Human Rights Chronology: China , Hong Kong, Tibet

June - August 1997

JUNE 1997

June 1997 - Pastor dismissed for preaching outside home province
Public Security Bureau personnel in Shaanxi province detained Li Lisheng, an officially ordained Guangdong pastor from Huizhou Christian Church, for preaching without the permission of local authorities. First held for two days in June after being picked up on a train to Shaanxi where he was explaining the Bible and distributing religious literature, he was returned to Guangdong and subsequently fired for religious activities outside his designated geographical sphere.

June 1997 - New phase in anti-Dalai campaign begins
In an intensified campaign against the Dalai Lama, Chinese officials have accused him of lying in his claims to be a pacifist, a religious leader, and interested in negotiations with China.

June 1997 - Shanghai Protestant sentenced again
Xu Guoxing, a Shanghai Protestant, seized in June 1997 while preaching to a small gathering, has been administratively sentenced to a three-year term of re-education through labor and sent to the Dafeng Labor Farm in Jiangsu province. This is Xu's third detention. From 1989 until 1992 he served a similar three-year term for "illegally setting up" the Shanghai Holy Spirit Society and for interfering with normal religious activities.

June 1997 - Tibet's borders sealed to individual visitors
Beginning the first week in June, as security tightened in the run up to the handover of Hong Kong, only tourists who were part of organized tours were permitted to enter Tibet.

June 2, 1997 - Television journalist fired for "political accident"
A Zhejiang TV section chief was fired and two editorial board directors received demerits for two "political accidents." In one, the narrator of a documentary about the Yangtze River acknowledged that the Dalai Lama had "high prestige" in Tibet. In the second case, the caption "mainland pro-democracy activist Chai Ling has fled the mainland" inexplicably flashed across the screen during a showing of a Hong Kong serial.

June 5, 1997 - Nuns expelled
On June 5, Lobsang Dolkar and a second nun were expelled from Gonpa Phug nunnery in Dongkar for failing to obey principles set down by a reeducation work-team that had been in residence at the nunnery since March 9. Despite the team's attempts to enlist the nuns' relatives to help impress upon the nuns the consequences of refusing to obey its orders, many nuns continued to balk.

June 5-7 1997 - Three arrested when police break up protest
In protest against license fees of 38,000 renminbi (U.S. $ 4,750) — more than a year's earnings — cab drivers blocked traffic in Zigong, Sichuan province, on June 5. They were joined by some one hundred retired bus drivers protesting their meager pensions. On June 7, police used force to break up the demonstrations and arrested three leaders. The three were finally freed after Li Peng visited Sichuan on June 17. Police also arrested three meat factory workers who petitioned against unemployment in Sanhe county, Sichuan.

June 14, 1997 - Societies Ordinance and Public Order Ordinance approved by provisional Legco
Hong Kong's amended Public Order and Societies Ordinances, which would go into effect in Hong Kong on July 1, placed stricter limits on demonstrations and on the right to form a legal organization. Both protests and organizations can be banned on "national security" grounds — nowhere defined — and "political organizations" are barred from receiving funds from abroad.

June 15, 1997 - Beijing modifies Tibetan patriotic education campaign - agrees on two-year timetable
Beijing officials reportedly have acknowledged that the patriotic education campaign in Tibetan monasteries and nunneries is too violent. Tu Den, the official in charge of religious affairs in Tibet, has acknowledged that "it takes times to change people's mentality." He is reported to have added, however, that the campaign will be over in two more years.

June 16, 1997 - Jampel Tendar beaten in detention
Jampel Tendar, twenty years old, was arrested and badly beaten on June 16 after putting up posters declaring allegiance to the Dalai Lama and to a free Tibet. His protest followed a reeducation examination session at Gongar Choede monastery during which the seventy-eight resident monks were expected to criticize the Dalai Lama and support China's religious policy. Twenty-eight members of a Communist Party work team were at the monastery at the time. Transferred first to a detention center in Tsethang, Jampel Tendar was then moved to Gutsa Detention Center. He reportedly was poorly treated in both places.

June 18, 1997 - Monks refuse reeducation
Some twenty monks from Samdrubling monastery in Lhokha prefecture Tibet closed down the facility after local Party officials insisted they criticize the Dalai Lama and denounce the Tibetan pro-independence movement. A month earlier, Chinese authorities shuttered Sungrabling monastery, also in Lhokha, after repeated expulsions of monks in connection with the reeducation campaign at that site failed to sway the monastery's residents. Monks subject to reeducation are expected to denounce the Dalai Lama, reaffirm that Tibet is part of China, and eschew independence.

