Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

Annual Prison Census 2012 - China

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 11 December 2012
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2012 - China, 11 December 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50c70284aa.html [accessed 1 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis 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, 2012

China: 32

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 online articles 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) website.

In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the opposition China Democracy Party (CDP). In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with co-defendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being the 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. Later that year, the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years' deprivation of political rights. His sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center.

Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. The group reported that his eyesight was deteriorating. Ning, who received a 12-year sentence, was released ahead of schedule on December 15, 2010, according to Radio Free Asia.

Shi Tao, freelance
Imprisoned: November 24, 2004

Shi, 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 charged with "providing state secrets to foreigners" in connection with an email sent on his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of the website Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In the email, sent anonymously in April 2004, Shi transmitted notes from the local propaganda department's recent instructions to his newspaper. The directive prescribed coverage of the outlawed Falun Gong and the 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 email 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, the Hunan Province High People's Court rejected his appeal without granting a hearing. He is being held at Yinchuan Prison in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the email. 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 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.

Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui), freelance
Imprisoned: December 23, 2005

Yang, commonly known by his penname 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 member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based websites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party and advocated for the release of jailed Internet writers.

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 said that he had been elected to the leadership of the fictional government without his prior knowledge. 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, a Chinese dissident who had been convicted of endangering state security and jailed. Yang's defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to Wang's family 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. In 2008, the PEN American Center announced that Yang had received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

Relatives who visited Yang in prison in August 2012 said he was receiving poor treatment for a number of medical conditions including tuberculosis, arthritis, and diabetes, according to international news reports.

Qi Chonghuai, freelance
Imprisoned: June 25, 2007

Police in Tengzhou arrested Qi, a journalist of 13 years, in his home in Jinan, the provincial capital, and charged him with fraud and extortion. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on May 13, 2008. The arrest occurred about a week after police detained Qi's colleague, Ma Shiping, a freelance photographer, on charges of carrying a false press card.

Qi and Ma had criticized a local official in Shandong province in an article published June 8, 2007, on the website of the U.S.-based Epoch Times, according to Qi's lawyer, Li Xiongbing. On June 14, the two had posted photographs on Xinhua news agency's anti-corruption Web forum that showed a luxurious government building in the city of Tengzhou.

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 scheduled for release in 2011. In May, local authorities told him that the court had received new evidence against him. On June 9, less than three weeks before the end of his term, a Shandong provincial court sentenced him to another eight years in jail, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China and Radio Free Asia.

Ma was sentenced in late 2007 to one and a half years in prison. He was released in 2009, according to Jiao.

Human Rights in China, citing an online article by defense lawyer Li Xiaoyuan, said the court tried Qi on a new count of stealing advertising revenue from China Security Produce News, a former employer. The journalist's supporters speculated that the new charge came in reprisal for Qi's statements to his jailers that he would continue reporting after his release, according to The New York Times.

Qi was being held in Tengzhou Prison, a four-hour trip from his family's home, which limited visits. Jiao told international journalists in 2012 that her husband had offered her a divorce, but that she declined.

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 his colleagues, according to the production company Filming for Tibet. A 25-minute film titled "Jigdrel" (Leaving Fear Behind) was produced from the tapes.

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. On December 28, 2009, the Xining Intermediate People's Court in Qinghai sentenced Wangchen to six years' imprisonment on subversion charges, according to a statement issued by his family.

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 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 Beijing Olympics.

The arrest was first publicized when the documentary was screened before a small group of international reporters in a hotel room in Beijing on August 6, 2008. A second screening was interrupted by hotel management, according to Reuters.

Wangchen was born in Qinghai but moved to Lhasa as a young man, according to his published 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. Lhamo Tso told Radio Netherlands Worldwide in 2011 that her husband was working extremely long hours in prison and had contracted hepatitis B.

In March 2008, Wangchen's assistant, Jigme Gyatso, was arrested, then released on October 15, 2008, Filming for Tibet said. Gyatso described having been brutally beaten by interrogators during his seven months in detention, according to Filming for Tibet. The Dharamsala-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported that Gyatso was re-arrested in March 2009 and released the next month. The film company reported in October 2012 that Gyatso had been missing since September 20 and that it feared he had been detained again.

CPJ honored Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award in 2012.

Liu Xiaobo, freelance
Imprisoned: December 8, 2008

Liu, a longtime advocate for political reform and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was imprisoned for "inciting subversion" through his writing. Liu was an author of Charter 08, a document promoting universal values, human rights, and democratic reform in China, and was among its 300 original signatories. He was detained in Beijing shortly before the charter was officially released, according to international news reports.

