As Hong Kong's mass civil disobedience movement entered its 19th consecutive day on Thursday, authorities on the Chinese mainland have detained more than 60 people for openly supporting the move for universal suffrage, rights activists and lawyers said.
According to the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group, which collates reports from rights groups inside China, 23 people are being held under criminal detention, three have received administrative sentences, while 35 have been held under some other form of police custody.
Authorities in the southern province of Guangdong, just across the internal border from Hong Kong, detained four people on Tuesday on public order charges after they were accused of trying to join the protests in Hong Kong on Sept. 30.
Among those detained were Ye Liumei, Liang Zhuosen and Guo Huizhen, who were held in Guangdong's Foshan city by officers from the Tongji police station, their relatives and lawyers told RFA.
Ye's husband, who gave only his surname Chen, said the charges against the three activists remain unclear.
"I went to the police station to enquire...and found out that they are under criminal detention, and that they've been moved to a detention center," Chen said.
"[Police] were asking them about their trip to Hong Kong on Sept. 30," he said.
Chen said the three activists were detained at the border as they tried to cross into Hong Kong to join the pro-democracy protests.
"They never got there, because the immigration officials wouldn't let them leave the country," he said.
"The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong is extremely sensitive right now," Chen added.
Chen Qitang, also known by his pen-name Tian Li, was handed a 10-day administrative sentence by police in Foshan's Shunde district soon after the other three activists were detained, CHRD said.
And Foshan-based activist Jia Pin is also being held in the city's Nanhai district, his lawyer told RFA.
"I went to try to see him this morning," lawyer Wu Kuiming said on Thursday. "This is a state security police case, so they wouldn't let me visit him."
"The most recent information I have is that I will be allowed to meet with him, but not until 48 hours have elapsed," he said.
Fellow Hunan activist Ou Biaofeng, who has shaved his head in support of the Occupy movement, said Jia was taken away on Oct. 9.
"I think this has to do with the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong," Ou said.
He said police in Hunan's Yueyang city are also holding activist Liu Donghui after he traveled to Hong Kong to join the protests.
"But we don't know for sure if it's because of Occupy Central," he added. "He's been criminally detained, and the charges are picking quarrels and stirring up trouble."
Meanwhile, police in the Chinese capital are holding rights lawyers Yu Wensheng and Song Ze under criminal detention, CHRD said in an e-mailed statement.
In Beijing's Songzhuang Artists' Village, police also detained Tibetan artist Kuang Laowu and Zhang Haiying, it said.
In total, 13 people have been detained at Songzhuang for their involvement in a poetry recital in support of Occupy Central, it said.
Beijing police have also criminally detained writer Kou Yanding, as well as outspoken college professor Chen Kun, Beijing University poetry editor Xue Ye and Huang Kaiping, a colleague of detained Transition Institute founder Guo Yushan, CHRD quoted local reports as saying.
And Gansu-based rights activist Hou Minling was detained at Beijing's Daxing District Detention Center on Oct. 3 after taking part in a pro-Occupy demonstration with fellow activists in Beijing on Oct. 1.
Many of those detained are being held on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," a catch-all charge that is frequently employed to detain activists and outspoken government critics.
In the northeastern province of Liaoning Province petitioner Jiang Jiawen has been criminally detained on the same charge, also in Daxing District Detention Center, CHRD said.
Also in Beijing, Ling Lisha and Zhang Qibin Oct. 2 are being held under criminal detention at the Beijing No. 1 Detention Center after they posted signs in support of Hong Kong on the campus of Beijing University.
And activist Xie Wenfei was reportedly tortured and mistreated in Guangzhou's Yuexiu District Detention Center, CHRD said.
"Xie's arms and legs were each shackled eight centimeters away from iron rings, with his legs fastened together, in total for over 100 hours," the group quoted Xie's lawyer Wu Kuiming as saying.
"He was given periodic access to water, the bathroom and allowed to sleep and change cloths, except for a 20-hour stretch when he was kept shackled," it said.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.