June 20, 1997 - Sit-down protestors at Zhongnanhai forcibly removed by police
On June 20, some 200 people, mostly elderly or middle-aged employees of Guanghua Wood Materials Factory, sat quietly for three hours outside Zhongnanhai, headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party, to protest housing policies. Hundreds of police surrounded the area, finally breaking up the incident. Two officers then dragged each protestor into a waiting van.

June 26, 1997 - Hong Kong legislature votes down discrimination bill
For the second time since 1995, the Hong Kong legislature defeated bills banning discrimination on the basis of race, age or sexual orientation.

June 1997 - Twenty-seven monks expelled from Sakya monastery
In June 1997, Chinese work teams arrived at Sakya monastery in Lhokha county to conduct reeducation sessions. As a result of their refusal to accept reeducation guidelines, twenty-seven monks were expelled.

June 1997 - Tibetans arrested before sensitive dates
Lhasa Security Bureau officers detained six Tibetans in the run up to Hong Kong's return to China on July 1 and to the Dalai Lama's birthday on July 7. One, Lhakpa Tsamchoe, a woman from Kyiray, was released after three days; the fate of the others is not known. They are Dawa, a former Sera monk who had served two years for participating in a peaceful protest; Kelsang Tsewang, formerly chief engineer in the Lhasa City Municipal Enterprises; Pema Choedon, a woman from Kyiray; Migmar Drolma, a woman from Dharamsala; and Dakpa Wangden, a primary school teacher from Lhasa Shol.

JULY 1997


July 1, 1997 - Seven more Serwa monks arrested
Public Security Bureau officers seized seven monks from Serwa monastery in Pashoe county, Chamdo region, for staging a pro-independence demonstration on July 1. On June 30, the seven traveled to Lingkha sub-county, took down the nameplates of the People's government and substituted wall posters reading "Tibet is an independent country." They then marched to the county seat where they shouted, "Tibet is an independent country," and "Basic human rights of Tibetans must be respected." Police officers interrupted the peaceful protest. After a month in detention, where they reportedly were tortured, they were transferred to Chamdo prison. The seven include Tashi Phuntsog, Rinzin Choephel, Sherab Tsultrim, Dawa Dorje, Lobsang Damchoe, and sixteen-year-old Ngawang Choephel. Other monks from Serwa are serving twelve- to sixteen-year sentences.

July 1997 - Book on Zhao Ziyang banned in Beijing
Chinese authorities have banned the distribution of Political Reform under Zhao Ziyang, a book by Hong Kong resident Wu Guoguang about steps toward political reform under Zhao Ziyang, the deposed premier and Chinese Communist Party secretary-general. Wu, a former assistant to Bao Tong (who was Zhao's top aide), was banned from the mainland for four years following the June 4, 1989 crackdown.

July 1997 - Chinese court overturns counterrevolutionary charge
A court in Changchun (Jilin province) threw out one of two principal charges against four men involved in organizing protests against the crackdown in Beijing on June 4, 1989. The decision, that the charge of "organizing a counterrevolutionary group" was unsubstantiated, paved the way for the release of Tang Yuanjuan, originally sentenced to a twenty-year term, and Li Wei, who drew a thirteen-year term. A third man, Leng Wenbao, had been released on medical parole in 1994. The fourth, Li Zhongmin, who served two years, was declared innocent. It was the first time ever that a conviction related to the 1989 protests had been overturned.

July 1997 - Prison protest at Drapchi prison in Lhasa
A twenty-three-year-old Shungseb nun, Yeshe Choedron, imprisoned since December 1993, was put in solitary confinement after her pro-independence protest during celebrations of Hong Kong's return to China. Five fellow prisoners, all nuns, began a hunger strike to protest her treatment but prison authorities forced them to stop after five days. The five reportedly were released at the end of the years. It is not known if Whether Yeshe Choedron was also released on schedule.

July 3, 1997 - Wrath of Heaven draws official wrath The State Press and Publications Administration has specified that political tendencies of literary works must be considered before a book can be printed and distributed. Wrath of Heaven, a fictionalized account of official corruption in Beijing, was specifically cited as a book that played up the negative effects of "reform and opening up." The book, which parallels the exploits and downfall of Chen Xitong, the powerful former Beijing party secretary, has been banned, and some of those involved in its publication may be in detention.

July 5, 1997 - Zhang Lin's parents beaten at instigation of police
After Zhang Lin, a labor activist and organizer of the League for the Protection of the Rights of the Working People, was released from his reeducation through labor sentence and returned home on June 1, the local police requested that neighbors keep him under surveillance. When his mother tried to put a stop to it, she and her husband were beaten. To settle the matter, all the parties involved, neighbors, Zhang Lin, and his parents, went to the police station. After hearing the complaint, the police moved to arrest the neighbors, who then complained that the police had told them to administer the beating. The arrests were called off. Zhang's mother had to be hospitalized; his father lost three teeth. Arrested at the end of May 1994, Zhang was administratively sentenced to a three-year term on the trumped-up charge of never having registered his marriage. Earlier, as head of the Student Autonomous Union in Bengbu City, Anhui province, during the 1989 pro-democracy movement, Zhang served most of a two-year term for "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement."

