Under Olympics House Arrest

Key rights advocates and social activists across China will spend the Olympics confined to their homes under round the clock surveillance. Some have been warned off talking to the media, while others cannot be reached by phone.

ChinaOlympicPolice305.jpg BEIJING, China: Chinese police anti-terrorist squad patrols a highway in Beijing on July 12, 2008.
Photo: AFP

Pro-democracy activist Jiang Qisheng served a four-year jail term in 1999 for "incitement to subversion" after he wrote an open letter calling for a commemoration of the victims of the 1989 armed crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy movement. Jiang frequently publishes articles in the overseas Chinese magazine Beijing Spring. He was approached by police and told to leave Beijing, Jiang's wife said:

"Police called my husband and wanted to talk to him, probably about the Olympics. Last time when police came to our home, they told us to leave the city during the Games. We turned down their request and insisted on staying. Then the police said they would put us under house arrest."  -- July 31, 2008

Constitutional scholar Zhang Zuhua was advised by police to make a trip outside Beijing during the Games:

"They want me to avoid being interviewed by foreign journalists. I told them that what they are doing has violated China’s constitution and wasted taxpayers’ money. I also told them that I am neither a criminal suspect, nor a terrorist and that what they are doing has no legal basis. The Games haven't started yet, but all kinds of security is now being put in place, and it doesn't feel like the friendly atmosphere you would expect at a sporting event."  -- July 31, 2008

Qi Zhiyong, a Beijing-based rights activist who lost a leg during the armed crackdown in the capital in 1989, said he had been ordered to leave the city for the duration of the Olympic Games.

"There are people watching me now. They arrived on July 22. They came to have a chat with me in mid-July, and they came again yesterday. The national security bureau told me that they were going to 'organize' me, so I asked them what they meant by 'organizing.' They didn't give the exact details of what they had in mind. But then it became clear that they wanted me to go away, to leave Beijing and go to a place far away from the Olympics venues. I said really that they should be ashamed of themselves, to say such a thing. I asked them on what basis they were saying this. They said that because I was connected to the June 4, 1989 incident, and because I was very active, and that I was implicated in Hu Jia's case, and so on, and so on. That I had never cooperated with the authorities to find a harmonious path."

"They said if I didn't go that they didn't have enough manpower, and therefore would have to take me to a detention center or prison, where they could keep an eye on me. It would be a lot easier for everyone if I just agreed to leave Beijing. I would get three meals a day whatever I chose to do, but that I absolutely must leave Beijing."July 24, 2008

Shanghai civil rights lawyer Zheng Enchong, who acted as adviser to hundreds of evicted families from the city's urban redevelopment projects, said there were teams of 12 security personnel outside his apartment, watching him around the clock in shifts. His telephone had been cut off, and he was unable to leave his apartment. Zheng served a three-year jail term after he was accused of sending information on workers' protests to an overseas rights group. 

"The Olympics isn't supposed to be a political event. But the measures the authorities are taking right now are stricter than after June 4, 1989. They are using a lot of the same measures they employed at that time, and even more tightly enforced than before...The news of a big meeting following the killing of six Shanghai police officers had been broadcast overseas, and I think they were afraid that a lot of the newly arrived foreign journalists would approach me...for interviews...and that I would continue to give interviews."July 24, 2008

Zha Jianguo, a former member of the banned China Democracy Party, was jailed nine years ago for "incitement to subvert state power." He has rejected attempts by police to keep tabs on him after his release and vows to continue to appeal his sentence.

"They were already watching me and following me 24 hours a day. Recently, they have had anyone coming to my home sign a register. Anyone who comes to visit me has to leave their name, address, telephone number and have their ID checked."July 24, 2008

Bao Tong, former political secretary to late former premier Zhao Ziyang, has been under house arrest at his Beijing home since returning home from prison in the wake of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests.

"I hope that we will get a full report at the National People's Congress after the Olympics are over into exactly how much money, manpower, and resources were devoted to preventing foreign journalists from reporting on China, and from blocking off the voices of ordinary Chinese people from being heard either by the Chinese government or by the international community."July 24, 2008

Jia Jianying is the wife of jailed pro-democracy activist He Depu, who was jailed for trying to set up the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP). She said that from July 24 she has been unable to leave her Beijing home. 

"I can't go out any more. They called me today to inform me...There are four people [watching me]a public security officer, two security guards, and a person from the neighborhood committee. They told me that if I needed to go out, they would take me in their car. My work unit told me that this will take effect from July 20 to Sept. 20."July 24, 2008

Yuan Weijing is the wife of Chen Guangcheng, who was jailed for four years last year after his meticulous documentation of abuses by family planning officials in the eastern province of Shandong. She has herself been under house arrest with the couple's young daughter for three years.

"There are more people [on surveillance duty] than before. Now there are a total of about 40 people working two shifts. They are all people I haven't seen before. There are also a bunch of strangers who have been sent to watch the main street in the village. I think they have sent more people here now because it's something to do with the Olympics...The Olympic torch relay will make its way across Shandong province from July 20-31. It is going through Yantai, Qingdao, Linyi, Qufu, Tai'an, and Jinan. I think there is increased security in our village because of the torch relay."July 9, 2008


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.