Liu was formally charged with subversion in June 2009, and he was tried in the Beijing Number 1 Intermediate Court in December of that year. Diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Sweden were denied access to the trial, the BBC reported. On December 25, 2009, the court convicted Liu of "inciting subversion" and sentenced him to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights.

The verdict cited several articles Liu had posted on overseas websites, including the BBC's Chinese-language site and the U.S.-based websites Epoch Times and Observe China, all of which had criticized Communist Party rule. Six articles were named – including pieces headlined, "So the Chinese people only deserve 'one-party participatory democracy?'" and "Changing the regime by changing society" – as evidence that Liu had incited subversion. Liu's income was generated by his writing, his wife told the court.

The court verdict cited Liu's authorship and distribution of Charter 08 as further evidence of subversion. The Beijing Municipal High People's Court upheld the verdict in February 2010.

In October 2010, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded Liu its 2010 Peace Prize "for his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." His wife, Liu Xia, has been kept under house arrest in her Beijing apartment since shortly after her husband's detention, according to international news reports. Authorities said she could request permission to visit Liu every two or three months, the BBC reported.

Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, Chomei
Imprisoned: February 26, 2009

Public security officials arrested Tsang, an online writer, in Gannan, a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the south of Gansu province, according to Tibetan rights groups. Tsang ran the Tibetan cultural issues website Chomei, according to the Dharamsala, India-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 March 1959 uprising preceding the Dalai Lama's departure from Tibet. The 2008 anniversary had provoked ethnic rioting in Tibetan areas, and international reporters were barred from the region.

In November 2009, a Gannan court sentenced Tsang 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 Tsayang during a late-night raid, according to the Dharamsala, India-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 penname Gang-Nyi (Sun of Snowland), Tsayang maintained his own website, Zindris (Jottings), and contributed to others. He wrote several essays on politics in Tibet, including "Who is the real instigator of protests?" according to the New York-based advocacy group Students for a Free Tibet.

Tsayang was convicted of revealing state secrets and sentenced in November 2010 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.

A number of 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.

Tan Zuoren, freelance
Imprisoned: March 28, 2009

Tan, an environmentalist and activist, had been investigating the deaths of schoolchildren killed in the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province when he was detained in Chengdu. Tan, believing that shoddy school construction contributed to the high death toll, had intended to publish the results of his investigation ahead of the first anniversary of the earthquake, according to international news reports.

Tan's supporters believe he was detained because of his investigation, although the formal charges did not cite his earthquake reporting. Instead, he was charged with "inciting subversion" for writings posted on overseas websites that criticized the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

In particular, authorities cited "1989: A Witness to the Final Beauty," a firsthand account of the Tiananmen crackdown published on overseas websites in 2007, according to court documents. Several witnesses, including the prominent artist Ai Weiwei, were detained and blocked from testifying on Tan's behalf at his August 2009 trial.

On February 9, 2010, Tan was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, according to international news reports. On June 9, 2010, the Sichuan Provincial High People's Court rejected his appeal. Tan's wife, Wang Qinghua, told reporters in Hong Kong and overseas that he had contracted gout and was not receiving sufficient medical attention. Visitors were subject to strict examination before being allowed to see him, the German public news organization Deutsche Welle reported in 2012, citing Wang.

Memetjan Abdulla, freelance
Imprisoned: July 2009

Abdulla, editor of the state-run China National Radio's Uighur service, was detained in July 2009 for allegedly instigating ethnic rioting in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region through postings on the Uighur-language website Salkin, which he managed in his spare time, according to international news reports. A court in the regional capital, Urumqi, sentenced him to life imprisonment on April 1, 2010, the reports said. The exact charges against Abdulla were not disclosed.

The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on the sentence in December 2010, citing an unnamed witness at the trial. Abdulla was targeted for talking to international journalists in Beijing about the riots, and translating articles on the Salkin website, RFA reported. The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress confirmed the sentence with sources in the region, according to The New York Times.

Tursunjan Hezim, Orkhun
Imprisoned: July 2009

Details of Hezim's arrest following the 2009 ethnic unrest in northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region first emerged in March 2011. Police in Xinjiang detained international journalists and severely restricted Internet access for several months after rioting broke out on July 5, 2009, in Urumqi, the regional capital, between groups of Han Chinese and the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority.

