Fears For Democracy Activists

Chinese authorities go after dissidents in an apparent bid to silence any talk of political reform following the Communist Party Congress.
2012-11-23
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An undated photo of activist Lu Gengsong.
Photo courtesy of Lu Gengsong's family

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have summoned pro-democracy activist Lu Gengsong for questioning, and searched his home, his wife said on Friday as at least two other dissidents have gone incommunicado.

"There are more than 10 [police here in my home]," Lu's wife, Wang Xue'e, told RFA at around 3.50 p.m. local time from her residence in the provincial capital, Hangzhouon on Friday. "They are searching our home."

"I think it's likely that they will victimize him again," she said, in an apparent reference to a further jail term.

Lu, a prominent rights activist, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for "incitement to subvert state power" in February 2008 by a Hangzhou court in a trial that lasted just 15 minutes.

Lu shouted "Long Live Democracy" as he was taken away from the courtroom, witnesses had said. Subversion charges are frequently used against critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

"The police follow us every day," Wang said. "They work in shifts of six people; two to follow me, two to follow my husband and two to follow my daughter."

She said the family had been watched by dozens of police from Nov. 3-20, around the 18th Party Congress, which ended last week after endorsing a once-in-a-decade leadership change.

Fellow Hangzhou activist Zou Wei said police had left around one hour after that, taking with them Lu's daughter's tablet computer, Lu's main personal computer and various records, including stored computer data.

Zou said the police action could be linked to Lu's recent outspoken advocacy on behalf of jailed dissident Zhu Yufu, a founder member of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP).

"Zhu Yufu is old and weak, and in jail, and...he feared that he might die under suspicious circumstances like some Falun Gong practitioners," Zou said, referring to the the banned spiritual
movement designated an "evil cult" by Beijing.

"He asked his family to write specially to Lu Gengsong to see if he would speak out on his behalf and find some help."

He said the authorities also appeared keen to silence any talk of political reform in the immediate aftermath of the 18th Party Congress.

"[The new leadership] are moving to crackdown on [members of the] China Democracy Party, so as to make clear that they will be taking a hard line in future," Zou added.

Incommunicado

Hangzhou-based CDP activist Chen Shuqing had also gone incommunicado around the time that police were searching Lu's home, he said.

"I haven't been able to get through to Chen Shuqing's phone, and we haven't had any news of him," Zou said.

Meanwhile, activists launched a campaign to track the whereabouts of Wuhan-based CDP founder member Qin Yongmin, who has been incommunicado for the past 25 days.

A "Missing Notice" posted online had garnered more than 100 signatures on Friday.

The notice said those concerned about Qin's welfare would take the signatures to the dissident's local police station and place a similar notice in Chinese newspapers.

Jiangsu-based netizen Zhou Zhiyuan said he had signed out of solidarity with Qin.

"We are both citizens, and I don't understand how he can just casually disappear like that," Zhou said. "If Qin Yongmin can disappear, then we all could."

"That's why I wanted to make a stand on his behalf...It is also on my own behalf."

Zhou said he had received a visit from police over the petition notice on Friday.

"They came to my house to take notes," he said. "There were also some Internet security people there."

"The main point of their visit was to ask me about my signing of the petition, and they wanted to know whose idea it was," Zhou said. "I saw online that quite a few people were also questioned."

"Shi Yulin was, but I think he's back home now, and then there was Li Juan; I haven't been able to get in touch with her."

Repeated calls to Shi Yulin's phone went unanswered on Friday.

Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Fung Yat-yiu for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.