Selected Prisoner Cases: China And Tibet
(Last Updated on June 4, 1999)

Li Hai - prodemocracy student activist

Li Hai, thirty five, a graduate philosophy student at Beijing University before the 1989 pro-democracy movement, was sentenced to a nine-year prison term on December 18, 1996 for "prying into and gathering the following information about people sentenced for criminal activities during the June 4, 1989 period: name, age, family situation, crime, length of sentence, location of imprisonment, treatment while imprisoned." The verdict claimed that these data on prisoners arrested in connection with the Tiananmen Square protests constituted state secrets. Although Li had been indicted for leaking such secrets, he was found guilty only of gathering them. According to the verdict, the trial on May 21, 1996, was open, but authorities did not permit the presence of even one family member. The court rejected his appeal. Li had been detained in May 1995; he was formally arrested on August 19 after police, who searched his home on June 5, confiscated papers and a computer. For two years, he was denied family visits. Li, who spent a year in prison after June 1989 without ever being charged, was a participant in the May 1995 petition drive and an initiator of the 1993 "Peace Charter" movement.

Liu Nianchun - labor activist

Liu Nianchun, a principal sponsor of the League for the Protection of the Rights of the Working People, is still detained in Tuanhe, a re-education through labor camp near Beijing, even though his three-year term was completed on May 20, 1998. In May 1997, Liu was informed that his sentence had been extended, six days for every month of his sentence -- a total of 216 days -- because prison authorities said he had not reformed his thought. When he protested, he was tortured with electric batons, moved to a small dark punishment cell, and denied sufficient water. Officials denied the extension. After a family visit on May 21, the day after he should have been freed, it was reported that his sentence was extended until July 1999. Chinese reeducation through labor regulations permit only a one year's extension. It is believed that the extension was related to Liu Nianchun's refusal to reform and because of the human rights advocacy activities of his brother, Liu Qing, living in exile in the U.S.

Liu Nianchun disappeared on May 21, 1995 after participating with other dissidents in a campaign to submit petitions to the National People's Congress for rectification of human rights abuses. Over one hundred people were picked up in connection with the campaign. After Liu was seized without a warrant, police officers returned to search his home, confiscating letters, newspapers, magazines and photographs. Until July 4, 1996, when Liu's wife was informed that her husband had been administratively sentenced to three years' re-education through labor and was imprisoned in Tuanhe, all her efforts to discover his whereabouts had been to no avail. She went immediately to the prison camp but he had been moved to Shuanghe, a reeducation camp in remote Heilongjiang province, a five day's journey for her. (China insists that prisoners are held close to home.) Liu was returned to Tuanhe in late 1997; he is said to be in very poor health.

Chadrel Rinpoche - Tibetan abbot

Chadrel Rinpoche, the fifty-eight-year-old former abbot of Tashilhunpo monastery and head of the official search team for the reincarnation of the tenth Panchen Lama, is reportedly detained in a secret compound in Chuangdong No. 3 Prison, Dazu county, Sichuan province. He was sentenced in April 1997 to six years for allegedly "conspiring to split the country," "colluding with separatist forces abroad," "seriously jeopardizing the national unification and unity of ethnic groups," and "leaking state secrets." His assistant, Champa (Jampa) Chung; and Samdrup, a businessman, were sentenced to terms of four and two years respectively on the same charges. Chadrel Rinpoche reportedly is denied all outside contacts and is restricted to his cell.

The charges stem from Chadrel Rinpoche's apparent goal of getting both Chinese government and Tibetan religious authorities to agree on the same child as the reincarnation. Chadrel Rinpoche's decision to cooperate with the Dalai Lama originally was endorsed by the Chinese government. It was not until after July 1994 when Chinese policy toward Tibet hardened, that religious contact with the Dalai Lama was proscribed and the search became contentious. According to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, the trial of the three men was closed to the public because state secrets were involved. For six months after Chadrel Rinpoche was taken into custody in Chengdu, Sichuan province on May 17, 1995 and reportedly severely physically abused, Chinese authorities refused to admit that he was detained, despite the fact that on July 11 the two top leaders of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Gyaltsen Norbu, chairman of the TAR government, and Ragdi, executive deputy secretary of the TAR, were present when a fifteen-page report condemning him was read to assembled Tashilhunpo monks. On July 14, Chadrel Rinpoche was formally replaced as head of the monastery's management committee by a pro-Beijing hardliner. On August 21, Chinese authorities reported that the abbot was ill and hospitalized for treatment. Public accusation against Chadrel Rinpoche finally came on November 4,1995 when an article in Tibet Daily referred to unnamed people in responsible positions at Tashilhunpo who had cooperated in a "conspiracy with the Dalai clique" to undermine the Panchen Lama selection process. Chadrel Rinpoche was first referred to by name in an article in Xinhua on November 30, which described him as a "criminal" involved in a "conspiracy." By December, the campaign to denounce him was in full swing.  He was officially labeled a criminal and a "scum of Buddhism."

Gao Yu - journalist

Gao Yu, fifty, arrested in October 1993, was sentenced to a six-year prison term in November 1994, for "leaking state secrets." The "secrets," in articles she wrote for Hong Kong publications, were matters of common knowledge. When Gao was transferred to Yangqing Prison on January 6, 1995, the authorities initially refused to accept her, not wanting to take responsibility for a prisoner whose health was so bad. She is said to suffer from repeated attacks of chest pain, fainting spells, dizziness, and breathlessness. Gao has not had any specialized medical attention since she was first detained. The medication she takes is provided by her family. In May 1997, Chinese authorities attacked a UNESCO award, the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom prize, to Gao Yu as "illegal," saying she had "violated penal laws and acted in a way that is incompatible with her professional status. She is no longer a journalist, she is a criminal." China threatened to withdraw from UNESCO, accusing the agency of "rudely interfering" in China's internal affairs.

Hada and Tegexi - Inner Mongolian intellectuals

Two members of the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, Hada and Tegexi, sentenced to fifteen and ten years in prison respectively on charges of separatism and espionage on December 6 ,1996, had their appeals rejected in late January 1997. Both are being held in a crowded cell in Inner Mongolia No.1 Prison. The two were part of a group of ten arrested intellectuals associated with the Alliance, a social organization to promote Mongolian culture and "the concept of a high degree of autonomy for China's minorities as guaranteed by the constitution." The arrests took place between December 10 and 13, 1995. In two peaceful protests following the arrests, some 200 people including university students and teachers demonstrated their support for those arrested. Police broke up the demonstrations and held more than several dozen for questioning.

Hada and his wife managed the Mongolian Academic Bookshop in Hohhot. The bookstore was closed after Hada's arrest and its contents confiscated. His wife has twice petitioned two government agencies to permit her to reopen it. Neither agency has replied. Tegexi was an interpreter in the Euro-Asian Division of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Foreign Affairs Department.

China: 10 Years After Tiananmen (June 1999)

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