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China: Human rights defender Mr Feng Zhenghu enters fifth month of house arrest
A Shanghai-based human rights defender Mr Feng Zhenghu entered his fifth month of unlawful house arrest on 27 June 2012.
Since late February, Feng Zhenghu has been under strict surveillance and has been mostly confined to his third floor apartment on the outskirts of Shanghai. Feng Zhenghu is an economist and self-taught lawyer who has a history of working with petitioners and educating them about their rights under Chinese law.
Feng Zhenghu was originally placed under house arrest on 27 February 2012 at a time when many human rights defenders were facing restrictions on their movements due to the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference convening in Beijing. On 29 February, Feng Zhenghu's apartment was searched and police confiscated a number of items, including computers and mobile phones. Since then, his apartment has been searched numerous times, his internet access cut off and family and supporters have been prevented from visiting him. According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Feng Zhenghu has been forced to use a rope to pull up food and supplies provided by his supporters to his apartment balcony as he had not been permitted outside to buy provisions.
In recent weeks, and especially since the escape of fellow human rights defender Mr Chen Guangcheng on 22 April 2012, the security around Feng Zhenghu's apartment complex has intensified. New security cameras and bright lights have been installed in the grounds and the number of plain-clothes guards stationed in the apartment complex has reportedly increased to around twenty.
It is believed that Feng Zhenghu is being targetted as a result of his efforts to aid petitioners who travel to Shanghai seeking justice from higher authorities for grievances they have against local officials. He has also written essays criticising wrongdoings by local governments and highlighting forced evictions. From 4 November 2009, Feng Zhenghu spent more than 90 days living in a Tokyo airport after being denied permission eight times by the Chinese authorities to return to Shanghai following a visit to Japan. He was eventually allowed to return home on 12 February 2010 and until 27 February 2012, was subjected to surveillance, sporadic detentions and raids on his apartment.
In 2001, Feng Zhenghu was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of 'illegal business activity' which reportedly related to his release without official permission of an e-book concerning Japanese companies doing business in China.
Front Line Defenders expresses concern and denounces the ongoing unlawful house arrest of human rights defender Feng Zhenghu, which it believes to be solely motivated by Feng Zhenghu's legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, in particular his provision of legal information.