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UA 435/94 - People's Republic of China: ill-treatment / fear for safety: Chen Pokong, and other prisoners at Guangzhou No 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour Center

, Index number: ASA 17/038/1994

Chen Pokong, a pro-democracy activist sentenced in October 1993 without trial to two years of "reeducation through labour", has smuggled out a letter from his prison camp. In it he alleges that prisoners there are often beaten and subjected to conditions which amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It is feared that the ill-treatment of prisoners may be continuing at the Guangzhou No 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour Centre, and that Chen Pokong may be punished for smuggling out the letter.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 17/38/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 435/94 Ill-treatment / Fear for Safety 7 December 1994
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINAChen Pokong (30) and other prisoners at Guangzhou
No. 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour Center
Chen Pokong, a pro-democracy activist detained in a labour camp in Guangdong
Province, has alleged, in a letter of appeal to the international community,
that prisoners in the labour camp are often beaten and subjected to conditions
which amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The letter, which is
said to have been smuggled out of the camp a few months ago, was publicised
recently.
It is feared that the ill-treatment of prisoners described in the letter may
be continuing in the labour camp and that Chen Pokong may be punished and
subjected to further ill-treatment for smuggling out the letter.
Chen Pokong, who had been previously imprisoned for his pro-democracy
activities, was sentenced in October 1993, without trial, to two years of
"reeducation through labour" for "illegally crossing state borders". He was
sent to carry out the sentence at the Guangzhou No 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour
Center, a forced-labour camp in Hua county, Guangdong province.
According to his letter, "production quotas" in the labour camp are set so
high that prisoners have to work over 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with
only three days holiday a year during the annual Spring Festival. During the
day, they carry out heavy labour in a stone quarry, transporting and loading
stones into boats; at night, they make artificial flowers which are sold for
export. Prisoners who do not meet their production quotas are liable to have
their sentence lengthened, Chen Pokong says.
"Inmates who labour slightly slower are brutally beaten and misused by
supervisors and team leaders (themselves inmates). Inmates are often beaten
until they are blood-stained all over, collapse or lose consciousness (shortly
before I was sent here, one inmate was beaten to death.)...Several times I
was beaten by the team leader. I am constantly exposed to terror", Chen Pokong
states.
He describes injured and sick prisoners being forced to work despite their
illnesses. "Many inmates, including myself, their hands and feet squashed by
big stones, stained with blood and pus, have to labour as usual. As a consequence,
many inmates were crippled for life." He also describes harsh living conditions,
with prisoners being given insufficient food, mainly consisting of coarse rice
and rotten vegetables, and medical treatment being practically non-existent.
Chen Pokong concludes his letter by saying, "I understand that once my letter
is published, I might be persecuted even more harshly. I might even be killed.
But I have no choice!"
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Chen Pokong, also known as Chen Jingsong, was a teacher in the economics
department of Zhongshan University, in Guangzhou city, when the 1989
pro-democracy protests started in China. He was arrested in August 1989 for
his activities during the protests and charged in February 1990 with "carrying
out counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement". On 1 March 1991, he was
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sentenced to three years' imprisonment on this charge by the Guangzhou City
Intermediate People's Court.
Following his release in July 1992, Chen Pokong resumed his political activities
and, according to his letter, by August 1993 he was again wanted by the
authorities. Fearing re-arrest, he fled to Hong Kong where he applied for
political asylum, but his application was denied and he was deported back to
China on 1 September 1993. Upon his forcible return, he was placed in police
custody and on 20 October 1993 he was sentenced to two years of
"reeducation-through-labour" for "illegally crossing the borders".
"Reeducation through labour" is an administrative punishment imposed without
any judicial process which involves detention for up to three years, usually
in a labour camp. This punishment is imposed by administrative committees
composed of representatives from the public security (police), civil affairs
and labour departments of the local governments of cities and provinces. Those
thus sentenced have no trial, no access to lawyers and no right to defend
themselves.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/airmail letters in English
or your own language:
- expressing concern that Chen Pokong and other prisoners held at the Guangzhou
No. 1 Reeducation Through Labour Center in Guangdong Province are reported
to have been ill-treated and to be held in conditions which amount to cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment;
- urging that their treatment and conditions be impartially investigated, that
the result of the investigation be made public and that those found responsible
be brought to justice;
- expressing concern that Chen Pokong is reported to be detained in connection
with his peaceful pro-democracy activities and that he has been sentenced to
two years' detention in a labour camp without being charged or tried; urging
the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally unless he is
charged with recognizable criminal offences in accordance with international
standards and given a fair and open trial.
APPEALS TO
Minister of Justice of the People's Republic of China
XIAO Yang Buzhang
Sifabu
Xiaguangli
Beijingshi 100016, People's Republic of China
Telexes:210070 FMPRC CN or 22478 MFERT CN (Please forward to Xiao Yang Buzhang)
Faxes: + 861 467 7351
Telegrams: Minister of Justice Xiao Yang, Beijing, China
Salutation:Your Excellency
Governor of the Guangdong Provincial People's Government
ZHU Senlin Shengzhang
Guangdongsheng Renmin Zhengfu
305 Dongfeng Zhong Lu
Guangzhoushi 510031
Guangdongsheng, People's Republic of China
Telexes: 44563 OFAGDCN
Faxes: + 86 20 861569
Telegrams: Governor Zhu Senlin, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
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Salutation: Dear Governor
Chief Procurator of the Guangdong Provincial People's Procuratorate
YU Wanning Jianchazhang
Guangdongsheng Renmin Jianchayuan
26 Cangbian Lu
Guangzhoushi 510090
Guangdongsheng, People's Republic of China
Telegrams: Chief Procurator of the Provincial People's Procuratorate Wang Jun,
Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Salutation: Dear Chief Procurator
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of the People's Republic of China in
your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
of your Section office, if sending appeals after 18 January 1995.

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