Detention of China’s housing rights activist extended

Ye Guozhu, one of the Amnesty International’s Beijing Olympics campaign featured prisoners of conscience, was due to be released from prison last Saturday July 26. The authorities have extended his detention until sometime after October 1. For more information about his extended detention, please refer to the press release.

AI activists have been urged to send letters to the Chinese authorities. A sample letter is shown below (or you can download the MS Word version). Please send letters by Friday August 1 in order for them to arrive before the Olympics. Airmail postage is 94 cents.

Director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau
Ma Zhenchuan Juzhang
Beijingshi Gong’anju
9 Qianmen Dongdajie
Beijingshi 100740
People’s Republic of China

Dear Director,

I am writing with deep concern for housing rights activist, Ye Guozhu. In 2003, officials of the Xuanwu District in Beijing reportedly colluded with developers to force a large number of city residents to relocate. Among the properties seized were a restaurant and living quarters belonging to Ye Guozhu, for which he received no compensation. On August 24, 2004, Ye Guozhu applied for official permission to hold a public demonstration in mid-September, when the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee was to hold its annual meeting. He was detained three days later and tried in secret. Hundreds of Ye’s supporters surrounded the courthouse asking for his release. On December 18, Ye Guozhu was convicted of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” and sentenced to four years in prison. His sentence was upheld on appeal.

In 2006, it emerged that Ye Guozhu was tortured while in detention. Police at the Dongcheng district detention center in Beijing reportedly suspended him from the ceiling by his arms and repeatedly beat him. He was also reportedly tortured in another prison in the second half of 2005.

Ye Guozhu is scheduled to be released on July 26, 2008. According to his family, the Chaobai prison authorities telephoned them on July 22, informing the family they should not go to the prison to receive Ye Guozhu on July 26. The prison authorities said that Beijing Xuanwu district police had taken him away. The Xuanwu District police later said that for the good of the family and to keep them out of trouble during the Olympic Games, the police would take care of Ye Guozhu but would not allow him to return home until sometime after October 1, 2008. The police refused to let the family meet Ye Guozhu.

Amnesty International considers the charges against Ye Guozhu to be a politically motivated attempt to prevent him from exercising his human rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The organization considers Ye Guozhu to be a human rights defender and a prisoner of conscience. Amnesty International deplores his ongoing detention and continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release.

The continuing detention of Ye Guozhu is in complete contradiction of the promises China made to improve human rights before the start of the Olympic Games. In the run-up of the Beijing Olympics this August, I urge you to guarantee that Ye Guozhu is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment while in detention. I also urge you to ensure that Ye Guozhu is granted regular visits by his family and any necessary medical treatment. In addition, I ask you to provide further information on Ye Guozhu’s state of health and conditions of detention.


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