La Cina perseguita i firmatari di Carta 08

Le autorità cinesi hanno perseguitato almeno 101 firmatari di Carta 08 e posto sotto sorveglianza l’intellettuale Liu Xiaobo in una località sconosciuta a Pechino.

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Chinese authorities have harassed at least 101 signatories of Charter 08 and placed signer and prominent intellectual Liu Xiaobo under residential surveillance at an unknown location in Beijing in apparent violation of Chinese law following his detention on December 8, 2008, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) reports on January 2 and January 9.
The Central Propaganda Department has warned domestic reporters not to write about or interview any of the charter’s signers, while references to the charter appeared to have been removed from the Internet, according to a January 4 Guardian report and a December 15-31 CHRD report. On the eve of December 10, 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, more than 300 Chinese citizens signed and posted online Charter 08, which calls for political reform and greater protection of human rights in China and is inspired by a 1970s charter issued in what was then Czechoslovakia. The January 9 CHRD article said that more than 7,200 people have signed the document.

Harassment of Signers

The January 9 CHRD article said that the human rights organization had documented 101 cases in which police sought to question, formally summoned, or otherwise harassed a Charter 08 signer. The article said the cases occurred in 17 provinces and three municipalities and provided a list of people who had been harassed. Those harassed have reported that officials warned them not to give media interviews to promote Charter 08, sought to determine the main authors of the document and how it was disseminated, and demanded public retractions of signatures and support for the document, according to the CHRD article and a January 7 Christian Science Monitor (CSM) article. The prominent intellectual Zhang Zuhua was summoned on December 8 and again on December 26 by the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s Domestic Security Protection Unit, the latter occurring shortly after Zhang gave an interview to CSM, according to the December 15-31 CHRD article and the CSM article. In another reported case of harassment, police in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province, questioned writer Wen Kejian for several hours on December 25 in connection with his signing of the charter, according to a December 29 CHRD article.

Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo, who was taken into custody on December 8, has been placed under residential surveillance at an undisclosed location in Beijing by the Domestic Security Protection Unit under the Beijing PSB, according to the January 2 CHRD article. The restrictions on Liu’s freedom not only appear to violate international human rights standards for free expression and association and China’s Constitution, but to also violate China’s procedural provisions since officials have placed Liu under residential surveillance at a location outside of his own residence. Article 57(1) of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) provides that a criminal suspect under residential surveillance may not leave his domicile without permission, and contemplates that the suspect may be placed under residential surveillance at a designated location outside his domicile if that person “has no fixed domicile.” Article 98 of the Procedural Provisions for Public Security Agencies Handling Criminal Cases (1, 2, 2007 Amendment), issued by the Ministry of Public Security in 1998 to aid implementation of the CPL, defines “fixed domicile” as the “legal residence where the criminal suspect lives within the city or county of the agency handling the case.” Since Liu has a home in Beijing and the case is being handled by Beijing officials, the law would appear to require that residential surveillance be carried out at Liu’s home and not another location. Furthermore, Article 98 of the Procedural Provisions prohibits public agencies from setting up special places for “residential surveillance” that in effect subject the suspect to detention “in disguised form.”

The January 2 CHRD article said that police allowed Liu to meet with his wife on January 1 but have not informed either Liu or his wife of the charges that led to his residential surveillance. According to a source close to the Liu family, the meeting took place at a secret location near Beijing, Times Online reported on January 6. The source said that Liu did not know the location of his residential surveillance. It is unclear what access Liu has to his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, who in recent years has represented a number of journalists, writers, petitioners, and other citizens accused of state security and public disturbance crimes. According to Article 24 of the Provisions Concerning Several Issues in the Implementation of the Criminal Procedure Law, a person under residential surveillance does not need permission to meet with his lawyer.

It is unclear when Liu’s period of residential surveillance began. Article 58 of the CPL allows officials to place someone under residential surveillance for up to six months.

Internet Censorship

As noted in its December 15-31 report, CHRD conducted searches of Baidu, Sina, and Google in late December and found that information about Charter 08 appeared to have been blocked or deleted.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China has issued a statement with recommendations regarding Charter 08 as well as a previous analysis on the subject. For more information on freedom of expression issues in China, see Section II – Freedom of Expression, in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s 2008 Annual Report.

DossierTibet, 19 January 2009

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