Veteran Activist Has Political Rights Restored
With a single sheet of paper, veteran democratic activist Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) had his political rights restored. So said the official notice issued by the Shangcheng sub-bureau of Hangzhou on March 3, 2021.
Zhu was last convicted in 2011, when he was sentenced to seven years in prison with three years of deprivation of political rights (DPR). The evidence for inciting subversion presented by the procuratorate included a poem posted on oversea sites and fundraising efforts to help dissidents. He completed the sentence in March 2018 without receiving any clemency and immediately began serving the three-year supplemental DPR sentence.
According to the Article 54 of the Criminal Law, people under DPR cannot participate in elections and cannot exercise rights to speech, participate in gatherings, publish, form associations, or demonstrate.
The notice to restore rights simply states that Zhu’s supplemental DPR sentence has expired thus “in according to the Criminal Procedure Law, proclaim the political rights restored.”
Zhu had been imprisoned several times in his long career of pro-democracy activism. As a founding member of the China Democracy Party, he was first convicted for subversion in 1999, when he organized a memorial for the June 4th victims, and sentenced to seven years in prison with three years of DPR. He then received a two-year sentence for disrupting public order in 2007, when he tried to protect a fellow activist from being interviewed by the police.
However, Zhu has likely already been classified as “targeted population 重点人口” and will continue to be under constant supervision and monitoring by the state security police. While serving DPR, Zhu could not freely travel and meet with visitors. Those restrictions will continue.
Environmental Activist Received Sentence Reductions
Dui Hua recently learned that one of the activists of the Guangdong “Huangshawei Education Foundation” received another sentence reduction in 2019.
Ye Minhuai (叶民怀, YMH), was granted a seven-month sentence reduction. However, this latest act of clemency comes with a slight twist. The sentence reduction decision was issued by the Longyan Intermediate Court in Fujian Province. The court evaluated evidence submitted by the prison and determined that it was sufficient to demonstrate Ye’s remorse and reform before granting him the reduction. In addition, the court also reduced the length of DPR to four years, the first reduction of this sort for Ye.
It appears that Ye was transferred from Meizhou Prison in Guangdong to Longyan Prison in Fujian sometime in 2017 or 2018. The reduction is the first he received at the new facility. He will be released in October 2024.
YMH, along with Ye Bailian (叶百练, YBL) and three villagers (all surnamed Ye) from the Huanshawei Village of Guangdong, founded the Huangshawei Education Foundation to educate fellow villagers on environmental issues, land rights, and the dangers of unregulated mining. Those missions often put the foundation at odds with the local township government and mining companies. The situation came to conflict in 2009, when the villagers clashed with thugs hired by the mining company while attempting to block mining vehicles from entering a construction site.
In September 2010, the five key members were tried and convicted by the Heping County People’s Court of multiple counts of serious crime, including organizing and leading an organization of a gangland nature, sabotaging transportation infrastructure, forcing trade, racketeering, aggregated assault, and gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic. Ye Minhuai received a combined sentence of 18 years with five years of DPR.
Ye’s appeal was rejected by the Heyuan Intermediate People’s Court in December 2010. He was sent to the Meizhou Prison, where he received three reductions totaling 29 months from 2013 to 2017.
Ye Minhuai is not the only one serving a lengthy prison term in another province. Ye Bailian, often portrayed as the leader of the group, is currently serving his sentence at the Jilin Prison. His transfer probably took place in 2016 or 2017. YBL received the same sentence, a combined 18-year prison statement with five years of DPR. He last received an eight-month reduction granted by the Jilin Intermediate Court in June 2017 and will be released in May 2025.
Prison transfers within the same province can occur, but the transfers of both YMH and YMB to different provinces 异地服刑 seems unusual, especially since the alleged crimes, arrest, indictment, and trial all took place locally in Heping County. Up until the early 1980’s, Shanghai was known to send some of its counterrevolutionary prisoners to Xinjiang and Qinghai. However, such an arrangement is rare now. Prisoners can still be sent back to the provinces where their resident registrations are, as is often the case with Xinjiang residents. Dui Hua has yet to identify the relevant regulations that inform this matter.
Because the Ye’s crimes were deemed to be gangland activities, the courts noted that restrictions must apply in accordance with the law in both men’s decisions. These restrictions mandate that those convicted generally must wait longer intervals when applying for sentence reductions, and they can receive shorter reductions than those granter for other crimes, according to the 2016 regulation issued Supreme People’s Court.
The “Huangshawei Education Foundation” was well known locally. Some media at the time praised foundation’s efforts protecting the villagers’ rights but nonetheless pointed out the challenges it faced: similar to many locally-formed environmental groups, it operated in a gray area due to its inability to obtain proper registration—more often than not, resisting local authorities’ heavy-handedness resulted in violence.
Dui Hua has raised all five Ye cases with the Chinese government between 2016 and 2019. However, current statuses of other three villagers surnamed Ye remain unknown after their trial. Ye Huilan (叶辉烂), Ye Peiguo (叶沛国), and Ye Qiming (叶启明) all reportedly received the same 18-year imprisonment with five years of DPR.