Target: Yang Xiong Shizhang, Mayor of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government
Goal: End police intimidation of deceased Chinese activist’s family members
Chinese activist Shen Yong was recently beaten to death while in police custody, and now his son and mother are facing threats, intimidation, and close surveillance by the police. Sign the petition and demand justice for Shen Yong and his family.
Shen Yong’s activism began in 2008, when the home he legally owned with his mother, Shen Abao, was razed by the municipal government to clear space for a new housing development. Shen Yong petitioned the government for compensation from 2008 until his recent death, but he was unsuccessful. In 2013, he and his mother began squatting in the new home built on the site, but alleged government-sponsored vandals attempted to intimidate them into leaving.
Shen Yong’s son, Shen Yaming, was informed of his father’s arrest by neighbors, who said that he was taken away in handcuffs and beaten by police. Shen Abao was arrested at the same time but later released. Shen Yong was released as well, but he was in critical condition after his two-hour stint in police custody. Although his family called for help, Shen Yong passed away before emergency medical care arrived. According to Kong Lingzhen, a family friend who took pictures of Shen Yong’s body after it was taken to the hospital, bruises on Shen Yong’s neck suggested he had been strangled, among other injuries. When she tried to report this to the authorities, she “was knocked to the ground and taken to a police station,” Amnesty International reports. Shen Yaming was also detained when he tried to prevent the police from taking his father’s body. Both Kong Lingzhen and Shen Yaming have been released.
This would all be tragic enough, but the authorities are continuing to keep up the pressure on Shen Yong’s family. Shen Yaming and Shen Abao are both under police surveillance and have had their movements and contact with others restricted. Tell the Shanghai Municipal Government that this underhanded, senseless bullying is despicable, and demand justice for Shen Yong and his family.
I am writing to express my deep concern for the welfare of Shen Yaming and Shen Abao, both of whom have been subjected to a campaign of police intimidation, harassment, and surveillance following the death of Shen Yong. I demand that the restrictions on Shen Yaming and Shen Abao be lifted immediately, and I demand a full and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding Shen Yong’s death.
Up until his death on October 24, 2013, Shen Yong had been petitioning the Shanghai Municipal Government for compensation for the house he and his mother, Shen Abao, were evicted from to make way for a new development. Shen Yong and Shen Abao legally owned the house and were homeless following the municipal government’s decision to evict them. On October 24, Shen Yong and Shen Abao were taken into police custody. According to witnesses, the police beat Shen Yong as they took him from his home. When he was returned two hours later, he was in such critical condition that his family called for an ambulance. Unfortunately, Shen Yong died before help could arrive. When his son, Shen Yaming, tried to stop police from taking his father’s body, he too was taken into custody.
Both Shen Yaming and Shen Abao have been released, but they are under constant surveillance by police and have had their freedom of movement restricted. It is unknown to what extent (if any) they are able to communicate with each other and with other family and friends.
Such unnecessary, relentless bullying is uncalled-for under any circumstances, but it is especially despicable in this case. These are the grieving family members of a man who appears to have been beaten to death by police. Their only “wrong” has been to petition the government to compensate them for the legal property it stole from them five years ago.
This horrible abuse of human rights must end. I demand that the municipal government immediately step in to cease surveillance of the Shen family, to ensure that neither Shen Yaming nor Shen Abao is subject to torture or ill-treatment, and to launch a full and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding Shen Yong’s death.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Zen Liansong via Wikimedia Commons