Dui Hua celebrates its 15th year. View more photos.
Receptions were held in San Francisco and Washington DC to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Dui Hua’s establishment in 1999. More than 100 people gathered in both cities to mark the occasion. Guests included a number of California judges and US government officials, including several who have worked closely with Dui Hua in its mission to promote the rights of at-risk detainees.
The San Francisco event took place on September 10 and was hosted by Director Magdalen Yum at the historic Presidio Golf Course Club House. Ten days later the Washington DC Friends of Dui Hua reception was held at the home Director Linda Ziglar. Executive Director John Kamm spoke at both events and his remarks were followed by lively Q&A sessions.
Director Michael McCune joined Kamm at the San Francisco event and encouraged attendees to sign up for Dui Hua’s recurring donation program. Director Bill Simon attended the Washington DC event and recounted the day in January 1976 when he first met John Kamm as they made their way to Shanghai to attend the China National Native Products and Animal By-Products Corporation’s Feather and Down Mini-Fair.
In his remarks, Kamm reviewed 15 years of challenge and achievement. He recalled that Dui Hua was set up at a time of crisis in US-China relations, namely NATO’s bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. We navigated that crisis successfully, as we have navigated several crises since. Our perseverance over the years has allowed us to ask about thousands of political prisoners and contribute to the early release and better treatment of hundreds.
We have helped reform China’s juvenile justice system with thousands of juveniles being spared imprisonment since January 1, 2013. At the San Francisco event, awards were given to four attendees who have made contributions to Dui Hua’s juvenile justice exchanges: Judge Lillian Sing and Judge Julie Tang of the San Francisco Supreme Court; Patricia Lee, Managing Attorney at the San Francisco Office of the Public Defender; and Sonia Ng, a well-known interpreter in US-China legal exchanges.
Our international symposium on women in prison in February 2014 was a signal success. The symposium’s focus on domestic violence as a cause and consequence of women’s imprisonment contributed to the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) overturning the death sentence passed on Li Yan (李彦), a Sichuan woman convicted of killing her abusive husband. “Though Li Yan is not a political prisoner, Dui Hua’s efforts on her behalf rank among the foundation’s proudest moments,” Kamm said.
Kamm arrived in Washington DC four days prior to the reception at Director Ziglar’s home. He met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Susan Thornton, as well as the senior US diplomat responsible for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski. He also huddled with the directors and staff of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Kamm briefed his interlocutors on the results of his visit to Beijing in August and plans for his next trip to Beijing in mid-October. The latter visit will include Dui Hua’s fourth juvenile justice exchange. Judge Leonard Edwards (ret.), one of America’s foremost experts in the field, will make a presentation on the sealing of juvenile records and visit Haidian District Court, a leader in juvenile justice reform in China.
Since it entered the Criminal Law in 1997, and particularly after large-scale protests by Falun Gong supporters in 1999, Article 300, which deals with “cult” organizing and activities, has been used to imprison Falun Gong practitioners, Almighty God members, and adherents of other qigong groups and Protestant and Buddhist sects. The criminal provision is also broadly applied to people who publish or distribute “cult” publications. According to a joint interpretation issued by the SPC and Supreme People’s Procuratorate in June 2001, defendants should only be convicted when they print or disseminate more than 300 copies of leaflets, pictures, posters or newspapers or more than 100 copies of books or CDs. Dui Hua research shows that courts do not always abide by these standards.
On March 15, 2008, middle school teacher Wei Rongxin (韦荣新) was sentenced to three years in prison in Guigang, Guangxi Province. Although not a Falun Gong practitioner, Wei created two websites where he received advertising revenue from overseas entities to put links to Falun Gong-affiliated websites and upload the Falun Gong publication Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. According to the website of the Guangxi procuratorate, Nine Commentariesincites the overthrow of the Communist Party and given the significant threat its content poses to society, the number of views or downloads Wei’s websites received need not be quantified to determine his conviction. The prosecutor said his act constituted a crime as long as he knew he was disseminating Falun Gong information.
Democracy activists and dissidents sympathetic to Falun Gong are particularly susceptible to punishment. Chi Jianwei (池建伟) was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment under Article 300 on March 27, 2007. A labor activist and member of Zhejiang’s China Democracy Party, Chi was found to have disseminated 150 copies of CDs, but only 57 of them, well under the minimum standard of 100, were Falun Gong related. The remaining CDs pertained to history, literature, and June Fourth.
