Veteran Democracy Activist Evicted, Harrassed in China's Sichuan


2020-07-30
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china-chenyunfei-073020.jpg Sichuan dissident Chen Yunfei (R) and his mother are shown in an undated photo.
Photo sent by Chen Yunfei

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have evicted dissident and 1989 pro-democracy movement veteran Chen Yunfei from his home after he criticized a draconian new security law recently imposed on Hong Kong, RFA has learned.

Chen had moved to the Sichuan town of Pixian earlier this month along with his elderly mother after they were evicted from their previous home in Pixian county, near the provincial capital Chengdu.

"They sent round five or six gangster types who entered my home and sat there eating, drinking, and cursing," he said. "They were very loud, and they stopped my elderly mother from getting any rest."

"That made me afraid to go out, so I couldn't get anything to eat, then a bunch of them forced their way inside, smashing stuff up, and they snatched my phone off me and shoved me out of the door," he said.

"They even kicked me down the stairs, and then they sealed off the front door," he said.

But Chen's troubles aren't over. The authorities in his new location have also put pressure on his new landlord, who cut off his water and electricity in the heat of summer, he told RFA on Thursday.

Chen said he has been forced to beg for fresh water for washing, bathing, and drinking from neighbors and friends, or use water from a nearby stream, or drink bottled water.

Repeated calls to the government helpline had made little difference to his plight, which has lasted for two weeks now, he said.

"I made my 22nd call today," Chen said. "They didn't tell me it couldn't be resolved; they just passed the buck by saying the matter would be referred to the relevant department."

"I have to go and ask for help at the police station every day," he said. "I just came out of there."

"I go there to beg for water and charge my phone so I can still use it," Chen said, adding that the trouble had started after he criticized the imposition of draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong via his Twitter account.

"I wrote that [former deputy public security minister] Sun Lijun hadn't managed [the situation in Hong Kong] well, and that it was a bit of a joke that he had to go down there in person to try to control seven million people," he said.

"They told me to delete it because it was politically sensitive, but I told them that I don't delete stuff," he said.

Friend's account is closed

A friend of Chen's surnamed Zhou said his WeChat account had been shut down after he tried to help Chen.

"All I said was that I would take some water over to Chen Yunfei, as well as some other personal items," he said. "No sooner had I sent it, than about half an hour later I was automatically logged out of WeChat."

"When I tried to log back in again, I was told that my account had been shut down for 31 days for spreading rumors," Zhou said.

Zhou said Chen had bought an electric tricycle to carry his mother around looking for a new home after their last eviction.

"I feel so, so sorry for him; it's absolutely chilling. I hope whoever it is will allow him some way to exist," he said.

Repeated calls to the Pixian county government and police department rang unanswered during office hours on Thursday.

Chen was briefly detained by police last month after he marked the anniversary of a massacre of civilians in Beijing on June 4, 1989 that ended weeks of student-led democracy protests on Tiananmen Square.

The government bans public memorials marking the event, and has continued to ignore growing calls in China and from overseas for a reappraisal of the 1989 student protests, which it once styled a "counterrevolutionary rebellion."

During an international online event marking the 31st anniversary of the massacre in early June, Chen had commented: "We have seen wave upon wave of civil unrest and grievances in Hong Kong, from the [2003] Article 23 protests to the anti-extradition movement and the opposition to the national security law."

"These things show us that the Chinese government hasn't found the root of popular malaise, and also that the things we were fighting for in the 1989 protest movement were the right things," Chen said. "There is no reason why we shouldn't publicize and commemorate June 4 in any number of ways."

Chen had previously been sentenced to four years' imprisonment over his commemoration of the Tiananmen massacre by visiting the grave of a 1989 student protester in 2015.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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