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Detained Shanghai Petitioners in Hunger Strike

October 1, 2003

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that petitioners from Shanghai rounded up in a massive police raid in Beijing on September 30 have begun a hunger strike to protest abusive treatment in detention.

A large group of petitioners had traveled from Shanghai to Beijing to petition the central authorities regarding unjust conditions surrounding urban redevelopment clearances and compensation of displaced residents. Around 85 petitioners were arrested in the early hours of September 30 by police officers from Shanghai, who bundled them from their hotel rooms into four buses. According to HRIC’s sources, the arrested persons were immediately driven back to Shanghai, where they were split up and detained in a former custody and repatriation center in Mengzi Road and at the Qingpu Sanatorium. According to sources, police told the arrested persons that they would be detained in these two places for 15 days, during which they would be subjected to “training sessions” to correct their thinking.

According to HRIC’s sources, no legal process has been implemented in the detention of the petitioners, who include Tang Shaoping, Shen Yongmei, Xiao Youqing and Chen Jun. In addition, HRIC’s sources say some of the detainees have been physically abused. For example, Tang Shaoping has been subjected to excessively tight strictures.

Informed sources say that the police action specifically targeted Hong Kong resident Shen Ting (Shum Ting), who has been assisting her parents in their claim against the government, and police have specifically grilled detainees on their contacts with the overseas media. Sources say police are also trying to force detainees to make statements that could be used to expedite the criminal prosecution of lawyer Zheng Enchong. Zheng has been put on trial for revealing state secrets as a result of the legal assistance he provided to displaced residents, and following the eruption of a scandal in which Shanghai officials were alleged to have colluded with property developer Zhou Zhengyi.

Some of the detainees, in an act of defiance against police tactics, have begun a hunger strike. In addition, about 200 relatives of the detainees staged a protest in front of the Shanghai municipal government offices on the morning of October 1. A number of the protesters, including Mao Hengfeng, Lin Jiliang, Chen Na and Wang Zhaozhen, were arrested at the scene, but at least some were released later that evening.

“It is deplorable that the Shanghai authorities have resorted to brainwashing sessions and other Cultural Revolution tactics in their oppressive treatment of these petitioners, who were peacefully exercising their right to petition and have not been charged with any crime,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. HRIC calls on the authorities to terminate all so-called training sessions and immediately release the detainees, and to take disciplinary action against any police officers involved in physical abuse against detainees.