Letter Calls For Liu's Release

A veteran Chinese dissident says it is in Beijing's best interest to free jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

qinyongmincrop2_305.jpg Qin Yongmin (L) meets with a colleague following his release from prison. Credit: Chen Yunfei

A veteran political activist released last week after serving 12 years in prison has written an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, calling on him to free jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.

"Today I wrote an open letter to Hu Jintao calling on the authorities to allow Liu Xiaobo to collect his Nobel Prize," said Qin Yongmin, who was thrown in jail for co-founding the banned China Democracy Party (CDP).

"I am doing this for the government's benefit," he said on Monday. "Keeping him in prison will only do them all manner of harm and will reap no benefits at all."

"The best way to resolve the whole situation is to free him as soon as possible," Qin said.

Beijing has tightened the screws on Chinese political activists after Liu was named the Nobel Peace Prize recipient on Oct. 8.

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, and many of his fellow activists are under a form of undeclared house arrest, a condition that is not expected to end until after the Dec. 10 Nobel award ceremony in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Large numbers of lawyers, rights activists, and writers have been prevented from leaving China ahead of the event.

Tight surveillance

Authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan have been keeping Qin under tight surveillance at his home ever since his release from prison last week, detaining and beating a fellow activist from Sichuan who visited him.

Sichuan-based activist Liu Feiyue said he was attacked in Wuhan on Sunday shortly after visiting Qin, who was released last week after reaching the end of his 12-year jail term for "endangering state security."

"It was a simple visit, " Liu Feiyue said on Monday. "I stayed a while, and we ate lunch together, and I left at about 1:00 p.m."

"Soon after I left, four national security officers from Qingshan district bundled me into a car and took me to the police station, where they searched me and took away some of my things," he said.

Liu Feiyue said he was questioned about his motives for the visit by police, who took notes from the interview.

"Then, the national security officer who tails me came rushing into the interview room and told me I'd caused him a lot of trouble by leaving town, and that he could lose his job. Then he started beating me," he said.

"A while later he started beating me again. I am in the hospital today having X-rays. He beat me on my chest and back."

"The guy who attacked me is still tailing me," Liu Feiyue said.


Meanwhile, Beijing-based rights activist Yao Lifa had disappeared on the day of Qin's release, as he was setting off for Wuhan to meet him, Qin said.

"Yao Lifa disappeared on the day he was supposed to meet me out of prison," Qin said. "We haven't seen him since."

"His son, Yao Yao, doesn't know what has happened to his father ... and his mother is under house arrest," he added.

In Beijing, the mother of jailed AIDS activist and former Nobel peace prize nominee Hu Jia had been followed by six men wearing black since last week, Hu Jia's wife Zeng Jinyan said.

"I think it has to do with the peace prize," Zeng said. "They wouldn't concern themselves about [whether his mother had anything to do with the prize ceremony.]"

The 57-year-old Qin is a veteran dissident who was initially sentenced to eight years in prison for "counterrevolutionary propaganda and subversion" in the wake of the Democracy Wall movement in 1981.

A contemporary of exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng, Qin served a further two years' "re-education through labor" in 1993 after he penned a controversial document titled "Peace Charter."

By 1998, Qin was the editor of the Human Rights Observer newsletter, and one of a number of political activists who attempted to register the CDP.

Aside from Qin, Hangzhou-based CDP founder Wang Youcai and Beijing-based Xu Wenli received 11-year and 13-year jail terms respectively for being linked to the opposition party. Both were later exiled to the United States on medical parole.

Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service and by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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