Concerns Over Two Activists

One Chinese activist may be held 'unofficially' after his jail term expires, while another 'disappears.'
2011-06-08
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Dissident Huang Qi (L) with his son in an undated photo at their home in Chengdu before he was jailed.
AFP

A rights activist from southwestern China who was sentenced to three years in prison is due to be released on Friday, amid fears that he will continue to be held unofficially, his wife said on Wednesday.

Chengdu-based Huang Qi was convicted of “illegally possessing state secrets” by the Wuhou District Court after he called for an investigation into shoddy school construction blamed for the deaths of thousands of children during a massive earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008.

"According to the judgment documents, he should get out on Friday," said Huang's wife, Zeng Li.

But she said she had been told not to travel to the prison to meet him.

"I was in touch with the prison authorities the day before yesterday, and I told them I wanted to go, but they said no," Zeng said. "When I asked them when he would arrive back home, they said they didn't know."

Many held

In recent years, high-profile dissidents have been held, often with their entire families, under house arrest even after their jail term ends.

Zeng said she was concerned the same might happen to Huang.

"With some people, the police meet them coming out of prison and take them away and put them under house arrest at a different location," she said. "They won't let them come home."

For example, Shandong-based women's rights activist Cheng Guangcheng has been held under house arrest along with his wife and daughter since his release from a four-year jail term last September, with dozens of local officials guarding the couple's home and watching their every move.

And authorities in the central city of Wuhan freed veteran pro-democracy activist Qin Yongmin from jail, only to keep him under tight surveillance at his home amid a number of restrictions.

Friend 'disappeared'

Qin said that a friend, Tianjin-based pro-democracy activist Zhang Wei, had "disappeared," indicating he might have been picked up by authorities.

Qin, who is unable to access funds donated by well-wishers during his time in jail and is unable to find work, said he was recently summoned by police in connection with a meeting with Zhang but he did not show up.

"I had arranged to meet with him ... but Zhang Wei didn't show up, and the police did," Qin said.

"This friend of mine from Tianjin disappeared near my home ... I often get visitors from all across China," he said. "They are all very concerned about this incident."

China has detained lawyers, journalists, bloggers, and other activists since online protest appeals began circulating in China in mid-February, apparently inspired by recent uprisings in the Middle East.

Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.