.
Sources familiar with the case believe that Zheng's harsh sentence may be linked to Chinese leaders' objections to the Epoch Times series "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party," which called the Chinese Communist Party an "evil cult" with a "history of killings" and predicted its demise.
Zheng is diabetic, and his health declined after his imprisonment. After his first appeal was rejected, he intended to pursue an appeal in a higher court, but his defense lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was himself imprisoned in August 2006. Zheng's family was unable to find another lawyer willing to take the case.
In summer 2008, prison authorities at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning informed Zheng's family that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage and received urgent treatment in prison. However, no lawyer would agree to represent Zheng in an appeal for medical parole, according to Zheng Xiaochun, Zheng's brother, who spoke with CPJ by telephone.
Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui), freelance
Imprisoned: December 23, 2005
Yang, commonly known by his pen name Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend in Nanjing, eastern China. He was tried on charges of "subverting state authority," and on May 17, 2006, the Zhenjiang Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
Yang was a well-known writer and a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based Web sites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party, and he advocated the release of Internet writers Zheng Yichun and Zhang Lin.
According to the verdict in Yang's case, which was translated into English by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence against him was related to a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a "democratic Chinese transitional government." His colleagues say that without his prior knowledge, he was elected "secretariat" of the fictional government. He later wrote an article in Epoch Times in support of the model.
Prosecutors also accused Yang of transferring money from overseas to Wang Wenjiang, who had been convicted of endangering state security. Yang's defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to the family of a jailed dissident and should not have constituted a criminal act.
Believing that the proceedings were fundamentally unjust, Yang did not appeal. He had already spent 10 years in prison for his opposition to the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
In June 2008, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Yang's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Guo Qizhen. In April 2008, the PEN American Center announced that Yang was a recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.
Guo Qizhen, freelance
Imprisoned: May 12, 2006
Guo was detained as he prepared to join a hunger strike by the lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was later jailed. Guo was formally arrested on charges related to his prolific writing for U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) and Epoch Times.
The Cangzhou Intermediate People's Court tried Guo on charges of "inciting subversion of state authority" on September 12, 2006. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, plus an additional three years' deprivation of political rights.
In the case presented to the prosecutor on June 16, 2006, the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau cited several online essays as proof of Guo's crimes, including one titled "Letting Some of the People First Get Rich While Others Cannot Make a Living," in which he accused the Communist Party government of using its policies to support an "autocratic" and "despotic" regime. Guo was critical of corruption and widespread poverty in the country.
In his defense, Guo argued that his criticism of the Communist Party was protected by the Chinese constitution. In March 2007, an appeals court upheld Guo's conviction.
Three months later, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Guo's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Yang Tongyan.
Guo is married and has a teenage son. Guo's wife, Zhao Changqing, told CPJ in April 2008 that she had been unable to visit her husband due to the high cost of traveling to the prison. She confirmed that he had suffered beatings that led to a permanent leg injury. The Independent Chinese PEN Center reported in 2009 that he remained dependent on crutches and risked losing the use of a leg altogether. He also suffered from high blood pressure and chest pains.
Zhang Jianhong, freelance
Imprisoned: September 6, 2006
The founder and editor of the popular news and literary Web site Aiqinhai (Aegean Sea) was taken from his home in Ningbo, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. In October 2006, Zhang Jianhong was formally arrested on charges of "inciting subversion." He was sentenced to six years in prison by the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court in March 2007, followed by one year's deprivation of political rights.
Authorities did not clarify their allegations against Zhang, but supporters believed they were linked to online articles critical of government actions. An editorial he wrote two days before his detention called attention to international organizations' criticism of the government's human rights record and, in particular, to the poor treatment of journalists and their sources two years before the start of the Olympics. Zhang referred to the situation as "Olympicgate."
Zhang was an author, screenwriter, and reporter who served a year and a half of "re-education through labor" in 1989 on counterrevolutionary charges for his writing in support of protesters. He was dismissed from a position in the local writers association and began working as a freelance writer.
His Web site, Aiqinhai, was closed in March 2006 for unauthorized posting of international and domestic news. He had also been a contributor to several U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites, including Boxun News, the pro-democracy forum Minzhu Luntan, and Epoch Times.