July 8, 1997 - Fifty-eight work teams conduct patriotic education in one prefecture
The official Tibet Daily reported on July 8, 1997 that since the start of the patriotic education campaigns in May 1996, Nagchu Prefecture, some 135 miles north of Lhasa, has sent fifty-eight work teams into key monasteries and nunneries in the region to instruct monks and nuns.

July 10, 1997 - People's Armed Police officers crush large-scale labor protest in Mianyang, Sichuan province
According to an unofficial report, paramilitary police brutally put down a large-scale protest by silk and textile workers idled when three state enterprises in Mianyang unexpectedly declared bankruptcy. When protestors demanded compensation for what they said were embezzled unemployment funds, the officers arrested some eighty workers and wounded about one hundred out of the 10,000 who participated. Local authorities reportedly ordered that the injured be denied hospital treatment. Officials claimed only traffic police were called in, only a few hundred demonstrated, only a few ringleaders were arrested, and no one was hurt.

July 13, 1997 - Tong Yi leaves China for U.S.
On May 6, 1997, Tong Yi, formerly secretary to Wei Jingsheng, finally had her personal identification card returned to her by Chinese authorities, seven months after her release from a two-and-a half year reeducation through labor term. With it, Tong was able to apply for a passport and finally leave for graduate study at Columbia University in the U.S. July 16, 1997 - SAR provisional legislature rolls back labor rights
The provisional legislature of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) suspended four labor laws passed earlier by the elected Legco, undermining compliance with ILO standards. The four guaranteed the right to union representation and collective bargaining, to conduct union activity at the workplace, and to be compensated for union work done during the work day.

July 18, 1997 - Hong Kong police commissioner bans some demonstrations
In a document entitled "Guidelines on ‘National Security' in the Public Order Ordinance," the SAR Commissioner of Police announced that demonstrations advocating independence for Taiwan and Tibet would not be permitted.

July 18, 1997 - "Illegally" published books number over 3,000
The Chinese press reports that some 3,400 "illegally" published books have been seized in China thus far in 1997. Authorities closed one publishing house, temporarily closed four, and gave warnings to six others. Almost 1,000 more books due to be "illegally" published were discovered before they could be printed.

July 22, 1997 - Nine executed in Xinjiang; twenty others receive long sentences
An official from the district regional court confirmed that nine people were executed in Yining, Ili Prefecture, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, after a mass sentence rally attended by some 4,000 people. Three more received suspended death sentences; seven were given life sentences; one person drew an eighteen-year term; and nine received sentences of up to fifteen years. Exile sources claim Gaper Tailed, twenty-two, was among those executed, and that the bodies of the deceased were not released to their families. Those sentenced allegedly had participated in the February 1997 Yining riots in which independence supporters from the Muslim Uighur minority were involved.


August 1997 - Bao Tong finally freed from house arrest
In August, Bao Tong, former chief aide to ousted party leader Zhao Ziyang, was released from the government compound where he had been held in de facto detention after he completed his seven-year term in May 1996. Bao's freedom was made conditional upon his family agreeing to relocate to a closely monitored apartment in the far western suburbs of the city.

August 8, 1997 - Two more Tibetans sentenced
Shol Dawa, a sixty-year-old tailor and pro-independence activist, was sentenced to a nine-year prison term for "engaging in criminal activities endangering state security," specifically, compiling lists and disseminating information about political prisoners in Tibet and attempting to pass the information to the "Dalai Clique." Topgyal, a fifty-eight-year-old Lhasa businessman, received a six-year term on the same charges. Shol Dawa, who served two previous terms for "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement," was detained in mid-August 1995. The exact date of Topgyal's 1995 arrest is unknown.

August 12, 1997 - Shen Liangqing ordered out of housing
Some eight months after his retroactive sentencing for a "counterrevolutionary crime" committed in 1992, and some two months after he petitioned the government to reassess the 1989 crackdown, Shen Liangqing, a thirty-five-year-old former public prosecutor and pro-democracy activist, was ordered to vacate his private housing and surrender it to local authorities. The order was issued by the Anhui provincial procuratorate.

August 13, 1997 - Ren Wanding under house arrest during visit by U.S. official Ren Wanding, released in June 1996 after serving seven years for participating in the Tiananmen Square protests, was placed under house arrest during a visit to Beijing by Sandy Berger, (U.S.) National Security Advisor. Berger's stay was in conjunction with preparations for Jiang Zemin's state visit to Washington in October. Ren had suffered the same treatment when U.S. Vice-President Al Gore visited Beijing in March.

