China Sentences Women Held After Protest Attempt

By EDWARD WONG

BEIJING — A woman and her two sisters who came to Beijing from southern China during the Paralympics last September to protest property seizures but were arrested have been sentenced to one year of detention for vandalism, the woman said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

The woman, Huang Liuhong, had already been held for nearly a year in a hotel — known as a black jail — while awaiting trial.

Ms. Huang was released from the hotel, the Lizhou Cement Factory Rest House, on July 17. She said she expected to remain under a form of house arrest for one year in her hometown, under police surveillance. The case is one of several that starkly illustrate how the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics in Beijing last year failed to expand freedom of speech in China, despite assertions by the international organizers of those games that the events would push the Chinese government toward more democratic policies.

Ms. Huang traveled with 10 others from the town of Liuzhou in Guangxi Province to Beijing last September to protest four cases of property seizure involving local officials. But after being interviewed by an American journalist, they were seized by plainclothes police officers who had followed them from Guangxi. Ms. Huang, two older sisters and their 79-year-old mother, all of whom had traveled to Beijing, were arrested.

The mother was soon released, but Ms. Huang and her infant son were kept for 314 days in a hotel in Liuzhou. Her two sisters were held in a detention center.

Ms. Huang said she and her sisters were not put on trial until June 19. The judge found them guilty of vandalism and sentenced them to one year in prison followed by two years of probation. The two older sisters were released July 14, Ms. Huang said, each having served almost the entire sentence under the verdict because of their time in the detention center.

Others from the group of 11 that came to Beijing were also put on trial.

After her release from the so-called black jail, Ms. Huang was given a week to visit her husband in the southern city of Shenzhen, where she is now. But she will have to return to Liuzhou and spend a year under a version of house arrest, during which she can live in her home and move around Liuzhou but not leave the town, she said.

“They said someone will be watching me,” she said.

The court in Liuzhou had no immediate comment on Thursday; copies of court documents provided by Ms. Huang showed that she had been found guilty of vandalism.

Ms. Huang said the police accused her of breaking the window of a police van after she was detained in Beijing. She said she never damaged the van.

The three sisters plan to appeal the verdict, Ms. Huang said, but such judgments are rarely reversed.

More Detentions in Xinjiang

BEIJING — Security forces in Urumqi, the capital of the restive Xinjiang region, have detained at least 253 more people suspected of taking part in ethnic rioting on July 5, according to a report on Thursday in China Daily, an official English-language newspaper.

By July 6, the police had already detained more than 1,000 people in Urumqi; it is unclear how many of those have been released.