Hubei 'New Citizens' Activist Detained For Subversion


2013.08.15
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china-yichang-map.jpg Liu Jiacai was initially detained by police in Hubei's Yichang city on Aug. 3, 2013.
RFA

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hubei have detained a local activist on subversion charges after he organized "dinner parties" for fellow activists to discuss human rights and social justice.

Liu Jiacai was criminally detained by police in Hubei's Yichang city on Monday on charges of “incitement to subvert state power" after he had completed a 10-day administrative sentence handed down by police, rights activists and relatives said.

"He was [initially] detained on Aug. 3 and he was sent to the detention center [on Tuesday]," Liu's sister said in an interview on Thursday after receiving a phone call from her local Gezhouba police station, which initially detained him.

"They said it was apparently because he had posted some opinions online."

"All we want is for him to come home safely and lead a peaceful life," she said. "Right now, he doesn't even have his freedom, so there's not much point in talking about other stuff."

She said the family had been denied permission to visit Liu.

"I just got back from the detention center this morning, where I went to take him some clothes and some daily items," she said, adding that Liu had recently become active in China's nascent New Citizens' Movement targeting officials for graft and demanding they reveal their assets.

Long-time target

Liu's detention comes after many years of being targeted by the authorities for his pro-democracy activism and rights advocacy, the overseas-based China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said in an e-mailed statement.

He served a two-year jail term in 2002, also for "incitement to subvert state power," and returned to his hometown in Hubei in 2012 after being dismissed from a job in Yunnan, apparently because of his activism, CHRD said.

He is currently being held at Yichang City No. 1 Detention Center.

Hubei-based activist Liu Feiyue, who runs the People's Livelihood Watch website, said Liu's detention came after he retweeted a microblog post in support of Shandong-based democracy researcher Li Xiangyang.

"To begin with, [the police] were talking about some articles he wrote and posted online, but some of our friends think it's because he tried to organize some dinner meetings of activists living in the same city, which of course counts as part of the New Citizens' Movement," Liu Feiyue said.

Movement crackdown

He said the authorities had singled out the movement for a particularly harsh crackdown in recent months.

"There are cases linked to the crackdown on the New Citizens' Movement in pretty much every locality now," Liu Feiyue said.

"Some of the methods used by the movement include holding up placards on the street, and using very legal methods to get together with other activists in the same city, so as to exercise their right as citizens to express their opinions," he said.

"This is an extremely moderate and rational movement, in particular its gatherings for dinner and discussion in various cities [across China]."

"How does this become incitement to subvert state power?"

According to CHRD, at least 23 activists linked to the New Citizens' Movement are now criminally detained across China in a crackdown which has seen more than 50 detentions and short-term administrative sentences since March.

They include Shenzhen-based activist Yang Mingyu, known as Yang Lin, arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” on July 19, and Hunan-based activist Li Huaping, known by his online nickname Nuowei Senlin, criminally detained by Changsha police on Aug. 10 for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order," CHRD said.

Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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