One of the most prominent rights cases in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics was that of Yang Chunlin (杨春林), the 52-year-old farmer from Heilongjiang Province behind a petition campaign employing the slogan, “We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics!” Thousands of farmers aggrieved over loss of farmland to development signed the petition before Yang was detained in July 2007.
Earlier this year, a court in the city of Jiamusi handed Yang a five-year sentence for “inciting subversion.” Many observers suspected that Yang was given this relatively heavy punishment for daring to question the importance of the Olympics. However, according to information confirmed to Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm by a Chinese official, the Jiamusi Intermediate People’s Court actually ruled against the prosecution, finding that while the “anti-Olympics” petition had a detrimental social impact, it did not meet the threshold of a criminal offense. It was the content of 45 other articles written by Yang, the court ruled, that constituted the crime of “inciting subversion.”
After the close of the Olympics, the Heilongjiang Higher People’s Court reportedly rejected Yang’s appeal. He is scheduled to be released from prison on July 6, 2012.
Illnesses Reported for Tibetan Prisoner
In an update provided to Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm during his recent trip to Beijing, the Chinese government has confirmed that long-serving Tibetan prisoner Lobsang Tenzin (洛桑旦增) has developed diabetes and is suffering from gallstones.
In January 1989, the Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Lobsang Tenzin, now aged 42, to a suspended death sentence in connection with the death of a paramilitary police officer during pro-independence demonstrations in March 1988. Nearly two months after his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on February 1, 1991, Lobsang Tenzin and another Tibetan political prisoner, Tenpa Wangdrak (旦巴旺扎), were reportedly subjected to serious punishment after unsuccessfully trying to hand over a letter describing torture and mistreatment of prisoners to US Ambassador James Lilley during his visit to Drapchi Prison. Lobsang Tenzin was transferred to the Tibet Autonomous Region Number Two Prison soon thereafter, where he remained until being transferred to Qushui [Chushur] Prison in 2005.
According to the response, Lobsang Tenzin has developed gallstones and diabetes, but both conditions have been treated and he is now in good health. That no information about his medical condition was provided in previous official responses as late as 2007 suggests that these are relatively new ailments that may have been brought on or exacerbated by the conditions of his lengthy incarceration. Dui Hua is particularly concerned about Lobsang Tenzin’s ability to receive proper medical treatment for diabetes, a progressive disease for which there is no cure, and will continue to request updates and urge that he be released from prison.
Sentence Reduction for State Security Prisoner
Dui Hua has learned from multiple sources that Huang Jinqiu (黄金秋), accused of using the Internet to criticize the government and organize an opposition party, was granted a 22-month sentence reduction in July 2007 as recognition for good behavior. With this reduction, Huang is due for release from Jiangsu’s Pukou Prison on November 13, 2015.
Huang was taken into custody by Nanjing police in September 2003 after making a very public return to China after three years spent in Malaysia studying journalism. While abroad, Huang produced regular commentaries on politics and culture for overseas websites. Among the more than 300 essays he published under the pseudonym Qingshuijun were several trenchant criticisms of Chinese leaders and government policies. Before returning to China in 2003, Huang announced his intent to gather support for an opposition group called the China Patriotic and Democratic Party.
This is the first sentence reduction for Huang, now aged 34, and follows several years of repeated inquiries to the Chinese government on his behalf by Dui Hua and other dialogue partners.