August 13-20 - Preemptive strike interferes with celebration of Feast of the Assumption
Between August 13-20, security forces arrested seventeen Catholics in Linchuan city, Jiangxi province, and blocked roads leading to the usual site of a mass celebration of the Catholic Feast of the Assumption. Those arrested included Father Deng Ruolun, first apostolic administrator of Yujiang diocese, and his father; six nuns, Xiao Lan, Long Mei, Yuan Mei, Cheng Jinli, Hua Jingjing, and Jun Fang; Liu Haicheng, Zhou Xiaolong, Zhang Jiehong, and Zhang Jiyu or Zhang Qiyu, all lay Catholics; and several seminarians.

August 15, 1997 - Six Catholics sentenced in Jiangxi province; priest and sisters detained
On August 15, 1997, six "faithful" were sentenced to two-year reeducation through labor terms in Yujiang diocese, Jiangxi province, the site of on-going harassment of underground Catholics. A day earlier, public security personnel detained Father Deng Hui, a Catholic priest, and ten sisters. As of mid-December there was no further information available about any of the members of either group.

August 15, 1997 - Interference in religious observances in Shaanxi province
On August 15, 1997, government officials in Lijiayoufang, Shaheying, and Zhijiangjiayan, Shaanxi province ,beat worshipers unaffiliated to the official church and seized religious items. Ten days earlier, on August 5, police broke into a church in Zhangjiayan, also in Shaanxi, and evicted the nuns living there, leaving them homeless.

August 15, 1997 - Voting rights rolled back in Hong Kong
Hong Kong's Provisional Legislature replaced existing election law with a bill drastically curtailing voter participation in the upcoming May 1998 Legislative Council (Legco) elections. It is estimated that the total number of those eligible to vote in occupational categories will decrease from 2.7 million to some 180,000. In addition, the legislature replaced the "one person-one vote" formula with a proportional system heavily weighted in favor of corporate and professional interests who are expected to vote with Beijing.

August 15, 1997 - Authorities harass Catholics in Shaanxi province On the Feast of the Assumption, which fell on August 15, government officials in Lijiayoufang, Shaheying, and Zhijiangjiayan (Shaanxi province) reportedly harassed worshipers not affiliated with the official church. The churchgoers accounts include reports of beatings, seizures of religious items, and the detention of a thirteen year-old. Ten days earlier, on August 5, police broke into a church in Zhangjiayan, also in Shaanxi, and evicted the nuns living there, leaving them homeless.

August 18, 1997 - China blocks Radio Free Asia (RFA)
Monitors in Beijing, Hong Kong, Australia, and neighboring countries reported that China has blocked Radio Free Asia's Mandarin language broadcasts by broadcasting on the same frequency and distorting the sound. After Washington accused Beijing of the jamming, Beijing slammed Washington for interfering in the domestic affairs of Asian nations and accused the U.S. of "seriously violating the norms governing international relations."

August 19, 1997 - In bow to Beijing, Hong Kong revises history books
Apparently to avoid offending Beijing, Hong Kong textbook publishers have revised primary and secondary Chinese modern history texts. Secondary texts have been reduced to one quarter their pre-handover length, and references to the Cultural Revolution, "anti-rightist campaign," 1976 dissident protests, and Tibet conflict have been deleted. All references to Taiwan as an independent entity are missing.

August 26, 1997 - AI announces new death penalty record for China
Amnesty International reported that more people were executed in 1996 in China, with 4,367 confirmed executions, than in the rest of the world combined. The total was almost twice the 1995 number recorded, according to AI. Death sentences totaled 6,100.

August 1997 - Chinese citizen refused entry by the PRC
At the end of August, Chinese officials turned back Gong Xiaoxia when she tried to return to China for a visit. As a student in the U.S. during the 1989 pro-democracy movement, she went on radio and television to protest the Chinese government's crackdown. Gong was denied entry in 1992 but did manage one visit home. Other Chinese citizens resident abroad who were turned back in 1997 include Han Xiaorong, wife of dissident Liu Qing, and Hou Xiaotian, wife of exiled "black hand" Wang Juntao.

August 1997 - Historical Tibetan play and book banned" As part of a new campaign to "make socialist literature and art prosper," Chinese officials have banned "The Sources of the Potala," first produced by the Lhasa Theater Troupe in 1996. Along with a book about the same subject, the play makes references to a 17th century figure, now branded a separatist, who appointed the 6th Dalai Lama without informing China.

August 1997 - Media again told to limit reporting
During the run up to the 15th Party Congress to be held in September, the Party's Propaganda Department ordered journalists to refrain from any reports that could foster social unrest or jeopardize a positive image of conditions in China. It has also been reported that departmental orders prohibit reporting on currency reforms and on the use of any but official bank data when reporting on all financial matters including bad debts.

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