In September 2007, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Zhang's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Guo Qizhen and Yang Tongyan.
Zhang's health deteriorated significantly in jail, according to his wife, Dong Min, who spoke with CPJ by telephone in October 2008. He suffered from a debilitating disease affecting the nervous system and was unable to perform basic tasks without help. Appeals for parole on medical grounds were not granted and, by 2009, he was no longer able to write, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. His scheduled release date is September 2012.
Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong), freelance
Imprisoned: September 14, 2006
Yang Maodong, commonly known by his pen name Guo Feixiong, was a prolific writer, activist, and legal analyst for the Beijing-based Shengzhe law firm. Police detained him in September 2006 after he reported and gave advice on a number of sensitive political cases facing the local government in his home province of Guangdong.
Yang was detained for three months in 2005 for "sending news overseas" and disturbing public order after he reported on attempts by villagers in Taishi village, Guangdong, to oust a village chief. He was eventually released without prosecution, but remained vocal on behalf of rights defenders, giving repeated interviews to foreign journalists. A police beating he sustained in February 2006 prompted a well-known human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, to stage a high-profile hunger strike. Police in Beijing detained Yang for two days that February after he protested several government actions, including the closure of the popular Yunnan bulletin board, where he had posted information about the Taishi village case.
Yang's September 2006 arrest was for "illegal business activity," international news reports said. After a 15-month pretrial detention, a court convicted him for illegally publishing a magazine in 2001, according to U.S.-based advocacy groups. One of a series of magazines he published since the 1990s, Political Earthquake in Shenyang, exposed one of the largest official graft cases in China's history in Shenyang, Liaoning province, according to the Dui Hua Foundation. CPJ's 2001 International Press Freedom Awardee, Jiang Weiping, spent five years in prison for reporting on the same case for a magazine in Hong Kong.
Yang's magazine had been published without authorization; police interrogated his assistant and confiscated funds in 2001, but the case attracted no further punitive measures until he became involved in activism.
Yang's defense team from the Mo Shaoping law firm in Beijing argued that a five-year limit for prosecuting illegal publishing had expired by the time of his trial, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, which published the defense statement in 2008. But Yang was still sentenced to five years in prison.
Yang has gone on hunger strike several times to protest ill treatment by authorities in Meizhou Prison in Guangdong. He was brutally force-fed on at least one of these occasions and remained in poor health, according to the advocacy group Human Rights in China (HRIC). The group said his treatment in the detention center before his trial was so aggressive that he attempted suicide. Police subjected him to around-the-clock interrogations for 13 days, HRIC said, and administered electric shocks. The group also said that his family had been persecuted since his imprisonment: His wife was laid off and his two children were held back in school in retribution for his work.
Sun Lin, freelance
Imprisoned: May 30, 2007
Nanjing-based reporter Sun was arrested, along with his wife, He Fang, on May 30, 2007, according to the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News. Sun had previously documented harassment by authorities in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, as a result of his audio, video, and print reports for the banned Chinese-language news site. Boxun News said authorities confiscated a computer and video equipment from the couple at the time of their arrest.
In the arrest warrant, Sun was accused of possessing an illegal weapon, and a police statement issued on June 1, 2007, said he was the leader of a criminal gang. Lawyers met with Sun and He in June, but the couple was later denied visits from legal counsel and family members, according to a Boxun News report. A trial was postponed twice for lack of evidence.
A four-year prison sentence for possessing illegal weapons and assembling a disorderly crowd was delivered on June 30, 2008, in a hearing closed to Sun's lawyers and family, according to The Associated Press.
Witness testimony about Sun's possession of weapons was contradictory, according to news reports. The disorderly crowd charge was based on an incident in 2004, three years prior to his arrest. Police accused him of disturbing the peace while aiding people evicted from their homes, but the journalist claimed he broke no laws.
Sun's wife, He, was given a suspended sentence of 15 months in prison on similar charges, according to Sun's defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping. She was allowed to return home after the hearing. The couple has a 12-year-old daughter.
Prison authorities transferred Sun to Jiangsu province's Pukou Prison in September 2008, according to a report published by Boxun News. The report said Nanjing authorities refused to return the confiscated equipment. Since seeking a sentence reduction would involve admitting guilt, Sun has resolved to serve the time in full, according to the report.
