Postcards For Jailed Dissidents

Chinese supporters launch a new campaign to highlight imprisoned activists.
2011-12-08
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Supporters wait outside the trial of Wang Lihong in Beijing, Aug. 12, 2011.
AFP

Political activists in Beijing said on Thursday they have launched a postcard campaign among netizens in support of China's political prisoners ahead of World Human Rights Day.

"We want to remind the authorities that everyone remembers that you have someone locked up in this place," activist Liu Shasha said.

"We are not going to let them get away with blackening their names."

Liu and fellow activists published the addresses of prisons where prominent dissidents are currently being held, including 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, and writer Tan Zuoren, jailed after he conducted an investigation into allegations of shoddy construction of quake-hit school buildings.

"It is nearly the New Year," read a post on the microblog service Twitter calling on people to send postcards to Liu.

"Please send a postcard to Liu Xiaobo, PO Box 999, Jinzhou city, Liaoning province, China, 121013."

The tweet, which was retweeted by the China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group, also supplied the addresses of prisons and detention centers where Tan and fellow Sichuan activist Chen Wei are being held.

Doctor activist

Included in the postcard campaign was veteran rights activist Wang Lihong, who is due for release from a three-month jail term this month.

Doctor-turned-activist Wang, 55, was sentenced on Sept. 9 for "creating a disturbance" by the Beijing Intermediate People's Court this week, according to her lawyer.

Wang has been in detention for nearly six months already, and under Chinese law only has a little more than three months left to complete her sentence.

Her detention is believed to have been linked to her protest in support of three bloggers in Fujian, who were tried and sentenced in April 2010 for writing about the controversial death of a local woman.

Wang was arrested in April amid a nationwide crackdown on dissent sparked by calls for a "Jasmine revolution" inspired by recent uprisings in the Middle East.

Public order charges are increasingly being used by Chinese courts to silence dissent, and carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

"She will be released before New Year's Day," Wang's lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan confirmed on Thursday.

"Netizens are sending her postcards to show their opinion of the authorities' suppression of her," he said.

"While this may not put huge pressure on the authorities, it will show them how people feel about [Wang's case]," he said.

"They may not even deliver the postcards to the people concerned, but it will still show that netizens haven't forgotten them."

The overseas-based CHRD condemned in a statement ahead of World Human Rights Day on Saturday the jailing, detention, surveillance, kidnappings, beatings and disappearances meted out to dozens of prisoners of conscience in China.

It named dozens of dissidents affected, including controversial artist Ai Weiwei, pro-democracy activist Zhu Yufu, blind Shandong rights campaigner Chen Guangcheng, missing lawyer Gao Zhisheng and veteran activist Qin Yongmin.

"The United Nations is promoting the theme of help and assistance to the victims of human rights abuses," said a researcher at the group who declined to be named.

"This year, we too want to draw attention to the large numbers of rights activists in jails and detention centers," he said.

Guiyang detentions

Meanwhile, around 10 members of a human rights group in the southwestern city of Guiyang have been detained in recent days and are likely to be held until World Human Rights Day has passed, activists and their relatives said.

Xu Qingguo, a member of a group called Guizhou Human Rights Forum, said he was still being held under surveillance by police in a hotel room.

"I was detained on Nov. 29," Xu said. "I am still being held under detention in a hotel room."

"There are two people outside the door, and I'm inside the room."

On Tuesday, the group was shown a document from the civil affairs department of the city government designating it an "illegal organization," Xu said.

"We are promoting human rights, but the government won't even let us register as an organization," he said.

Calls to the Guiyang municipal police department went unanswered during office hours on Thursday.

The wife of fellow Forum member Li Renke said she had been unable to contact him.

"He is in a hotel right now; all of them were taken away on Nov. 29," she said. "The police have turned off his cell phone."

"I asked them if I could take him some extra clothes but they said no."

"He will be stuck there until Dec. 11," she added.

Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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