Police Crackdown 'Unprecedented'

Chinese authorities round up more bloggers and activists in spite of low attendance at 'Jasmine' rallies.
2011-04-12
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Police keep watch in Beijing amid online calls for a 'Jasmine Revolution,' Feb. 20, 2011.
Police keep watch in Beijing amid online calls for a 'Jasmine Revolution,' Feb. 20, 2011.
AFP

Chinese police continue to summon and detain activists across the country, in spite of an apparent lack of interest in online calls for a Middle East-inspired "Jasmine revolution," activists said on Tuesday.

Sichuan-based blogger Li Yu said his home was raided on Tuesday by local police, who confiscated hard drives and written material and called him in for questioning.

"About 20 people came to my home at about 9 a.m. and searched everything," Li said after his release. "The place was full of them ... Then they issued a summons for questioning in the afternoon."

"They took some of the things for my blog, including a notebook with all my passwords in it," he said. "I don't know if they plan to do something using my passwords."

Li founded the Juema Club in 2008 along with a group of fellow rights activists to call for political reforms.

"We were wondering whether this had anything to do with the [calls for] a 'Jasmine revolution,' although it seems the time for that has already passed," he said.

"Perhaps it's because my club has a large number of members, and they're afraid I'll call them out onto the streets to protest," Li said.

'Different excuses'

Meanwhile, the daughter of a Beijing-based rights lawyer said her mother Ni Yulan and father were now being formally held in a detention center in the capital.

"It seems they have been detained, and there are notices from the guesthouse [where they were staying] stuck in their room, probably because of nonpayment of room fees," said the daughter, identified as Beibei.

"Every time, they come up with different excuses," she said.

Rights lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin were taken away by police from a hotel in a western suburb of Beijing last Thursday, joining a long list of activists detained in an ongoing clampdown on groups such as bloggers, human rights lawyers, and writers.

The authorities jailed her and demolished the couple's home after she represented a group of housing activists complaining about forced evictions.

Outgoing U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman had visited the couple at the Yuxingong Guesthouse in February after authorities pressured the hotel to switch off their electricity.

'Sympathy and concern'

Sichuan-based rights activist Liu Feiyue said it is very hard to understand the reason behind Ni's detention, although some have suggested it is linked to critical comments Huntsman made about Beijing's human rights record.

"She has been in the guesthouse for years and hardly ever leaves," Liu said. "She hasn't done anything much at all."

"Everyone has a lot of sympathy for her and concern over what will happen to her ... The concern of a foreign diplomat for an individual should not become a reason for that person's arrest."

"The government's policies seem to be getting stricter and stricter, so that we're seeing a lot of unprecedented things happening," Liu added.

In the eastern province of Anhui, outspoken writer Xuan Changwei said he too had been summoned to the police station and warned that his articles referring to recent uprisings in the Middle East are "against Chinese law."

"They summoned me on April 8," Xuan said in an interview on Tuesday.

"They said that the ideology of the things that I'd posted went against the Constitution."

"They told me not to post any more articles, and that if I did I'd put myself in danger."

Rallies sparsely attended

Xuan said the police pointed in particular to articles he had written concerning different political models, and about a program for a democratic movement.

Many of those detained since the online call for a "Jasmine revolution" was published by a group of young, overseas Chinese had taken no part in the "Jasmine" rallies, which have drawn heavy security and media interest but were sparsely attended in major cities.

Nonetheless, activists say the government was rattled by the comparison with Middle Eastern uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and launched preemptive strikes on activists around the country.

Authorities in Beijing have sentenced one man who attended a "Jasmine" rally in Beijing to two years in a labor camp, the first confirmed punishment for attending the proposed gatherings.

Wei Qiang, 21, had previously worked at the studio of detained artist Ai Weiwei, who is currently being investigated for "economic crimes."

Reported by Qiao Long and Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Dai Weisen for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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Anonymous Reader

Anyone who doubts that the PRC is a police state should take a look at the crackdown-type response on calls merely for civilians to stroll in urban areas.

May 25, 2011 09:02 AM

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