Qi Chonghuai, freelance
Imprisoned: June 25, 2007
Qi and a colleague, Ma Shiping, criticized a local official in Shandong province in an article published June 8, 2007, on the Web site of the U.S.-based Epoch Times, according to Qi's lawyer, Li Xiongbing. On June 14, the two posted photographs on Xinhua news agency's anticorruption Web forum showing a luxurious government building in the city of Tengzhou.
Police in Tengzhou detained Ma on June 16 on charges of carrying a false press card. Qi, a journalist of 13 years, was arrested in his home in Jinan, the provincial capital, more than a week later, and charged with fraud and extortion, Li said. Qi was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on May 13, 2008.
Qi was accused of taking money from local officials while reporting several stories, a charge he denied. The people from whom he was accused of extorting money were local officials threatened by his reporting, Li said. Qi told his lawyer and his wife, Jiao Xia, that police beat him during questioning on August 13, 2007, and again during a break in his trial. Qi was being held in Tengzhou Prison, a four-hour trip from his family's home, which limited visits.
Ma, a freelance photographer, was sentenced in late 2007 to one and a half years in prison. He was released on schedule in 2009, according to Jiao Xia.
Lü Gengsong, freelance
Imprisoned: August 24, 2007
The Public Security Bureau in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, charged Lü with "inciting subversion of state power," according to human rights groups and news reports. Officials also searched his home and confiscated his computer hard drive and files soon after his detention in August 2007. Police did not notify his wife, Wang Xue'e, of the arrest for more than a month.
The detention was connected to Lü's articles on corruption, land expropriation, organized crime, and human rights abuses, which were published on overseas Web sites. Police told his wife that his writings had "attacked the Communist Party," she told CPJ. The day before his arrest, he reported on the trial and two-year sentence of housing rights activist Yang Yunbiao. Lü, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, was the author of the 2000 book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, which was published in Hong Kong.
Following a closed-door, one-day trial on January 22, 2008, at the Intermediate People's Court in Hangzhou, Lü was found guilty of subversion. The court handed down a four-year jail term during a hearing on February 5, 2008. His wife, Wang Xue'e, told CPJ in October 2008 that her husband was being held in Xijiao Prison in Hangzhou, where she had regular visitation rights.
Imprisoned: December 27, 2007
Police charged Hu, a prominent human rights activist and essayist, with "incitement to subvert state power" based on six online commentaries and two interviews with foreign media in which he criticized the Communist Party. On April 3, 2008, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Hu had advocated for AIDS patients, defended the rights of farmers, and promoted environmental protection. His writings, which appeared on his blog, criticized the Communist Party's human rights record, called for democratic reform, and condemned government corruption. They included an open letter to the international community about China's failure to fulfill pledges to improve human rights before the 2008 Olympics. He frequently provided information to other activists and foreign media to highlight human rights abuses in China.
Hu's wife, human rights activist Zeng Jinyan, applied in April 2008 for medical parole for her husband, who suffered from chronic liver disease, but the request was turned down, according to updates posted on her blog, Liao Liao Yuan. The day of the Olympic opening ceremony in August 2008, Zeng was taken to the city of Dalian, Liaoning province, and only allowed to return to her Beijing home after 16 days. She reported this on her blog with no further explanation.
The European Parliament awarded Hu a prestigious human rights accolade, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in October 2008. The Chinese ambassador to the European Union warned that the prize would "bring serious damage to China-EU relations," according to The Associated Press.
In October 2008, Hu was transferred to the Beijing Municipal Prison, according to Zeng's blog. He raised human rights issues in jail, prompting security officials to cut off family visitation rights from November 2008 to February 2009, according to online news reports. Zeng reported that Hu's health was deteriorating and that the prison did not have facilities to treat his liver condition.
Human Rights Watch awarded Hu a Hellman/Hammett grant for persecuted writers in October 2009.
