(Shanghai–Nov. 11, 2012) An influential house church Christian in Shanghai who has been targeted for repeated government harassment was given an extra-judicial sentence to a labor camp just days before the 18th Communist Party Congress opened, just one example of the ruling Communist Party’s harsh measures to maintain order in advance of this major conclave where the reins of power will be handed over.
Labor camp sentences were also meted out for several other people who had joined Mao Hengfeng in seeking redress by petitioning the government, and a large number of petitioners have disappeared into official custody, have been criminally detained or have had their freedom of movement curtailed in the run-up to the Nov. 8 opening of the 18th Party Congress.
Mao was sentenced on Oct. 30 to 18 months of “re-education through labor” for “disrupting public order.” (see scans below) This is the third labor camp sentence for Mao, who will be 51 next month and is in poor health with dangerously high blood pressure.
Her case is but one example of the clampdown on personal freedoms, especially for petitioners, in advance of the Party Congress. Famed Shanghai activist Feng Zhenghu has been illegally confined to his home for eight months already.
Mao is an influential presence among the tens of thousands of Shanghai petitioners. Not only has she long been trying to use the law to seek redress from various government departments for her own case and to protect her legal rights, she’s also worked on behalf of other petitioners. That Shanghai’s petitioners are more united, more knowledgeable about the law and government policy and more rational in using the law to protect their rights than petitioners elsewhere is largely due to the efforts of Mao, Shen Peilan, Jin Yuehua and other leading figures. It is precisely for this reason that Mao has been the focus of attention of the municipal, district and grassroots governments and why they have been ceaselessly targeting her for attacks.
As early as July 2003, Mao was put under judicial detention for 15 days for “disrupting court order.” In April 2004, she was sentenced to 18 months of “re-education through labor” for “disrupting public order.” In January 2007, she was sentenced to a two-year jail term for “deliberately damaging property.” In January 2009, she was placed under administrative detention for seven days for “disturbing order in a public place.” In March 2010, she was sentenced to a second 18-month term of re-education through labor for “disrupting public order” but was released early due to stage 3 hypertension.
Her most recent sentence stems from a Jan. 5 gathering during which she and others marked the anniversary of the deaths of the mother of one of the petitioners and a similar gathering on July 1 to mark the anniversary of the 2007 death of Chen Xiaoming, a human rights lawyer who was a leading housing rights activist after he lost his own home.
ChinaAid has learned that several other petitioners who have also received labor camp sentences. Christian women Shen Peilan and Jin Yuehua were detained by police in recent days and a large number of petitioners have been forcibly detained on Chongming Island to attend “vacation classes.”
ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu expressed grave concern for the plight of the “disappeared” and detained petitioners and for others who have suffered human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese government as it sought to “maintain stability” in preparation for the 18th Party Congress. He noted that these measures run counter to the concept of a “harmonious society” that outgoing leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have long been advocating. Fu called on the international community to pay close attention to the developments in these cases and on the Chinese government to grasp the opportunity presented by the 18th Party Congress to bring about real reforms that will protect human rights, the rule of law and basic rights such as freedom of religion.
Mao Hengfeng’s husband Wu Xuewei’s cell phone numbers: 13901662286 and 13621959444
Mao Hengfeng’s home telephone: 021-65195100
Source: China Aid, International Christian Concern