Rights Group Slams Crackdown

Chinese authorities begin to release rights advocates held during just-concluded Party meetings.
2012-11-19
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A paramilitary guard stands on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Nov. 15, 2012.
AFP

A Chinese rights group on Monday hit out at the widespread detention of rights activists, lawyers, and dissidents during the recently concluded 18th Party Congress of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

"The oppression should end. People should come first," the rights website Weiquanwang wrote in a blog post on Monday, as activists began to return home from unofficial detention in hotels and police stations, or to be released from house arrest following the once-in-a-decade leadership transition last week.

"Across the country, dissidents, Christian believers, academics and lawyers, among others, have been subjected to enforced disappearance, forced 'holidays,' house arrest, detention, and labor camp sentences," the group said.

"[This] is a serious incident that tramples the Constitution and violates human rights."

"Weiquanwang strongly condemns these evil acts, which are a large-scale violation of people's rights, and calls on the authorities to stop oppressing rights defenders and to guarantee human rights for real."

Beating death

The group cited the case of Henan petitioner Wang Yaodong, who died "after being beaten to death" in Beijing, as well as the cases of a number of prominent dissidents and activists who had been detained or forced into unofficial detention in hotels and guesthouses far from Beijing.

Beijing-based activist Xu Zhiyong, Guangdong literature professor Ai Xiaoming, writer Wang Lixiong, Tibetan poet Tsering Woeser, veteran journalist Gao Yu, Shanghai-based activist Feng Zhenghu, university lecturer Hu Shigen, and rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, as well as Protestant believer Xu Yonghai had all been subjected to similar treatment, the group said.

Activist Liu Feiyue, who runs the Hubei-based rights group China Rights Observer, said the Weiquanwang report contained details of a large number of individual cases.

"The authorities do this every year," Liu said. "Stability is allowed to trample everything."

"It is absolutely barbarous, and it's not even worth their while," he said. "They won't achieve their aims this way."

Some unaccounted for

Authorities across China began to release rights activists held in detention centers and hotels or under house arrest following the smooth transition of power to the next generation of ruling Chinese Communist Party leaders last week, though a number remain unaccounted for.

Beijing lawyer Jiang Tianyong willingly left Beijing so as to avoid being held under house arrest, his wife said.

"He's not in Beijing right now," said Jin Lianling on Monday.

"He decided to leave of his own accord because they told him he couldn't be in Beijing during the 18th Party Congress."

"They didn't say when he'd be allowed to return. But the security measures are over, so he should be able to come home now," she said.

Zhejiang-based democracy activist Zou Wei was released from his enforced "holiday" on Saturday, according to fellow activist Chen Shuqing.

"There are some petitioners like Xu Jiangjiao and Liang Liwan who we haven't heard from yet, though," Chen said, adding that he agreed with the criticism of the crackdown.

"It is wrong of the authorities to do this. This is a meeting of the Communist Party, not even the government," he said. "Yet they are using the tools of the state to deal with us. How can a party use the tools of a state?"

New leaders

China on Thursday revealed its new leadership line-up after the closing session of the 18th Party Congress.

Vice-president Xi Jinping replaced outgoing president Hu Jintao as the Party's new general secretary while Li Keqiang predictably took over the number two slot on the all-powerful Politburo standing committee from outgoing premier Wen Jiabao.

Both will be confirmed in their government jobs as president and premier at the National People's Congress, the country's largely rubber stamp parliament, in March 2013.

China's new leadership is predominantly composed of older, conservative candidates or cautious reformers like the new vice-premier in charge of economic affairs, Wang Qishan, who will head the Party's graft-busting body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Analysts say there is little likelihood of policy change among the ruling Chinese Communist Party elite for at least the next five years.

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