Chongqing Dissident Detained Over Public Speech Calling on President to Resign


2019-01-21
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mao-xi.jpg A decorative plate featuring an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen behind statues of late communist leader Mao Zedong at a souvenir store next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Feb, 27, 2018.
AFP

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese megacity of Chongqing have detained a local dissident after he gave a speech criticizing President Xi Jinping in public, RFA has learned.

Zhang Jilin, known online by his nickname "Yue Family Gun," was taken away by police from Chongqing's Guanyinqiao Square after making a political speech, in which he called on Xi to resign.

According to an audio recording of the speech obtained by RFA, Zhang says that the time has come for the president to be forced to step down.

"Overall, I think that the time has come to force Xi Jinping out of office ... the authorities won't do anything to us," Zhang is heard saying. "If you don't believe me, just watch me give this speech all day in the square, as the crowds of people keep on gathering."

"I dare to speak out," he said. "I think Guanyinqiao Square will be our bridgehead in the struggle for democracy and constitutional government."

Zhang was surrounded, handcuffed and taken away from Guanyinqiao Square by plainclothes police in a silver sedan with no license plates, at around 4.00 p.m. on the same day.

His wife Zhou Shoufang confirmed her husband's detention when contacted by RFA on Monday, saying that Zhang is currently being held in the Jiangbei Detention Center.

"I received the official notification document on Saturday," Zhou said. "I was at home, and didn't know what had happened. He told me he was just being taken in [for questioning]."

Zhou said the couple has an eight-year-old child who is also waiting for news of her father.

"My mother-in-law told me I had to take care of my kid, that there was nothing I could do, and that if they are going to send him to jail, then we'll just have to wait till they do that," she said.

Zhou said the family had relied on the income from Zhang's casual labor to get by.

"He was the main pillar of the household," she said. "He would get casual jobs. He is in his 40s, with elderly parents and a kid dependent on him. I can't work because I have to take care of our kid and his mother is sick."

A Chongqing-based dissident who gave only his surname Wan said Zhang had gone to Guanyinqiao Square after his speech had received plaudits from many people in a WeChat dicussion group comprising around 500 people.

Many in the social media group had warned him not to deliver the speech in public, telling him to "be a bit more careful," Wan said.

But Zhang refused to listen, saying Chinese citizens have the right to freedom of speech, he said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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