Release / Harassment - CHN 003 / 1005 / OBS 103.2

02/05/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has been informed by reliable sources of the release of Mr. Tan Kai, a founding member of the environmental NGO Green Watch (lüse guancha), based in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in China.

New information:

According to the information received, Mr. Tan Kai was released from prison several days ago after serving out his full term of one and a half years. The date of his release remains unclear, as Mr. Tan’s relatives declined to make any comments, saying that "it was inconvenient for Mr. Tan to contact friends or make public comments at this point".

On August 11, 2006, Mr. Tan Kai was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment by the Hangzhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court for "illegally obtaining State secrets". Mr. Tan had been arrested in October 2005, following the opening of a bank account, under his name, in order to seek funds that would legally permit the registration of Green Watch (See background information).

The Observatory thanks all the persons, organisations, and institutions, that intervened in favour of Mr. Tan Kai. However, the Observatory expresses its concern regarding the numerous obstacles that infringe the right of association in China, and regarding the fact that new restrictions seem to have been imposed on Mr. Tan, especially regarding his freedom of movement and his right to speak freely.


Background information:

In April 2005, Mr. Tan Kai, Mr. Lai Jinbiao, Mr. Gao Haibing, Mr. Wu Yuanming, Mr. Qi Huimin and Mr. Yang Jianming informally founded Green Watch after having monitored the situation in Huashui Town in Dongyang City, Zhejiang Province. Their initiative followed complaints by local residents that a chemical factory was causing serious environmental pollution, in particular severe water pollution that was destroying crops and causing birth defects. Protests by the villagers in late March and April culminated in a violent conflict with local police on April 10, 2005, in which more than 400 police officers were reportedly deployed and many people injured. One member of Green Watch, Mr. Lai Jinbiao, was placed under criminal detention from April 12 until May 11, 2005, on the charge of "illegally providing intelligence overseas". Charges were dropped following his release.

On 19 October 2005, the six co-founders of Green Watch were summoned by the Public Security Bureau of Hangzhou, Jianggan and Xihu. These summons were issued after that the group opened a bank account at a branch of Bank of China in Hangzhou under Mr. Tan Kai’s name in mid-October, in preparation for fundraising efforts to meet its funding requirement. Indeed, in order to operate lawfully as a local organisation in China, the founders of Green Watch are obliged, amongst other requirements, to come up with 30,000 yuan (3,074 euros) in funding capital.

However, according to the Regulations for the Registration and Management of Social Organisations issued by China’s State Council, the founders of Green Watch are not allowed to raise funds, as long as the organisation is still not legally established, which places Green Watch in an extremely difficult situation, since it cannot pay the amount requested.

Mr. Tan Kai was placed in criminal detention, while the others were released later that same day.

On November 15, 2005, Green Watch was declared illegal by the government of Zhejiang province. Since then, Mr. Tan Kai’s relatives have been subjected to threats and acts of intimidation.

On April 29, 2006, Mr. Tan Kai was charged with "illegally obtaining State secrets". It is presumed that the charges were linked to his job as a computer repair technician. In 2005, he had indeed repaired the computer of an employee of the committee of the Party of Zhejiang province and, as per normal procedure, he saved his client’s files. However, it is believed that this accusation was just a pretext to prosecute Mr. Tan.

In October 2006, the hearing in appeal was held in camera by the Intermediary People’s Court of Hangzhou, which upheld the sentence. Mr. Tan then remained detained in the West Lake detention centre in Hangzhou.

Green Watch’s objectives include defending environmental rights in Huashui Town, Dongyang City, in Zhejiang province, where the residents complain that the pollution generated by the chemical factory affects the quality of the water, destroys crops and causes birth defects.

Action requested:

Please write to the Chinese authorities, urging them to:

i. put an immediate end to all acts of reprisals, including judicial harassment, against Mr. Tan Kai as well as all human rights defenders in China;

ii. ensure that Green Watch be authorised registration;

iii. conform with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", its article 12.2, which stipulates that "the State shall take any necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration", as well as article 13, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilise resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means, in accordance with article 3 of the present Declaration;

iv. conform with the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and with other international instruments binding the Peoples’ Republic of China.


Addresses:

President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China, c/o Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; 2300 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20008, USA, Fax: +01 202 588-0032

Ambassador Sha Zukang, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Chemin de Surville 11, Case postale 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Genève, Suisse, Fax: +41 22 7937014, E-mail: mission.china@ties.itu.int

Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Fusen Buzhang, Sifabu, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Li Zhaoxing Buzhang Waijiaobu, 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijingshi 100701, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email: ipc@fmprc.gov.cn

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Avenue de Tervuren, 463 1160 Auderghem, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 663 30 10 / + 32 2 663 30 17 / +32 2 771 14 97 / +32 2 779 43 33; Fax: +32 2 762 99 66 / +32 2 779 28 95; Email: chinaemb_be@mfa.gov.cn

***

Geneva - Paris, May 2, 2007

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH: 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 01 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

Read more
appelobs