Dhondup Wangchen, Filming for Tibet
Imprisoned: March 26, 2008
Police in Tongde, Qinghai province, arrested Wangchen, a Tibetan documentary filmmaker, shortly after he sent footage filmed in Tibet to colleagues, according to the production company, Filming for Tibet. A 25-minute film titled "Jigdrel" (Leaving Fear Behind) was produced from the tapes. Wangchen's assistant, Jigme Gyatso, was also arrested, once in March 2008, and again in March 2009 after speaking out about his treatment in prison, Filming for Tibet said.
Filming for Tibet was founded in Switzerland by Gyaljong Tsetrin, a relative of Wangchen, who left Tibet in 2002 but maintained contact with people there. Tsetrin told CPJ that he had spoken to Wangchen on March 25, 2008, but that he had lost contact after that. He learned of the detention only later, after speaking by telephone with relatives.
Filming for the documentary was completed shortly before peaceful protests against Chinese rule of Tibet deteriorated into riots in Lhasa and in Tibetan areas of China in March 2008. The filmmakers had gone to Tibet to ask ordinary people about their lives under Chinese rule in the run-up to the Olympics.
The arrests were first publicized when the documentary was launched in August 2008 before a small group of foreign reporters in a hotel room in Beijing on August 6. A second screening was interrupted by hotel management, according to Reuters.
Officials in Xining, Qinghai province, charged the filmmaker with inciting separatism and replaced the Tibetan's own lawyer with a government appointee in July 2009, according to international reports. The film company said a closed trial had begun in late 2009, but no results were reported by late year.
Wangchen was born in Qinghai but moved to Lhasa as a young man, according to his biography. He had recently relocated with his wife, Lhamo Tso, and four children to Dharamsala, India, before returning to Tibet to begin filming, according to a report published in October 2008 by the South China Morning Post.
Tsetrin told CPJ that Wangchen's assistant, Gyatso, was arrested on March 23, 2008. Gyatso, released on October 15, 2008, later described having been brutally beaten by interrogators during his seven months in detention, according to Filming in Tibet. The Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported that Gyatso was rearrested in March 2009 and released the next month.
Chen Daojun, freelance
Imprisoned: May 9, 2008
Police arrested Chen in Sichuan province shortly after he had been involved in a "strolling" nonviolent protest against a proposed petrochemical plant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, according to English- and Chinese-language news reports.
In November 2008, he was found guilty of inciting subversion against the state, according to international news reports. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutors introduced three articles by Chen to demonstrate a purportedly antigovernment stance, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. In one piece, an article for the Hong Kong-based political magazine Zheng Ming, Chen portrayed antigovernment protests in Tibet in a positive light. That article, first published in April 2008, was reposted on overseas Web sites. He also published an online article objecting to the Chengdu project, but it was not among the articles cited by the prosecution.
Huang Qi, 6-4tianwang
Imprisoned: June 10, 2008
The Web site 6-4tianwang reported that its founder, Huang Qi, had been forced into a car along with two friends on June 10, 2008. On June 18, news reports said police had detained him and charged him with illegally holding state secrets.
In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, Huang's site reported on the shoddy construction of schools that collapsed during the quake, killing hundreds of children, and on efforts to help victims of the disaster. His arrest came shortly after the Web site reported the detention of academic Zeng Hongling, who posted critical articles about earthquake relief on overseas Web sites.
Huang was denied access to a lawyer until September 23, 2008. One of his defense lawyers, Mo Shaoping, told reporters that Huang had been questioned about earthquake-related reports and photos on the Web site immediately after his arrest, but that the state secrets charge stemmed from documents saved on his computer. He said that his client was deprived of sleep during a 24-hour interrogation session after his June arrest.
Huang pleaded not guilty in closed proceedings at Chengdu Wuhou District Court on August 5, 2009. Police arrested a defense witness to prevent him from testifying on Huang's behalf, according to New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.
He was sentenced to three years in prison during a brief hearing in November. The reason for the unusually drawn-out legal proceedings was not clear. Analysts speculated that it indicated the weakness of the case against Huang and disagreement among authorities as to the severity of the punishment.
Huang's mother, Pu Wenqing, and wife, Zeng Li, has appealed for medical parole for Huang, who suffers from undisclosed ailments that began during a previous detention, according to news reports. He had spent five years in prison, from 2000 to 2005, on charges of inciting subversion in articles posted on his Web site in 2000.
