(April 15) Zheng Enchong (é?'æ©å® ), a Shanghai-based rights defense lawyer, was detained by the police for ten hours on April 15, 2009. It was the fifth time over the past week that Zheng was summoned by the police. Zheng Enchong believes that the harassment by the authorities is chiefly because he recently accepted an interview with Voice of America.

The Voice of America report, on April 10, focused on an action by the Shanghai government authorities requiring high-level officials to account for their housing purchases. The action is aimed at cleaning up corruption among officials and their purchase of housing at sub-market prices. The report quoted Zheng as saying, “The Shanghai departmental-level officials’ housing costs are in fact borne by [the ordinary] home buyers. If there were a truly serious investigation, 70 percent of the bureau-level officials and 50 percent of the department-level officials would all be sent to jail and sacked from their positions right now.”

At 8:30 a.m. on April 15, more than ten men from the Zhabei branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau ransacked Zheng’s home. The sources said that the police “dumped out all the contents of the drawers, threw all the books from the bookshelves, tossed all the bedding onto the floor, and pushed all the teacups from the table onto the clothing and books.” “They poured glue into the key hole on the iron front door so that you couldn’t put the key in or lock the door.” The search lasted for about two and a half hours. At 9 a.m., the police took Zheng to the Zhabei branch police station, registered him at 3 p.m., and sent him home at 7:30 p.m.

Zheng Enchong has provided legal assistance to many residents who have been victimized by Shanghai’s eviction policies. He has represented evicted residents in their case against “the richest man in Shanghai,” Zhou Zhengyi, exposing the collusion between Shanghai’s officials and business interests that infringed on the housing rights of evicted residents. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2003. Since his release in 2006, Zheng has been continuously monitored and harassed by authorities.

HRIC condemns Shanghai authorities’ repeated harassment of Zheng. "Zheng Enchong was persecuted by the authorities for many years because he exercised his rights of supervision as a citizen and exposed the corruption in Shanghai’s official circles,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC. “What is especially significant is that this harassment comes at the heels of the release of the National Human Rights Action Plan by the Chinese government, which proclaims that ‘the right of the person is legally protected at every stage of law enforcement and administration of justice.” HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to demonstrate their commitment to implementing the National Human Rights Action Plan. It can begin by stopping the harassment of Zheng Enchong and all rights defenders.

www.hrichina.org

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