Activist Warned Over Website

The Chinese dissident is besieged by police as he leaves a computer store.
2012-02-20
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An undated photo of Qin Yongmin.
Boxun/Minzhuzhongguo

A veteran pro-democracy campaigner and political dissident based in the central city of Wuhan has been warned by China's state security police not to proceed with plans for a website aimed at promoting "peaceful" change.

Qin Yongmin, who was released from prison on Nov. 29, 2010 after serving a 12-year term for subversion, said he was surrounded by police last week as he came out of a computer store and taken to the police station.

"A policeman called Wang Hui said I had been posting articles overseas and giving interviews to journalists, and that this was against Article 82 of the national security law, and that they were going to punish me for that," Qin said in an interview on Monday.

He said state security police officers had arrived later and ordered him to abandon plans for a website he had been preparing to launch.

"I had been planning to launch the 'Peaceful Transition Advice' website hosted overseas," Qin said. "They told me that I absolutely could not do this."

"They said that if I launched it in the morning, they would arrest me in the afternoon, and that they would pursue the harshest kind of punishment for me," he said.

'Alarmed'

Police also questioned him about a meeting he held on Feb. 14 at a restaurant in Wuhan with two political activists from the Pan-Blue Alliance, a member of the writers' group Independent Chinese PEN, and a number of petitioners, Qin said.

"They told me that meeting was the reason that they were very alarmed," Qin said.

"We were on the second floor of the restaurant, and the police took over the entire third floor," he said. "They told me that no matter where I went or whom I met with, they would know all about it."

Qin has been placed under 24-hour surveillance by officials from his home district in Wuhan since his release and subjected to searches of his home and confiscation of his keys and computer equipment.

Fellow activists said they have been forbidden to visit him.

"They told me not to go to visit him," said Wuhan-based rights activist Shi Yulin, who was detained for several hours and forced to write a self-criticism the last time he tried to visit Qin.

"I asked them what law they were enforcing here, but they didn't answer. They just said 'you can't go any more.'"

Democracy Wall

The 57-year-old Qin is a veteran dissident who was initially sentenced to eight years in prison for "counterrevolutionary propaganda and subversion" in the wake of the Democracy Wall movement in 1981.

A contemporary of exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng, Qin served a further two years' "re-education through labor" in 1993 after he penned a controversial document titled "Peace Charter."

By 1998, Qin was the editor of the China Human Rights Observer newsletter, and one of a number of political activists who attempted to register the China Democracy Party (CDP).

Aside from Qin, Hangzhou-based CDP founder Wang Youcai and Beijing-based Xu Wenli received 11-year and 13-year jail terms respectively for being linked to the opposition party. Both were later exiled to the United States on medical parole.

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

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