Chinese Police Detain Activists Who Marked Tiananmen Bloodshed in Public, Online

Shi Tingfu is in criminal detention after making a speech asking people not to forget the 1989 student movement in the eastern city of Nanjing.

Shanghai labor activist Hu Changgen (L), who was released June 5 after he served a year in jail for "harming public safety" and "fabricating false information," in undated photo.

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu have detained a Nanjing-based activist after he staged a public memorial ceremony for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre on Sunday's 28th anniversary.

Shi Tingfu was taken away by police after he defied a nationwide ban on public events marking the anniversary of the 1989 student movement and the subsequent bloody crackdown by the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Shi, who was wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan "Never Forget June 4," made a public speech to passers-by outside the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.

His home was also searched by police from the Saihongqiao police station, who confiscated his computer and cell phone, his son told RFA on Monday.

Shi is now being held under criminal detention on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" in the Yuhuatai Detention Center.

"The police called to ask me to send a change of clothes [for him]," the younger Shi said. "They showed me three documents: his notification of detention, the search warrant and the summons."

"I went to the police station, but they didn't say anything to me about hiring a lawyer," he said, adding that police had said they didn't know how long Shi would be held for.

"They said it could be three days, or it could be a month," he said. "They asked me if any other people were involved, and said that I should tell them all of their names, but I said I didn't know anything."

Shi called on bystanders to remember that Sunday was "a sad day for many mothers," and asked them to post footage and photos of his speech online to make more people aware of the 28th anniversary of the crackdown.

Eight detained in Hunan

Rights lawyer Wang Lei said Shi didn't appear to have done anything wrong, however.

"I was very surprised [that he was detained]," Wang said. "I think this is absurd."

"For a citizen to wear a T-shirt with a slogan about not forgetting June 4 is entirely in keeping with his right to freedom of expression," he said. "You can't call something a crime if it's in the constitution."

Police in the central province of Hunan detained eight people from Zhuzhou city after they uploaded photos of themselves with the words "June 4" written on their bodies.

Guo Min was taken to Zhuzhou's Songshan police station, Sun Huazhu to Dongjia police station and Li Ming to Hetang police station, sources said.

Meanwhile, Chen Siming, Chen Xiaoping and Tang Xueyun are detained in the Zhuzhou People's Liberation Army police station, while the whereabouts of Tang Yuchun and Guo Dasheng are currently unknown, they said.

Hunan activist Mi Shixiang said the online activity was intended as a form of performance art.

"This was a piece of performance art, but then, the very next day, Guo Min and all of the others were taken away," Mi said. "As soon as Guo was detained, the rest tried to hide, but they were caught in Zhuzhou city."

"They were on the run for the whole of Sunday, but finally they were detained at 8.48 today," she said.

Public discussion still banned

Officers who answered the phone at the Songshan, Dongjia and Hetang police stations declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Monday.

Calls to the People's Liberation Army police station in Zhuzhou rang unanswered during office hours.

Two of Chen Xiaoping's associates, Wu Xiaobin and Liu Zhenhua were detained and held for questioning, before being released on Monday.

Unconfirmed reports said activists in the eastern province of Shandong were also missing, believed detained, after June 4 memorial activities in the provincial capital, Jinan.

Xin Yong, Li Hongwei and Gao Xiangming have been missing since they attended the event on Sunday.

Meanwhile, authorities in Shanghai released activist Hu Changgen after he served a year's imprisonment for "harming public safety" and "fabricating false information" in the Pudong Detention Center.

Hu, 45, has yet to be reunited with his family, however.

"He has come out of the detention center, but he hasn't arrived home yet," Hu's daughter Hu Wanying told RFA. "We went to meet him, but then he had to leave again."

"He has no money, so he has to look for a job now," she said.

Hu was detained on June 6 last year after he posted comments about the Tiananmen massacre on social media.

Public memorials and discussions of the events of June 1989 are banned, with activists who seek to commemorate the bloodshed often detained and veteran dissidents placed under police surveillance or detention during each anniversary.

Authorities rounded up and placed under close surveillance dozens of critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party ahead of the June 4 anniversary marking the bloody military crackdown that ended weeks of student-led democracy protests on Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

An unknown number of people were killed by advancing People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops and tanks in Beijing on the night of June 3-4, 1989, following orders to clear the Square by force from then-supreme leader Deng Xiaoping.

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