A woman activist whose efforts helped end China’s “Re-education Through Labor” (RTL) in late 2013 has been arrested and charged with “picking quarrels and making trouble.”
Between 2006 and 2011, Liu Hua served three terms in the Masanjia Women’s “Re-education Through Labor” (RTL) camp as punishment for her efforts to blow the whistle on corruption in her village of Zhangliangba. Following her release from Masanjia, Liu appeared in the documentary The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp (above), which exposed torture and abuses within the entire RTL system. Amnesty International reports that it is generally believed Liu has been arrested because of her role in that film.
Liu Hua was first picked up by public security police in Beijing on March 10th and transferred back to the Shenyang Number 1 Detention Centre. She has been questioned repeatedly by police officers about the allegations of torture that she made in the documentary about the Masanjia camp, as well as her other activist activities in Beijing during this year’s session of the National People’s Congress in February, in the company of 20 other former Masanjia inmates.
In the documentary, she describes the shocking torture of female inmates by RTL guards.
On 28 December 2013, the government passed a resolution that abolished the Re-education Through Labor (RTL) system.
According to the Human Rights in China website, Liu was formerly the village head of Zhangliangbao, Honglingbao Township, in the Sujiatun District of Shenyang, Liaoning Province.
Beginning in 2004, Liu and her husband, former village chairman Yue Yongjin, had been petitioning Beijing to intervene in forcible land seizures in the village.
“In 2002, Liu and Yue accused the previous village committee of embezzling collective assets. Subsequently, Zhangliangbao residents elected Yue as village chairman and Liu as village head, but the previous officers refused to provide them with the official seal, making it impossible for Yue and Liu to exercise their official powers. Nevertheless, Liu and Yue brought in outside auditors to examine the village accounts, and the auditors determined that local village officials had unlawfully sold and reallocated collective property, including the village school.” – “Rural Land Activists Detained after Petitioning over Corruption,” Human Rights in China, March 27, 2006
Amnesty International is urging that China immediately and unconditionally release Liu and to cease punishment of those who report rights abuses in China, in line with international standards.