The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia, citing an anonymous source, reported that a court in the region's far western district of Aksu had sentenced Hezim, along with other journalists and dissidents, in July 2010. Several other Uighur website managers received heavy prison terms for posting articles and discussions about the previous year's violence, according to CPJ research.

Hezim edited the well-known Uighur website Orkhun. U.S.-based Uighur scholar Erkin Sidick told CPJ that the editor's whereabouts had been unknown from the time of the rioting until news of the conviction surfaced in 2011. Hezim was sentenced to seven years in prison on unknown charges in a trial closed to observers, according to Sidick, who had learned the news by telephone from sources in his native Aksu. Chinese authorities frequently restrict information on sensitive trials, particularly those involving ethnic minorities, according to CPJ research.

Gulmire Imin, freelance
Imprisoned: July 14, 2009

Imin was one of several administrators of Uighur-language Web forums who were arrested after the July 2009 riots in Urumqi, in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In August 2010, Imin was sentenced to life in prison on charges of separatism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration, a witness to her trial told the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Imin held a local government post in Urumqi. She also contributed poetry and short stories to the cultural website Salkin, and had been invited to moderate the site in late spring 2009, her husband, Behtiyar Omer, told CPJ. Omer confirmed the date of his wife's initial detention in a broadcast statement given at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in 2011.

Authorities accused Imin of being an organizer of major demonstrations on July 5, 2009, and of using the Uighur-language website to distribute information about the event, RFA reported. Imin had been critical of the government in her online writings, readers of the website told RFA. The website was shut down after the July riots and its contents were deleted.

Imin was also accused of leaking state secrets by phone to her husband, who lives in Norway. Her husband told CPJ that he had called her on July 5 only to be sure she was safe.

The riots, which began as a protest of the death of Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong province, turned violent and resulted in the deaths of 200 people, according to the official Chinese government count. Chinese authorities shut down the Internet in Xinjiang for months after the riots as hundreds of protesters were arrested, according to international human rights organizations and local and international media reports.

Nijat Azat, Shabnam
Nureli, Salkin
Imprisoned: July or August 2009

Authorities imprisoned Nureli, who goes by one name, and Azat in an apparent crackdown on managers of Uighur-language websites. Azat was sentenced to 10 years and Nureli to three years on charges of endangering state security, according to international news reports. The Uyghur American Association reported that the pair were tried and sentenced in July 2010.

Their sites, which have been shut down by the government, had run news articles and discussion groups concerning Uighur issues. The New York Times cited friends and family members of the men who said they were prosecuted because they had failed to respond quickly enough when they were ordered to delete content that discussed the difficulties of life in Xinjiang. Their whereabouts were unknown in late 2012.

Dilixiati Paerhati, Diyarim
Imprisoned: August 7, 2009

Paerhati, who edited the popular Uighur-language website Diyarim, was one of several online forum administrators arrested after ethnic violence in Urumqi in July 2009. Paerhati was sentenced to a five-year prison term in July 2010 on charges of "endangering state security,"F according to international news reports.

Paerhati was detained and interrogated about riots in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region on July 24, 2009, but was released without charge after eight days. Agents seized him from his apartment on August 7, 2009, although the government issued no formal notice of arrest, his U.K.-based brother, Dilimulati, told Amnesty International. News reports citing his brother said Paerhati was prosecuted for failing to comply with an official order to delete anti-government comments on the website.

Gheyrat Niyaz (Hailaite Niyazi), Uighurbiz
Imprisoned: October 1, 2009

Security officials arrested website manager Niyaz, sometimes referred to as Hailaite Niyazi, in his home in the regional capital, Urumqi, according to international news reports. He was convicted under sweeping charges of "endangering state security" and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

According to international media reports, Niyaz was punished because of an August 2, 2009, interview with Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), a Chinese-language magazine based in Hong Kong. In the interview, Niyaz said authorities had not taken steps to prevent violence in the July 2009 ethnic unrest that broke out in China's far-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Niyaz, who once worked for the state newspapers Xinjiang Legal News and Xinjiang Economic Daily, also managed and edited the website Uighurbiz until June 2009. A statement posted on the website quoted Niyaz's wife as saying that while he did give interviews to international media, he had no malicious intentions.

Authorities blamed local and international Uighur sites for fueling the violence between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region. Uighurbiz founder Ilham Tohti was questioned about the contents of the site and detained for more than six weeks, according to international news reports.