Shenzhen activist Ren Ming (任铭) only burned about a dozen DVDs but was also sentenced to three years in prison. The DVDs included a documentary produced in Taiwan that suggested, contrary to popular belief and official accounts, that the Communist Party put more effort into killing Kuomintang soldiers than defending national soil during the War of Resistance against Japan (1937–1945). The DVD also included copies of Nine Commentaries and another banned book about former Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin. Ren completed his full three-year sentence in September 2012.
In a more recent and arguably contentious case, New Citizens’ Movement activists Liu Ping (刘萍) and Wei Zhongping(魏忠平) were sentenced to six years and six months in prison. Initially charged with inciting subversion, they were ultimately indicted for cult offenses, holding illegal assemblies, and gathering a crowd to disrupt public order. Liu, a Christian, was accused of making an online plea for Chinese citizens to exercise their right to observe public trials by attending the hearing against a Falun Gong practitioner in Shanghai’s Qingpu District People’s Court. Praising the defense lawyers for their courage, Liu wrote that China was the only country to have banned Falun Gong. The criminal evidence against Wei was a video of an interview published by foreign media in 2013 wherein Wei sends New Year’s greetings to Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi.
The California International Law Journal of the California State Bar published “Spotlight on John Kamm—Business and Human Rights Do Mix” on September 30. In the interview, Kamm discusses US-China relations and the role business leaders can play in promoting human rights.
For links to more selected coverage, please visit our website at In the Media.
Featured Article: Ministry: China has 116 Custody and Education Centers (September 4)
Critics of custody and education (C&E) have successfully used requests for “open government information” to get details about the form of arbitrary detention used to lock up Chinese sex workers and their clients. Among them, Beijing lawyer Zhao Yunheng recently received a reply from the Ministry of Public Security making public the number C&E centers, but raising questions about whether C&E is on the decline.
To celebrate 15 years of human rights advocacy, we’ll be highlighting a key moment from this month in Dui Hua history.
From October 12–23, 2008, Dui Hua held its first juvenile justice exchange with the SPC, hosting a delegation of Chinese judges to study juvenile justice in the United States. Juvenile justice reform became a priority for the Chinese government as unprecedented economic growth and mass migration from rural to urban areas led to a sharp rise in juvenile criminal cases. Delinquency was particularly prevalent among children of migrant workers who were either left behind or taken to the cities where they were denied access to schooling and other social benefits.
US Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy (fifth right) meets with Chinese delegates during Dui Hua’s 2008 juvenile justice exchange.
Chinese reform efforts included the creation of an independent juvenile justice system with more than 2,000 juvenile tribunals. The SPC also embarked on study tours around the world to learn about approaches to addressing juvenile delinquency that stress education and rehabilitation.
Senior Judge Hu Weixin, deputy director of the SPC Research Office, led the delegation of judges hosted by Dui Hua in 2008. In total there were six judges from the SPC, the Politico-Legal Institute under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the Beijing High People’s Court, and the Qingdao Intermediate People’s Court. They visited juvenile courts, detention centers, and other rehabilitative facilities in Cook County, Illinois; Washington, DC; and San Francisco, California. The delegation met with experts and practitioners and spoke directly with juveniles standing trial and housed in correctional facilities. One of the highlights of the exchange was a meeting with US Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in the 2005 landmark decision to abolish the death penalty for juveniles.
Following this successful program, Dui Hua organized juvenile justice exchanges with the SPC in 2010 and 2012 and will host its fourth exchange in October 2014. In 2010, China invited Dui Hua to select a US delegation to tour juvenile facilities in Beijing and Qingdao. Two years later Chinese judges and experts spent a week observing juvenile justice systems in the San Francisco Bay Area.
These exchanges contributed to concrete changes in China’s juvenile justice system. Members of these delegations advised Chinese lawmakers on the addition of a section on juvenile criminal cases to the Criminal Procedure Law. Effective in 2013, these provisions prioritized diversionary measures, records sealing, behavioral and psychological assessments, protections during interrogation and trial, and non-custodial punishment.
These exchanges embody Dui Hua’s approach of promoting detainees’ rights by facilitating mutually respectful dialogue. While advocating for political and religious prisoners, Dui Hua has continued to plan productive exchanges on common-ground issues such as juvenile justice and women in prison, building strong times with China and expanding the number of at-risk detainees we serve.