Bangkok Rules E-course Out on International Women’s Day
In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), Dui Hua released a Chinese translation of an e-course on non-custodial measures based on the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules). The translation recognizes the rising number of women and mothers living in the Chinese prison system.
In February, Dui Hua’s Human Rights Journal reported that the number of women in prison in mainland China has risen more than 50 percent since 2003 to account for 6.5 percent of China’s prison population. Hong Kong and Macau—special administrative regions that are not included in China’s statistics—have the largest portions of incarcerated women in the world. Women accounted for 21 and 19 percent of incarcerated people in Macau and Hong Kong, respectively, as of mid-2015.
As more women enter criminal justice systems worldwide, the need to implement the Bangkok Rules becomes more urgent. The rules provide a framework for meeting the physical and psychological needs of women in conflict with the law. Being responsive to women’s needs includes increasing the use of non-custodial measures especially for pregnant women, parents, and survivors of gender-based violence.
Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm traveled to China earlier this year, distributing several copies of the e-course to Chinese judges, procuratorial officials, and scholars. The translation is meant as a training guide for Chinese legal officials in the mainland, Hong Kong, and Macau. It is based on Penal Reform International’s e-course “Women in Detention: Putting the UN Bangkok Rules into Practice,” which is also available in English, Arabic, and Russian.
Dui Hua plans to publicize its Chinese translation in the coming months via Chinese journals and websites and to continue distributing hard copies to Chinese officials involved in legal reform efforts.
The translation’s release comes just after of the landmark passage of China’s first anti-domestic violence law, which became effective on March 1 after years of effort by Chinese rights advocates. The law allows a survivor of domestic violence who is married to or cohabitating with the perpetrator to apply to the court for a restraining order, a form of legal recourse long sought by anti-violence groups. Approximately one in four Chinese women is a survivor of domestic violence.
Chinese Consulate Welcomes Dui Hua Lecturer
On February 19, Dui Hua Publications & Programs Officer Jonathan J. Kinkel gave a talk at the Chinese Consulate General’s Young Diplomats Reading Club in San Francisco. The lecture introduced to Chinese diplomats elements of the American legal system such as judicial appointment, the jury system, and the federal courts, and was the first presentation to the diplomats delivered in Mandarin by an American expert. The outreach event underscored positive relations between Dui Hua and the San Francisco consulate.
Law Professor Held on Political Charges Released
Associate Professor Chen Taihe (陈泰和) of Guilin Electronic Technology University Law School, a practicing attorney and leading voice for legal reform in China, was released from residential surveillance at the end of February. A jury-system advocate, Professor Chen was one of more than 200 lawyers and activists interrogated or detained in a nationwide police action in mid-July. He is the first lawyer detained during the crackdown confirmed to be released. Police detained Professor Chen on July 12, 2015, on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power, provoking a serious disturbance, and embezzlement. He was placed under residential surveillance in a designated location on August 12 and transferred to residential surveillance at his home on August 22.
Informed by Guilin police that charges against him would not be pursued, the 45-year-old Chen traveled to San Francisco to be reunited with his family on Tuesday, March 1. In 2012, Chen visited Washington, DC, to participate in a judicial exchange program at the invitation of the US Department of State. He previously studied the jury system in the United Kingdom and published a book on the topic, The Most Common Right (《最普通的权利》).
Updates from Hubei, Tibet, and Tianjin
Government interlocutors updated Dui Hua on the status of five women Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned in Hubei Province. One of the five, Niu Qingyang (牛庆阳), was released early from Hubei Women’s Prison in late 2015. Sentenced in 2009 to nine years in prison for her involvement with the outlawed group, Niu received sentence reductions totaling approximately three years.
Local courts granted sentence reductions to two Tibetan men convicted of endangering state security (ESS). Pema Yeshe, a 34-year-old native of Xinlong County, Sichuan, had his life sentence commuted to a fixed term of 19 years and 11 months on August 21, 2015. The Kardze Tibetan Minority Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to death with two-year reprieve in 2009 for distributing pro-independence leaflets and setting fire to a government building. Pema Yeshe is in prison in Sichuan Province. He is scheduled for release on July 20, 2035.