Tashi Rabten, freelance
Imprisoned: April 6, 2010

Public security officials detained Rabten for publishing a banned magazine and a collection of articles, according to Phayul, a pro-Tibetan independence news website based in New Delhi.

Rabten, a student at Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou, Gansu province, edited the magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) in the aftermath of ethnic rioting in Tibet in March 2008. The magazine was 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 the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA). Rabten had already been detained once before, in 2009, according to international Tibetan rights groups and RFA.

A court in Aba prefecture, a predominantly Tibetan area of Sichuan province, sentenced him to four years in prison in a closed-door trial on June 2, 2011, according to RFA and the International Campaign for Tibet. RFA cited a family member saying he had been charged with separatism, although CPJ could not independently confirm the charge.

Dokru Tsultrim (Zhuori Cicheng), freelance
Imprisoned: May 24, 2010

Tsultrim, a monk at Ngaba Gomang Monastery in western Sichuan province, was detained in April 2009 in connection with alleged anti-government writings and articles in support of the Dalai Lama, according to the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and the International Campaign for Tibet. Released after a month in custody, he was detained again in May 2010, according to the Dharamsala, India-based Tibet Post International. No formal charges or trial proceedings were disclosed.

At the time of his 2010 arrest, security officials raided his room at the monastery, confiscated documents, and demanded his laptop, a relative told The Tibet Post International. He and a friend had planned to publish the writings of Tibetan youths detailing an April 2010 earthquake in Qinghai province, the relative said.

Tsultrim, originally from Qinghai province, which is on the Tibetan plateau, also managed a private Tibetan journal, Khawai Tsesok (Life of Snow), which ceased publication after his 2009 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 email.

Kalsang Jinpa (Garmi) freelance
Imprisoned: June 19, 2010

Jangtse Donkho (Nyen, Rongke), freelance
Imprisoned: June 21, 2010

Buddha, freelance
Imprisoned: June 26, 2010

The three men, contributors to the banned Tibetan-language magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain), were detained in Aba, a Tibetan area in southwestern Sichuan province, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

Donkho, an author and editor who wrote under the penname Nyen, meaning "Wild One," was detained on June 21, 2010, RFA reported. The name on his official ID is Rongke, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. Many Tibetans use only one name.

Buddha, a practicing physician, was detained on June 26, 2010, at the hospital where he worked in the town of Aba. Kalsang Jinpa, who wrote under the penname Garmi, meaning "Blacksmith," was detained on June 19, 2010, RFA reported, citing local sources.

On October 21, 2010, they were tried together in the Aba Intermediate Court on charges of inciting separatism that were based on articles they had written in the aftermath of the March 2008 ethnic rioting. RFA, citing an unnamed source in Tibet, reported that the court later sentenced Donkho and Buddha to four years' imprisonment each and Kalsang Jinpa to three years. In January 2011, the broadcaster reported that the three had been put in Mian Yang jail near the Sichuan capital, Chengdu, where they were subjected to hard labor.

Shar Dungriwas a collection of essays published in July 2008 and distributed in western China before authorities banned the publication, according to the advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet, which translated the journal. The writers assailed Chinese human rights abuses against Tibetans, lamented a history of repression, and questioned official media accounts of the March 2008 unrest.

Buddha's essay, "Hindsight and Reflection," was presented as part of the prosecution, RFA reported. According to a translation of the essay by the International Campaign for Tibet, Buddha wrote: "If development means even the slightest difference between today's standards and the living conditions of half a century ago, why the disparity between the pace of construction and progress in Tibet and in mainland China?"

The editor of Shar Dungri, Tashi Rabten, was also jailed in 2010.

Liu Xianbin, freelance
Imprisoned: June 28, 2010

A court in western Sichuan province sentenced Liu to 10 years in prison on charges of inciting subversion through articles published on overseas websites between April 2009 and February 2010, according to international news reports. One was titled "Constitutional Democracy for China: Escaping Eastern Autocracy," according to the BBC.

The sentence was unusually harsh; inciting subversion normally carries a maximum five-year penalty, international news reports said. Liu also signed Liu Xiaobo's pro-democracy Charter 08 petition. (Liu Xiaobo, who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his actions, is serving an 11-year term on the same charge.)

Police detained Liu Xianbin on June 28, 2010, according to the Washington-based prisoner rights group Laogai Foundation. He was sentenced in 2011 during a crackdown on bloggers and activists who sought to organize demonstrations inspired by uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, according to CPJ research.