Du Daobin, freelance
Imprisoned: July 21, 2008
Police rearrested Du Daobin during an apparent crackdown on dissidents prior to the Beijing Olympics in August 2008. His defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told CPJ that public security officials arrested the well-known Internet writer at his workplace in Yingcheng in the province of Hubei.
Du had been serving a four-year probationary term, handed down by a court on June 11, 2004, for inciting subversion of state power in articles published on Chinese and overseas Web sites. The probationary terms included reporting monthly to authorities and obtaining permission to travel. Alleging that he had violated the conditions, police revoked Du's probation and jailed him, according to news reports.
Mo told CPJ in October 2008 that the defense team sought to challenge the police decision, but Chinese law does not allow such appeals. Du was in Hanxi Prison in Wuhan, the provincial capital.
Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, Chomei
Imprisoned: February 26, 2009
Public security officials arrested Kunchok Tsephel, an online writer, in Gannan, a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the south of Gansu province, according to Tibetan rights groups. Kunchok Tsephel runs the Tibetan cultural issues Web site Chomei, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Kate Saunders, U.K. communications director for the International Campaign for Tibet, told CPJ by telephone from New Delhi that she learned of his arrest from two sources.
The detention appeared to be part of a wave of arrests of writers and intellectuals in advance of the 50th anniversary of the 1959 uprising preceding the Dalai Lama's departure from Tibet in March. The 2008 anniversary had provoked ethnic rioting in Tibetan areas, and foreign reporters were barred from the region.
In November, a Gannan court sentenced Kunchok Tsephel to 15 years in prison for disclosing state secrets, according to The Associated Press.
Kunga Tsayang (Gang-Nyi), freelance
Imprisoned: March 17, 2009
The Public Security Bureau arrested Kunga Tsayang during a late-night raid, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which said it had received the information from several sources.
An environmental activist and photographer who also wrote online articles under the pen name Gang-Nyi or "Sun of Snowland," Tsayang maintained his own Web site titled Zindris (Jottings) and contributed to others. He authored several essays on politics in Tibet, including "Who Is the Real Instigator of Protests?" according to New York-based advocacy group Students for a Free Tibet.
Kunga Tsayang was convicted of revealing state secrets and sentenced in November to five years in prison, according to the center. Sentencing was imposed during a closed court proceeding in the Tibetan area of Gannan, Gansu province.
Several Tibetans, including journalists, were arrested around the March 10 anniversary of the failed uprising in 1959 that prompted the Dalai Lama's departure from Tibet. Security measures were heightened in the region in the aftermath of ethnic rioting in March 2008.
Dokru Tsultrim (Zhuori Cicheng), freelance
Imprisoned: April 2009
A monk at Ngaba Gomang Monastery in western Sichuan province, Dokru Tsultrim was arrested in early April for alleged antigovernment writings and articles in support of the Dalai Lama, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and the International Campaign for Tibet.
Dokru Tsultrim, originally from Qinghai province on the Tibetan plateau, also managed a private Tibetan journal, Khawai Tsesok (Life of Snow), which ceased publication after his arrest, the center said. "Zhuori Cicheng" is the Chinese transliteration of his name, according to Tashi Choephel Jamatsang at the center, who provided CPJ with details by e-mail.
Chinese security forces detained the monk in his room at the monastery shortly after the publication of two of his articles criticizing the Chinese government's policies in Tibet, the center said. The exact date of his arrest was unknown. Authorities had not disclosed his whereabouts or legal status by late year.
Tashi Rabten, freelance
Imprisoned: July 26, 2009
Public security officials detained Tashi Rabten, a student at Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou, while he was on summer break at his home in Ngaba county, Sichuan province, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) and international Tibetan rights groups.
Rabten edited the magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) in the aftermath of ethnic rioting in Tibet in March 2008. The magazine was swiftly banned by local authorities, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. The journalist later self-published a collection of articles titled "Written in Blood," saying in the introduction that "after an especially intense year of the usual soul-destroying events, something had to be said," the campaign reported. The book and the magazine discussed democracy and recent anti-China protests; the book was banned after he had distributed 400 copies, according to RFA.
Public security officials did not answer calls from reporters seeking information on his whereabouts or legal status.