After receiving a four-month sentence reduction in December 2015, Namkha Jam has 29 months left to serve on a six-year sentence for inciting splittism. The Huangnan Tibetan Minority Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court found him guilty of disseminating photos of Tibetan self-immolations both domestically and to overseas separatist organizations on March 28, 2013. He is incarcerated in Qinghai’s Dongchuan Prison.
The Tianjin No.1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced 45-year old Uyghur farmer Samir Aamir to 10 months in prison for inciting splittism on December 17, 2014. The government source Dui Hua obtained did not reveal the specifics of the case but stated that Samir initially lodged and later withdrew an appeal to the Tianjin High People’s Court. Dui Hua has previously reported on a handful of cases of Uyghurs detained outside Xinjiang on suspicion of ESS crimes.
News outlets from around the globe carried Dui Hua’s February press release on the sentence reductions China announced for 11 Uyghur prisoners, including Canadian national Huseyin Celil, on February 1. Canadian coverage included reports from The Globe and Mail and the National Post. Both articles quote Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm regarding the sentence reduction and ongoing efforts towards further clemency.
Radio Free Asia cited Dui Hua to report on the release of Li Baocheng, a religious figure sentenced to four years in prison for inciting subversion and fraud in December 2015. The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs published an extensively researched article on Chinese capital punishment by Dui Hua staffer Jonathan Kinkel.
Featured: Growing Number of Women in Prison in China (February 23)
China may soon surpass the United States in the number of women it puts behind bars. The Asian Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators finds that by the middle of last year, China had more than 107,000 women in prison, up 3.2 percent from the previous year. By comparison, US federal and state corrections facilities housed just over 110,000 women at the beginning of 2015. The number of women in Chinese prisons has risen more than 50 percent since 2003.
American Views of China Remain Negative (February 25)
Previous Digest: February 2016
This section delves into the human rights activism of John Kamm between 1990 and 1999, the year he established Dui Hua.
The Bell Tolls for Zhu Jianbin
As American businessman John Kamm was nearing the end of his one-year term as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, an article appeared in The New York Times about obscure Democracy Wall activist Zhu Jianbin. Before writing the piece, Nicholas Kristof, the paper’s Beijing bureau chief, traveled to Zhu’s hometown of Wuhan.
Kristof wrote: “[Zhu’s] very existence has been virtually obliterated, for most democracy advocates here and abroad have never heard of him, and even in this city where he worked and dreamed of democracy, people shake their heads and say they have never heard his name.”
Reading these words, Kamm resolved to find out what had happened to Zhu Jianbin.
What little was known about Zhu came from media and NGO accounts from the early 1980s. Born in 1957, he was one of more than 100,000 workers employed at Wuhan Steel Works, China’s first supergiant steel factory. He edited a journal about democracy, “The Bell Tolls,” and in the summer of 1980, attempted to form the All-China Association of the Democratic Press. He signed a petition calling for the release of Liu Qing, an editor of the April Fifth Forum. Police detained Zhu in April 1981, then tried and sentenced him to prison for counterrevolutionary crimes.
Kamm didn’t get a chance to ask about Zhu Jianbin until May 1992, after he had met with Politburo Standing Committee Member Li Ruihuan in November 1991 and Vice Minister of Justice Jin Jian in April 1992. Kamm added Zhu’s name to a prisoner list and asked about him in face-to-face meetings with senior officials of the State Council Information Office and the Ministry of Justice. These officials agreed to look into the case.
On his next visit to Beijing, in August 1992, Kamm was received by Prison Administration Bureau Deputy Director Wang Mingdi. Wang told Kamm that Zhu Jianbin was sentenced to six years in prison in 1981, but had his sentence extended for getting into a fight with another inmate. Zhu had recently been released, Kamm was told, and went back to his hometown to resume working. The deputy said Zhu had not been sent to a re-education through labor camp.
Zhu’s case was the first of several Democracy Wall dissidents whose cases Kamm worked on in 1992 and 1993. One by one, the most prominent of them were granted early release: Wang Xizhe in February 1993, Xu Wenli in May 1993, and finally Wei Jingsheng in September 1993.