Police Detain Nanjing Activists

The group had tried to provide help to a women's-rights campaigner and his family.

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chenguangcheng2011-305.jpg Screen grab of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng from a video showing his life under house arrest.

Police in eastern China have detained the brother of blind rights activist Chen Guangchengwho is being held under house arrest with his family in Shandongafter he traveled to Nanjing to meet with rights activists and supporters.

Nanjing-based rights activist He Peirong, known by her online nickname as @pearlher, said Chen Guangfu was taken away on Thursday by police, who showed no documentation, after he met up with her and other activists concerned about Chen and his family.

"Six of them charged in all of a sudden," He said, adding that the whole group was taken down to the police station. "The state security police were already waiting there."

"They were wearing plain clothes, and they produced no identification," He said.

She said Chen Guangfu and a group of fellow activists had met up at a hotel in Nanjing, and police used the excuse that they had failed to register their arrival at reception to take them to the police station.

"After they were done checking our identification, they said they wanted us to cooperate with their investigation," He said. "We told them we had no duty to cooperate with them."

She said police had snatched away her cell phone after she took pictures of the raid. "They hurt me," she said. "My hand is cut and bruised."

Attempt to provide help

He Peirong said the activists had been trying to find a way to get money to Chen, who has been incarcerated by local officials in his own home with scant food or possessions along with his wife Yuan Weijing and the couple's school-age daughter.

The Tianwang64 rights website reported the raid, saying that the entire group was taken to the police station to make statements, after which Cheng Guangfu was escorted back to his home county of Yinan, in Shandong.

"The state security police officers who are in charge of minding [Chen Guangfu] took him back with them," said Tianwang founder and Sichuan-based activist Huang Qi.

"[Chen] Guangcheng's brother will probably get taken back to Shandong now," Huang said. "His name is Chen Guangfu."

He Peirong said Chen was eventually taken away, and that one of her fellow activists was beaten by police.

An officer who answered the phone at the Bailuzhou police station where He and her group were taken did not deny the incident.

"You had best speak to her yourself," he said, before hanging up.

Concern for activist, family

Chen's supporters said recently they were concerned for the fate of blind Shandong-based activist Chen Guangcheng and his family, saying the family has been totally cut off from the outside world following nearly a year of unofficial house arrest.

Chen, 38, a self-taught lawyer who has persistently campaigned for women's rights issues, was confined to his home since his release at the end of a jail term of four years and three months for “damaging public property and obstructing traffic” handed down by the Linyi municipal court in August 2006.

Chen had exposed abuses like forced abortions and sterilizations by local family planning officials under China’s “One Child” population-control policy. He had served the full jail term in spite of repeated requests for medical parole.

Journalists and concerned netizens, including He Peirong, have reported being turned back by officials or gangs of men brandishing sticks when they tried to visit Chen's home.

Chinese authorities use house arrest, known in Chinese as "soft detention," as a means of containing and intimidating activists.

Chinese authorities have launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent around the country following online, anonymous calls early this year for a "Jasmine" revolution inspired by uprisings in the Middle East.

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.


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