After China's Party Congress Wraps up, Security Clampdown Remains in Place

2017-10-26
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Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website founder Liu Feiyue is shown in an undated photo.
Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website founder Liu Feiyue is shown in an undated photo.
Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch

Dissidents and activists said on Thursday that they remain under close surveillance and house arrest, with no apparent let-up in security measures surrounding the now-concluded congress of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Beijing-based veteran rights activist Hu Jia said he is currently on enforced "vacation" in the southwestern province of Yunnan, under the escort of two state security police officers.

"We are moving around in Yunnan between Dali and Kunming, as well as Beihai and Nanning cities in [the southwestern region of] Guangxi," Hu told RFA on Thursday. "We stay two or three days in each place ...

They won't let me settle in a single place; I think they are afraid that people will try to meet up with me."

"The stability maintenance security measures relating to the 19th party congress are in effect until Oct. 28," he said. "But it's very likely that controls will remain even after I get back to Beijing."

"I would like to go to the hospital, and to my parents' home, but there will be police following me," Hu said. "Apart from the police who stick close to me wherever we go, there are also various plainclothes police in operation around the hotels where we are staying."

Beijing-based eviction activist Ni Yulan, who was left disabled following a police beating, said she is still unable to move freely around the city.

"We still daren't try to ride the subway, because the security is so tight; there has been no relaxation of security and things are still very tense," Ni told RFA on Thursday. "They check all baggage, including even the smallest bags, and they take everything out and look through it, going through it with a fine-tooth comb."

"Then they do a pat-down, in addition to the scanning probe," she said. "Some people have been ... deprived of their freedom since August, when the [secretive political] Beidaihe meetings began."

"They asked [the authorities], when will we get our freedom back? The answer was Oct. 31.," said Ni, who received a 2016 International Women of Courage award from the U.S. Congress. "Some petitioners are very angry about this and say they can't understand it."

Meanwhile, authorities in the northeastern province of Jilin last Saturday detained petitioner Yan Chunfeng, two days after the congress ended, for pursuing a complaint against the authorities, her husband said.

"She was taken away near the Changyang roundabout on Oct. 21, on suspicion of assaulting a police officer," her husband said. "She kicked a police officer on the bus, and was given a 10-day administrative detention."

"Seven or eight people were dragged onto that bus and taken back to their hometowns," he said. "I think this is too brutal. It was never that bad before; this is the first time."

"We have a surveillance team watching us outside; they're watching us right now."

Human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping said recent promises by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to govern the country by law along have proved empty so far.

"If you have constitutional rights that can't be enforced or protected through any kind of judicial process, then really that constitution isn't worth the paper it's written on," Mo told RFA.

"The constitution looks very nice, but ... really, it's pie in the sky, because it can't be enforced."

Fellow rights lawyer Chen Jiewen said the party is really only interested in enforcing its own interpretation of events, not the law.

"When they say they want to rule by law, what they really mean is they want to ensure they remain in power," Chen said.

"They are emphasizing the importance of the central government, which means that things must be understood they way they say they should be understood."

In the central province of Hubei, authorities look set to move ahead with the state secrets trial of Liu Feiyue, founder of the Civil Rights and People's Livelihood Watch human rights website, his friend told RFA.

Liu, who is currently being held in the Suining No. 1 Detention Center, stands accused of "revealing state secrets," a charge frequently used to target peaceful critics of the government.

"All he did was post things online, 'state secrets' told to him by ordinary people," Liu's friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

"It has to do with a stability maintenance document issued by a county government in northwestern China."

"It was given to him by a petitioner, and he posted it online," the friend said. "His wife is very angry about this. There wasn't even an official stamp on this document, and they are still claiming it was a state secret."

Website editor Ding Wenjie is likely to face similar charges, he said.

Calls to Liu's defense attorney Yan Xin rang unanswered during office hours on Thursday.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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