Liu spent more than two years in prison for involvement in the 1989 anti-government protests in Tiananmen Square. He later served 10 years of a 13-year prison sentence handed down in 1999 after he founded a branch of the China Democracy Party, according to The New York Times.

Gao Yingpu, freelance
Imprisoned: July 2010

Gao, a former journalist who had contributed to the Guangdong-based Asia Pacific Economic Times newspaper and other publications, was sentenced in a secret trial in 2010 to a three-year prison term for endangering state security in a blog entry criticizing disgraced Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, according to the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders. A family member confirmed the conviction for CPJ.

In a report published by the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun News, an unidentified former classmate of Gao said the journalist's wife had signed a written promise not to publicize the case. As a result, Gao had no legal representation or ability to appeal, and his family and friends were told he was working in Iraq, according to Boxun. News of his situation emerged when an online appeal was published online in China on March 23, according to the U.S. government-funded Voice of America. The reports did not specify where Gao was being held.

Gao had criticized Bo Xilai's notorious 2009 anti-corruption or "smash black" campaign, which targeted organized crime, in a personal blog hosted by the instant messaging company Tencent QQ, according to Boxun. Bo was fired in 2012 amid a corruption and murder scandal. At least 4,781 people were imprisoned in 10 months during Bo's crackdown on gangs, including many who were wrongfully convicted, according to The New York Times.

Lü Jiaping, freelance
Imprisoned: September 4, 2010

Jin Andi, freelance
Imprisoned: September 19, 2010

Beijing police detained Lü, a military scholar in his 70s, his wife, Yu Junyi, and a colleague, Jin , for inciting subversion in 13 online articles they wrote and distributed together, according to international news reports and human rights groups.

A court sentenced Lü to 10 years in prison and Jin to eight years in prison on May 13, 2011, according to the Hong Kong-based advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Yu, 71, was given a suspended three-year sentence and kept under residential surveillance, according to the group. Their families were not informed of the trial, and Yu broke the news when the surveillance was lifted in February 2012, according to the English-language Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America.

An appeals court upheld the sentences on the basis that the three defendants "wrote essays of an inciting nature" and "distributed them through the mail, emails, and by posting them on individuals' web pages. [They] subsequently were posted and viewed by others on websites such as Boxun News and New Century News," according to a 2012 translation of the appeal verdict published online by William Farris, a Beijing-based lawyer. The 13 offending articles, which were principally written by Lü, were listed in the appeal judgment along with dates, places of publication, and number of times they were re-posted. One 70-word paragraph was reproduced as proof of incitement to subvert the state. The paragraph said in part that the Chinese Communist Party's status as a "governing power and leadership utility has long-since been smashed and subverted by the powers that hold the Party at gunpoint."

Court documents said Lü and Jin were being held in the Beijing Number 1 Detention Center. Lü suffered a heart attack in jail, as well as other health problems, leaving him barely able to walk, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

Li Tie, freelance
Imprisoned: September 15, 2010

Police in Wuhan, Hubei province, detained 52-year-old freelancer Li, according to international news reports. The Wuhan Intermediate People's Court tried him behind closed doors on April 18, 2011, but did not announce the verdict until January 18, 2012, when he was handed a 10-year prison term and three additional years' political deprivation, according to news reports citing Li's lawyer. Only Li's mother and daughter were allowed to attend the trial, news reports said.

The court cited 13 of Li's online articles to support the charge of subversion of state power, a more serious count than inciting subversion, which is a common criminal charge used against jailed journalists in China, according to CPJ research. Evidence in the trial cited articles including one headlined "Human beings' heaven is human dignity," in which Li urged respect for ordinary citizens and called for democracy and political reform, according to international news reports. Prosecutors argued that the articles proved Li had "anti-government thoughts" that would ultimately lead to "anti-government actions," according to Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

Jian Guanghong, a lawyer hired by his family, was detained before the trial, and a government-appointed lawyer represented Li instead, according to the group. Prosecutors also cited Li's membership in the small opposition group the China Social Democracy Party, the group reported.

Jolep Dawa, Durab Kyi Nga
Imprisoned: October 1, 2010

A court in Aba in southwestern Sichuan province sentenced Dawa, a Tibetan writer and editor, to three years in prison in October 2011, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia and the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Dawa, who is also a teacher, edited Durab Kyi Nga, a monthly Tibetan-language magazine, according to the broadcaster and the rights group. He had been held in detention without trial since October 2010, the organizations said. The exact date of the sentencing was not reported, and the charges against the writer were not disclosed.

