China Regional Action Network – April 2008
China: Huang Jinqiu
Concerns: Freedom of expression, internet/media censorship, prisoner of conscience
Huang Jinqiu (pen name: Qing Shuijun) began working as a journalist when he was 18. In 2000, at 26 years old, he won a scholarship to study journalism in Malaysia. With access to new information he became politically active, and contributed regularly to overseas Chinese-language news sites, such as Boxun.com. In January 2003, he announced online his plans to establish the China Patriotic Democracy Party (CPDP).
Upon his return to China seven months later, he was placed under tight police surveillance. He posted his last article, “Me and my public security friends”, to Boxun.com on 10 September 2003. Three days later, he was taken to Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province and held incommunicado until January 2004 when his family in Shandong Province was officially informed about his arrest.
Huang Jinqiu was tried in secret as an organizer of the CPDP on 22 June 2004 by the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court, Jiangsu Province. Although CPDP was never established, he was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and four years deprivation of political rights for “subversion” in connection with his “reactionary” online writings. His sentence was later confirmed on appeal. Initially, the appeal court was reportedly unable to reach a verdict on his case due to lack of evidence against him and the case was returned to the prosecution for further investigation. In mid-December 2004, the authorities reportedly tried to have Huang Jinqiu committed to a psychiatric hospital instead of a prison, but the hospital refused to admit him. According to sources, Huang Jinqiu has been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in custody on several occasions; including in late 2004 when he was subjected to sleep deprivation while being held in Changzhou Detention Centre in Jiangsu Province, apparently after he tried to bring further legal proceedings against his conviction. He was also reportedly forced to run around the prison yard for extended periods each day and beaten if he stopped.
Huang Jinqiu is now in Pukou prison where he was initially reportedly subjected to beatings by other inmates at the instigation of prison authorities. In 2006, it is thought that his situation reportedly improved and he is now allowed to listen to a radio in prison and has been assigned to write and edit the prison newsletter. This may be a result of his decision not to go ahead with appealing further on his case as he reported to his lawyer in January 2005 and international pressure being brought to bear on his case. His sentence was recently reduced by one year and 10 months. He is due for release in 2013.
Amnesty International considers Huang Jinqiu to be a prisoner of conscience, detained for exercising his human rights to freedom of expression and association. The organization calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
The Chinese authorities have recently intensified their controls over media outlets, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Those reporting on sensitive issues or who challenge the status quo, including journalists and activists, are at risk of dismissal, arbitrary detention or imprisonment. Such patterns of repression cast doubts on Chinese authorities’ commitment to ensure ‘complete media freedom’ during the Beijing Olympics in August 2008. A key factor which facilitates the detention or imprisonment of political dissidents in China is the Criminal Law itself, which continues to be used as a political tool to suppress dissidents.
Please send polite letters, in English or your own language, to Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, expressing concern that Huang Jinqiu has been imprisoned in violation of his human rights to freedom of expression and association, and calling for his immediate
and unconditional release. In addition:
- Ask the Prime Minister to initiate a full and impartial investigation into allegations that he has been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in prison, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice.
- Note that his conditions of detention appear to have improved since 2006, but call on the Prime Minister to provide guarantees that he will not be subjected to further torture and other ill-treatment while he remains in custody.
- Also call on his administration to ensure that no one is arrested and/or tried for the legitimate use of the internet in China, including human rights defenders and journalists.
Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China
WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli
The State Council General Office
People’s Republic of China
Salutation: Your Excellency
Ambassador of the PRC to the U.S.
Ambassador ZHOU Wenzhong
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave., NW,
Washington, D.C. 20008
Fax: 1 202 328 2582
Salutation: Your Excellency
Postage for letters or cards to China is 90 cents.