Chen Wei, freelance
Imprisoned: February 20, 2011

Police in Suining, Sichuan, detained Chen among the dozens of lawyers, writers, and activists jailed nationwide following anonymous online calls for a nonviolent "Jasmine Revolution" in China, according to international news reports. The Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported that Chen was formally charged on March 28, 2011, with inciting subversion of state power.

Chen's lawyer, Zheng Jianwei, made repeated attempts to visit him but was not allowed access until September 8, 2011, according to the rights group and the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia. RFA reported that police had selected four pro-democracy articles Chen had written for overseas websites as the basis for criminal prosecution. In December 2011, a court in Suining sentenced Chen to nine years in prison on charges of "inciting subversion," a term viewed as unusually harsh.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported that at least two other activists remained in criminal detention for transmitting information online related to the "Jasmine Revolution." Chen's case, however, was the only one linked in public reports to independent journalistic writing.

Chen, a student protester during the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, had been imprisoned twice before for democracy activism, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Sichuan police blocked Chen's wife from visiting him in January 2012, according to Radio Free Asia.

Choepa Lugyal (Meycheh), freelance
Imprisoned: October 19, 2011

Security officials detained Lugyal, a publishing house employee who wrote online under the name Meycheh, at his home in Gansu province, according to the Beijing-based Tibetan commentator Woeser and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which is based in India. Lugyal had written several print and online articles, including pieces for the Tibetan magazine Shar Dungri, according to the center. Authorities disclosed neither the charges against him nor his whereabouts.

Chinese authorities banned Shar Dungri, which was published in the aftermath of 2008 ethnic unrest between Tibetans and Han Chinese, and jailed several contributors, including Buddha, Jangtse Donkho, and Kalsang Jinpa. Editor Tashi Rabten was sentenced in July 2011 to four years in prison on charges described by family members as separatism-related.

Chen Xi, freelance
Imprisoned: November 29, 2011

A court in Guiyang, Guizhou province, sentenced Chen to 10 years in prison followed by three years' deprivation of political rights on December 26, 2011, on charges of inciting subversion against state power based on online writings. The sentencing took place just four days after writer Chen Wei was sentenced to nine years on the same charge in Sichuan province.

Chen Xi was originally detained in November 2011 for campaigning for independent local People's Congress candidates, according to the U.K.'s Guardian and other news reports. However, during his trial, the prosecution cited 36 articles Chen had written and published online to support the charges against him, according to international news reports. The reports did not specify which websites published the articles. "[He] was calling for democracy and human rights. This wish was his whole crime," Chen's wife, Zhang Qunxuan, told the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.

Chen had been imprisoned twice in the past for political activism, including his activities during the 1989 student movement. He also was a signatory of imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo's Charter 08, according to the reports.

Dawa Dorje, freelance
Imprisoned: February 3, 2012

Police detained writer and government researcher Dorje at the airport in Lhasa, capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, where he had traveled for a conference on preserving Tibetan culture, according to exiled Tibetan groups and international news reports.

Dorje, who worked for the Nierong county government in western Sichuan province, kept a blog that is no longer accessible and was known for writing poems, books, and essays on the Tibetan language, including the article "Nationality and Language," according to Dechen Pemba, editor of the High Peaks Pure Earth website, which translates articles from Tibetan writers. Dorje also wrote about democracy and human rights, according to the news reports.

Dorje was one of several high-profile cultural figures, including singers, performers, and writers, detained in early 2012 in an apparent crackdown on advocates of Tibetan-language culture. Chinese authorities have not confirmed his whereabouts or the basis for his detention.

Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, Hada
Imprisoned: February 15, 2012

Police in western Sichuan province detained Kyab, a Tibetan teacher, writer, and editor, in his Serthar county home, according to international news reports. The reason for the arrest was not clear, and police would not produce documentation when his wife asked to see a warrant, the reports said. The detention took place amid a round-up of prominent Tibetan cultural figures in 2012, including singers, authors, and performers, according to international news reports.

Kyab was a well-known author and essayist, according to Invisible Tibet, a blog published by the Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser. He also edited the Tibetan-language magazine Hada,Radio Free Asia and the BBC Chinese service reported. CPJ could not independently confirm his whereabouts or the charges he faced.

"He wrote a lot of articles and books about the environment, Tibetan culture, everything. He wrote about the news," Switzerland-based Tibetan activist Jamyang Tsering told CPJ by telephone. "He was arrested because of what he wrote."

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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